The US Government's Reaction Time in Aiding Somalia

The editorial "A Test in Somalia," Aug. 19, laments that the relief effort "wasn't all begun months ago." But in fact, it was.

The United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), began supporting relief operations in Somalia in February 1991. Since then, USAID has provided more than $85 million in assistance, including nearly 80,000 metric tons of food.

President George Bush's announcement several weeks ago included a commitment for an additional 145,000 tons of food. The US has been paying close attention to the crisis from the outset and is trying to get the news media to do the same. The question the news media need to answer is, why haven't they? Jerry Lipson, Washington, Office of External Affairs US Agency for International Develop. Russians in Latvia

I hope someone in the White House read the editorial "The West and Bosnia," Aug. 21. An experience I had in Latvia on July 29 shows how right it is to say that the conflict in Bosnia is "defining the character of the post-cold-war world." And how "Russian generals are watching, with an eye on their minorities in Moldova and the Baltics."

My son and I were wandering through the back streets of Riga when we were approached by an English-speaking Russian who said he wanted foreigners to know that Russians in Latvia are very unhappy about moves to raise the status of the Latvian language.

Being Irish, I have sympathy for the Baltic attempts to reconstruct their cultures, so I argued that Russians in Latvia should, as immigrants, assimilate into the host society. My response provoked an interesting outburst. He retorted that "Riga is a Russian city," and when I suggested that the West would not allow a replay of Stalin's invasion, he said the appearance of an invasion could be avoided.

The Russians in Latvia would wait for the overthrow of Boris Yeltsin and then create civic disorder as a pretext for inviting the Russian troops still stationed in Latvia to restore order. Terrible as this scenario is, I think he was right. James Bowen, Raleigh, N.C. The homeless Thank you for the news article "Homelessness Defies Both Parties," Aug. 19. This brief, well-written outline of the tragic condition and tremendous social challenge is most enlightening.

After watching both major parties' national conventions and seemingly endless commentary thereon, I think that broadcast journalist Katie Curic's response to this American political ritual is the most succinct and appropriate to the situation the author describes.

As Ms. Curic states, "You can't eat balloons." Robert R. Campbell, Long Beach, Calif. Non-Jews also died in Holocaust

Regarding the Arts page article "Israelis and Germans Confront Painful Past," Aug. 18: A line in the review states, "Remember the old man, the little child, the victim ... 6 million Jews. Remember and do not forget it."

Indeed Jews all over the world have not forgotten the horrors of the Holocaust. Statutes, museums, and countless Hollywood films have been dedicated to the memory of the Jews who perished in the camps. What then have they forgotten? They have consistently and conveniently forgotten the 8 million others - the non-Jews - who perished in the camps. Consequently, millions of Jewish children throughout the world are raised to believe that only Jews died in the concentration camps. Thomas Donnelly, Port Hueneme, Calif.

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