Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 13, 2005

Subsidized abuse of labor must end

Let's see if I've got this right: The U.S. military has paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $12 billion of taxpayers' hard-earned money to provide support services for the ongoing war and occupation in Iraq ("War effort taps illicit labor trade," Oct. 9).

KBR turns around and hires subcontractors to provide the workers to do things such as "dish out food, wash clothes, dig ditches, raise shelters and clean latrines."

These subcontractors, in turn, hire brokers who go to poor, remote regions of Nepal and other countries (whose governments forbid such transactions) and "recruit" laborers to go to Iraq for these dangerous war-zone jobs.

They are hired under false pretenses - or even kidnapped - and paid a pittance by U.S. standards. Once in Iraq, it is very difficult for them to escape.

Both the U.S. military and KBR refuse to comment on this practice or on the abuses related to it that were uncovered by the Chicago Tribune.

The U.S. government condemns such practices when they are carried out by other countries (at least countries that are unfriendly to the United States).

And yet it allows this kind of behavior to take place under its own nose - and to the tune of $12 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money.

This is an outrage and must stop immediately.

Joanne Heisel

Columbia

Anti-worker policies hit home here, too

Thank you for publishing the excellent article "War effort taps illicit labor trade" (Oct. 9).

Our nation cannot condone anti-worker policies outside of our borders without dire consequences at home.

President Bush's recent suspension of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage legislation for work rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina flows from the same incestuous relationship with big business that endorses the exploitation of Asian workers by Halliburton in Iraq.

Len Shindel

Baltimore

Storm cases sustain lawyers' ill repute

I almost could not believe what I was reading, but I guess the actions of trial lawyers shouldn't surprise me any more. Lawyer Joseph Larre is signing up clients in the New Orleans area so he can put together a class action lawsuit ("Lawyers drawn to storm cases," Oct. 10).

He hasn't decided who he is going to sue or for what, but apparently the dollar signs are too hard to resist.

As usual, lawyers will pick a cause that they know jurors will sympathize with, even if there is no legal reason to sue.

Lawyers should never wonder why they are the brunt of more jokes than the members of any other profession.

Carl Bice

Bel Air

The article about the plague of lawyers descending on New Orleans makes my blood boil.

While schoolchildren collect coins for relief efforts and volunteers donate time and talents to help victims, lawyers prepare to enrich themselves.

Does anyone think they are preparing lawsuits for the benefit of the victims?

Jim Tabeling

Baltimore

Miers will advance right-wing agenda

I believe that the Bush administration and the Senate need to be reminded that this president did not win office via a vast majority of voters; he came through on a whisker.

Therefore, he has no mandate to stuff the Supreme Court with ultraconservatives who will, for the next 20 to 30 years, seriously undermine not only a woman's right to choose but also many other freedoms ("Specter rebukes conservatives," Oct. 10).

While Harriet Miers might be a fine corporate lawyer, her qualifications for the highest court are nil.

And, no, I can't trust President Bush on this matter. Wasn't he certain that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

If it didn't sound like fantasy, I would say the "outrage" by outspoken conservatives who question Ms. Miers' right-leaning philosophy is being orchestrated by Karl Rove to lull Senate Democrats to sleep.

Although she lacks a paper trail, it's pretty clear that Ms. Miers will follow the prescribed Bush/Rove doctrine of far-right thinking.

What a tragedy for our country.

Corinne Hammett

Parkville

Big volumes clip value of coupons

I am a devoted coupon clipper, and I can tell you exactly why I don't use as many coupons as I once did ("Redeeming value," editorial, Oct. 8).

It once was the case that I could use a coupon to buy one item. Then many coupons started requiring that you buy two items. Now many coupons are requiring the purchase of three items. And these two or three items often have to be over a certain weight or volume.

I don't want to buy a year's worth of detergent or a six-month supply of cereal to save a dollar.

You reach a point where the money saved does not equal the effort, inconvenience and up-front cost of buying, hauling and storing all of these extra items.

I am still clipping coupons, but many fewer than before, and I might not clip them at all much longer.

Carol G. Rosenthal

Reisterstown

Store brings us rare good news

How pathetic that Kevin Cowherd did not enjoy his outing to Wegmans ("Wegmans fails to cast a spell over this 5-cheese fan," Oct. 6).

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