- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 16, 2000

Irony in blood drive controversy

The controversy over the Food and Drug Administration's decision to bar homosexual and bisexual men from giving blood is ironic ("Bad blood," Editorials, Sept. 15).

The American Red Cross has shunned a terrific source of blood from a category of potential donors namely, those with hemochromatosis on the basis that the mere perception that the donor pool included sick people would adversely affect the public's trust in the blood supply. In fact, patients with this disease have absolutely nothing wrong with their blood cells, do not have a communicable disease and, best of all, must be phlebotomized routinely in order to control their disease, which is, at its root, an abnormality of iron metabolism.

So, we have a potential pool of donors excluded on the tenuous basis that their blood is being collected to treat their disease, and that the public doesn't want blood from diseased people this at a time of serious blood shortages. Yet potential donors who are demonstrably at higher risk of transmitting a communicable, fatal disease AIDS are said to be unfairly discriminated against. Just when you thought you had heard everything.

PAUL DIGIOVANNI

Cortland, N.Y.

Buchanan sole candidate prepared to face China threat

China is increasing its capacity for joint air, land and sea operations while developing a computer warfare capacity and hardening its communications against monitoring, a congressional report states ("Beijing boosts its capability to attack," Sept. 12).

Of the presidential candidates of parties qualified to receive federal matching campaign funds, only Patrick J. Buchanan consistently has pressed for policies designed to limit the growth of China's military capability and is against permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China.

Meanwhile, both Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore are on record in support of PNTR for China.

The issue of PNTR and other aspects of our disastrous foreign policy will not even be discussed in the forthcoming presidential debates unless Mr. Buchanan, a nominee of the Reform Party, is included. As the Reform Party is the only party other than the Republicans and Democrats to receive our tax dollars, Mr. Buchanan should be allowed to participate in the October debates.

If Mr. Buchanan is excluded, we all should wonder why we have a system that supports candidates with our tax dollars only to allow a commission made up of Republicans and Democrats to design rules that block a candidate from offering the American people an alternative.

Maybe it's because the "Republicrats" who already have sold us out to China with their shortsighted votes and policies are afraid the American people will agree with him.

Let Mr. Buchanan debate.

JEFF JATRAS

Sterling, Va.

India human rights criticism from unreliable source?

Gurmit Singh Aulakh's letter "Indian 'democracy' ignores human rights" (Sept. 9) is yet another effort on his part to confuse the American people with half-truths and fictional statistics. Furthermore, it is high time that your readership be made aware of the dubious nature of the organization Mr. Aulakh claims to represent, the Council of Khalistan.

An Indian-based organization, the Panthic Committee, created the Council of Khalistan in 1987. The Panthic Committee included known anti-Indian terrorists who have been held responsible for murders, extortions and kidnappings throughout India. Many of its members are spread throughout Western countries, where they have gained an exposure to India's dispersed Sikh community. Abroad, through the Council of Khalistan, they have exploited gullible Sikhs for large donations.

Furthermore, the council claims to be registered in the Golden Temple in Amristar, in the Indian state of Punjab. According to the tenets of Sikhism, however, the Golden Temple cannot serve as an address for an individual or organization other than the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a management organization of the Sikh temples and shrines in Punjab.

The Council of Khalistan is registered with the U.S. Department of Justice under this false statement. It is also deeply involved in lobbying and fund raising, though this sort of political activity is expressly prohibited by its article of registration as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. The sources of funding for the council and its president remain highly suspect, though its service as a front organization for terrorist propaganda can not be discounted.

Finally, the statistics regarding killings by the government of India, as provided in Mr. Aulakh's letter, are as questionable as his organization's background. In his claim that, during President Clinton's visit to India, 35 Sikhs were massacred by Indian forces, he neglects the recent announcement that two members of the Pakistan-supported terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba have since confessed and been arrested for those murders.

Just as transparency should govern the affairs of a state, so too should it govern Mr. Aulakh and his organization. It is unfortunate that his baseless claims once again have been used to poison the expanding relations between two great democracies.

MANPREET SINGH NIBBER

Secretary

Punjab Welfare Council of the USA

Burtonsville

Bush's 'dyslexia' denial missed opportunity?

In response to a Vanity Fair article alleging George W. Bush was dyslexic, the Republican presidential candidate responded, "No, I'm not dyslexic. I appreciate the diagnosis" ("Bush touts health care reform in must-win Florida, Missouri," Sept. 13). What a brilliant opportunity Mr. Bush had to express sensitivity to challenged people. Opportunity past.

Those of us who live with disabilities and who are successful in life understand that our disability is our greatest asset. From our disability we learned to stand up, acknowledge our specialness, and persevere at all undertakings.

Understandably, we may have grown up or been diagnosed with a learning disability earlier than Mr. Bush. Yet, many people, even those of the same age as Mr. Bush, have disabilities yet to be diagnosed. Approximately 1 out of 20 people live with a learning disability (dyslexia, disgraphia, discalculia etc.) and yet many are not discovered and diagnosed until a trained person determines it. And, sometimes, as in the case of Mr. Bush, the trained eye of the public is the first to see a possible disability.

"Fiction stranger than truth" his communications director Karen Hughes may be pointing out to reporters, but she of all people knows that doing public relations should mean conducting immediate research into the topic. If she had done her homework, she would have discovered the key symptoms of this disability and the real possibility that Mr. Bush is dyslexic.

Apparently, neither Mr. Bush nor his staff has learned the importance of studying a topic before making another embarrassing statement. Many of us want to believe that Mr. Bush would have learned from his past public relations mistakes. Sadly, opportunity knocked and he did not answer. Heaven forbid if this candidate does not heed the honest citation of experts who have raised this red flag.

Mr. Bush, to be disabled is and can be one of your greatest assets. There are millions of voters who are both disabled and educated with advanced degrees and creative talents that are expressed not only in words but actions. Your first action might best be to go for an educational assessment and if diagnosed with a learning disability, stand firm, stand up and stand proud.

Instead, at this moment speculation is your worst enemy. Not only did you insult many of us with disabilities but you put mud on your face in the international community, once again. This topic made front page news worldwide. Would it have not been better to acknowledge the possibility, shedding a positive light to a very real human topic?

TERESA JENNA

CEO, Infomedasia Limited

Hong Kong

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