Which democracies are 'false' democracies?

Your May 30 editorial, "Democracy's critical voices," states that "Hopes [for democracy] took a blow last week with the conviction of Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim." In fact, since the mid-'90s, Egypt's democracy has been receiving a series of heavy blows through the arrest and imprisonment of numerous Islamic opposition activists who peacefully advocated democratic reform.

The outcry against the falsehood of Egypt's democracy, unleashed in the American press by the detention of Mr. Ibrahim, raises a number of disturbing questions regarding that press's claim to fair-mindedness: Why does Egyptian democracy appear to be in danger only when the detained activist happens to be an Arab American?

And what about Ms. Hanna Abu Khdeir and the other 13 Arab Americans who were detained and tortured in Israel's prison cells? Were they ignored by the American press because of their Palestinian origin? Or is it because Israel's "democracy" is also immune to criticism as long as it is Palestinians whose rights are being violated?

Salah Ezz Cairo Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University

Nothing 'nice' about a deficit

In your May 17 article "Congress on tax cuts: No stopping us now," Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma is quoted as saying "We've got some tax cuts coming that are so nice that no one is going to be able to vote against them." Well, by golly, if they throw the budget into deficit again there will be nothing "nice" about them.

Our balanced budget, and its attendant surplus, was brought about by President Clinton, and if the Bush regime takes us back to deficits again, the Republican Party may as well disband, because it will be completely discredited.

William Proctor Conway, N.H.

Give notice of good, too

Regarding your May 30 article "A tussle over right to know where ex-sex offenders live": I find nothing unjust about giving public notice concerning the reprehensible acts that a citizen has been proven guilty of, providing equal zeal is given to the discovery, documentation, and public notice concerning the same citizens' meritorious behavior.

Daniel P. Quinn St. Petersburg, Fla.

Recycling nuclear waste

Regarding your May 29 article "Ground zero in nuclear-power battle": There is a dramatic absence of any discussion about recycling nuclear waste for replenishing nuclear-power plant fuel and degrading the remainder to low-level radiation material that is much safer to store. One or two "fast breeder" reactors could process all the nuclear waste in the US. France recycles German, Japanese, and its own waste into nuclear fuel in its fast-breeder reactor. The $7 billion recently spent on Yucca Mountain would have paid for recycling reactors.

Bill Grazier Duluth, Minn.

It wasn't Greek to him

As the proud possessor of a biblical name I couldn't let the egregious error in your May 22 article "What's in a Biblical name?" go uncommented-upon. The writer says that Jesus gave Simon the name Peter, "based on the Greek word for rock." But as far as we can tell, Jesus knew not a word of Greek. He spoke Aramaic, as did his disciple Simon, and almost any good version of the Bible will give this episode as Jesus naming his disciple Cephas, from the Aramaic word for rock. It has been translated as Peter, but I'd hate to see a child misled into thinking that Jesus ever used that name.

Mordechai Shapiro Bonny Doon, Calif.

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