A Fine Meth
Paul Rubin's article, "Suspects of Convenience," in your May 28 edition, stated that the police warned the major retailers that selling certain over-the-counter medicines could be illegal because they could be cooked into illegal drugs. It also said the police did not warn the Americans of Arab descent who owned a number of mom-and-pop convenience stores.

Did these hardworking, Arab-American citizens, without prior criminal records, solicit illegal sales of legal medications, or were they entrapped based upon a hidden technicality by those with an agenda? If the latter is true, why did the police consider this item to have had a higher priority than much more serious crimes?

It would appear from reading Rubin's article that the shopkeepers, some of whom could have been deported had they been found guilty, were set up. If so, is it possible that their constitutional right to equal protection was violated? Is this yet another example of how our rights are eroding?

As you know, there are those who believe the Chandler police arrested a number of illegal aliens and even American citizens of Mexican descent without probable cause but rather based upon their skin color and command of the English language for the purpose of deportation. Was it within their jurisdiction to do so or did they violate the law?

Is there a chilling relationship between what happened to the Americans of Arab and Mexican descent? Is it possible we are in a period of "ethnic cleansing" that could affect many other minorities one group at a time? That's an absurd extrapolation; isn't it?

Rich Rosen

Is this the best thing our government can come up with? They go undercover to buy Sudafed, Actifed and Mini-Thins at mom-and-pop stores and turn around and charge them with a crime? What law did they break, trying to survive in this day and age against larger stores?

I know Amir and Fay Alyas. I have been shopping at their store for four years. They're good people, but, yes, there have been times when I talk about certain things and I know they don't understand and just smile and say, "Have a good day."


Reform Madness
Contrary to the May 14 article "Waiting for McCain" (Amy Silverman), Senator John McCain should not be attacked but commended for the leadership he has shown in the fight for campaign finance reform in Congress.

McCain has tenaciously challenged special interests and entrenched incumbents who have fought to protect the campaign finance status quo. That's why Common Cause gave him an award earlier this year citing his "courage, commitment and perseverance in the fight to restore integrity and fairness to government."

He successfully built a bipartisan majority in the Senate in support of his bill banning soft money--the unlimited, unregulated contributions from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals that are corrupting our democracy. Because a majority of senators supported the McCain-Feingold bill, opponents had to resort to a filibuster to block passage of the bill. But the same bill is now on the floor of the House and may come back to the Senate again.

In addition, the "Waiting for McCain" article repeats the erroneous contention of reform opponents that the McCain-Feingold soft money ban is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld restrictions on the size and source of contributions to candidates and parties. Last year, 126 constitutional scholars wrote a letter to Congress concluding that the soft money ban contained in McCain-Feingold is constitutional.

We commend Senator McCain for his courage in the fight to clean up government and to make our elections fairer and more democratic.

Ann McBride, president
Common Cause
Washington, D.C.

Dennis Burke, executive director
Common Cause/Arizona

Hot Copy
This is the first time that I've been faintly tempted to respond to a printed word. But after reading the article about eating jalapenos ("Cowering Inferno," Barry Graham, May 28), I'm barely able to keep the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Being a 47-year-old born and bred Arizonan, I know exactly where you are coming from. Many times I've entered into pepper-eating contests with many of my Hispanic friends over the years. The end result (no pun intended), has been the affliction that Graham mentioned in this column. I even believed that I've suffered permanent damage from such excesses. The doctors say no, but I know better.

Please accept my deepest sympathies and my thanks on writing about your experience on a subject that holds many memories (not all of them fond), for me and my years growing up here in the Southwest.

David G. Melcher
via Internet

I may have laughed as much, but I have never laughed harder than at "Cowering Inferno." I brought it back home to New Orleans and have been shoving it under my buddies' noses, and they are screaming for copies. I don't get to Phoenix much, but rest assured, I will always be looking out for Barry Graham's writing.

Pablo Schor
New Orleans

Barry Graham's jalapeno soup article cracked me up. Rarely do I laugh out loud reading an article, but he killed me with that one! Sorry I got so much enjoyment from his suffering!

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