- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2000

Facts paint pattern of Serbs' ethnic cleansing of Croats

In the Commentary column, "Debris of war" (Dec. 23), Doug Bandow attempts to advance Slobodan Milosevic's propaganda that the Croats and Bosnians are every bit as guilty of war crimes as the Serbs. To prove his point, Mr. Bandow cites the worst possible example of Croatian misconduct. During the 1995 U.S.-approved Croatian military Operation Storm inside Croatia, 250,000 ethnic Serbs fled and as many as 450 Serb civilians and 400 Serb military personnel died.

Mr. Bandow fails to mention that it was the Serb Army's mass murders at Srebrenica in June 1995 that resulted a month later in the U.S. green light for Croatia's August 1995 Operation Storm against Serb military units inside Croatian borders. According to testimony in the trial of Serbian Gen. Radislav Krstic at the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, the Serb Army forcibly removed 30,000 civilians from their homes in Srebrenica and tortured and murdered more than 8,000.

When we add the 12,000 Croatian civilians killed and the 700,000 made homeless during 1991 and then include the 200,000 Croatians and Muslims killed and the 1 million forced from their homes in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995, a more honest view of Serbian genocide begins to appear.

According to a CIA finding reported in the New York Times, 90 percent of the war crimes were committed by the Serbs. Eight separate State Department reports support that view.

Mr. Bandow has long defended the Serbs but he has never shown much of an interest in justice for the victims of the Serbs.

Testifying against military action against Serbia during a House International Affairs hearing on March 10, 1999, Mr. Bandow said that the "fighting in Kosovo" which had left 11,000 Kosovo Albanians dead and 2 million forced from their homes "barely rises to the status of atrocity in today's world. It certainly does not constitute genocide."

One wonders if he prefers the nicer sounding Belgrade-invented term "ethnic cleansing." But perhaps it doesn't matter in Mr. Bandow's case, because he appears to have a fairly low regard for inconvenient facts.

FRANK BROZOVIC

President of the Croatian American Association

Seattle, Wash.

2001, year of the vegan?

The New Year provides us with an opportunity to consider how we can improve our lives and make the world a better place for everyone.

A simple but powerful approach toward this goal is through our food choices. By shifting to a plant-based diet, we benefit our health, preserve the environment and reduce animal suffering.

According to the American Dietetic Association, studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes mellitus, gallstones, heart disease, hypertension, kidney stones, obesity, osteoporosis and stroke.

Because livestock animals are injected, fed and sprayed with antibiotics and pesticides, their waste is filled with toxic chemicals. Much of it is washed by rains, untreated, into our waters. Ninety percent of the organic water pollution in the United States is attributable to animal agriculture.

The Animal Welfare Act does not apply to animals used for food. More than 90 percent of farmed animals in the United States are raised on factory farms in intensive confinement. The animals spend their entire lives in tiny cages and stalls where they are often unable to even turn around or lie down. They live on concrete, slatted metal, or wire mesh floors. They are forced to live in their own and other animals' wastes.

Indeed, the new millennium provides every one of us a great opportunity to examine the impacts of our diet on our health, the planet, and the billions of animals tormented and killed for food.

On the first day of the New Year, let's turn over a new leaf, kick the meat habit and get a new lease on life.

PATRICK ALIREZA

Washington

Tragic deaths shouldn't obscure driver responsibility in rollover accidents

In his Dec. 27 Op-Ed column, "Ford gets rolled on rollover," Eric Peters writes: "Unfortunately, in our 'blame-anyone but me' society, personal injury lawyers have found scores of people willing to be used as props for class-action litigation against [sport utility vehicle] manufacturers precisely because they do not want to accept responsibility for having driven their SUVs inappropriately."

Proof positive appeared on the front page of The Washington Post's Oct. 8 Outlook section in an article titled "Left With Grief and Mounting Questions" by Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb, the Post's director of newsroom training.

In her article, she recounts the death of her brother, Earl T. Shinhoster, who was killed on June 11 on an Alabama highway after the car in which he was riding smashed into a tree. She concentrates on the pain and doubt she and other family members experienced as they gradually came to realize the ironies surrounding his death:

• He was a prominent civil rights activist who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People through a difficult period in its history.

• He died in Alabama, the scene of violent civil rights confrontations, while part of a convoy on a noncontroversial civil rights mission.

• The accident was caused when a tire on the Ford Explorer in which he was riding blew out.

• The accident occurred some months before the danger of Explorer blowouts became widely known.

It's truly a sad and moving story. As Ms. Lamb writes, her brother had been asked by a colleague to escort the first lady of Liberia during her trip within the United States. That Sunday morning, he left his Decatur, Ga., home to travel with the first lady to a black clergy conference in Montgomery, Ala. The car in which he was riding was the last of a seven-car convoy, led by three Alabama state troopers in separate cars.

The entourage was traveling about 80 mph in a 70 mph zone on the hot Alabama highway when the tire blew; the Explorer flipped over at least three times before coming to rest against a tree. Her brother was still alive, trapped in the vehicle, wearing his seat belt, as rescuers fought for two hours to free him from the wreckage. He died shortly after being freed.

Ms. Lamb further noted that her brother's wife and son were considering a suit against Bridgestone-Firestone. Firestone has recalled 6.5 million tires, the Explorer has a history of rollover accidents, and the tire that blew had been mounted the day before.

I should emphasize that last part: The tire that blew had been mounted the day before. The three other tires on the Explorer were Firestone-brand Wilderness AT tires. She describes the tire that blew as a Sebring II, "purchased outside Atlanta a month before the crash. It was made in 1993 in the same Decatur, Ill., plant where many of the recalled tires were manufactured."

The tire, however, was manufactured two years before the suspect Firestone tires were. It was a Sieberling II; no one has ever manufactured a tire named "Sebring."

Ms. Lamb has inadvertently told us who is really to blame, and it's not Firestone or Ford. Whoever bought and put a 7-year-old tire of unknown provenance on the Explorer is the culprit.

The Sieberling II tire is different in size, design, tread pattern and load capacity. Rule No. 1 when buying a tire is not to mix tires on an axle; no reputable dealer will sell and mount only one tire unless it's a twin of its axle-mate.

Imagine the forces on the old oddball tire on a hot day at high speed. As the last vehicle in a high-speed convoy, the Explorer was subject to the accordion effect, possibly hitting 100 mph at times to keep up.

Finally, with the gentle turns on our interstates, a good driver could have readily kept the vehicle under control by avoiding the brakes, gently turning the steering wheel, and gradually riding the beast to a halt on the shoulder. It was the perfect recipe for disaster, and disaster struck.

Mr. Peters is entirely correct in writing that too many drivers operate as though their every action is no fault of their own.

MIKE CAKORA

Columbia, S.C.

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