A mandate for progress in Iran

Skeptics like Geneive Abdo ("In Iran, don't believe reformist talk," June 6 opinion page) describe newly reelected Iranian President Mohamad Khatami as marginal due to his failure to deliver sweeping reforms. The question Mr. Khatami's critics fail to address is why two-thirds of the Iranian electorate showed up at the polls and why 77 percent voted for Khatami.

The answer is that progress, however limited, has been achieved in the past four years. Despite the efforts of hard-line clerics to extinguish the reform movement, Iran's political landscape has been significantly and irrevocably altered, largely due to Khatami's promotion of pluralism and democracy. Striking proof of Khatami's effectiveness is the adoption of his rhetoric by hard-liners. Even more notable is the emergence of the "third current," a growing group of conservatives who are shifting toward the center. Most important, Iranians today believe that their voices must - and will - be heard.

Even conservatives are gradually accepting that the people's needs and wishes cannot be ignored or suppressed.

It is for this reason that the Iranian electorate has given Khatami the mandate to continue his efforts.

Negar Katirai New York Research Associate Council on Foreign Relations

Partly cloudy and possible ice age

The National Academy of Science report does not put President Bush in "A tighter box on global warming," as the Monitor headlined June 8. What it says is that we don't know what the major causes are, but we do know that human activities do have some influence on climate.

A so-called "little ice age" occurred between the 1600s-1800s. No study or report yet has indicated when the next cooling will arrive. This is a major deficiency in the climate-change program.

Until we know how much natural emissions, the cooling and warming cycle of the earth, and human activities contribute to climate change, radical actions need not be taken.

G. Stanley Doore Silver Spring, Md.

Correction: Palestinian mortars kill

In a May 31 letter, LaVerne Kuhnke erroneously states: "The homemade mortars which Hamas militants have lobbed against Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, according to press reports, have yet to strike their targets and have caused no casualties."

In fact, reports in the Monitor and in the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and Jerusalem Post, among others, have reported on the multiple casualties Israelis suffered in Palestinian mortar attacks. A quick review of these sources reveal that at least nine Israelis have been wounded by mortars while in their backyards, community centers, and army bases.

Thus, contrary to LaVerne Kuhnke's claim, Palestinian mortars clearly did "strike their targets."

Tamar Sternthal Boston Senior Research Analyst Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

More congressmen please

Your June 19 editorial "Remuddling the House" is correct in saying that our congressional districts are far too big for one member of the US House to represent. A simple solution to this problem is to set the number of citizens per representative at 500,000, and then increase the membership of the House as the population increases. Instead of freezing the House at 435, as we have since 1911, we should let it increase to about 600 now. When the population reaches 500 million in the middle of the 21st century, the House will total 1,000.

George A. Dean Southport, Conn.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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