Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Bangladesh's counterterrorism efforts, US-Venezuela relations, and California fire prevention.

Bangladesh asserts its success in counterterrorism

Regarding Selig S. Harrison's July 8 Opinion piece, "Terrorists in Bangladesh?": The piece fails to take into account the sincere efforts being made by the caretaker government in its final days to return to sustainable democratic norms and practices.

The government not only brought about numerous changes in our administrative and judicial systems, it also went to extra lengths to launch campaigns to make people aware of the misleading propaganda of the country's radicals.

Investigation by Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies found the alleged connection between Bangladeshi extremists and Al Qaeda or other international terror networks to be unfounded.

Bangladesh has taken steps to guard against terrorist financing organizations by strengthening financial intelligence units operating in the Bangladesh Bank and by amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2002.

On regional stability and peace, Bangladesh and India have been cooperating to combat terrorism in the region.

The present caretaker government of Bangladesh remains committed to the task with which it is entrusted and would appreciate a true reflection of the steps being undertaken. Because of sincere and honest governance, the people of Bangladesh are on the verge of realizing their hope for a vibrant and democratic future, and they want understanding from their friends and well-wishers.

Sheikh Mohammed Belal

Deputy chief of Mission, Embassy of Bangladesh

How an Obama win could help Chávez

In response to the July 16 article, "Could an Obama win hurt Chávez?": A perceived threat in Latin America, as a right-wing United States administration is, may help regional leaders gain and hold the support of militants and hard-liners, but it is difficult to imagine that Hugo Chávez's popularity among the general populace hangs on the existence of a bogeyman to the north, as suggested in the article.

Indeed, Mr. Chávez would have greater opportunities to make inroads with his less leftist constituents given a more conciliatory and understanding US administration.

Mikhail Romanov
Groton, Mass.

Invest in preventive fire protection

Regarding the July 16 article, "California burns through its firefighting funds. Homeowner fees ahead?": The searing reality is that the state of California spends a fortune fighting fires. A lot less would have been spent in the past if greater investment had been made to protect homes and communities before fires start by implementing fire-safe measures such as homeowner education, use of fire-retardant building materials, and the clearing of brush and the thinning of overgrown forests around homes and towns to create defensible space.

Moreover, California has a network of 150 local fire safety councils, as well as a statewide California Fire Safe Council, which operates an efficient grant clearinghouse to deliver funding to local councils and rural fire departments.

In a state with one of the world's 10 largest economies, just $6 million have been available for fire safe councils each year. It is time to ramp up state and federal investment in reducing the risk of fires to homes and towns before fires start.

Jay Thomas Watson
Sonoma, Calif.

Board member, California Fire Safe Council

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