Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 30, 2005

World must support Liberia's new leader

I commend The Sun for its attention to the election of Liberia's new president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ("A woman's work," editorial, Nov. 23).

As leader of a multinational team of election observers from the International Republican Institute, I watched a credible electoral process unfold in peace and order in Liberia on Nov. 8.

Most striking was the hope expressed by the Liberians we encountered that their country would now move into a peaceful and more prosperous future. One had the feeling that a page was turning in Liberia's history.

The new president has pledged to work for national reconciliation and unity.

Faced with a multiparty legislature and passions running high, Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf and her party will have to work hard at coalition-building and inclusiveness.

And the international community must now give Liberia its full moral and financial support if democracy is to succeed in that war-torn country.

While there are those who clamor for notorious ex-president Charles Taylor to face justice, in my view the fate of this new democracy is too important to let it be contingent on that single issue.

For the sake of Liberia's long-suffering population as well as regional peace and stability, it is vital to move forward now and for the world to help.

Charles H. Twining

Glen Arm

The writer is a retired foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Cambodia.

Cheney's goals really are radical

In "Point man Cheney viewed as liability" (Nov. 25), reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis writes of the conservatives who love the vice president. But in what sense are these supporters - or Vice President Dick Cheney himself - deserving of the label "conservative"?

My dictionary defines "conservative" as "disposed to preserve existing conditions or restore traditional ones and to limit change."

The Bush administration is imprisoning people secretly, indefinitely and without charges.

This reverses 800-year-old habeas corpus rights established by the Magna Carta. Does that sound like "preserv[ing] existing conditions"?

Speaking the truth starts with calling things by their rightful names. In that spirit, what word would more accurately describe Mr. Cheney et al.?

My dictionary offers three possibilities for words which "denote that which goes beyond moderation or even to excess in opinion, belief, or action."

Those words are "radical," "extreme" and "fanatical."

Take your pick.

Daniel Fleisher

Baltimore

U.S. presence blocks effort to rebuild Iraq

The Sun's editorial "Bricks and mortar rounds" (Nov. 28) was half right.

Yes, we broke Iraq and yes, we need to see that it is fixed. However, because our mere presence has become totally toxic to any hope of positive results in the rebuilding process, the job of fixing Iraq will have to be farmed out to people who do not immediately draw the ire of the insurgency.

Then maybe every effort to rebuild Iraq's shattered infrastructure won't be met by immediate sabotage, leading to exorbitant cost overruns.

Of course, this work will have to be done on our dime, since we broke the country.

Ben Cohen

Owings Mills

Unfair for state law to target Wal-Mart

Michael Olesker defended the Wal-Mart health benefits bill that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed ("State can't overlook store that undersells," Nov. 25). But this is just another example of a "red-headed Eskimo" bill - a bill carefully crafted to apply only to one company (Wal-Mart) in order to assist one company (Giant).

If, as Mr. Olesker claims, the bill was a humanitarian effort to assist poor employees, why was the threshold [the number of employees above which a company must devote a certain percentage of its payroll to health care expenses or face a state tax] set at 10,000 employees? Why not 1,000 or even 100?

The bill's intent was to legislate against Wal-Mart.

I am not a huge fan of Wal-Mart, but I am a huge advocate of fairness, no matter who is involved.

J. Edward Head

Elkridge

Learning to live with the coyotes

Despite the views of coyote trappers, hunting and trapping are ineffective means of controlling coyote populations ("The coyotes among us," Nov. 18).

When subjected to intensive hunting, coyotes respond by producing larger litters; pup survival also increases. Consequently, hunting may actually increase the coyote population in the long run.

Instead of employing cruel traps that leave coyotes to suffer for prolonged periods before dying, farmers can implement effective and long-term alternatives to indiscriminate control such as guard animals, predator-proof fencing and finding shelter for livestock during the night and when animals are bearing their young.

Homeowners can protect small animals by not leaving them unattended outside, sealing outside trash receptacles and removing such odorous items as pet food dishes.

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