Readers Write 06/04

Condemnations ignore overwhelming evidence

As widespread condemnations are leveled against Israel, it is necessary to clarify the facts of the country’s response to the pro-Hamas movement’s deliberate and violent provocation. The condemnations of Israel willfully ignore the overwhelming evidence that not only was the country trying to protect itself without violent conflict, but that the commandos boarding the ship only opened fire in self-defense, and as a last resort.

The ships’ mission was political, not simply humanitarian.  Nor were all of the ships’ passengers pure humanitarians. Repeated warnings and calls for the ships to change course and dock at a nearby port were ignored.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has said, “This irresponsible ... attitude that defies any human virtue should definitely, but definitely, be punished.” His words should be directed at the members of Free Gaza, who disregarded warnings, violated a lawful blockade and intentionally prompted the fighting that led to this tragic incident.

Judy Marx is director of the American Jewish Committee, Atlanta chapter

ENVIRONMENT

BP blame goes squarely in government’s court

As tragic and devastating as the BP oil spill is, the blame is again squarely in the government’s court. Any time government coerces the private sector to operate in a risky environment, it is only time before the risks blow up. “Affordable housing” through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac resulted in a recession, and the government demonizes the bankers. Now it is the oil companies’ turn to be demonized. And so it goes.

David Horger, Hoschton

ENERGY

If corn is choice, people, animals will be hungrier

Regarding “Readers write” (Opinion, June 2), Mr. Hunt’s heart is in the right place, but I think sugar cane will grow only in extreme South Florida and Hawaii. Tobacco grows in a lot of temperate states. Unfortunately, corn seems to be the ethanol fuel of choice. That means less food for people and animals.

Sydney Sivertsen, Alpharetta

IMMIGRATION

Most federal funding goes to states, not towns

“Detained immigrants may help bring in census money”  (ajc.com, May 31) repeats a common mistake. The article claims towns that host detention facilities could receive a financial boost as a result of the Census Bureau counting the detainees as town residents. Actually, most federal funding is block grants to states, not towns.

Why does it matter where detainees and other prisoners are counted? Because census data is used to draw legislative districts. Districts with prisons and detention centers pad out their populations and dilute the political clout of every single other person who does not have a prison in their district. Counting incarcerated people as if they were residents of the facility harms democracy.

States can use the census’ early release of prison population data to fix this redistricting problem. Any such fix will not affect funding.

Aleks Kajstura, legal director of the Prison Policy Initiative, Northampton, Mass.

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