Arlen Specter To the Editor: Albert Sun's article on Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)'s address at College Hall ("Pa. senator slams detainee bill," DP, 10/13/06) conspicuously omitted a key point: Sen. Specter ultimately voted for the bill he so harshly criticized. As Dahlia Lithwick and Richard Schragger reported in The Washington Post, the senator justified this reversal by rationalizing that "the Court will clean it up," a particularly ironic excuse for a bill that specifically strips federal courts of authority over such cases. Whether Specter acknowledged this in his talk or not, fair reporting demanded at least a mention of the contradiction in an article that focused on Specter's stance on the issue.
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Make a TV show To the Editor: As a producer on UTV, I strongly disagree with Ali Jackson's sentiments on the supposedly bland content of UTV ("After a show crossed the line, UTV lost its edge," DP, 10/9/06). Penn's student-run television station simply provides an outlet for students to express their ideas. Jason Miller and the UTV board work extremely hard to provide this opportunity. But any fault with programming lies with students unwilling to express themselves, not with the station that gives them the opportunity to do so. If Ali Jackson wants a racy show, I invite her to talk to the UTV board, which will provide the necessary training and equipment, at no charge, so that she can make her show a reality.
Keep the rink To the Editor: I appreciate the awareness of Penn's hockey programs raised by the article ("A team on ice," DP, 10/3/06) on the Class of 1923 ice rink. But the author makes some naive assumptions. Granted, the potential tear-down of the rink will not affect any of the current Penn players, or even those for the next several years, but is that any reason to ignore the problem? Those who are planning the eastward extensions of campus need to be approached now - rather than when it is too late - about changing their plans for the ice rink. Penn is one of only two Ivies without a varsity program. Isn't that embarrassing enough? Why should Penn be the only Ivy without hockey at all? Let's not just leave the problem for someone else to deal with down the road. The Penn community wants to keep the ice rink, and we need to let it be known.
A price too high To the Editor: I have been attending Penn Hillel High Holiday Services for 30 years. They have been my Jewish place of worship, my linkage to organized Jewish life, through school at Penn, family religious events and many a soulful search. What a wonderful sight and sound to see more than a 1,000 Jews, from all ages and walks of life, singing in prayer. The communal feeling was great and part of the inspiring awe. And it was free to worship. For years, I would host my family and friends, some Jewish, and many not. Yes, there was always the request for donation. As my financial status improved, so did my contribution. So you can imagine my shock and outrage when the Web site for this year's High Holiday Service demanded a ticket price of $180 per individual and $360 per family! Gone is the tradition and spirit of a donating Jewish community-friendly service that accepts all who want to worship. Thank you Penn Hillel for all the years of allowing me, my family and loved ones, to be closer to Hashem, from the spirit in our hearts. Too bad spending money breaks this tradition. What one gains in exclusivity, one loses from the community of humankind.
Real violations To the Editor: On behalf of Penn Faculty and Staff Against War on Iraq, I must challenge the accuracy and fairness of your coverage of our Teach-In ("An antiwar evening in Huntsman," DP, 9/21/06). The opening line "Penn faculty revived a protest technique" carelessly omitted the staff who played a critical role in organizing this event. This is not a minor point: Too often, the vital contributions made by Penn staff go unnoted. Another inaccuracy followed: The Dreams of Sparrows is not a "fictionalized account of Iraq during the American invasion" but a gritty documentary. We also question a number of disturbing editorial choices made. Why no quotes from enthusiastic student-attendees? Why a photograph that suggested no young people even attended? And why put educate in inverted commas? The U.S. government has lied repeatedly and, aided by a largely compliant media, has succeeded in keeping many Americans ignorant as to the true causes and costs of this war. We sought to replace fiction with fact, to explore the grim realities masked by "patriotic" rhetoric. If this is not education, we wonder what is. Finally, we reject your statement that our panelists discussed "perceived" human-rights violations in Iraq. This pre-emptive invasion violated international law. It has killed as many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians and left countless more injured and homeless. Iraqi prisoners have been tortured and held without charge. Five U.S. soldiers currently await trial for gang-raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her, her parents and her 5-year-old sister. For whom, we ask, are such violations merely "perceived?"
Start small To the Editor: In your recent editorial ("Don't follow Harvard, yet," DP, 9/13/06), you glibly state that it is "simply not feasible" for Penn to dispense with its early-decision policy altogether. Yes, Penn does not have the financial and administrative resources necessary to make such a move overnight, but perhaps we all need to think a little more creatively. Companies often test the market before rolling out a product across the nation. Similarly, Penn should consider eliminating early decision on a test basis through the Management and Technology and Huntsman programs. With their relatively small applicant pools, removing early decision from the equation should not pose a huge strain on the administration while ensuring that we continue to attract the best and the brightest. At the same time, Penn could use this initiative to justify a more intensive fundraising campaign. If the University moves toward this compromise, I will be the first to commit my annual bonus for the next two years to such a worthy endeavor.
Too little outcry To the Editor: Afaf Meleis' recent column ("It's about home - not where you're from," DP, 9/10/06) sheds light on the unfortunate issue of discrimination toward Arabs and Muslims in post-9/11 America. What Meleis fails to note, however, is that Arabs and Muslims can do something about it. There has been far too little public outcry by moderate Muslims against the perversion of Islam by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The numerous Arab American organizations that exist in the United States should hold rallies, press conferences and forums to call for an end to extremism and terrorism.
Strikes do little To the Editor: Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania's Bill Herman suggests ("A Year Later, NYU TAs Back in Class," DP, 9/12/06) that the reason his group hasn't repeated strike action since the two-day protest in spring 2004 is because "things are pretty stable here right now." It would be more honest to admit that the 2004 strike was an embarrassing flop - a vanity project with incoherent means and unclear goals. Goodness knows there are genuine reasons for complaint about some graduate-student policies at Penn; but, as the fizzling out of the NYU strike suggests, radical pantomime, while no doubt exciting to the pulse, rarely gets us anywhere.
Don't support China To the Editor: My son recently received advertising from the University of Pennsylvania Computer Connection. It promoted Dell, Apple and IBM ThinkPad laptops. IBM recently sold its IBM ThinkPad laptop product line to a company called Lenovo. Lenovo is a company whose majority shareholder is the Chinese Communist government. In an attempt to avoid purchasing products made by an oppressive communist regime, I looked at Dell laptops. Dell has a very interesting Web site, which prominently displays the American flag. Being suckered in by an example of corporate mendacity, I ordered from Dell. When the big day arrived and I began unpacking the newly shipped laptop, I was dismayed to discover that the computer had, in fact, been made in Malaysia. In addition, several peripherals had been made in China. As you know, there has recently been a huge Dell laptop battery recall. Having checked my Dell battery, I discovered that it was assembled in China. Apple has recently announced a battery recall. I wonder where those batteries were made. In any event, I strenuously object to the University of Pennsylvania colluding with the Communist Chinese government to sell it's products. Why not just donate money directly to the Communist Chinese military? The Communist Chinese government is a totalitarian dictatorship. It oppresses its people. It outlaws democracy. It disallows freedom of speech and religion. Several years ago, college campuses and university policies were firmly directed against apartheid. There were demands for the University to terminate any investments directly or indirectly related to companies doing business with South Africa. The same should be true of Communist China. Why are we doing business with an oppressive regime? Why is there not an outcry among the Penn Community to boycott Chinese products, including laptop computers, until the Chinese government frees its people? Penn's Computer Connection should stop selling IBM ThinkPads and refuse to buy Dell components made in nondemocratic countries. It should also carefully investigate other computer companies to carefully select products that are not manufactured by the governments of oppressed peoples. A school founded by Benjamin Franklin - one of the founders of modern democracy - and where the first electronic, digital computer was constructed should be at the forefront of this issue. I challenge the Penn community to do what is right.
To the Editor: I am writing to condemn the article in Thursday's 34th Street ("Spare change," 2/1/01) that tacitly condoned giving money to panhandlers and portrayed "James" in a sympathetic and favorable light. While a large number of homeless are mentally ill and therefore not altogether responsible for their actions, James is just the type of person who is hurt most when people give money to panhandlers. This activity is illegal for a reason. It is not only bothersome, but it keeps panhandlers on the street instead of seeking support from social services and shelters. As James says, "There's some help around, with the government... I just got to get to it." He will never get to it if he continues to receive handouts on the street. James did not move to Philadelphia eight months ago. I have been a student at Penn for four years, and he has been around since I got here. He likes to frequent the food trucks around Gimbel Gym where he earns a decent living from the generosity of the Penn community. The fact that homelessness and poverty thrive in the world's wealthiest nation is abominable. And James is right that probably most people "have enough to spare a little change." If this is the case, those people should make charitable contributions where they are most effective, to the types of institutions that combat homelessness and poverty, where people in James' situation can find a bed and a hot meal -- instead of directly into the hands of people who are often drug and alcohol abusers.
To the Editor: In George W. Bush'sÿfirst address to Congress last night, he outlined his proposed budget,ÿhighlighting the $1.6 trillion tax cut over ten years. In addition, the president spoke of increasing investment in education, law enforcement, Social Security, Medicare,ÿmilitary salaries, spending $2 trillion for debt reduction and leaving another $1 trillion aside as a contingency fund. It's interesting, our new President sounds like a Democratÿ-- tax and spend, spend and tax. While some Americans want a tax cut, most want the money spent on other priorities. What Bush said in his address last night is that we can have it all. Unfortunately there just isn't enough money. Even with the most conservative budget surplus projections and a booming economy -- like that of the past six years -- it would still be difficult to even balance the budget over the next 10 years. We went down this road in 1981 with Ronald Reagan and fell into record deficits -- must we do it again? The president says that everyone's priorities are his priorities, but it is now time to be fiscally responsible. So Bush must chose between his tax cut, which would add up to $2 trillion over 10 years once interest is calculated in, andÿpaying down the national debt coupled with increases inÿsocial programs such as education. Unfortunately, at the stroke of midnight, Bush will most likely choose his tax cut and turn back into a Republican.
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