- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Maryland residents deserve tax cut now

The decision by Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the fiscal leaders of the General Assembly to kill proposals to accelerate the implementation of the tax cuts adopted in the last election year demonstrates just how out of touch our state leadership is with the rest of the country. Again, the politics of spending has been put ahead of cost-effective government. The state's budget is flush with cash. The $1 billion surplus is enough to increase state spending across the board, fund long-delayed capital needs, reward special interests who helped support the governor and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the last election and speed up the tax relief approved two years ago.

When the session began in January, some of the most fiscally responsible voices in the General Assembly, from the speaker of the House to the chairmen of the budget committees, knew the state could and should return some of the unneeded tax revenues to taxpayers. Only the governor stood in the way of their calls to do so. He obviously got his way and rolled over the otherwise influential voices.

Let's call this move what it is: preservation politics. Apparently, the governor and lieutenant governor cut taxes only when they are up for election. Are they so worried that their grip on Maryland politics might slip that they must resort to these spending gimmicks?

REP. ROBERT L. ERLICH JR.

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington

Georgetown University too concerned with political correctness

The March 7 issue carried a column by Sloane Starke in which Georgetown's continuing decline is well-documented ("Georgetown U's moral crisis," Op-Ed, District Forum).

The Vatican would be well-advised to look into this "Catholic" university because the American bishops seem to be morally impotent in this matter. It is a disgrace that at a Catholic campus one has to fight for crucifixes on classroom walls, a symbol for which Jesuits in a saner era died.

Rather than project a Catholic identity, Georgetown is more intent on projecting political correctness. It is time for the university to clean up or become a secular university, rather than scandalize people and destroy countless students who come in good faith seeking a Catholic education.

LARISSA M. FONTANA

Potomac

U.N. Security Council at fault for failure of 'safe areas'

The article about the Serbian general on trial before the war crimes tribunal at The Hague would have benefited from additional information ("Serbian general on trial in massacre of Bosnians," March 13). The article suggests that the United Nations also will be on trial because of its failure to come to the aid of the small Dutch peacekeeping contingent in Srebrenica.

The record will show that major responsibility rests with the great powers that dominated the U.N. Security Council, which established the so-called "safe areas" in Bosnia, one of them being Srebrenica.

The judgment of Lord David Owen, international negotiator for a Bosnian peace plan, is telling. He has asserted flatly that the establishment of the safe areas was "the most irresponsible decision taken during my time as Co-chairman," simply because the United Nations failed to demilitarize them. The Muslims, he writes, "saw nothing wrong in being protected in safe areas by the U.N. and at the same time attacking out of the safe areas," conducting "military operations under U.N. cover."

It also is important to note the warnings of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In a 1995 report, he reminded the Security Council that in 1994 he had "particularly emphasized the need to demilitarize the safe areas and thus establish a regime that would be in line with the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, which gave gained general acceptance in the international community." The Security Council, however, did nothing.

In the same 1995 report, the secretary-general informed the Security Council that in "recent months, government forces [Muslim] have considerably increased their military activity in and around most safe areas, and many of them have been incorporated into the broader military campaigns of the government aide… . The government also maintains a substantial number of troops in Srebrenica (in this case, in violation of a demilitarization agreement)… ."

It also is worth noting another observation by Lord Owen: "By acquiescing on the Croatian government's seizure of Western Slavonia, the Contact Group had in effect given the green light to the Bosnian Serbs to attack Srebrenica and Zepa."

It is hoped that the Serbian general's trial will also clarify some other questions, among them the number of victims at Srebrenica and the location of mass graves. We know already that the air photos Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright once touted as showing the site of mass graves turned out to be false.

ALEX N. DRAGNICH

Bowie

Responses to editorial on Alaskan wildlife and oil prices

This is in response to your March 17 editorial "Wildlife and oil prices." I live in Alaska and have for most of my life. I have lived and worked on the North Slope, off and on, since 1974. I can verify what you said about the caribou herd increase. I believe it is even greater than stated.

I also can tell you that the restrictions on off-road vehicles and no-hunting zones are some of the toughest in the world. As you walk around up there, you can see that the flora and fauna are not appreciably disturbed by human presence, as all manner of critters rest under buildings and the pipeline. This is all in spite of what the bunny-hugging environmentalist will try to persuade the American public to believe.

Industry and the environment can coexist, and it is proved everyday in Prudhoe Bay.

BILL DRAKE

Tok, Alaska

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You needed a little more research on your editorial dealing with oil prices and wildlife. To equate a continuation of the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) with increased tanker oil spills is an insult to readers. How do you propose getting oil from the ANWR to the lower 48 states if not by oil tanker? Are you suggesting that we send crude from the refuge by the U.S. Postal Service? Or perhaps, considering your location inside the Beltway, we could establish a new federal agency to transport the crude down to California and eventually to gas stations near you? It could be the U.S. Bucket Brigade.

Do you remember an oil tanker called the Exxon Valdez? It just happened to be carrying Alaskan crude oil to the lower 48. That spill had a profound impact on Alaskan wildlife. In fact, it was the worst spill in U.S. history. I expect more from The Times than blatant propaganda like this. Do better next time.

WILLIAM GLENN JOHNSON

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

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Your March 17 editorial left out one of the most egregious failures of the Clinton policy on wildlife vs. oil exploration. Snow geese have multiplied so dramatically they have destroyed the ecology of their nesting areas in the Arctic. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is authorizing spring hunting for snow geese using electronic calls in the hope that the population can be reduced by 1.5 million.

Let's hope Mr. Clinton sees the reality of the situation and approves oil exploration in promising areas, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the west coast. He won't, though, because the Democrats need the support of the radical environmentalists, and I don't think they will ever see the light. They would rather freeze in the dark.

JOHN C. FOLINSBEE

Denver

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