- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

The politics of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Kaushik Kapisthalam’s letter “The key to the war against the Taliban” (Letters, Saturday) responding to the story “Taliban leaders plotting in cities” (World, Friday) is deplorable and speculative.

The article clearly highlights that senior Afghan and U.S. officials told United Press International that the United States had released several senior Taliban officials, including former Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, who was negotiating with the Kabul government and had been offered a post in the government.

Unfortunately, the Afghan government is negotiating with moderate Taliban leaders to broaden its support among Pashtuns. Why do we have to blame the Pakistani government for Afghanistan’s failures?

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf emerged as the most important ally of the United States in the war on terrorism, and his actions matter the most to the White House.

The fact is, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and Minister of the Interior Yunus Qanooni visited India and attacked Pakistan. They are both from the pro-India Northern Alliance.

SYED REZWI

Kew Gardens, N.Y.

Textile workers of tomorrow

In his Sunday Commentary, “Risky textiles policies,” Dan Ikenson decries the protective tariffs for the textile industry.

He states that textile employees have had decades to prepare for other jobs as their textile jobs are lost to overseas competitors. He implies that they have done nothing to retrain themselves. This ignores the facts.

They have retrained themselves and prepared their children for other occupations. Many have studied information technology and computer science, believing those fields to be secure. Guess what? Those jobs are on the way to India, China and other low-wage countries.

If Mr. Ikenson thinks it is in our best interests for textile and other manufacturing jobs to go overseas to low-wage countries, what jobs should these people be training for to ensure that they are not wasting their time and money? Mr. Ikenson, please share your insight with us.

HENRY PICKELSIMER

Fair Play, S.C.

The future of stem cell research

The debate on whether we should allow the cloning of humans for the purposes of medical research (“Cloning expert seeks himself,” Books, Oct. 5) has led even the most vociferous proponents of human cloning to obscure and obfuscate when it comes to the unbiased presentation of the facts of some of the advances being made in the fields of adult and non-embryonic stem cell research.

Regardless of divergent views on whether to clone human beings to harvest their stem cells for research and possibly to treat diseases, we should all be able to agree on the amazing and noncontroversial advances being made in the fields of adult and non-embryonic stem cell research.

Adult stem cells already have shown success at treating numerous diseases in animal models, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart damage, stroke and many other conditions. However, their success is not limited to treating animals — adult stem cells already are successfully treating human patients.

Adult stem cells have been extremely successful in treating heart damage, with numerous published successes in clinical trials. In one recent study, 14 patients treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells showed significant improvement, to the extent that four out of five were no longer on the heart-transplant waiting list.

They also have been effective at promoting wound healing. Patients with skin wounds that had not healed in more than a year had their own bone-marrow stem cells applied, and all patients showed complete closure and healing of the wounds.

Parkinson’s patients have benefited from their own adult stem cells. Patients who had their adult brain stem cells directly stimulated showed a 61 percent decrease in symptoms, and a patient receiving his own adult neural stem cells has virtually no symptoms.

Those who say adult stem cells aren’t working should ask the patients who have benefited and those who are continuing to benefit.

For an extensive referenced review of published adult stem cell successes, see “Adult Stem Cells” in the background material for the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Adult and non-embryonic stem cell research is making real progress and providing real cures.

I recently held a hearing on some of the advances being made in the field of cord blood stem cell research. At that hearing, we heard testimony from Keone Penn, who had sickle cell anemia and suffered considerably because of it, even contemplating suicide at times.

However, because of advances made in the field of cord blood stem cell research, Keone Penn has been cured, which came through the use of unrelated cord blood stem cells.

The bottom line is that adult and non-embryonic stem cells are providing successes that at this point, the cloning enthusiasts and embryonic stem cell research proponents can only promise to provide at some point in the future. Adult stem cells show promise now; cloned cells only offer Sisyphean promise.

I am hopeful that as the debate over the future of stem cell research and human cloning continues, we will be able to work harder together on those areas of research where there is common ground — where there is a clear track record of success and no controversy.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK

U.S. Capitol

Washington

To the military, this locale always will be referred to as “Hoptown.”

My wife and I lived in Hoptown in 1959. We found it had a world-famous snuff factory and furniture outlet. In fact, we still use the bedroom suite from that outlet.

Nearby Fort Campbell lies astride Kentucky and Tennessee. Most of Fort Campbell lies in Tennessee and was then, and is now, home to the 101st Airborne Division. I had the honor of being the census officer for the 1960 census and had to distinguish between the two states in the accounting. The then-commander was Maj. Gen. William Westmoreland (of later Vietnam fame), and the assistant division commander was Brig. Gen. Charles T. Timmes (who also served in Vietnam). I was in Vietnam during Gen. Westmoreland’s tenure as commanding officer. Fort Campbell’s headquarters were located near Hopkinsville because former Vice President Alben Barkley, a Kentuckian, was pushing the mining of soft coal in the Congress. It was because of his influence that Fort Campbell’s headquarters were located on the Kentucky side of the post. Tragically, Mr. Barkley was instrumental in forcing the military installations of that era to use soft brown coal, which left a terrible cloud over the area and gave a bad odor as well.

Along with the active military, many thousands of retired military veterans settled in the Kentucky-Tennessee area, so a new veterans cemetery apparently was needed. One wonders if the forced burning of brown coal contributed to the early demise of retirees.

In any case, we salute the VA for this new cemetery in Hopkinsville. The VA is establishing more cemeteries in other states, too. In Virginia, it is helping establish a new cemetery in the Hampton Roads area, as it did in Amelia when Sen. George Allen was governor.

COL. GEORGE GALLAGHER

U.S. Army (retired)

Purple Heart recipient

Reston , Va.


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