- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Bush, Congress and the necessary fight against AIDS

Sen. Rick Santorum clearly states the case for fully funding President Bush’s AIDS initiative at $3 billion this year (“Finishing what we started,” Op-Ed, yesterday).

We now stand at the deciding moment that will determine how hundreds of millions will live and die. Behind us are years of shameful neglect by the United States and other rich nations, while before us is an immense opportunity to halt the needless AIDS deaths and looming societal chaos by bringing life-saving medications, care and prevention.

Congress and the president must prove the substance of their rhetoric by funding our share to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with at least $1 billion. The Global Fund is currently funding successfully scaled-up programs across the world and treating 500,000 people infected with AIDS. Waiting for larger donations from Europe or Japan will leave these programs and the future of the Global Fund at risk.

I hope Mr. Santorum and all of his colleagues in both chambers of Congress will support Rep. Nita M. Lowey’s amendment adding $1 billion for the global AIDS fight to the foreign pperations bill and its equivalent in the Senate.

While Congress wrestles with the appropriations process this week, the Global Fund’s donors meeting in Paris is empty of actual committed donors, thousands of hospital and clinic shelves remain bare of medications and nearly 60,000 families of people with AIDS bury their dead.

ALLISON DINSMORE

Philadelphia

Internet dating

Regarding the Op-Ed, “Looking for Mr. (Word) Perfect,” Monday, Suzanne Fields makes certain valid points, to be sure — however, she paints only half the picture. For some individuals, the Internet has been a positive boon. We both have great difficulty interacting with people face to face because we are both autistic, and if we had actually met face to face, we would probably have never gotten to know each other.

Instead, we met back in 1998 when a search engine sent me to her Web site by mistake, I dropped her a short note, and we hit it off, spending four years as friends before becoming a couple last September. Admittedly, our story is somewhat different from the usual type of Internet romance that Mrs. Fields addresses, but even so, it is a success story, and a very tender one at that.

So, while I would agree that in many ways the Internet is killing off the old romance, other types of romance are arising to take its place. You just need to look past the “find-a-mate dot-coms” and dig a little deeper to find it.

PARRISH S. KNIGHT

Silver Spring

The escalating conflict in Liberia, marked by widespread human rights abuses, demands an immediate international response. Those responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable and brought to justice. Any such actions, however, must be undertaken with strict adherence to international law and with a sense of international cooperation.

This might be the Bush administration’s opportunity to apply lessons learned from the Iraq crisis, demonstrate a new sense of international political leadership, and perhaps regain some respect and credibility within the international community.

MARY T. SHAW

Coordinator

Amnesty International USA Group

West Chester, Pa. my family and I attended the commissioning of the Navy’s, and our nation’s, newest aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Along with the other 15,000 people gathered to witness this historic occasion, we endured the hot July sun while sitting on the pier at the Norfolk Naval Station. But it was well worth it.

The bringing to life of USS Ronald Reagan was both a spectacular event and a simplistic affair, reminiscent of our former commander in chief. These feelings were apparent from the red, white and blue jellybeans given out to remind everyone of the Gipper’s favorite snack in the Oval Office, to the newest technology aboard this massive warship.

This new instrument of diplomacy during peacetime, and of strong resolve during conflict, was summed up by the ship’s motto: “Peace Through Strength.” Those words are Ronald Reagan’s legacy. He secured the end of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union through his unprecedented rebuilding of our military and through his unrelenting pressure on the Soviet Union and other enemies of the United States. You can hear him say, “don’t mess with the U.S.”

The special guests and speakers for this ceremony were equally humble. Vice President Richard B. Cheney quipped that he didn’t make a landing on this carrier as President Bush recently did aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. But, he said, maybe he would do that the next time he visits this great ship.

The ship’s sponsor, Nancy Reagan, received several standing ovations, but only made one brief statement. She directed the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. J.W. Goodwin, to “man this ship, and bring her to life.” These words are just like Mr. and Mrs. Reagan, simple and direct.

Other speakers included Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who reminded us of our heritage with the landing of a small group of settlers at Jamestown almost 400 years ago marking the beginning of our wonderful nation. Sen. John Warner made the comparison that as the oldest active carrier, USS Constellation, returns home to San Diego from its final deployment, the USS Ronald Reagan will come to life to replace her for duty in the Pacific Fleet.

The chief of naval operations, Adm. Vern Clark, spoke very highly of the captain and crew of USS Ronald Reagan. Adm. Clark has served our nation and our Navy very well as CNO since he took the helm in 2000. He has been one of our Navy’s best CNOs.

The commander of the Atlantic Fleet, Adm. Robert Natter, and the commander of the Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Michael Malone, gave the time-honored directions in a commissioning ceremony “to set the first watch” and to “report for duty.”

Having served in the Navy for the full duration of President Reagan’s time as commander in chief, I can attest to the statement that elections do matter. Our nation, and indeed the world, were blessed to have this fine man lead us to a historic and peaceful victory over communism. This impressive ship fits the bill exactly for this remembrance.

HOWIE LIND

McLean, Va.


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