U.S. should lead effort to assist tsunami victims

I was deeply touched by The Sun's powerful and poignant editorial "Relief within limits" (Dec. 28).

What an irony: While we are spending $200 billion fighting a war in a foreign land, losing our brothers and making enemies around the world, we are unable to find even $500 million for emergency aid.

The people of India (especially the Andaman and Nicobar islands), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other affected nations, as well as the world, will remember who came to help at this moment.

America has long been the world leader in disaster relief; it is time for us to step up to the plate again.

Money is sorely needed; so are medicines, medical supplies, food, heavy construction equipment, building materials and blankets.

In the longer term, the United States must lead the way and assist in disaster preparedness.

The devastating earthquakes of Gujarat, India, a few years ago, in which thousands died, taught us that disasters strike the poor and unprepared hardest because their homes are often on the fringes of the world's faults and floodplains and suffer from poor workmanship and poor quality materials.

And disaster relief is often uncoordinated and sporadic.

As The Sun stated, "If we are truly interested in winning friends and influencing people," we will find the money and provide the help now.

Pradeep Ganguly

Glenn Dale

Devote manpower to relief, not war

The stories of the earthquake and tsunami, the suddenness of the devastation, the huge numbers of lives lost are just incomprehensible ("Mass burials, fears of disease as tsunami toll mounts in Asia," Dec. 28).

Combating disasters and their aftermath is where American manpower and support are needed most. Instead, our troops and our resources are committed to this ongoing calamity in Iraq.

It is not clear to me that our aid is welcomed in Iraq. It is certainly clear that the civilian casualties and reported prisoner abuse are not welcome.

How wonderful it would be for our brave men and women to be helping the victims of this natural disaster rather than struggling in this disaster in Iraq that was created by the Bush administration.

Beth Greenland


Defense of Rumsfeld offers little evidence

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's defense of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is full of grand-sounding assertions with no backing - and certainly Mr. Gingrich provides none ("In Rumsfeld's defense," Opinion Commentary, Dec. 22).

For instance, he writes that "because of Mr. Rumsfeld's successful plan, our military is more flexible, more agile and better able to fight unconventional enemies."

Who says it is "successful"? And what does that even mean - "flexible," "agile"? The words sound nice, but they don't signify anything.

We're bogged down in Iraq with no end in sight - unless we declare victory after the Jan. 30 election, and cut and run - now that's agility.

Charles Rammelkamp


Gingrich's argument overlooks realities

After reading Newt Gingrich's column "In Rumsfeld's defense" (Opinion Commentary, Dec. 22), I now understand why Mr. Gingrich is out as speaker of the House and as a congressman.

It is plainly and simply because he is out of touch with reality.

John P. Kimball


British also involved in Ireland's carnage

Todd Richissin's article "Peace has turned Dr. No into Dr. Maybe" (Dec 26) contained an extraordinary error.

It says, "Together, the Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries are blamed for some 3,600 deaths" - as if the British government (the British army, special forces, intelligence, police, etc.) were not involved.

British forces killed hundreds of Catholics in Northern Ireland. And the British government established, armed and trained Protestant murder gangs that assassinated many Catholics.

By now the entire world knows all this, except Mr. Richissin and the fact-checkers for The Sun.

Father Sean McManus


The writer is president of the Irish National Caucus.

Alleged sexual abuse perpetrated as priest

Catholic officials are to be commended for exercising caution in going public with a Vatican defrocking decree out of consideration for how that decree might affect potential jurors ("Baltimore man accused of abuse is defrocked by the Vatican," Dec. 23).

As a spokesman for the Baltimore Archdiocese notes, Maurice Blackwell "is no longer a priest in the eyes of the church."

But it is important that the public as well as ecclesiastical and civil authorities (and Sun headline writers) not forget that the crimes that Mr. Blackwell is accused of committing allegedly took place while he was a Catholic priest.

They were perpetrated using his status as a religious leader and the access and influence that status provided.

It is only in honestly confronting this reality that the Catholic Church can begin to undergo fundamental transformation away from excessive clericalism and that its victims can begin to heal.

Kathleen R. Kennedy

Harrisburg, Pa.

Crossword brought people together

My father-in-law was a staunch Democrat. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. My father-in-law played with boats. I fly airplanes for fun. My father-in-law liked beer. I enjoy scotch. My father-in-law loved the summer sun. I can't wait for the snow.

However, we had one thing in common - we both looked forward to working The Sun's crossword puzzle every day. We would even call each other long distance on the phone sometimes to help with clues.

Even though he's no longer with us, I'm sure my late father-in-law is as upset as I am by The Sun's decision to eliminate the daily crossword puzzle from the paper.

Please bring it back.

William R. Ward

Ellicott City

A beautiful message of season's meaning

Michael Olesker's beautiful message about the Christmas season ("Santa's lessons of the season worth more than material gifts," Dec. 24).

Although I often disagree politically with Mr. Olesker, at this time of year we put political opinions aside as we search for the true meaning of Christmas amid "the commercial chaos of the season."

We seek love and caring and family and peace on Earth, good will toward all men.

And who would think Santa Claus could deliver such a message?

Joseph P. Laun Jr.


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