- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2003

Does HIV belong on the quarantine list?

What's going on with SARS and AIDS/HIV? ("Health officials get OK to quarantine for SARS," April 5, Page 1.) With just a few SARS cases in the United States, President Bush put it on the list of deadly communicable diseases subject to quarantine. It joined cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, the plague, smallpox, yellow fever and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
But with about 1 million Americans infected with AIDS/HIV, don't the public and AIDS/HIV sufferers deserve equal or stronger protection by putting AIDS/HIV on the list? I urge Mr. Bush to do so immediately.

CARL OLSON
Woodland Hills, Calif.<

Columnist mistraces peace map

As the godfather of the conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr. is a precise draftsman, who consistently casts his arguments within a framework of logic and moral principle. But, even a godfather can misspeak or forget to tie his shoes or his logic. So it is with Mr. Buckley's column "Peace map tracings" (Commentary, Friday), in which he avers that Israel is "an unimaginative agent" of "perpetual friction in the Mideast" and, consequently, has President Bush telling the Israelis that "the settlements [in Gaza and the West Bank] are disruptive of any approach to a strategic arrangement."
Israel, a nation that has had to fight for its survival every day of its 55-year history, is an "agent" of friction in the Middle East in the same way that the Jews crammed into the Warsaw ghetto were agents of friction in Nazi-occupied Poland. (April 19 marked the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.) In both cases, hate derives from the mere fact of Jewish existence.
The Palestinians have declared themselves enemies of America. They supported Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War and again in the 2003 war, cheering when Americans were killed or taken prisoner, and now they demand the release of the terrorist leader Abu Abbas, recently captured by Americans in Iraq. So, how is the formation of a Palestinian state of terrorist supporters against which the settlements are, in part, a bulwark strategically helpful to America's national security or world peace? Where is the logic or morality in Mr. Buckley's including Alistair Horne's candid query, "But what would the Israelis get in return?," and having President Bush answering, in effect, "Nothing."
There was strife in the Middle East directed against the United States and Israel before the settlements, and absent appropriate corrective action such as defanging Syria, there will be strife if and when the settlements are removed. Contrary to Mr. Buckley's naive conclusion, attempting to bribe Arab despots by leaning on America's best ally in the Middle East will earn not "the respect of the broader community," but its contempt.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS
Oak Hill, Va.

Misdirected CAIR

In his objections concerning the appearance of the Rev. Franklin Graham at the Pentagon on Good Friday, Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), said it sends "entirely the wrong message to the Muslim community" ("Pentagon won't yield to Muslims on Graham," Nation, Wednesday). If a "wrong message" is out there, it's because Mr. Hooper and the Muslim community have not sent a clear, consistent and authoritative message to rebut the speculation about the violent nature of Islam. Like most Americans, I am still waiting.
Let me try to approach it another way with a simple but direct question to Mr. Hooper: Today, where are the 19 men who attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? Are they in paradise, as they and those who sent them believe, or are they in eternal damnation?
If, according to Islam, they have earned paradise, the implications are frightening but clear.
If they were misguided about Islam, which most people would like to believe, then I am very troubled that Islamic leaders are not using every means available to warn Muslim young men and women that they are being misled and will pay an eternal price for terrorist acts. If young Muslims are throwing their lives away for a mistaken belief, Islamic leaders need to accept responsibility and come forward to warn them. This would be a major contribution to the war on terror and a major step forward for the entire world.

JACK BATLUK
Tracys Landing, Md.

Puerto Ricans pay up, too

The article, "Mayor signs bill to move primary" (Metropolitan, Wednesday), asserts: "Residents of Puerto Rico … have no vote, but pay no federal taxes."
Although frequently asserted, the above statement is false. Residents of Puerto Rico do lack federal voting rights, but are obliged to pay exactly the same Social Security and Medicare taxes that fellow U.S. citizens in the 50 states and the District must pay. For most of our territory's wage-earners, moreover, those outlays far exceed the federal income-tax liabilities they would bear if Puerto Rico were a state.
In addition, despite Puerto Rico's parity with the rest of the nation in shouldering the Social Security and Medicare tax burden, its Medicare service providers must contend with a congressionally mandated cost-reimbursement formula that is far inferior to the formulas applicable elsewhere in the United States.
That's not all.
Because Congress denies our territory equal treatment under certain key federal programs, the government of Puerto Rico must make up the difference by imposing local income-tax rates that are more onerous than the combined federal and state rates applicable in most other parts of the United States.
In summary, it is unfair and inaccurate to assert or imply that residents of Puerto Rico enjoy a "free ride" on the federal "gravy train." Were that the case, then wealthy mainlanders would be flocking to our sunny shores to establish residence where they could exploit a "U.S. tax haven."
Instead, they come only as very welcome tourists.

KENNETH D. MCCLINTOCK
Minority leader
Senate of Puerto Rico
Cidra, Puerto Rico

Tough luck for red-light runners

The concern for speeders and red-light runners photographed by traffic cameras and subsequently ticketed is misplaced ("The red-light District," Editorial, Friday). As both a pedestrian and a motorist, I have on a number of occasions, in the District, Maryland and Virginia, narrowly avoided serious injuries that well could have been inflicted by flagrant red-light runners and speeders.
I would be happy to see more police officers apprehending and writing tickets for these wantonly irresponsible scofflaws. Until that day arrives, I'm happy to see an increasing number of traffic cameras and to know that violators' vehicles are photographed and their owners ticketed. I hope due-process arguments advanced by the two lawyers mentioned in your editorial are laughed out of court. I also hope all local jurisdictions further increase the number of traffic cameras. No doubt speeders, red-light runners and misguided civil libertarians object to traffic cameras. At least some of us threatened by reckless drivers support and welcome their use.

THOMAS PARKER JR.
Bethesda

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