Letters to the Editor

Readers write about divisions in Jerusalem, the USPS's high labor costs, the need for presidential leadership, and cost-saving measures to fight fires.

Jerusalem: How to satisfy all residents?

In response to the May 15 article, "Jerusalem: unified city, divided views": This article did a poor job of portraying both sides of the situation in Jerusalem. The article couldn't have featured two more different people, it's true.

But while it portrayed Mahmoud Moussa Atoon as a richly detailed, sympathetic character, Judith Katz's life was summed up much more quickly.

The article also identified Hamas as a political party without noting that it's also a terrorist organization launching political campaigns at the same time that it's launching missiles at villages.

Yes, the situation needs to change. But both sides need to change it.

Matt Roth

In response to the May 15 article about the travails of residents of Jerusalem: Has anyone suggested that the city be placed under the United Nations' permanent jurisdiction?

Jerusalem is an important geographic place to Muslims, Jews and Christians. The Palestinians want to establish their capital city there. The Jews want to keep it as their holy city.

It does not seem as if all these interests and more can be met unless there is some way to assure all that their interests will be protected. Surely leaving the city under the jurisdiction of a single nation is not going to solve the problems.

Could this be a new role for the UN? In recent history has there been an international city in which people of all races and faiths had equal standing?

It seems to me this might be the only solution to the future of Jerusalem that might stand a chance of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together – neither one of them in charge but both equal.

Perhaps the residents would have dual citizenship, both of Jerusalem and either Palestine or Israel.

William Barrons
Astoria, Ore.

USPS: Better with high labor costs

In response to your March 15 editorial, "Time to sort out the post office": One reason labor costs are a higher portion of USPS expenses is because the postal service, unlike FedEx and UPS, provides universal delivery service.

Another reason is that USPS charges the same rates for domestic postage regardless of where the mail goes, bringing in less profit per item delivered.

Rising healthcare costs are a problem for all employers, not just the USPS. The way to address the problem is not to reduce coverage for postal workers but to implement a publicly funded universal healthcare system of the sort enjoyed by other industrialized countries.

Peter Shapiro
Portland, Ore.

Regarding your March 15 editorial on the United States Postal Service: Your editorial states that 80 percent of the USPS's budget goes to labor.

The USPS is supposedly a nonprofit agency. What would you have it spend its money on? Big screen plasma TVs or new computers for everyone in the back office even though the ones we have still do the job? Hampers by the thousands that are not compatible with the mail? Dealing with management harassment cases by the hundreds and grievances by the thousands?

The way I see it, it's not the 80 percent we can't justify. It's the remaining 20 percent that they can't seem to get right.

Dwayne Thompson
Greensboro, N.C.

Presidents are leaders, not friends

Regarding Carla Seaquist's May 15 Opinion piece, "Wrong way to judge a candidate": Thank you for pointing out the foolishness of rating presidential candidates on their "buddy potential."

I believe that I'm in the majority when I say that I'm desperate to see courageous, principled leadership in the White House and in the Congress.

Maren Hofstad
New Hope, Minn.

Fight fires for less

In response to the article, "Florida's growing wildfire problem," from May 11: Wildfire is one of the most complex issues facing land managers today, and this article did a good job of explaining it to readers.

Firefighting and management have increased from 13 to 45 percent of Forest Service spending over the past 18 years. That shifts much of the agency's budget away from providing wildlife and watershed protection, campground and trail maintenance, and backcountry rangers.

The federal government has tended to follow a reflexive policy of trying to fight every fire with every resource at its command. That approach not only allows flammable material to accumulate as fuel for the next fire but unnecessarily wastes taxpayers' dollars.

Fortunately, the government has made progress recently in moving away from that approach.

Scientists have worked with fire managers to develop smarter ways to manage fire. For most forests, fire is as natural as sunshine and rain. These forests evolved with fire, need fire, and easily restore themselves after fire.

Natural fires that do not threaten lives and homes must be managed to restore landscapes. Prescribed, management-ignited fires should be a preferred tool in the toolbox, when the fires are safe and appropriate.

We urge the Forest Service to quicken its pace in relying on this policy.

Tom Fry
National Fire Program Coordinator, The Wilderness Society

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Op-Ed.

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