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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2004

Hypocrisy in Middle East coverage

Your March 26 editorial on Israel's successful attack on Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin once again demonstrated the hypocrisy with which you cover the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Yassin's organization, Hamas, was responsible for killing more Israeli civilians than any other single terrorist organization (more than 500, the proportional equivalent of 10 Sept. 11 attacks in the United States). Yassin was to Israel what Osama bin Laden is to us, yet it is highly doubtful that your paper would protest if our forces succeeded in killing this latter criminal.

The charge that Israel's action will "raise tensions" in the region or "set back" the peace process is disingenuous, to say the least. Under Yassin, Hamas, from its very beginning in 1987, advocated the total elimination of the state of Israel, a position he never retreated from. Given this extreme stance, it is hard to see how any leader who replaces Yassin could be more radical.

Finally, regarding your mention of King Abdullah II of Jordan, if this leader really wanted to contribute to peace in the region, he would retire to ceremonial status as is the case for monarchies in Europe, and allow Jordan's majority ethnic Palestinian population to rule themselves, solving Palestinian national aspirations in a much more substantial way than the disputed territories adjacent to Israel ever could.

Robert Vincent

Perrysburg

I just figured out what to do with my tax break. I'm going to donate it to the John Kerry for President Campaign. Of course, I'll have to add a few dollars to it. Thanks, President Bush.

Jim Ondo

Oregon

Mayor Jack Ford and The Blade missed a golden opportunity to lead by example and inform the public regarding the Toledo City Council meeting of March 9. At that meeting, Mayor Ford announced that income tax projections were lower than expected and would have to be made up by looking at additional budget cuts, using the "rainy day" fund, and even possibly levying a garbage tax on our residents.

Also on council's agenda that night was an appropriation of $35,000 to pay Theodore Mastroianni to continue as "consultant" to the city. Mr. Mastroianni, though a fine and professional man, has continued to be paid by the city since Mayor Ford took office over two years ago.

The Blade reported in October, 2002, that Mr. Mastroianni's professional relationship with Toledo would end in December, 2002. However, the mayor has continued to pay this "adviser" more than $100,000 since 2003.

The least Mr. Ford could have done while painting a dire financial picture was withdraw the contract for Mr. Mastroianni from City Council's agenda to show that belt tightening begins in the mayor's office. Unfortunately, the item stayed on our agenda, and I was the only council member to vote against the $35,000 contract. To ask the citizens to pay a garbage tax while at the same time appropriating money for a political adviser will not play well with the taxpayers. I, for one, will not support a garbage tax as proposed by the mayor. Your readers and the taxpayers need to know the whole story when asked to make decisions about the future of Toledo.

Rob Ludeman

Toledo City Councilman

Uh-Oh! Toledo is $2.2 million short on income tax collections in December. Better raid the "rainy day" fund and raise the trash fee! Wait until the city comes out with the shortage of sales tax collected from bars and restaurants that have lost their smoking patrons to the suburbs. Boy, the rainy day fund will really take a hit then!

Now I read that obesity is overtaking smoking as the No. 1 health hazard. Does that mean Toledo will soon have restaurants with separate sections - obese and non-obese?

May I suggest that the mayor and City Council sit down to dinner, have a cigarette, and realize that the tax dollars they are losing are going to hurt a lot more people through layoffs than having a smoking section in bars and restaurants.

But please, take your meeting to the suburbs. There's no smoking in Toledo!

Mark Ridenour

Secor Road

Hypocrisy, thy name is Marc Racicot.

Mr. Racicot, chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign, demanded that Sen. John Kerry retract his comments made in Illinois. While greeting labor leaders, Mr. Kerry privately stated that "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."

Mr. Racicot responded that "Senator Kerry's statement ... was unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, and tonight we call on Senator Kerry to apologize to the American people for this negative attack."

In the first place, Mr. Kerry is entitled to his opinion of the President and his administration. Second, Mr. Bush himself has made a point of declaring himself to be a "straight shooter," someone who will always honestly express his opinion. Why shouldn't Mr. Kerry be extended the same courtesy? At least there was no profanity in it, unlike Mr. Bush's publicized aside during the 2000 campaign, when he referred to a reporter as "a major league a***ole."

Finally, and most disturbing, is Mr. Racicot suggesting that anyone who opposes Mr. Bush or believes that his administration has been less than honest needs to publicly apologize to the country for expressing that opinion? If so, we have officially entered an age of thought police that would make George Orwell shudder.

Whether or not you agree with Senator Kerry, he is allowed to express his opinions without needing to apologize for them.

SOREN FANNING

Birckhead Place

To the snowmobiler who offered his services as a Yellowstone guide, no thanks. We have already been taken for a ride by his misleading letter. The Blade editorials are commendable and accurate.

Yellowstone Park is under attack from an oil industry whose only interest is promoting oil use. Support comes from a president with the worst environmental record in our nation's history. Both ignore public will and scientific studies. Our first national park and one of the world's last remaining ecosystems is being treated as a commodity.

Snowmobiles cause much more air, water, and noise pollution than passenger vehicles. Their speed and noise cause additional stress to wildlife. They ruin other visitors' experience, and they threaten the health of park employees who wear respirators for protection from snowmobile exhaust. The most famous areas are inundated with snowmobile noise much of the time. The average visitor watching Old Faithful can usually hear snowmobiles. Skiing visitors find that snowmobile noise follows them 20 miles into the back country.

A National Park Service survey of 350,000 participants reports more than 80 percent favored banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park. In four previous comment periods, the public consistently favored a ban. After years of study, the National Park Service concluded in 2000 that snowmobiles' negative impacts were unacceptable in Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Additionally, the Park Service noted that new snowmobile technology, such as the four- stroke engine, would not solve the problems. Even so, the Bush Administration rewrote the rules to allow snowmobile use to continue in both parks.

Yellowstone is phasing out snowmobiles, and multiple passenger snowcoaches are providing park access. But air and noise pollution from snowmobiles remain. Conditions will improve next winter if the park continues snowcoach use.

Paul Szymanowski

Curtice

President George W. Bush is the greatest president the U.S.A. has ever had. First, he is the greatest fund-raiser this country has ever known and second he is the greatest exporter of jobs from the U.S.A. to foreign countries!

Something to be proud of!

ROLAND SCHARER

Holland



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