- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On board with equity Although I enjoyed Bryce Baschuk’s Friday Page One article about mandatory age-60 pilot retirement (“Age-restricted U.S. pilots continue flying overseas”), it and many similar articles fail to mention an important fact. Under the agreement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), foreign captains have been able to fly into our country up to age 65 since Nov. 23, 2006.

This discriminatory practice, known well in advance by the Federal Aviation Administration, was agreed to by our government. On Jan. 30, FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey announced an intent to change the law (over the next two to three years), saying “experience counts” and that allowing our pilots to fly to age 65 would provide “an extra margin of safety.” However, the FAA had to be pushed by legal action from the Senior Pilots Coalition (SPC) into finally processing hundreds of age-60 waiver requests, allowable under the Federal Aviation Regulations, but it denied them with the claim that waivers are “not in the public interest.” What hypocrisy.

The SPC (a not-for-profit 501c3 corporation) was formed in February to pursue equity with foreign pilots through legal, legislative and media efforts. It is awaiting a decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal of waiver denials.

LYLE SPEACE

Captain (retired)

America West Airlines

Vice president

Senior Pilots Coalition

Lenexa, Kansas

Mendacious rhetoric

Rep. Dan Burton’s Commentary column on Kosovo’s independence is mendacious and completely off the mark (“Negotiating for peace in Kosovo,” Aug. 20) as is most of the recent coverage on Kosovo.

The people of Kosovo were spared outright genocide in 1999 when the 78-day U.S.-led NATO operation brought an end to the Serbian onslaught in Kosovo, which had left 12,000 Albanians dead and thousands missing, half of the population violently deported, and close to 130,000 homes burned or leveled. After Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, this was the fourth war of aggression waged by President Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia during the 1990s against its fellow federal units of the former Yugoslavia.

A Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, triggered World War I in 1914. Another Serbian nationalist, Mr. Milosevic, the Butcher, concluded the past century with wars aimed at creating a Greater Serbia.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, but also former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who were in opposition to Mr. Milosevic, made common cause with the Butcher when it came to Kosovo.

These are facts Mr. Burton wants shunned from argument in his bid to portray Serbia as an aggrieved party in the Kosovo dispute.

It is mendacious of Mr. Burton to speak of “some two-thirds of the Serbs, Roma, Croats and all the Jews” being unable to return to Kosovo. Two-thirds of the prewar Serbian community lives in Kosovo today. No single Jew has left Kosovo in the past several decades, as anybody with basic knowledge about the area knows. No single Jew died at Albanian hands in Kosovo or Albania during World War II, during the Holocaust.

Mr. Burton compounds this with another piece of mendacity: Kosovo Albanians, secular Muslims in their overwhelming majority, have built hundreds of mosques “to replace” Serbian churches they supposedly destroyed. This is sheer Serbian propaganda in action.

It is time to say “Enough is enough: Kosovo is independent,” as President Bush said in Tirana, Albania, on June 10. Kosovo’s independence should be recognized now. Kosovo wants to be part of the Euro-Atlantic community, Serbia of Russia’s sphere of interest. Let it be.

MUHAMET HAMITI

Senior political adviser to the president of Kosovo

Pristina, Kosovo

A ‘brain-dead’ move by Craig

Sen. Larry Craig may be able to get his guilty plea withdrawn and the charges dropped. What he can’t do is get all of America, and particularly the voters in his state, to believe he wasn’t prowling for sex in that lavatory (“Craig’s stance,” Inside Politics, Thursday).

His colleagues in the Senate have shown that they believe the charge by the rapidity with which they threw him under the bus. At best, some people might think he got nabbed too early in the process and that slick lawyering could have gotten the case dismissed. No one in this country confuses “the cops didn’t prosecute” with “there was nothing to the allegation,” especially with regard to the wealthy and powerful.

If what Mr. Craig says is true — if he wasn’t soliciting sex when he was caught — pleading guilty is one of the great brain-dead moves of all time. Even without advice of counsel, you should know that you don’t plead guilty to a sex crime you didn’t commit because you think it will end your problems more quickly. Someone that stupid should not be making our laws.

What’s worse is thinking that anyone, anywhere, will believe it.

JOHN BLANENSHIP

Chicago

Parked in neutral

I wish to clarify Martin Morse Wooster’s review of my book “Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War Over College Affirmative Action” (“Racial preferences and ‘rich white kids,’ ” Books, Sunday).

Mr. Wooster writes: “Mr. Schmidt admits that his newspaper was not an unbiased observer in the conflict” and quotes me as saying I “half expected to hear popping champagne corks” in the office “and a marching band triumphantly playing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ on its way to the Lincoln Memorial” after the Supreme Court rendered its 2003 decision upholding race-conscious admissions at the University of Michigan’s law school. A careful reading of this passage of my book will show that it describes what I expected to hear upon stepping out “onto a balcony” of the Chronicle of Higher Education and refers to a celebratory mood outside my company’s office, not within the office itself. (Anyone wishing to read the original text cited by Mr. Wooster can go to my Web site, colorandmoney.com, and download the excerpt from my Introduction.)

Likewise, Mr. Wooster’s assertion that “Mr. Schmidt supports affirmative action” cannot be fairly attributed to any portion of my book. Both the Chronicle and I have sought at all times to remain neutral observers of the debate over affirmative action, not taking stands either for or against it. Mr. Morse himself calls the book “fair, balanced and judicious” — hardly traits I would expect to see ascribed to me if I had set out to advance one side.

PETER SCHMIDT

Deputy editor of business and politics

Chronicle of Higher Education

Washington

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