- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

Food for military memories

As a 20-year Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War, I have to applaud the work of Jennifer Harper for yesterday's Page One article "Now here's a 3-year-old sandwich to die for." In addition to being an excellent source of food an energy, a Navy corpsman could always, in a pinch, use a "PBJ"(peanut butter and jelly sandwich) as a bandage for a wounded Marine.
So thanks again to Ms. Harper for presenting readers with a lighthearted piece of nostalgia.

FRED C. LASH
Office of Congressional and Public Affairs
Congress
Washington

The legacy of Athens, Pakistani-style

Former Ambassador George Bruno's Sunday Forum column, "There's still no democracy in Pakistan" (Commentary), unfortunately sees Pakistan's democracy as a glass half empty.
Contrary to what he perceives, the reality is markedly different and facts prove that a jaundiced perception of the recent elections cannot be borne by what is actually occurring in the country's body politic.
Observers both domestic and international agree that the elections were conducted in a fair, free and transparent manner. The results further proved that many of the bigwigs who were perceived to be the government's favorites lost their seats in their home constituencies.
The victory of the Mujtahida Majlis-i-Amal or MMA (an alliance of six religious parties) should not be seen as an ominous political development. The demographic profile of votes cast in favor of the MMA is emblematic of the collective sense of angst in the Pashtun areas because of ethnic power policies across the border, economic disruptions in the border areas caused by the anti-terrorism campaign, and ennui of voters in general with other political leaders and their legacy of misgovernance and malfeasance.
The performance of the present government has received kudos from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, especially in stemming the hemorrhaging economy. Unemployment, inflation, hard currency reserves, remittances, trade balance and debt servicing all have shown record improvements under extremely trying circumstances without provoking any civil disturbances. This is no mean achievement, bearing in mind Pakistan's domestic, regional and international milieu.
The political developments, especially the constitutional amendments, have in no way neutered the legislature. Rather, these enactments have restored the checks and balances and institutional safety valves that existed from 1988 to 1998. Far from being an impotent body, the parliament has the prerogative to impeach the president and also amend the constitution with a two-thirds majority.
Finally, unlike tangible military and developmental assistance, democracy is germane to each socioeconomic and psychosocial geographic entity and cannot be "imported" or "exported." Rather, it develops intermittently, with fits and starts, because representative government and political pluralism are the products of a historical process, dependent upon the country's political culture.

ASAD HAYAUDDIN
Press attache
Embassy of Pakistan
Washington

Clarifying an article on Ukraine

The article "President seen likely to avoid a probe" (World, Saturday) contains several misleading statements by Sviatoslav Piskun, prosecutor general of Ukraine. Guided by the motto of the court, "Let us hear out the other side," I would like to take this opportunity to explain.
I do not know the motives of those deputies who appeal to me with a request to open a criminal case against President Leonid Kuchma, nor do I care. I could not decline the request because at least one aspect of the case cannot be disproved: Mr. Kuchma's refusal to sign, in contravention of the Constitution of Ukraine, a whole list of legislation.
In the article, Mr. Piskun accused me of allying with the opposition. I have chosen the side of the law, and only the law. The fact that anti-presidential forces also ended up on the side of the law had no bearing on my decision.
In claiming that Ukraine's supreme court had ruled the case to have been improperly initiated and had referred it back to the appeals court, Mr. Piskun told a deliberate untruth, expecting perhaps that I would be unable to respond to his statement. In fact, the supreme court did not consider the legality of my order, instead clarifying the question of whether the prosecutor general's office had the right to appeal this order and also giving deputies an opportunity to respond to the appeal. At present, my order has not been overturned and remains in effect.
I have not made charges against Mr. Kuchma. In Ukrainian criminal law, the opening of the case and the "laying of charges" are two different stages of the same process something Mr. Piskun should know. Charges against Mr. Kuchma can only be laid at the end of the process of impeachment, which, at the present time, is quite problematic.
Mr. Piskun's accusation that I withheld evidence from prosecutors is nonsense. The information contained in my order had been in the newspapers for three years running. It is also untrue that the case is in the hands of another judge. It has not yet returned from the supreme court to the appeals court.
Bohdan Futey, the U.S. federal judge quoted in the article, reminded readers that the president of Ukraine has immunity during his term of office. By ordering the investigation, I did not rescind his immunity. My esteemed American colleague, Judge Futey, cited an article of the Ukrainian Constitution that is irrelevant to this particular matter.

YURI O. VASYLENKO
Appeals court judge
Kiev, Ukraine

The few, the proud, the black Republicans

It's too bad Tuesday's Page One article "GOP faces lack of black hopefuls" failed to note that in Texas, where the press has focused on the black Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, black Republican Michael Williams is a shoo-in to be elected to a full term on the powerful Texas Railroad Commission, and black Republican Wallace Jefferson is a shoo-in to win a full term on the Texas Supreme Court.
Yet it is true that the Democrats' "Oreo" charges against black Republicans (i.e., black on the outside, white on the inside) have hurt their ascendancy within the Republican Party, as it also is true that Republicans in general have failed to adequately condemn the slurs against black Republicans as racist and out of bounds. Republican leaders have had opportunities for years to condemn such tactics as being oppressive efforts by demagogues to maintain power over black minds and, thus, to keep blacks enslaved by their own leaders.

DUGGAN FLANAKIN
Austin, Texas

Interpreting the U.S. unemployment rate

Yesterday's Page One article "Tight job market frustrates millions" did not mention that Congress has twice raised annual limits on H-1B visas in the past four years. The number of foreign workers who can be brought into the United States to take our jobs is in excess of 200,000 per year under this one visa program alone. About 800,000 H-1B visa foreign workers and another 400,000 L-1 visa foreign workers are here right now, each taking a job that otherwise would have gone to a qualified American citizen. Americans working in high-tech jobs are routinely fired and replaced by younger, cheaper and more compliant H-1B workers.
Furthermore, the 6 percent unemployment rate quoted in the article is artificially low and misleading. For example, a 45-year-old computer programmer who is fired and replaced by a 25-year-old H-1B worker from India has to find some way to make ends meet. The unemployed American programmer who takes a job delivering pizzas is no longer counted in unemployment statistics as an unemployed programmer he is counted as fully employed, albeit as a pizza deliverer.
Big business justifies flooding our domestic job market with foreign workers under H-1B and other foreign-worker visa programs by claiming there is a shortage of available skilled workers. Congress' own investigative body, the General Accounting Office, found no evidence such a shortage exists. Rather, H-1B and similar programs are profitable to big business insofar as they drive down wages and reduce labor costs. The only real shortage that exists is a shortage of good-paying job opportunities for Americans in their own country.
The blame for our present unemployment problem lies squarely on the shoulders of Congress, which keeps these visa programs in place at the behest of generous big business interests.

GERARD WEVERS
Meridian, Idaho

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