- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

Cambodian coverage deserved critical review

Since when has The Washington Times been an uncritical mouthpiece for corrupt manipulators more commonly known for being virulently racist? I refer to the propaganda uncritically represented from Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy ("Bleak era seen facing a 'lawless' Cambodia," World, Tuesday).

Mr. Rainsy carefully made comparisons with Afghanistan and international terrorism in an effort to attract U.S. attention, and he got it. No other sources were checked, his comments were not reviewed in light of established academic criticism of his past behavior, and Sen. John McCain's reputation was tarnished by his being associated with Mr. Rainsy.

Mr. Rainsy is not a democrat. Rather, he is a disappointed authoritarian in the Cambodian tradition. He refers to his Vietnamese neighbors as "yuon," meaning savages, and he deliberately sets out to mislead anyone who will give him airtime, as I have witnessed and recorded. I have given short shrift to this individual in my scholarly monograph on Cambodian politics.

In short, Times reporters should be more cautious when in the presence of racist manipulators who have little or no interest in their country, but who use public international sympathies for the United States at this time of mourning to further their own causes.



School of History and International Affairs

University of Ulster

Derry, Northern Ireland

Central Asian republic feels America's pain

As rightly noted in Monday's editorial "New oil frontiers," Kazakhstan is "the Caspian's most oil-rich country" and truly "feels a strong solidarity" with the United States. Those feelings have strengthened since September 11, 2001.

Great friendships are often tested by shared tragedies. When terrorists struck the United States, the people of Kazakhstan took those attacks as their own disaster. Television carried those horrific images across the globe and into homes everywhere. We suffered with you, and even as far as we are from the United States geographically, we too lost one of ours at the World Trade Center. Our hearts filled with pain and sympathy, and we embraced your country's strength of purpose as you moved against the terrorists.

Immediately after the terrorists struck, Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, called terrorism a "global evil" and offered unconditional support for the just fight against terror wherever it lived in the world. We joined with you against the terrorists, opening skies and offering use of our major international airport for our allies in this fight.

We are a country with the strongest of family traditions and values. The children of Kazakhstan realized many American children would be waiting for parents who would never come home. Their hearts went out to these children, and a flood of letters from Kazakhstan are on the way to those who need the warm touch of friendship the most. A child's emotions are pure and very straightforward. In these letters, they not only spoke for themselves, but echoed the grief of all the people of Kazakhstan.

Grief is an unwelcome guest in any home quick to arrive and slow to leave. Friends share grief and stand together in the difficult days. Though time heals the pain, the pain will never fade completely.

Our two countries' friendship, tested by the times, has only strengthened. We have become even closer, and many of you have realized how much we have in common.



Republic of Kazakhstan


Internet pop-ups ruin deaf and blind viewing pleasure

Monday's edition reported on the ire pop-up advertising causes among Internet users ("Pop-ups strike out with Internet advertisers," Page 1). For some Web surfers using assistive technology or other alternative means to access the Internet, pop-ups are not merely annoying, but confusing and intrusive as well. It is not difficult to imagine the frustration felt by Web surfers who are blind or visually impaired when, without warning, these ads change the focus from the page they want to view to the pop-up itself.

Pop-ups are only one example of common Web features that make it difficult, if not impossible, for people using assistive technology such as screen readers or speech recognition to access the wealth of information on the Internet. Graphics with no text alternatives, audio files with no transcripts and drop-down menus that must be activated through mouse clicks, for example, pose challenges to people who use text browsers, who cannot see or hear, or who use only a keyboard interface.

A recent study by San Francisco State University and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 87 percent of federal Web sites are inaccessible, despite a federal law requiring Web-site accessibility since June 2001. Yet many accessibility barriers can be eliminated cost-effectively and with simple programming techniques.

As director of technology initiatives for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, I encourage organizations to implement accessible Web applications that keep the end users' experience in mind. By doing so, they will create more accessible Web sites that appeal to a broader audience, frustrate fewer customers and likely gain more business in the end.


Director of technology initiatives

Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind


A missing piece in intelligence jigsaw puzzle

As a former Pentagon intelligence analyst, I find the jigsaw-puzzle analogy to analysis cited by Dennis Pluchinsky ("Deadly puzzle of terrorism," Op-Ed, Wednesday) to be right on target. One factor he neglected to mention is time. Depending on the situation, an analyst is given perhaps a couple of months, a week, sometimes just an hour to assemble the disparate pieces of the puzzle and tell the supervisor what the picture represents. Sometimes there is not enough time to do so accurately enough. This is another part of intelligence analysis never mentioned by pundits.


Arlington, Va.

Lutheran minister dug his own grave

A recent article evidently was missing part of its headline. "Expelled Lutheran minister gets public support" (Nation, Sept. 1) should have finished with "from The Washington Times." It is clear from the article that little effort was made by the reporter to learn the principled, biblical position the Missouri Synod's presidium and board of directors took in expelling the Rev. David Benke.

Instead, the straw-man arguments put forth by Mr. Benke and his supporters were presented as the "conservative" argument, and even the vocabulary of their propaganda was repeated in the article.

The first paragraph described an interfaith service at Yankee Stadium as an "interfaith event." Toward the end, Mr. Benke was quoted defending his participation there as an articulation of his faith. Merely repeating the terminology of one side in a dispute is the sort of advocacy journalism one expects of other newspapers, not The Washington Times.

I hope The Times will dig a little deeper the next time it covers this issue, which indeed threatens to divide the largest confessional Lutheran denomination in the world. Once people discover not only that Mr. Benke was reprimanded for this type of behavior in the past (as reported in your article), but that he also promised in a written address to the entire synod that he would never again offend his fellow church members by leading joint worship with non-Lutherans, then readers will understand why he, not the synod's leadership, is tearing his church apart. (Any "event" that includes invocations, readings, reflections, prayers, rituals and benedictions is worship.)

Lacking the courage of his convictions simply to join a church body that shares his unionist beliefs and would gladly welcome him (the 5-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example), he is instead taking advantage of our national tragedy to further his own personal political agenda.


Bolingbrook, Ill.

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