Letters To The Editor


June 24, 2005

CAFTA protects U.S. producers of military apparel

William Hawkins' column "Trade deal would put foreign firms on equal footing with U.S. companies" (Opinion * Commentary, June 17) was misleading.

Mr. Hawkins implies that the U.S.-Central American/Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) would allow Central American and Dominican textile and apparel companies to sell uniforms to the U.S. armed forces. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A U.S. law known as the Berry Amendment requires the U.S. military to buy all clothing and footwear from the United States - and made with U.S. fibers, yarns, fabrics and trims.

An annex of the CAFTA-DR agreement reaffirms the requirements of the amendment for textiles, leather, furs, shoes tents, flags, clothing and individual equipment for the Department of Defense.

Thus U.S. textile and apparel companies would not face competition from Central American companies when bidding on military contracts.

Indeed, the Government Procurement Agreement that Mr. Hawkins mentions restates the principles of the Berry Amendment as well.

There are many reasons Congress should take up and immediately pass the CAFTA-DR. Its protection of the U.S. textile and apparel industrial base is only one of them.

Securing a commercial customer base for U.S. companies supplying the fibers, yarns, fabrics and trims as they may continue to provide these items for U.S. military uniforms is another.

Kevin M. Burke

Arlington, Va.

The writer is president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association.

Digital TV promises a clearer future

Having already purchased a digital HDTV, I can't wait for the Federal Communications Commission to change all broadcast television to digital signals ("Thanks to geniuses in Congress, your TV may no longer work," June 16). The picture is superior and the sound is excellent.

Why are Congress and the FCC forcing this change? Because we've gone as far as we can go with analog TV.

What other consumer electronic technology is still analog? Do consumers prefer dial-up modems to broadband for Internet access, video cassettes to DVDs, LP records to CDs, analog cell phones over Internet-messaging-capable camera phones?

While a small audiophile market segment still values analog LP records over CDs, in almost every case in which the public has been offered a fully mature digital solution, the analog predecessor dropped from the marketplace almost overnight, it seems. And this will happen again when the TV standard goes to digital.

But digital converter boxes will appear on store shelves and Internet stores, at competitive prices.

There are simply too many TV-watching households out there for manufacturers, broadcasters and advertisers to ignore everything except the high-end TV market.

Eric Esler


Taxing television an outrageous idea

I hope a storm of protest will be stirred up by the news that the government has figured out yet another way to get its big hands in our pockets.

I refer, of course, to Mike Himowitz's column about federal plans to tax television and do away with public channels, forcing us all to be cable subscribers ("Thanks to geniuses in Congress, your TV may no longer work," June 16).

I enjoy watching a little TV, but action like this would relegate me to watching tapes and DVDs only.

Franklin Littleton


Snooping teaches us little about terrorists

If the FBI had shown as much initiative before 9/11 as it now shows in tracking terrorist leads through our library-reading, our Social Security records and our IRS statements ("Social Security agency relaxed privacy rules for FBI after 9/11," June 22), it might have pieced together the disturbing accounts of known terrorists entering our country and Saudi men taking flying lessons in which takeoffs and landings were never taught.

But what is to be gleaned about foreign terrorists by snooping on our book-reading and taxpaying citizenry?

Buthaina Shukri

Ellicott City

Demolition threatens fabric of our history

The column by Patricia Bentz and Melanie Anson on the lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the commissioners Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. appoints to the county's Landmarks Preservation Commission was excellent and timely ("Poor protection," Opinion * Commentary, June 20).

As pressure for buildable land mounts everywhere in Maryland, but especially in Baltimore County, our vanishing historical fabric becomes more and more threatened.

Developers can rightly be angry when a timely review of one of their projects never happens because the commissioners cannot find it or acknowledge their inability to pass judgment because they have no training, experience or architectural background.

Appointing such commissioners is a clever way to give the developers exactly what they want - the freedom to bulldoze any historic property that gets in their way.

This is the real crime - that our children's children will have no idea of the early architectural history of the Free State.

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