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Originally published Friday, May 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Extending sympathy

Address all concerns care of resident, park bench, Seattle

Editor, The Times:

"Welcome a new park; keep it safe and clean" [Times editorial, May 12] seems to suggest that success comes with the city's ability to keep vagrants out of our parks.

I'd liken that to putting a Band-Aid on an infected wound and pronouncing it healed.

The root of the problem is not that there are homeless in our parks, but that there are homeless in our city. Homelessness is an economic issue, a health-care issue and a humanitarian issue — not a city parks issue.

Shooing vagrants from a park like cats from a porch is a compassionless and naive remedy, addressing the "what" but not the "why."

Seattle is a real city, with real-city problems, and the deployment of seven park rangers is not a meaningful solution to any real problem. Let's try to keep our eye on the ball.

— Adam Zukor, Seattle

A skip to bountiful

Thank you for "Farm bill nears House approval, Bush veto" [News, May 14, and see "Politically popular farm bill gets election-year boost," News, May 15].

While higher food prices are a problem for many Americans, for people living on less than $2 a day, as approximately 40 percent of the world does, it often means starvation. Thus, food riots in 10 different countries around the world.

If we do want a world that is safer, we need to spend our emergency food aid on food we buy where people are hungry, rather than buying a little food here and wasting 65 percent of our food-aid money on transportation and other administrative costs.

— Bob Dickerson, Seattle

Grounded in limbo

Lynne Varner's "Mending broken families" [editorial column, May 6], poignantly describes the urgent need to reform our nation's foster-care system. Through our advocacy work with Julia Charles, mentioned in the column, and other foster-care alumni from across the country, we have seen the strength and resilience of many youths who have emerged from the system to advocate for reform.

Over the past year, at congressional hearings and briefings in Washington, D.C., Julia and other courageous young people have talked about the abuse and neglect that landed them in foster care, and their experiences in the system.

As we have listened to their heartbreaking stories, the most frustrating thing has been knowing that many federal reforms have been recommended and endorsed that could make a difference today in the lives of the half-million foster children waiting for families.

For example, the comprehensive Invest in Kids Act, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, addresses many of the child-welfare system's shortcomings noted in Varner's column. Other federal bills by Sen. Max Baucus D-Mont., and by Reps. Jerry Weller, R-Ill., Danny Davis, D-Ill., Tim Johnson, R-Ill., and Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., would also significantly improve foster care.

It has been more than 11 years since the last major child-welfare reform. We hope the rest of the country will join these leaders in making federal foster-care reform a priority this year. We continue to wonder: What are we waiting for?

— Marci McCoy-Roth, officer, The Pew Charitable Trusts, sponsor of the Kids Are Waiting campaign, Philadelphia, Pa.

Seize the disarray

Presidents, as seems reasonable, are concerned how history will perceive their tenure in office. From my perspective, here is an idea that would drastically improve the current president's mark on history.

It has been weeks since the cyclone hit Burma (Myanmar). Tens of thousands have died, and the political climate has prevented all but a trickle of immediate relief.

Myanmar's military regime has done more to prevent assistance than it has to aid the more than 2 million people in need ["Despots blown asunder," editorial, May 8].

Suffering of this magnitude demands a global humanitarian relief effort.

Government officials and relief agencies from around the world rightfully have been very critical of the lack of concern and cooperation for global relief efforts from the Myanmar junta. Daily, the world is now seeing how despicable it is. The Burmese have had to endure this for decades.

For a brief time, the U.N. talked of air-dropping aid shipments — with or without the blessings of the Myanmar regime — to the hundreds of thousands who are in need and are cut off either physically or politically from the rest of the world. The idea was quickly quashed by the U.N., with China voicing one of the strongest objections ["Cyclone damaged Myanmar 'rice bowl,' " News, May 8].

Due to the lack of food and fresh water required by hundreds of thousands, the death toll is now rising exponentially. Disease is also running rampant. ["Myanmar cyclone death toll soars above 43,000," News, May 15.]

Carpe diem, President Bush! You have already established that you will invade a country without the blessings of the United Nations. I implore you to do it again today! Not with arms and munitions, but with open arms. Let this be the largest humanitarian invasion in world history. Start airdropping basic necessities that the people need to survive.

A person in your position will always be criticized, but by taking positive action the people of Myanmar, the world and history will applaud you.

This is my plea for humanity.

— Jim Rohrssen

Drone under the bus

At the very least, Gladys Gillis, head of Seattle's Starline Luxury Coaches, is honest. Perhaps it is the way "New FTA rules may halt Metro's shuttle service" [Local News, May 10] is written, but she sounds almost proud that the reason her bus fleet is cheaper to operate than Metro's is because she doesn't pay her drivers union wages.

Thank you to the Federal Transportation Administration for forcing us to use companies like hers, rather than supporting mass transit and living wages and benefits for workers by allowing Metro to continue its special-event services.

I will choose to ride Metro's regularly scheduled services to special events, inconvenient as that might be, rather than patronize a private company whose stated method of keeping costs low is to exploit its workers.

— Patrick Lennon, Seattle

The eagle abandoned

As a combat infantry veteran of World War II, I commend President Bush for his decision to give up golf [out of respect for veterans]. It spares military families the unseemly sight of the commander in chief goofing off from his grueling wartime schedule as their loved ones suffer and die.

It's a compassionate decision. Gutsy. Patriotic. Who among us could ask for anything more?

— Bob Lander, Mercer Island

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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