As soon as Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke assumes full control over the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, the organization will have taken the first step toward becoming as ineffective as the city's other business development group, the Baltimore Development Corporation.
In no time at all, BACVA will change from one of the most successful convention bureaus in the country to a bureaucracy that serves the mayor's political interests and those of the mayor's law firm, Shapiro and Olander, and no one else.
Baltimore can't afford that.
Robin E. McKissic
Your May 17 editorial, "Fires Burning in Kashmir," made a key point that "atrocities like the destruction of Charar-i-Sharief will continue until the Indian government finds the wisdom and courage to negotiate a political solution."
Although I agree with a negotiated settlement, I do not agree with your notion that in the 1950s or '60s, "a large dose of autonomy short of independence almost certainly would have put the dispute to rest."
Autonomy from India was never the issue. The people of Kashmir do not want to participate in any election held under the Indian constitution.
Elections will only be relevant if they are part of a process which would eventually lead to the Kashmiris' goal of self-determination.
In 1948 and again in 1949, the United Nations passed two resolutions in which the Kashmiri people were promised the right to determine their future through a free and impartial plebiscite. India, Pakistan and the U.S. were signatories to these resolutions.
To date, India, which considers itself the world's largest democracy, has failed to make good on the U.N. resolutions.
Kashmir is not an integral part of India. It is the policy of the U.S. and the United Nations that the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory.
As such, India and Pakistan should engage in tripartite negotiations to resolve the Kashmir issue after taking into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
The Kashmiri people live with over 500,000 Indian military and paramilitary troops in their back yard.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Asia Watch have documented the human rights abuses suffered by the people at the hands of the Indian army. These abuses are widespread and systematic.
Kashmiris are peace-loving people who would like nothing more then to see all parties to the conflict brought together to participate in peaceful negotiations for the final settlement of the issue.
hulam Nabi Fai
The writer is executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council.
I loved Richard Reeves' article the other day about his attendance at a Class A California League game between the Lake Elsinore Storm and the High Desert Mavericks, an Orioles farm team.
His reference to the possibility of winning a Jeep if a ball was hit through a round hole in the center field fence, and to the sign he remembered in Ebbets Field -- "Hit Sign, Win Suit" -- stirred memories of the left field sign in old Oriole Park of "Fineman The Tailor." A home run over that sign was rewarded with a Fineman suit. For those who are disenchanted with Orioles and the major leagues, the modest but lasting joys of minor league baseball can still be experienced.
William H. Engleman
I just read that our governor wants to give a Prince George's County business a $1.5 million grant because it has fallen on hard times, due to the loss of federal work. Why doesn't the federal government bail it out?
I find it incredible that a company in dire straits can contribute $3,500 to a political campaign, i.e., Gov. Parris Glendening's.
In the same day's Sun was an article about a Western Maryland factory that employs 650 people having to close because of President Clinton's 100 percent tariff on Japanese luxury cars.
Maybe to help this company, Governor Glendening can order leather seats for state-owned vehicles.
R. A. Bacigalupa
Maryland and Its Students
The Sun seems to over-emphasize some areas of education while ignoring others completely.
Articles May 23 and 24 dealt with the Benjamin Banneker scholarships. On May 26, Carl Rowan wrote on the same subject. It would seem that The Sun wanted to place its slant on the history of education in Maryland.
David Folkenflik states that the "Board of Regents called for the admission of students to the University of Maryland without regards to race." Then he writes, "For the next 15 years, only a trickle of blacks came to the flagship campus at College Park."
Mr. Rowan skips over this period, explaining that "For a variety of reasons, few blacks got into Maryland."
Why did this occur? They imply it was the school's fault for not providing incentives.
But how many blacks were entering predominantly black schools in Maryland during that time?
There continues to be this percentage syndrome. No matter what you are dealing with, from hiring firemen, selecting teachers, to reprimanding and enrolling students, the numbers should somehow reflect the overall town, state, or national ethnic/racial population percentages. This can lead to all sorts of absurd conclusions.
And what do we do if it turns out that the number of Asian-Americans in public colleges in Maryland is above the percentage of Asian-Americans of college age? Do we institute a cap?
The Sun has never, to my recollection, explained whether Daniel Podberesky ("a white student") is also a member of a minority due to his partial Hispanic background.
And what is the rule used by UMCP in the past concerning the racial or ethnic heritage of applicants for scholarships or inclusion in the racial-ethnic statistics published by the school?
How many Banneker students were in need of complete coverage in order to stay in college?
How can President William E. Kirwan claim that the Banneker payments are so necessary? According to The Sun, 2,604 black students receive financial aid at UMCP, while the number of Banneker scholars is 139.
Why shouldn't all blacks receive full tuition if the problem is 136 years of egregious racial discrimination? Shouldn't white women receive at least half of their tuition because they were turned away until 1916? When did the first Asian-American enter UMCP? Perhaps they should be given stipends.
Another trick colleges use to attract certain types of individuals is to create an endless number of clubs, living groups, societies, alliances, etc. which, instead of bringing students together, merely separate them further into cliques.
When you read about black student unions, single-ethnic living groups, South Asian, Christian Fellowship, Israel education, multi-ethnic support groups, women's centers and on and on, you wonder what ever happened to actual academic organizations.
The problem with the Maryland higher education system is that it relies simply on money as the primary method to recruit minorities and keep top students in the state.
The whole system is fraught with a lack of emphasis on academics, so much so that a huge number of really outstanding high school students, including minorities, frequently seek out-of-state colleges each year.
Maryland should have become a national powerhouse after World War II, as the number of immigrants to the state mushroomed based on federal jobs.
It is a shame that the likes of Professors Morris Freedman and George H. Callcott did not prevail in their visions for the school. Maryland would undoubtedly have had a much better chance of becoming a real winner.
Instead of highlighting the need for 139 scholarships, state college educators need to clean up their academic closets in all the various "universities."
R. D. Bush
Pentagon's $28.8 Billion Error
A report in The Sun May 17, "Pentagon unable to account for $28.8 billion; error-prone payment system cited," describes an accounting gap with discrepancies on its books.
The problem cited is a $13 billion imbalance between checks the Pentagon had written over the past 10 years and the vouchers it can produce to account for the payments. The other $15 billion is from various other bookkeeping shortcomings.
Sen. John Glenn said: "It's big bucks. If any of the civilian agencies on the chopping block had [the Pentagon's] record on financial management, they would be on the top of the hit list."
I note with interest and surprise that no television or radio talk show has reported on that situation. There was no hue and cry by the collective media, nor any other reactions by the public, the taxpayers.
If a school system in any major U.S. city had discrepancies amounting to $28,000 or even only $2,800, its chief financial officer or the whole school board would be called to task.
Many other parallels could be cited, where the people would be up in arms.
The admitted overpayments of $750 million yearly to defense contractors (all taxpayer money) would buy books for education, provide for immunization programs, school lunches, housing for the disadvantaged and health care for the needy and elderly without burdening the bloated budget.
It could go a long way toward giving the people a break in their daily lives and reduce the crime rate.
Unfortunately, as things will develop in the case of the $28.8 billion, we will see a few reprimands, some slaps on collective hands and business as usual.
What a disgrace.