- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

Bolivians did not want bad water

One would think, at a time when even President Bush is warning about shady corporate practices, that Bechtel Corp. might be more cautious about how it spins the facts concerning its disastrous takeover of water in Bolivia ("In Bolivia, stick to drinking beer," Letters, Aug. 5).

Bechtel would like readers of The Washington Times to believe, for example, that the engineering giant was just a minority stakeholder in the company that took over a public water system and hiked rates so high it sparked a citywide revolt (" a consortium that is 27.5 percent owned by Bechtel"). The fact is that when the contract was negotiated and the rate hikes set, Bechtel owned a 55 percent, controlling interest in the company.

Given how disastrous the situation turned out, it is no wonder that Bechtel would like to pretend otherwise now.

Bolivians didn't kick Bechtel out of their country because they were stupid. They did it because Bechtel came here, lucrative contract in hand, ready to raise the price of water far beyond what families earning $60 per month could afford. By misstating the facts of this case, Bechtel willingly adds its name to those of Enron, WorldCom and others that are becoming synonymous with corporate dishonesty.


Executive director

The Democracy Center

Cochabamba, Bolivia

Clarifying the black journalist conference

I want to address a few things in the article concerning the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson and his appearance at last week's convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in Milwaukee ("Black journalists jeer peer at debate," Page 1, Thursday).

I must agree with Mr. Peterson's thoughts about journalists being neutral and balanced in their approaches to issues. However, the annual NABJ convention, for most attendees, is not about work. This is their opportunity to be regular people dealing with the same issues as others in the trade. Yes, many will go home and report on things discussed at the convention, but I think you'll find that that coverage is fair and balanced, as it should be. Rarely do personal agendas slip into our members' work.

By the way, The Washington Times' reporter incorrectly stated that "the 90-minute debate was moderated by Ed Gordon, a former NBC television reporter and host of his own news show on Black Entertainment Television." In fact, the debate was moderated by Barbara Rodgers of KPIX-TV, San Francisco.

The NABJ welcomes the opportunity to clear up these issues.


NABJ Vice President

Convention Program Chairman

Columbia, S.C.

A defining adjective

In identifying Emily's List as a group that "'raises dough' to help female Democratic candidates," an essential adjective is missing ("Leftist lobbies suffer a hit in Michigan race," Nation, Friday). As the group's Web site proclaims in its logo: Emily's List is "a political network for pro-choice Democratic women." It does not support pro-life candidates. Since there are many pro-life Democrats, this is a defining difference.


Loudonville, N.Y.

Synagogues in cornfields?

I found the article "Orthodox Jews have the most synagogues" (Nation, Friday) quite interesting but must point out what I think is an error in the penultimate paragraph, which reads: "The highest synagogue density is in rural locations such as South Dakota, Mississippi, Montana and Arkansas."

Unless there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of conversion to Judaism in rural Americana, I believe that The Washington Times meant to say "The lowest synagogue density ."


Los Angeles

To Hades with ecumenism

I find a renewed hope as a Christian and an American through the Rev. Franklin Graham's comments on Islam ("Graham speaks out on Islam," Page 1, Thursday). At last, some Christian clergyman has found his backbone.

I work with Muslims of Middle Eastern origin and would not offend anyone of any religion deliberately. As a Christian, however, I speak as a Christian and not the expert on someone else's beliefs. This is what Mr. Graham is doing.

Muslims are not required to give Jesus Christ equal time in public. Hindus are not required to mention the Christian God in their discourses. Buddhists are not told they must verbally address Jesus with the same equality they would Buddha. Neither animists, Wiccans, pagans, Druids, Satanists or any other religious group is told to give equal time to the God of the Christian or shut up about their own concept of divinity.

Rather, political correctness demands only Christians must speak in the name and of the name of any other various and sundry "faith" or shut up altogether. I am a Christian. My family has been Christian since the boat that brought them ashore in Maryland in 1648. Why should my children and I be made aliens and strangers in our own country? Why should I or Mr. Graham give respect to another's god when that same respect is not given to my God?

If the torch bearers for tolerance and liberality are as sincere as they seem to want to project to the world at large, then be tolerant be liberal. You cannot selectively apply your "tolerance" and your "liberty" to select groups and then deny the same to those you disfavor.

If you do, you cease to be tolerant and have become what you profess to oppose. Let's have freedom for all faiths Christianity included.


Midway, Ga.

The Rev. Franklin Graham is a bowl full of contradictions. He claims to have "many Muslim friends," yet refers to their religion as "wicked" and "violent," and then states that he was not "attacking Muslims."

Furthermore, Mr. Graham claims that Muslim clerics have not gone to Ground Zero and have not apologized to the nation in the name of Islam. Several Muslim leaders have visited the site, including boxing great Muhammad Ali, and several clerics have participated in interfaith prayer services there, including ones on Oct. 28 and Feb. 3.

While almost all Muslim clerics in this country have condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks, they have no need to apologize for the attacks since they had no involvement in them. Does it make sense for someone to apologize for something they have not done?

In reality, it is Mr. Graham who is the one who needs to deliver an apology. He plays the same game as other religious extremists, both in the United States and abroad, who seek to destroy the beautiful religious tapestry we have in this country.

Both Mr. Graham and I would agree that America is "one nation, under God," but I would also like to remind him that our country is also "indivisible" and that his attempts to pit Christians against Muslims will certainly fail.


Greenvale, N.Y.

I agree with the Rev. Franklin Graham about Islam's propensity for violence toward non-Muslims.

Living in an Islamic country, I can safely say that he is right. Since Monday, we have had two attacks on Christian institutions in Pakistan; and Thursday's bombing was the fourth major attack on the most peaceful community of Pakistan. All this is being done in the name of Allah.

Pakistan's Christian community is living in fear and frustration. After September 11, the American people should understand what it is to be victims of terror.


Gujranwala, Pakistan

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