- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2002

While Al Qaeda may be in Iraq, it certainly is in the U.S.

According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, al Qaeda terrorists are inside Iraq, almost certainly with the support of Saddam Hussein's government ("Rumsfeld says al Qaeda forces living in Iraq," Page 1, Wednesday). "It's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Maybe he is right. Unfortunately, it also is difficult to believe that there are al Qaeda terrorists right here in the United States, courtesy of our own inept government. In fairness to Iraq, its government might be as vaguely aware of what's taking place in that country as ours is about what's happening here. Most of the September 11 terrorists lived and trained in our country and certainly had no problem entering and leaving at their pleasure. Yet the thugs at the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Clinton were quick to deport a young Cuban boy seeking freedom back into the hands of a dictatorship.

As the old saying goes, clean up your own back yard before asking someone else to clean up his. Perhaps it is time for our country to lead by example and rid itself of its own fleas before attacking others' fleas.


Littleton, Colo.

The count on baseball economics

Baseball players union head Donald Fehr's criticism of the baseball owners' economic proposals as "a wholesale attack on the salary structure" proves only one thing: He must have been hit in the head with one fastball too many ("Fehr blasts owners' proposals in memos to players, agents," Sports, Wednesday). It's about time that baseball players' salaries reverted back to a sensible level. Paying grown men $10 million to $20 million a year to play a game is absurd and disgusting to the average working man.

Take, for example, our local hero in Boston, Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. His salary for this season is $14 million. Breaking down that amount into how much he earns per game, per inning and per pitch is a lesson in the economics of baseball. Let's say that Martinez makes a total of 35 starts per year, in which he goes seven innings, and throws on average 120 pitches per start. That means he would earn $400,000 per start, $57,142 per inning and $3,333 for each pitch.

Do the millionaire spoiled brats who play baseball have a beef? Yes, but not a legitimate one. They seem to view the prospect of earning a decent wage for a decent day's work as something far beneath them.


Watertown, Mass.

Liberated unto death

I read with sad incredulity the account of the release of 1,200 minks from a pen in Iowa ("Group releases 1,200 mink" American Scene, Tuesday). Animal-rights activists who so love animals that they don't seem to use their human intellects trespass on private property and open pens to "free" these animals. The result: Half of the minks are missing, many no doubt killed by cars and predators. I hope they enjoyed their freedom.

This anti-mentality pervades such animal-rights activists. To provide another example, they don't want hunters to shoot deer to use the meat and thin the herds, so the surplus population dies of disease and starvation. Poor deer.


Fort Washington

Adjudicating claims of Israel's 'illegal occupation'

Claiming that "Israel acknowledges itself as an occupying power," the letter by Miryam Rashid skips too lightly over internationally accepted definitions of legal and illegal occupation ("'Illegal occupation' fuels Palestinian-Israeli conflict," Wednesday). The Palestinians declined to be party to the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, which provided an independent state for them in territory generally resembling the West Bank. From 1948 to 1967, Jordan was an illegal occupying power, having acquired that territory in an offensive war against Israel. Israel acquired it legally in the course of a defensive war in 1967. That does not necessarily mean that Israel can or should keep it, but the claim of illegal occupation is false.

Further, Miss Rashid selectively cites U.N. Resolution 242, which required that Israel withdraw from "territories" not, as she writes, "the territories," implying all the land. Israel has, in fact, withdrawn from more than 90 percent of the territory acquired in 1967 surely a good-faith effort. The resolution, however, continues with a requirement for "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." Israel is still waiting for most of the Arab world including the Palestinians, who were not a party to the resolution but wish to claim its presumed benefits to comply.


Director of special projects

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs


An old song in the 'New World'

Wednesday's front-page article "No conversion for tavern tunes" erroneously states that the spiritual "Going Home" which truly is "often sung at Protestant funerals" is set to "a melodic passage from Antonin Dvorak's 'New World Symphony.'"

If the reporter had done a bit more research, he would have learned what any first-year music student knows: that the reverse is true. During a trip to America in the late 1860s, Dvorak studied native music, including slave songs. He especially liked one of those slave songs, later incorporating its melody into his ninth symphony, that majestic composition celebrating the New World.


South Hamilton, Mass.

How to help urban schools

Columnist Nat Hentoff correctly identifies the problem of unequal funding of inner-city schools attended by minorities ("The dollars and sense of education," Op-Ed, Monday). Yet, the larger problem is often ignored: Good teachers usually choose not to teach in inner-city schools.

The decision about where to teach is easy given the choice between a brand-new suburban school full of students with skills at grade level and an inner-city school where the physical plant is dismal, crime is rampant and most students are way below grade level.

A faster (building schools takes a long time) and cheaper way to narrow the gap between suburban and inner-city schools is to offer higher pay to teachers in inner-city schools.

Salaries should be raised until the quality of teachers applying to inner-city schools and suburban schools is the same. While some may scoff at this approach, it is simplistic to think that building new schools and equipping them with computers will solve this problem.

After all, it is the teachers, not the infrastructure, who inspire students. As students, many of us had a favorite teacher. I would venture to guess that far fewer of us had a favorite computer lab or locker.



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