- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

Clarence Page is incorrect in defending Bill Maher

Regarding Clarence Page's Oct. 10 Commentary column, "Free speech on the casualty list," a few observations are in order.
In the case of sponsors pulling their support from the "Politically Incorrect" TV program because of remarks by its host, Bill Maher, Mr. Page seems to miss the point regarding free speech. Mr. Maher is guaranteed free speech; he is not guaranteed sponsorship. The corporate sponsors involved Federal Express and Sears are entitled to contribute or withhold their sponsorship as they see fit.
Given the nature of Mr. Maher's disgraceful remarks about our military, both Federal Express and Sears should be lauded for their actions.
Next, it seems curious that Mr. Page would quote Susan Sontag regarding "a mature democracy." Mrs. Sontag has always embraced far-left politics, and has supported any government that has had the "good sense" to make war, cold or otherwise, against the United States. She is hardly an arbiter of anything democratic.
Finally, Mr. Page claims to be "proud as an American" to fight for the rights of Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the lone member of Congress to vote against a resolution authorizing the use of military force in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Yet he does not express a commensurate amount of sorrow, anger, sadness, outrage, or any other discernible passion regarding the deaths of more than 5,000 Americans on Sept. 11. It appears that their deaths are a matter of supreme indifference.

Sterling, Va.

Article paints misleading picture of Liberia

As an avid reader of The Times' World Briefing/Africa section, the Oct. 18 wire story, "'Settler rule' remnants scar Liberia," left me perplexed. I am originally from Liberia, but I didn't recognize any realism in the article's description of prewar Liberia. True, Liberia has had its share of problems, but so did Victorian Britain and pre-Napoleonic France. I found the article to be more fantasy than fact.

U.S. government aids the hungry in Tajikistan

Thank you for helping to bring the plight of Tajikistan's drought-affected population to the world's attention with your Oct. 15 story, "Starving Tajiks in Afghans' Shadow."
As the article correctly points out, Tajikistan has been particularly hard-hit by a debilitating four-year, regionwide drought that has ravaged crops and left up to 1 million people facing severe food shortages.
The article also correctly notes that food aid and seed distribution are keys to solving the problem. The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) has been monitoring the situation in Tajikistan from its office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and from Washington.
In fiscal year 2001, AID provided more than 17,000 metric tons of emergency food aid, valued at $12.5 million, to Tajikistan. We also provided support for treatment of malnutrition in one of the world's worst-affected areas. The Agriculture Department provided another 62,900 metric tons of food aid valued at $42.2 million during the past fiscal year.
Earlier this month, AID provided nearly $1 million in new funding to enable CARE to buy seeds and fertilizer. This assistance will help nearly 23,000 families to cope with the drought. In addition, in late September, AID signed new agreements providing $2.5 million to five nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies to increase agriculture production and income-generating activities in drought-affected areas of Tajikistan.
In the past fiscal year, the U.S. government provided a total of $67.21 million in assistance to Tajikistan, a country with a population of about 6.6 million. AID remains committed to preventing famine in Tajikistan by providing needed assistance in the form of food, seed and assistance for other anti-famine measures.

U.S. Agency for International Development
Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

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