May 16, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Thanks for Calderon Article

Many, many thanks for the very nice article you wrote about my fellow countryman, Ivan Calderon (Ivan Calderon: Puerto Rico’s New World Champion. May 9, 2003)

Robert Rosario
San Diego

A Response to In-state Tuition Fees

In a 5/2/03 Analysis, “The debate for in-state tuition fees regardless of immigration status: the right to education”, Emmanuelle Le Texier says that those who oppose a tuition break for illegal immigrant students are “disrespectful of the basic right to ducation”.

As California’s population swells by 6 million a decade, we are finding it almost impossible to educate our K-12 students, without “leaving behind” an unacceptable number of them who are almost forced into dropping out because of intolerable school overcrowding, poor teachers, and lack of adequate supplies. There is a whole world of hurt in that scenario that far surpasses “disrespect of a basic right” to a college education.

  So, at some point we must ask ourselves to whom do we owe this basic right? Most of us would start first with our own children and then expand the list to the extent our resources allow.

  “In every avalanche each beautiful snowflake declares his innocence” just about sums up my argument against the various rewards for illegal immigration. There is a point at which our state can’t take in more illegal immigrants. That point has nothing to do with cultural or racial bias, but has everything to do with the sheer numbers.

Barbara Vickroy

No Tax Relief for Majority of Americans

Our state and local governments are broke and cutting back basic services. The federal government is plunging into red ink for the foreseeable future. And we are supposed to believe that Bush’s latest tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans is a compromise at $400-500 billion?

I hope our nation’s elected officials figure out pretty quickly that the vast majority of Americans, who will get next to no “tax relief,” prefer not to be “trickled down” upon.

Gerardo Ruiz
Burbank, CA

A Tax Give Away for the Rich

Social Darwinism is the guiding principle for Republicans bent on destroying American society. Our state and local governments are broke and cutting back basic services that benefit all. The federal government is plunging into red ink for the foreseeable future so that a wealthy minority of the population can build a private fortune. Now we are supposed to believe that Bush’s latest tax giveaway to the wealthiest

Americans is a compromise at $400-500 billion? Our unelected president is savagely and radically tearing apart our country fully willing to endanger the health and welfare of Americans in order to insure profits for the corporate elites he was installed to serve. I hope the vast majority of Americans can endure the layoffs, firings, and economic destruction which have been the hallmark of the Bush Administration. Then that majority can vote against him again in the next election.

Victor Flake

Affirmative Action Should be Upheld

I believe that the Supreme Court should uphold the affirmative action programs at the University of Michigan, which will be reviewed by Supreme Court on April 1.

Unfortunately, too often the perception of affirmative action has been shaped by right-wing advocates who claim that racial quotas and preferences are undermining equal opportunity. They consciously omit the fact that quotas have been illegal for 25 years and that the University’s programs don’t use such methods. The reality of affirmative action is that it fairly and effectively helps ensure that qualified applicants from all backgrounds are given an opportunity to attend college. White students are sometimes admitted over minority students with higher academic scores and vice versa because the University rightly recognizes that test scores and grades aren’t the only markers of a successful educational experience.

Affirmative action is a success story, not just for addressing discrimination against minority groups and women, but also for bringing the proven benefits of diversity to all students, regardless of race.

Vickie L. Gomez
Elk Grove, CA

Unprecedented Powers for the DoD?

Like most Americans, I still worry about protecting my family and our country. I’m also getting tired of having my worries preyed upon by some of our national leaders who are using “national security” to sell Americans public policies that we normally wouldn’t buy. The Rumsfeld Plan is a good example.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has asked Congress to quickly pass legislation that would give the Department of Defense (DoD) unprecedented powers. The Secretary’s bill would exempt defense facilities from complying with basic environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and toxic waste laws. The plan would give the Secretary increased power to give defense contractors huge pots of money with virtually no public oversight. And the Secretary wants the power to eliminate the rights, jobs and pay system for civilian defense employees, the very individuals who deployed and supported our troops in Iraq. These personnel changes go well beyond last year’s controversial homeland security bill.

When asked why the Rumsfeld plan was being rushed through Congress now, one White House insider honestly answered, “because it would never pass in an election year.” That’s another way of saying that we can sneak things through because voters aren’t paying attention to what lawmakers are doing. I encourage all of this newspaper’s readers and voters to start paying attention right now.

I support a strong Department of Defense. But I am not willing to unnecessarily sacrifice the health and safety of my family by letting DoD, which uses enormous quantities of hazardous materials, ignore the laws that protect our air and water. I’m also fed up with corporate contractors getting overpaid with my tax dollars. And I don’t think that you reward the civilian defense employees who worked day and night to support our troops by asking them to do more with less or eliminating their jobs. 

The Department of Defense just proved that we have the most effective armed forces in the world. Secretary Rumsfeld seems to be in a big hurry to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. His plan defies common sense and reality.

Jenny D. Salvez
Imperial Beach

HR 1828 Contrary to U.S. Interest

It is not in the interests of the United States to undermine relations with the government of Syria. It is clear that Syria understands the Bush Administration’s concerns for regional stability, and is taking steps to build better relations with the United States through frank discussions and reducing points of conflict with this country regarding many key issues.

Some pro-Israeli members of Congress have reintroduced the Syrian Accountability Act II that calls for a number of sanctions against Syria if it does not take congressionally specified steps to unconditionally halt support for terrorism [and] cease the development and production of biological and chemical weapons.” Some of the proposed sanctions include prohibiting the export and investment of US goods and businesses in Syria, and downgrading US diplomatic relations with Syria.

Syria, ahead of Congress, has already introduced a resolution at the UN calling for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. This step has been called “premature” by the U.S., evidently to avoid discussing Israel’s WMD programs.

The bill’s demands that Syria and Lebanon enter into “serious unconditional bilateral negotiations with Israel in order to realize a full and permanent peace” and that Lebanon assert military control over its southern border with Israel are unrealistic and counterproductive at this time. These issues will only be resolved as part of constructive negotiations and a comprehensive peace agreement. As the Administration is working to restart such efforts with the introduction of the Road Map and the announcement of expanded Middle East free trade, Congress should avoid sending a message that will surely be viewed in Syria as onerous and threatening. 

We all share the view that Syrian forces should ultimately leave Lebanon. However, despite what supporters of the Syrian Accountability Act II demand, a Syrian withdrawal will not occur in an abrupt or imposed form. Syria’s eventual withdrawal will come as a result of continued work and cooperation between the two parties, not from congressional demands. 

Oppose this legislation in both the House, HR 1828, and Senate, S. 982, as contradictory to U.S. interests in the region; not helpful in motivating Syria to undertake further steps to reduce conflicts with the U.S.; and undermining Syria’s critical role in a final, comprehensive peace settlement in the region.

Mejgan Hoffman

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