Poor Little Rich Kids
My wife and I were repulsed to see a story on your front page about poor little rich kids who find day camps and sleep-away camps just too boring ["For Teens With Means, Camp Isn't a Cabin -- It's the Caribbean," July 6]. If parents want to enrich their children's lives, they should have their kids participate in an outreach program. They could spend a week helping poor people in Appalachia, as our daughter is doing. Maybe then they'll learn something about life.
-- Michal Dennis
New Windsor, Md.
Demeaning a Doctor
Your coverage of the misfortunes of Gary Malakoff ["Cheney's Internist Protected Under Privacy Agreement," front page, July 6] is outrageous. The medical community believes that chemical dependency is a medical issue requiring treatment, and that sufferers are legally, ethically and therapeutically entitled to the same privacy as any other person with a disease.
Medical societies such as the Medical Society of the District of Columbia have elaborate and effective protocols for supervising the condition and progress of health professionals referred to it for these problems. Malakoff has been functioning under this program. Apparently, Vice President Cheney was informed years ago of Malakoff's addiction treatment and Cheney elected to stay under his care until recently. Now that Cheney is no longer Malakoff's patient, any justification that your editors could advance for an article is moot.
-- Daniel Ein
Your July 4 front-page article "U.S. Funds for Iraq Are Largely Unspent" paints a misleading picture of how the coalition has spent Iraqi money. Your paper implies that the coalition made all the decisions without the input of Iraqis and gave it all to Halliburton.
I work as a contracting officer in Iraq. In less than 150 days I have written 150 contracts worth more than $40 million -- all of them with Iraqi money, all of them on the reconstruction of Iraq and all of them competitive. Every dollar that we spend goes toward developing the country. The Iraqi who was quoted as saying that they had no input is simply wrong. The money was allocated to the regions that then allocated money to projects with the advice and consent of local Iraqis. Every school, hospital, road, water and electricity project was approved by Iraqis in the provinces that received the benefit.
Your article says that one of the principal beneficiaries of the development fund money has been Halliburton. But the principal beneficiary of these contracts is the people of Iraq. Nearly every contract goes to Iraqis who employ Iraqis to rebuild Iraq. Of course, some contracts have gone to non-Iraqis. Many things, such as police cars, fire trucks and medical equipment, need to be imported.
Halliburton? We call the 100-plus men and women who provide exceptional support KBR -- that's Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. KBR won the first competitive contract for this support before the vice president joined the company; it lost the second five-year bid while Mr. Cheney was with the company, and won the third in December 2002 after he had left Halliburton. Sounds like they did better without the vice president.
-- John D. Van Gorp
Lexington Park, Md.
Weapons Ban Explained
Regarding your July 11 news story "Weapons Ban Set to Fade Into Sunset": In 1994, Congress defined "assault weapons" as those semiautomatic firearms with features resembling fully automatic machine guns. All semiautos manufactured today comply with the restrictions of this law, function mechanically the same way as "banned" firearms and even use the same ammunition. "Banned" firearms originally manufactured with "assault weapon" cosmetic features remain legal to buy and sell. Congress never forbade their ownership nor banned them for target shooting or hunting. Nothing about that will change in September when the law expires.
-- Gary G. Mehalik
The writer is director of communications for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
I enjoyed Peter Carlson's July 10 Style piece, "Those Good Old-Time Olympics," but he made a significant historical error. Carlson wrote that "in A.D. 312, Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire."
In A.D. 313 Constantine the Great and his co-emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, which legalized all religions in the Roman Empire. After Constantine had been dead for about 43 years, Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the empire, banning all others.
-- Kenneth W. Collins