- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008


Taiwan, Kosovo deserve U.N. membership

In response to the article “Taipei relates to Kosovo’s U.N. cold shoulder” (World, Wednesday), Taiwan can certainly empathize with Kosovo for being shut out of the United Nations.

Taiwan has applied for U.N. membership 14 times and has been consistently stonewalled by China’s influence as a permanent member of the Security Council. Now Kosovo faces a similar blockade from Russia in its quest for membership.

The entry of either Kosovo or Taiwan into the U.N. should be viewed as a positive step toward open and balanced discussions between these essentially independent states and members of the international community. Conflict and regional unrest both in the Balkans and across the Taiwan Strait can be avoided if these contentious matters are permitted to be publicly debated before a forum of nations. What better forum than the U.N. General Assembly?



Press division

Taipei Economic and Cultural

Representative Office


Strategic dreaming

“Strategy is all about matching limited resources to achieve prioritized objectives” (“Defense spending,” Letters, Tuesday).

They must be living in la-la land down at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Letter writer Travis Sharp just can’t see measuring defense expenditures relative to gross domestic product (GDP) because the ratio changes. I guess he must have a problem with the price-earnings ratio for stocks. Does he want to include the past five years’ earnings or estimate some future time series? And why five years? After all, if you pick a different set of years, you get a different answer.

How about the nonexistent metrics applicable to the rest of the $2.1 trillion federal budget? How much effort went into matching limited resources to the appropriation of $35 billion of earmarks or, for that matter, the $200 billion-plus farm bill? Then there is the sordid history of all that Great Society stuff spent on aging U.S. industrial cities. How many projects do you have to demolish to figure out that there were no metrics. And if there were, no one understood them, and it had about as much to do with economics or social reform as the recent economic stimulus package? About the only thing that was stimulated was a congressman’s re-election chances.

Mr. Sharp really ought to get in tune with stochastic variables, those nasty random variables that depend on time. Smart strategy is about making choices, but if you think you can throw quantitative reasoning in the garbage can because of your limited mathematical ability and make a difference, you are really dreaming.


Reston, Va.

Kosovo and European minorities

Ever since Kosovo declared its independence, the news media have been flooded with articles about Kosovo in general and the rights of the Serbian minorities in Kosovo in particular (“Kosovo throngs celebrate secession,” World, Feb. 17).

Rightly so, but in line with that, there is no mention of the large indigenous Hungarian minority in Voivodina within Serbia, which is constantly harassed and discriminated against by the Serbs.

The international community must be concerned about protecting the rights of all minorities.

What is also bothersome and surprising is that there is no overall analysis of minority rights in Central Europe, which is crucial to the peace of the region as well as the whole of Europe.

No mention of the rights of one of Europe’s largest minorities, the indigenous Hungarian minorities living in Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. They number more than 4 million.

These “minorities” are not immigrants; they never left the towns and villages of their ancestors, who lived there for more than 1,000 years.

They became foreigners in their own lands because the borders were redrawn arbitrarily around them by the great powers about 90 years ago, disregarding the principle of self-determination.

They are peaceful people. They don’t want violence, and they don’t want the borders to change; all they want is autonomy in the regions where they live. It is the moral duty of the United Nations, the European Union and the United States to help them achieve this goal.


Former science and technology

adviser to the supreme

commander of NATO


Lessons from the Rosenbaum tragedy

In the article “Medics will be tested on skills” (Metropolitan, Wednesday), David C. Lipscomb reports on a novel approach to assessing the competency of the District’s paramedics. The entire paramedic work force will be independently evaluated by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, an academic training arm of the University of Maryland, through a series of cognitive and performance-based skills assessments utilizing the latest in simulation technology.

Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin and fire department medical director Dr. Michael D. Williams are to be commended for taking this bold step, particularly given the uncertainty of the outcome. Despite the reported assertion by the family of late journalist David E. Rosenbaum that it is satisfied with the progress that the city is making in reforming the Fire and Emergency Medical Services department, there remains a long way to go before public and professional confidence in the system is restored.

It is my hope that Chief Rubin and Dr. Williams include competency in the advanced life-support response to children our most vulnerable citizens, particularly in the back of a city ambulance as part of this objective evaluation effort. If not, it will only be a matter of time before a pediatric Rosenbaum case emerges.


Executive Director

Child Health Advocacy Institute

Children’s National Medical Center


In support of mandated sick leave

As an owner of a small business, I support the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (“D.C. Safe Leave Act a sick joke for businesses,” Metropolitan, Feb. 7).

I am the co-owner of Politics and Prose Bookstore. We have about 50 employees. Paid sick leave is one of the benefits that we have offered since we hired our first employee 22 years ago. We pride ourselves in the longevity of our employees; more than one-third of our staff has worked here eight years or more; another third has worked for four or more years.

We are quite sure that we could not keep staff if we did not provide benefits, because, as a retail store, we cannot pay great wages. Happy and experienced employees give better customer service.

We give a week sick leave each year, and if the employee does not use leave, it gets rolled over into vacation. Of course, we want people to stay home if they are sick or they need to go to the doctor. (On the other hand, we do not want employees to stay home because they know they have a sick day coming to them.)

This is a moderate bill in my opinion. It is not a financial burden to provide sick leave. It costs the employer very little (in contrast to health insurance, for example). My opinion is that any employer that tells you that he or she cannot afford to pay sick leave ought not to be in business in the first place.

I am supporting the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act because I believe that every worker deserves minimal assurance that his or her basic needs will be met in the workplace and because I think it is good for our business.



Politics and Prose


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