- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2001

Voice of America stifled in Turkey, Turkish Cyprus

Your Jan. 31 editorial "Voiceless America," which criticized the decrescendo of the Voice of America due to cuts in the organization's staff and programming as being contrary to the United States' support of democracy abroad, enjoys special resonance in Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. VOA's decision to wither its 75-minute daily Turkish broadcast service to a 15-minute sound bite clashes with the longstanding foreign policy of the United States to promote an independent broadcast media in the region. In addition, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot peoples cherish the VOA's broadcast services as a vehicle for learning about the United States and cultivating friendships and harmony with Americans.

VOA's feeble defense is that its Turkish broadcasts will be available over the Internet. But Internet access is greater for Greeks and Greek Cypriots than it is for the Turkish and Turkish Cypriots. And VOA is continuing its full menu of Greek broadcast services. Furthermore, Internet availability is no substitute for omnipresent over-the-air broadcasting. Who among the more than 10,000 radio broadcasters in the United States believes their voice would penetrate as deeply if they swapped their spectrum for Internet access?

The Turkish and Turkish Cypriot listeners and intellectuals have protested VOA's unilateral withdrawal from the free marketplace of ideas so central to their democratic flowerings. What VOA has done is tantamount to Turkey or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus jamming its Turkish broadcast signals, which would have provoked howls of free speech denunciations from the State Department's Bureau of Human Rights. If VOA is to be an instrument for democracy abroad and a global emporium of news and ideas sans United States soldiers or subsidies, then its broadcasts should broaden, not shrink, and in higher, not lower octaves.

AHMET ERDENGIZ

Representative

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Washington

Coverage could do without cosmetics

For the past eight years, I have read The Washington Times to gain valuable insight into the skullduggery of the Clinton administration. You are to be commended for frequently shining the light of day onto their often disreputable actions.

Now the Republicans are in control, and what makes the front page of the newspaper Saturday, Feb. 3? A puff piece about Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris ("Harris looks back with no regrets"). No, I'm not interested in the fact that she's "ultrapetite" or that she wears lipstick the shade of merlot or that she carries a compact of "the sponge foundation kind."

Please. Stick to important investigative reporting.

WES CLARK

Springfield, Va.

Missile defense not a security cure-all

Two men in an explosive-laden boat nearly sank a U.S. warship. What might two men in a boat do with a weapon of mass destruction against an American city?

The missile-defense enthusiasts such as Frank J. Gaffney Jr. and James T. Hackett, who write frequently in your pages, and the new secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, are preoccupied with only one means of delivery of a weapon of mass destruction an intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a rogue state. This is the most unlikely way for an enemy of the United States to deliver what might be its only nuclear or biological package.

Missiles are unreliable and tend to blow up, come down on the sender or land on unintended targets. Missile defense will do nothing to protect this country against short-range missiles, artillery shells or even two men in a boat launched from a ship a few miles offshore. Our only defense is good intelligence and large rewards for genuine information of any plans to attack our country.

WILLIAM T. SMITH

McLean

United Nations responds to international tax anxieties

Your Jan. 31 front-page article, "U.N. seeks to tax international currency trades," and your Feb. 1 article, "Critics see 'zero' chance of U.N. tax," unfortunately focus on an issue on which the U.N. Secretary-General's report on financing for development has made no recommendation. The proposed high-level Financing for Development consultation in 2002 will not be about the international tax so prominently featured in the article.

The collegial effort of the United Nations and secretariats of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization in producing this report was meant to elaborate a set of practical recommendations (87 in all) to nations and to the international system in order to address concerns and anxieties about globalization. Governments will choose from this menu of recommendations to decide a future course of action.

I hope your readers will visit our web site (www.un.org/esa/analysis/ffd), read the report and judge for themselves.

NITIN DESAI

Under-Secretary-General for economic and social affairs

United Nations

New York

Health and behavior research worth every penny

Taking potshots at individual research grants ("Paying for the obvious," Commentary, Jan. 29) is easy sport, like complaining about weapons systems that don't work the first time. What seems obvious often isn't especially about human behavior.

We all know what we should do to be healthy, but we don't really understand a whole lot about how to translate that knowledge into action otherwise we wouldn't be suffering from diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. This is the job of the behavioral and social sciences.

People are hoping that the human genome can lead to the cure for all disease, but all of genetics, indeed the use of all biomedical technology, is mediated by human learning and human performance. Until we develop a more sophisticated understanding of how, for example, to train physicians to make decisions based on solid evidence and figure out how to get patients to comply with complex drug and diet regimens, much of our investment in the "hard science" of health will be wasted.

Two recent examples of the kind of research Evan Gahr pouts about in his column: A study shows that adults who care for ill parents at home (certainly a socially responsible, nongovernmental means of caring for the elderly) are often so stressed that they become sicker themselves, a finding that might help caregivers adjust their own schedules and health habits. And a recent finding that exercise may help some elderly people ward off depression can save Medicare dollars, as well as foster less reliance on the psychologists Mr. Gahr disparages.

Science is neither conservative nor liberal, contrary to what Mr. Gahr would have us believe. That is why both political parties should favor even more funding of the National Institutes of Health, including the behavioral aspects of health.

JESSIE C. GRUMAN

Executive Director

Center for the Advancement of Health

Washington

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