THB, Banditos, Wayward and more confirmed for Cosmic Cocktail!

China hasn't earned 'permanent normal' trade status...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

China hasn't earned 'permanent normal' trade status ...

I'd like to comment on two recent articles regarding Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for China.

Reading about the ex-presidents backing Clinton on this policy (" 'Elder statesmen' join Clinton in support of China trade bill," May 10), I couldn't help thinking: Here are Gerald (never elected) Ford and Jimmy (failed presidency) Carter acting like they have a stake in this thing.

I don't believe that they have to worry about their jobs being moved to China.

The next day I read about a watchdog commission to monitor China ("Watchdog commission plan could help China trade bill," May 11).

If China continues its human and workers' rights abuses, this commission could recommend sanctions. I guess permanent normal trade may not be so permanent.

Then why grant such status? Does anyone believe that this outlaw nation is on the brink of reform?

The American worker knows the real deal; that's why most of us are dead set against PNTR for China.

Keith Biddle

Baltimore

The writer is recording secretary for Teamsters Local No. 355.

First, China insults us before the world by labeling our intervention in Kosovo an imperialist attempt to impose our cultural values on others. Now it threatens to expand its nuclear arsenal if we go ahead with plans to install a missile shield.

All the while, China continues its flagrant violation of the rights of its own citizens -- and we want to offer this country favored trade status?

Am I missing something here?

Jean Soyke

Baltimore

... but could freer trade open a closed society?

U.S.-China relations are at a critical juncture, but it is clearly in both countries' long-term interest to expand trade, maintain peace in the Taiwan straits and increase cultural contacts.

The United States doesn't have to be either an enemy or a best friend of a repressive, totalitarian regime to further both humanitarian and national interests. Historical evidence suggests that increasing subjugated peoples' economic choices and contacts with democracies leads to an irresistible demand for political choices.

And, as a practical matter, it is easier to affect the conduct of a nation that has more to lose and that voluntarily signs on to the rules of international organizations.

Unfortunately, the Chinese leadership is so out of touch that its every action seems designed to thwart improved relations. China encourages its own isolation by threatening democratic Taiwan and with its grotesque human rights policies.

The United States must ensure that the future of Taiwan rests in the hands of the Taiwanese. But this should in no way conflict with passing a normal trade relations bill with China that includes mandatory and rigorous monitoring.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Put the virus-makers to work helping humanity

The "I Love You" virus created havoc across the country and around the world. When the creator of this, and other calamity-causing viruses is caught, he or she should be made to pay for their crime by serving humanity.

The perpetrator is obviously very intelligent and his or her brain power should be used to benefit us all.

Put that person to work for 20 years on cancer research or spinal cord injuries or other diseases that plague the world. Don't waste this talent behind bars.

John Ballard

Hunt Valley

Firefighters shouldn't pay for city's budget problems

What a slap in the face to have the mayor recommend that seven firehouses be closed ("7 firehouses to close," May 10) Of all the city's departments, the fire department is the only one that meets and exceeds its goals and objectives.

Last year, we recorded the lowest total of fire fatalities in the city's history. Yet we are faced with more company closures.

It's bad enough that the department is closing five companies a day on a rotating basis; now the mayor wants to close seven companies permanently.

It seems to me that the mayor has chosen the wrong department to be the fall guy for the city's budget shortfall.

Anthony D. Cero

Baltimore

The writer is a Baltimore City firefighter.

Instead of closing firehouses to save a few bucks, and reducing an essential city service which cannot be replaced, Mayor Martin O'Malley should cut bulk trash pick-up and curbside trash hauling.

This administration should demand that its citizens be responsible and learn to pick-up after themselves.

But putting out fires and providing essential paramedical help is something we cannot do without.

Stephen Taylor

Baltimore

Race card has no place in debate over firehouses

In The Sun's article "7 firehouses to close" (May 10) Capt. Stephen O. Fugate, of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association states this is "dangerous stuff," and calls attention to the fact that some of the stations to be closed are in "minority" neighborhoods.

In a city that is about two-thirds African-American, just what is a "minority" neighborhood?

Mr. Fugate goes on to suggest the station in Roland Park, certainly a "minority" neighborhood by some demographic standards, should be closed instead.

There may or may not be good reasons to close some stations, but playing a race card isn't a good way to go about it.

Tom Myers

Baltimore

Tax dollars shouldn't fund Caribbean frequent flyer

In The Sun's article "Woman says lawsuit irked U.S." (May 4), Minnie Colclaugh alleges she is under scrutiny by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as retaliation for a suit she filed against the U.S. Customs Service for what could be an illegal strip search conducted because she is a black female.

But, reading that she is receiving Section 8 housing subsidies, I cannot but wonder how Ms. Colclaugh could make three trips to Jamaica.

I find it heartening that someone at HUD was savvy enough to recognize that an individual who is purportedly unable to work and entitled to government money toward her rent should not be taking expensive trips out of the country.

As a taxpayer who works full time and would certainly enjoy taking a trip to Jamaica, not to mention three trips, I am "irked" that my tax dollars are going to this woman.

Lisa D. LaMastra

Baltimore

Brown's buildings, donations merit plaudits, not protests

Developer Howard Brown donates huge sums of hard-earned money to schools, houses of worship and countless other causes throughout Baltimore.

The giant impact of Mr. Brown's generosity far outweighs the loss of the Samuel Owings House ("Proposed luxury high-rises put Pikesville on offensive," May 3).

Mr. Brown builds beautiful buildings that meet the needs of modern times. His efforts to build a new and improved Pikesville are worthy of community support.

David Meltzer

Baltimore

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