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Copyright 2000 The Chronicle Publishing Co.  
The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 1407 words


Military Contractors' Stake in Colombia

Editor -- Thank you for the series on Colombia ("The Colombia Quagmire," Dec. 17-20) and the editorial contrasting Secretary of State Powell's criteria for military intervention with U.S. military aid to Colombia ("The Powell Doctrine Meets War in Colombia," Dec. 21).

However, one aspect of the coverage has been lacking. That is an analysis of who benefits from this war.

The clear answer is weapons contractors. Ever since the Clinton administration lifted the arms embargo on Latin America, there has been a steadily growing arms market in the region. Plan Colombia is the mother lode. The Black Hawk gunships alone represent a $234 million contract for Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. of Connecticut. While you are absolutely correct in saying that military intervention in Colombia fails to meet Powell's criterion of public support, the plan has the full backing of the military industry.

As we pump weapons into Colombia and her neighbors, we are sure to create a demand for more weapons. It will be interesting to see if Powell sticks to his ideals in demanding full public support as a criterion for military engagement, or if he'll give in to the prevailing view in D.C. that when it comes to foreign policy, it's really just the opinion of the weapons industry that matters.


No. California political director

California Peace Action




Editor -- Does anyone else miss Art Hoppe as I do during these days of political upheaval?

Molly Ivins is great for the barbed comments and facts, and Stephanie Salter gives voice to the feelings of frustration and disillusionment, but only Hoppe could combine the wit and the soul that could have provided some salve for the deep despair caused by the last five weeks of farcical events.

It's nearly a year since Hoppe departed, and my eyes are still drawn to his spot at the top of the page whenever the latest unbelieveable happening occurs, hoping to find a spark of hope or at least a way to laugh it all off.


San Francisco



Editor -- President-elect George W. Bush may not turn out to be a great president, or even a good one. But most of us who voted for him believe that he has a good heart and is fully committed to doing the best he can for the good of the country.

Of course, he will have his successes and his failures, just as did his predecessors. I have no doubt that the biased mainstream press, which includes The Chronicle, will gloat over his failures and undervalue his successes.

Come on, guys, lighten up. It's time to give Bush a break and be as objective as you like to say you are.

There will always be major disagreements about the Florida recounts and the U.S. Supreme Court decision, so let's assign these matters to history and move on.


Walnut Creek



Editor -- In letters to The Chronicle (Dec. 21), two men defended the rights of HMOs to include Viagra in their coverage but not contraceptives.

One writer was pleased that in Illinois women pay more for health care than men because they use the system more. Would he approve seniors paying more because they require much more care? In any case, if he's worried about costs, contraceptives add less to health care costs than do children.

The other writer says that Viagra is "natural." Contraceptives are not. Beware of the word "natural." It's used by people to defend, justify and sanctify their own self-interest.

The writer also said that "legally requiring someone else to pay for women's purchases sounds like an approach from days when women were not permitted to own property." There hasn't been such an example of twisted logic since the trial in "Alice in Wonderland."





Editor -- Neil Spun (Letters, Dec. 21) complains of 12 procedures in his health insurance from which only a female, he says, can benefit. One he mentions is child delivery, the culmination of prenatal care, which he also lists in the same category.

Assuming that childbirth is a health-care event, surely it is the health of the child that is most at stake, and it is the child's health-care insurer that should pay for it. In practice, that means that insurers of both parents should share the cost in the same proportion as they would share the costs of vaccination or surgery at a later stage.

If the mother requires special treatment because of a difficulty in pregnancy or delivery, it is also for the child's benefit, not just her own, so again the child's insurance should pay. Perhaps for convenience it is best that both sexes pay insurance for these eventualities despite Spun's complaint.


San Francisco



Editor -- Your article on San Francisco homeless deaths was rhetoric, not journalism ("Homeless Who Died in S.F. Are Remembered," Dec. 22). If it were journalism, it would have mentioned that drug overdose is the leading cause of death among the city's homeless.

It's time for the city to face up to the role of addiction among its homeless. And it's time for The Chronicle to tell it like it is. Solutions begin with facing the truth.


San Francisco



Editor -- I agree with your editorial ("Hillary and the rules," Dec. 21) describing Hillary Clinton's secrecy and superiority and her "tendency to stand on legalisms." However, I disagree with your partial caveat implying that the bid arrangement for her book prevented "an inside bargain with a would-be patron."

All a prospective patron needed to do to accomplish the goal was to bid an amount known to be significantly in excess of the fair competitive value of the book. Of course, this could be true of the sale of any other commodity, such as a home in suburban New York.

Yes, Hillary Clinton, there is a Santa Claus.


Walnut Creek



Editor -- Don Davis (Letters, Dec. 17) suggested that President-elect George W. Bush "acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe a woman's right to choose is fundamental."

If pro-abortion militants really believed this, they would not be so nervous about the survival of the Roe vs. Wade decision. The truth is, when it comes to "a woman's right to choose" (to kill her unborn child), the consensus of the electorate is to the right of the legal status quo.

Most Americans favor laws banning late-term abortion and requiring parental consent for teenage girls to have abortions. If the Roe vs. Wade decision is overturned, these laws will be passed in most of the states. That is the way "the majority of Americans" want it to be.


Walnut Creek



Editor -- Regarding your editorial, "Clinton's Last Chance for Conservation Legacy" (Dec. 22), on behalf of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The refuge was first established by President Eisenhower in 1960 as the Arctic Game Range, subsequently enlarged and renamed in 1980.

President Clinton should indeed take action and proclaim the coastal plain a national monument. He has full authority to do so and he has the strong support of the American people. Moreover, legislation that would have extended formal wilderness designation to the coastal plain had bipartisan support in the 106th Congress.

Twenty senators, including California's Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, co-sponsored a bill authored by Sen. William Roth, R-Del. In the House, 178 representatives co-sponsored a similar bill.

President-elect Bush has made clear his intention to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, so much so that it appears to be the centerpiece of his so-called energy policy. Clinton has already left a conservation legacy that he can be proud of. If he were to declare the Arctic coastal plain a national monument, he would forever be counted as one of the greatest presidents in American conservation history.


Regional Director

The Wilderness Society

San Francisco

LOAD-DATE: December 26, 2000

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