- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

So what else is new?

Coup plotters are a dime a dozen in Pakistan, driven by a megalomania syndrome and reading too many spy novels.

However, what was most surprising — if not out of order — was the credibility given to the supposed plot hatched at the funeral of Mrs. Sami ul-Haq, whose husband is the leader of the religious coalition bloc the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal in the Senate and National Assembly (“Pakistanis plot coup, source says,” Nation, Friday). The distinguished journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave should know better. His source appeared to be consumed by a bout of detached sense of reality, perhaps motivated by a deep sense of grief at the solemn occasion.

TALAT WASEEM

Press counselor

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

Grocers will protect employees

I would like to correct an error and clarify a statement that was printed in the Thursday article “Clergy urge recognition of picket lines” (Business).

The article stated, “Safeway is negotiating for both grocery chains.” This is untrue. As the lead negotiator for both Giant and Safeway in their upcoming contract renewal with United Food and Commercial Workers, I represent both companies. We will agree on one contract that will be beneficial to both of the companies as well as to their employees and, ultimately, their customers. It’s important to clarify that I represent both companies, particularly for Giant’s employees and customers, who would be confused if they were led to believe their destiny were in the hands of a competitor.

Another misleading statement is, “Safeway and Giant want to cut back on wages, health care benefits and pensions to compete more effectively with nonunion groceries, such as Food Lion and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.” I cannot provide details of the proposed contract, but I can say that while it is of the utmost importance to maintain competitiveness, Safeway and Giant intend to maintain high levels of pay and health care and pension benefits. Giant and Safeway employees are, and will continue to be, among the best-paid retail workers in the Baltimore-Washington region and will continue to receive health care and pension benefits that exceed those of other retail workers.

HARRY W. BURTON

Morgan, Lewis & Brockius LLP

Washington

An (un)scientific slot survey

I read with great interest Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest’s comments and opposition to the pending slot-machines bill in Maryland (“Gilchrest to fight slots proposal,” Metropolitan, Monday). Though it all sounds good to those preaching to the choir, these same people should make a trip on a Saturday night to Charles Town, W.Va., before making any decision.

I made such a trip last weekend, and I noticed while walking through the parking lot the amazing number of license plates from Maryland, Virginia and the District, as well as the lack of license plates from West Virginia. Looks to me as though West Virginia has hit uponawinningformula through its slots program to bolster revenues for the state by picking the pockets of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. residents.

While Maryland residents will be enjoying deep cuts in their budget, West Virginia will be enjoying newfound wealth through the support of out-of-state slot players.

LEON TSILIS

Rockville, Md.

Israel’s strike against Hamas

The good news is that Israel has eliminated Hamas leader and founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin (“Israel kills Hamas founder,” Page 1, Monday). The Palestinians should reject any further retaliation and demand that their new leader arrange for peace talks immediately. The bad news is that they probably won’t, and the cycle of violence will continue until the terrorists realize that Israel, the United States and the rest of the Free World will never capitulate to any fanatical group (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda) advocating terrorism.

HERBERT W. STARK

Massapequa, N.Y.

If there’s one group of people who should be celebrating the death of Hamas founder and leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, it is Palestinian mothers.

Hamas has dispatched brainwashed, bomb-carrying Palestinian children to blow themselves up in order to murder Israeli children in homes, schools, buses, pizzerias, discos, cafes, ice cream parlors and shopping malls. Sheik Yassin — who once ordered the murder of his own brother and who rejected Israel’s right to exist — personally approved each of these “Hamas-cide” suicide-bombing attacks and encouraged similar attacks by other terrorist groups, such as Islamic Jihad and Fatah, by publicly giving religious sanction to the barbaric practice of using Palestinian children as guided missiles to kill Israeli children.

Where was the outrage among Palestinian mothers against this vicious killer?

That Israel should regard Sheik Yassin as a scourge on a par with Osama bin Laden should surprise no one, given the unquantifiable suffering this ruthless terrorist has caused Israelis. Indeed, Sheik Yassin has killed six times as many Israelis as bin Laden has killed Americans as a percentage of the population, and not even bin Laden specifically targets children with his terrorist attacks.

Palestinian mothers should welcome the death of this baby killer who was so cold-blooded that he looked at the children of his own people and saw only useful bomb-delivery devices for killing the children of another people.

Each Palestinian mother should stop to contemplate for a moment that the death of Sheik Yassin may have saved the life of her own son or daughter.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

Walnut Creek, Calif.

Your headline “Israel’s killing of Yassin puts U.S. in line of fire” (Page 1, yesterday) grossly misstates the issue by making it seem as if the terrorist threat is inspired by Israel’s acts of self-defense. America has always been in the line of fire. Israel simply had the guts to put one of the triggermen in a box.

AARON SMITH

Carlsbad, Calif

The Israeli government has just engaged in a terrible escalation of hostilities by its assassination of the Palestinian spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Assassinations like this bring no one closer to peace or security and only strengthen the forces of violence on all sides. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has once again put Israeli lives in peril with an act that is sure to increase the intensity of violence further.

Israel has just whacked a hornet’s nest. You know what happenswhensomeone whacks a hornet’s nest, swarms of angry hornets fly out and start stinging anybody nearby — and not only against Israel, but also Israel’s allies, including the United States.

We must rein in the Israeli government and bring about a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the insane actions of the current Israeli government bring disastrous consequences for the United States as well as for Israel.

CAROLINE HERZENBERG

Chicago

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