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Editor's note

Seldom does a story generate the kind of firestorm of reader feedback we have received in response to David Francis's "Economic Scene" column of last Monday - more than 700 e-mails in the first three days alone.

David's columns often explore an argument being advanced by those on one side of an issue or another. Last week, he addressed the subject of US aid to Israel.

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The backdrop: Moves are currently afoot to increase such aid.

Specifically, David laid out for readers the details of a controversial report prepared by economist Thomas Stauffer - and commissioned by the US Army War College.

In the report, Mr. Stauffer presented his tally of the total cost of such aid, some elements of which are not widely known.

Some letter writers commended David for alerting them to this alternative perspective.

But many others condemned him - sometimes using similar phrasing, occasionally employing a rather threatening tone - for not adopting in his column the kind of balanced, point-counterpoint approach that is required in an objective news story.

Writing as a columnist, David was not obliged to take that approach.

Moving forward, the Monitor will work to do a better job of distinguishing between the works of our columnists and reported news, starting with a "column" label on the weekly "Economic Scene."