20 I fully sympathize with the author of the article ``Not Feelin' Finer in Carolina,'' Aug. 4. There is no reason to condemn the hard-working farmers who are simply trying to make a living and have chosen tobacco as their crop because it brings in vastly more income than any other crop they could choose to grow. I also sympathize with the farmers of Peru who grow coca for the exact same reason.
The fact that one is later turned into crack and cocaine by someone other than the farmer, or cigarettes by someone other than the farmer; that in both cases thousands of people are killed by choosing to use the end product; and that many more thousands of lives are destroyed by the actions of users of both products is no reason to find fault with the farmers themselves. Alec Colovos, Puyallup, Wash.
The Farmer and the Cash Crop
The piece on Carolina tobacco farmers is an astonishing bit of muddled thinking. Can we spare the same kind and sympathetic thoughts for the honest and hard working coca growers in Colombia or the poppy growers in Thailand? How about the conscientious and dedicated employees who make the Medellin drug cartel a success? The products they grow and distribute do far less damage than tobacco.
Even the Carolina farmers should be capable of understanding that they are causing misery and death to millions of fellow human beings and are the cause of a large part of the runaway health-care costs. We are responsible for our actions. The legality of tobacco is totally irrelevant. Nigel Pridmore Brown, Ojai, Calif.
Some soul-searching on asylum
The opinion-page article ``US `Interest' Limited to Keeping Haitians at Home,'' Aug. 4, challenges all foes and advocates of United States military intervention to rethink assumptions that supposedly explain why ``national interest in Haiti is to keep the Haitians there instead of here.''
The Haitian refugee crisis has been characterized and irresistibly intertwined with the resolution of the political chaos in Haiti. Statistics do support such a linkage in US policy if one compares the near-total halt of emigration from Haiti before the coup with the vast refugee exodus that has occurred since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown from his duly-elected office.
The piece frankly elucidates a number of troubling ironies which feed the refugee crisis debate, only to reinforce erroneous stereotypical assumptions of Haitian asylum seekers. The author sympathizes with the difficulty of separating purely economic reasons from political motives for fleeing Haiti. He points out the irony in asserting, ``If you have a well-founded fear of starvation, that's too bad.''
The real irony is that most Haitians who actually manage to obtain some kind of hearing have, on average, a stronger well-founded fear of persecution than the national average for political-asylum applicants interviewed in the US.
If we still embrace the principle of equality under the law, why shouldn't we simply treat Haitians as we treat any other fleeing asylum-seeker who reaches our borders? Must we not ask ourselves why we provide asylum seekers from anywhere else in the world an asylum hearing, even those who flee for economic reasons, but deny that privilege to bona fide Haitian refugees?
To argue that we do not want more people as a justification for keeping Haitians away from our shores obscures an often-forgotten fact that only Haitians are summarily rejected from our borders. Mark Carrie, Washington
How deep is deep?
In the article ``Saving Siberia's Unique Lake Baikal Region,'' Aug. 2, the author erroneously states that the lake holds a volume equal to one-fifth of all the fresh water on Earth.
What the author should have said was that it holds a volume of water equal to one-fifth of all of the fresh liquid surface water on Earth. Fresh water includes glaciers, icecaps, and fresh subsurface water.
In terms of all fresh water, the volume in Lake Baikal is less than 0.1 percent. Even if you consider just liquid fresh water, its volume is less than 1 percent of that. Michael Campana, Sandia Park, N.M.