Incompetent leaders in the Middle EastWilliam Pfaff's Dec...

Letters

December 12, 1996

Incompetent leaders in the Middle East

William Pfaff's Dec. 5 column suggests that the Palestine Authority may unilaterally declare that "an independent and sovereign Palestinian state exists." Such an unfounded and foolish declaration would certainly destroy the peace process and lead to war, which neither side wants. There would only be losers and no winners.

In addition, Mr. Pfaff's article makes many misleading and inaccurate statements. For example, he states incorrectly that "a defined territory over which sovereignty is not seriously contested by another state" has been achieved. Where has he been since 1967?

The West Bank has been "contested" and disputed territory because Israel and the Palestinians make claim to the same land. That is the root of the conflict, which is now being negotiated in accordance with the Oslo agreements.

However, the major problem is that both the Israelis and the Palestinians are saddled with incompetent leaders being twisted extremist minorities. Change is necessary. Either the Israelis and the Palestinians change their leaders or the leaders must change their direction. Otherwise, peace in the Middle East will remain just a dream.

ernard Siegel

Baltimore

Amtrak's survival critical for nation

Amtrak's fight for survival has been in progress for the last 25 years. And fortunately, this quasi-government corporation manages to hang on. The Senate Finance Committee's proposal of allowing half a cent of the federal gasoline tax to fund Amtrak is logical and painless. It would give the railroad a stable revenue regardless of the economy and might make turning a profit an eventual reality.

The desire to do away with our public transportation systems goes back half a century. Following World War II most major cities had excellent transit systems that were convenient, economical and non-polluting. Even Los Angeles was in the process of building a subway. However, bounty hunters from the automotive, rubber and oil industries set out to eliminate this infrastructure. How ironic that at the end of this century we are trying to replicate what was removed, though at a dangerously high cost and questionable effectiveness.

If the National Railroad Passenger Corp. disappears after 2002, it will be a tragedy. Once the passenger routes are downgraded to carry only freight, the rolling stock has been scrapped and the technical personnel has either retired or been pensioned off, resurrecting passenger trains again will be nearly impossible.

As the baby-boom generation ages and has more time to travel, Amtrak will be an attractive alternative to the airplane and auto. Also, with the current federal and local commitment to education, train travel should be viewed as a way to learn and understand our country. Isn't this worth half a penny out of our federal gasoline tax? The greed and selfishness of the highway lobbyists is not only repugnant, it is damaging to the well-being of our future.

osalind Ellis

Baltimore

Legislative home page is high-tech runaround

I take exception with Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.'s and Del. Casper R. Taylor Jr.'s assessment (letter, Dec. 10) that the General Assembly's Web page is ''a wonderful first step toward improving . . . access to legislative information.''

I recently read an article in The Sun concerning a vote by a legislative ethics committee to allow spouses of legislators to accept gifts from lobbyists. This infuriated me.

I searched the Web for Maryland State Government and found http: //mlis.state.md.us.

Interestingly, our officials are elected from hopelessly complicated electoral, legislative, congressional and county districts and precincts, which make knowing who one's representative is virtually impossible. The Web page does nothing to help citizens find this information.

After entering my address and zip code, I was informed that 21236 is invalid. I ended up calling Annapolis and getting the run-around because the main information number does not know which delegate represents 21236, either.

A sweet senior citizen representing my elected official eventually returned my call. I told her of my objection and she agreed to pass my complaint on.

Before state representatives begin to tout great technological improvements in accessing legislative information, perhaps they should concentrate on testing the system they have in place and concern themselves with its operations and how it affects average citizens, rather than on how much more money they can collect from lobbyists.

ruce T. Gayle

Perry Hall

Rodricks insulted WWII veterans

I take offense at the statement by Dan Rodricks (Dec. 2) in which he said that he wished World War II veterans would not feel slighted or dishonored if a Pearl Harbor anniversary should pass quietly without acknowledgment in the media.

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