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Keeping the public informed

We are encouraged to see a commitment by The Christian Science Monitor to provide continuous and detailed coverage of the famine in Africa (``Update on the African famine,'' July 5). However, the country-by-country update fails to mention cross-border operations mounted from Sudan into the nongovernment-held areas of Ethiopia and Eritrea, where several million people are plagued by famine but unreached by international aid channeled through the government of Ethiopia.

It is important that the situation continue to be covered, and that the efforts of agencies to assist famine victims in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region be included. Yared Berhe, Representative Relief Society of Tigray in North America (REST) Washington

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Ethiopia has been in the news for many months because of its famine and internal strife. Regrettably, though, the urgent hunger situation in Ethiopia has directed attention from that country's many political prisoners, whose fate is unknown.

In July 1979, at least 15 prisoners were taken from their places of detention in Addis Ababa, never to return. Ten were political detainees associated with the overthrown imperial government. Five other prisoners had been members of the All Ethiopian Socialist Movement, which originally supported the socialist revolution but was later banned for its opposition to military rule.

The Ethiopian government has never given any explanation for the disappearances. Gisela Koester Lexington, Mass. Oiling the free market

The editorial ``Adjusting the fuel-economy equation,'' June 28, brings up an important question: How can our scarce resources be allocated best for present and future consumption? The editorial asks if the gasoline consumption standards for autos are an effective compromise between functioning free markets and prolonging the world's petroleum reserves.

In answering these questions, it is important to understand the cause of the 1974 oil crunch. Had there been a free oil market in 1971-74, one might be able to assume, as the editorial did, that the free market had caused the crisis. However, the oil price had been held below the ``fair market price'' by the price controls of Aug. 15, 1971. If the US had allowed the market to determine a fair oil price in this period, conservation would have started earlier, domestic production might not have lagged, and oil exporting countries would have had less incentive to form OPEC. John H. Early Amarillo, Texas Taiwan and democracy

``The Taiwan issue,'' by William Kennedy (July 8), suffers from several lapses in logic.

1. The author proposes democracy for Taiwan and condemns martial law. He apparently is unaware that the large majority of the population favors martial law (to keep the crime rate down, among other reasons), and it would thus be undemocratic to abolish it.

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2. If we let the people of Taiwan vote on whether to be communist or not, unification with the People's Republic of China will not occur. And if we were to participate in this, it would no doubt seriously damage US-People's Republic of China relations. In short, there is a contradiction between our promoting democracy in Taiwan (though this is happening anyway) and better relations with Peking. John F. Copper, Director Pacific Area Project Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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