- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 25, 2004

Environmentalist meddling in Uganda

Thomas Sowell usually knows what he talking about and he is dead right about the pernicious self-serving role of U.S. “environmentalists” in blocking useful projects in the third world. As he points out (“Green with bigotry,” Commentary, Dec. 19), U.S.-based NGO opposition to the hydroelectric-generating Bujagali dam in Uganda has killed it because the World Bank is sensitive to such pressures. Interestingly, Sebastian Mallaby’s book on the World Bank (“The World’s Banker”) covers this case in some detail.

On a visit to Uganda, Mallaby personally investigated even though Lori Pottinger, director of the International Rivers Project, had previously warned him against “snooping around the villages” and refused to put him in touch with the Uganda NGO which was supposedly leading the opposition to the dam. Mr. Mallaby persisted, found the group and learned that this membership-directed group was totally supported by outside funds and had a total of 25 members nation-wide. He next did a mini-survey in the affected area and found that nearly all the villagers wanted the project because they saw it would benefit them enormously. Mr. Mallaby concluded: “This story is a tragedy for Uganda since millions of Ugandans are being deprived of electricity — deprived by Californians whose idea of an electricity ‘crisis’ is a handful of summer blackouts.”

Ms. Pottinger’s recent letter (“Environmentalists not the problem,” Wednesday) throws around a lot of unsupported arguments and allegations but never addresses the basic issue: a major project, judged by experts to be economically useful and technically feasible, and strongly supported in the country concerned, was effectively blocked by a handful of well-financed U.S. “environmentalists” who created an appearance of local Ugandan opposition. Ms. Pottinger says Mr. Sowell knows “nothing of the issues” he raises. But Mr. Mallaby assuredly does and his on-the-ground rsearch supports Mr. Sowell. Perhaps Uganda needs a really Ugandan NGO to protect it from the Berkeley NGO.

WARREN C. ROBINSON

Washington

‘Environmentalist’ meddling in Uganda

Thomas Sowell usually knows what he talking about, and he is dead right about the pernicious self-serving role of U.S. “environmentalists” in blocking useful projects in the Third World. As he points out (“Green with bigotry,” Commentary, Dec. 19), the opposition of U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to the hydroelectric-generating Bujagali dam in Uganda has killed it because the World Bank is sensitive to such pressures. Interestingly, Sebastian Mallaby’s book on the World Bank (“The World’s Banker”) covers this case in some detail.

On a visit to Uganda, Mr. Mallaby personally investigated, even though Lori Pottinger, director, Africa program, of the International Rivers Project, had previously warned him against “snooping around the villages” and refused to put him in touch with the Uganda NGO that supposedly was leading the opposition to the dam. Mr. Mallaby persisted, found the group and learned that this membership-directed group was totally supported by outside funds and had a total of 25 members nationwide. He next did a minisurvey in the affected area and found that nearly all the villagers wanted the project because they saw it would benefit them enormously. Mr. Mallaby concluded: “This story is a tragedy for Uganda because millions of Ugandans are being deprived of electricity — deprived by Californians whose idea of an electricity ‘crisis’ is a handful of summer blackouts.”

Ms. Pottinger’s recent letter (“Environmentalists not the problem,” Wednesday) throws around a lot of unsupported arguments and claims but never addresses the basic issue: a major project, judged by experts to be economically useful and technically feasible, and strongly supported in the country concerned, was effectively blocked by a handful of well-financed U.S. “environmentalists” who created an appearance of local Ugandan opposition. Ms. Pottinger says Mr. Sowell knows “nothing of the issues” he raises. But Mr. Mallaby assuredly does, and his on-the-ground research supports Mr. Sowell. Perhaps Uganda needs a really Ugandan NGO to protect it from the Berkeley NGO.

WARREN C. ROBINSON

Washington

It’s no surprise

Clint Bolick expresses surprise that the Bush administration is failing to support property rights (“Threshold of a misstep,” Commentary, Tuesday). Perhaps he forgets that eminent domain was invoked so that land could be obtained for the Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas, which was the home of Mr. Bush’s Rangers baseball team. So, the Bush administration’s present stance on property rights is consistent with Mr. Bush’s actions in the past. I voted for Mr. Bush. I would do it again. But I do not like the way that property is stripped from individuals so athletic facilities can be built.

GEORGE W. SEEVERS JR.

Van Alstyne, Texas

Math skills are good enough

In your editorial (“Major math problems,” Tuesday), you point out the inadequacies of U.S. education in the areas of math and science. The 1983 education report “A Nation at Risk” was a hoax, a golden treasury of selected, spun and distorted statistics. In spite of the supposed lack of school improvement since then, the nation enjoyed the longest sustained economic expansion in its history. A three-year recession came and went, and now the forecast is for expansion.

Among 104 nations ranked for global competitiveness by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United States ranks second, behind only Finland. We were No. 1, but the WEF’s formula does not like the Bush tax cuts, the ever-increasing debt, the trade imbalance or the seemingly unending parade of indicted CEOs and Wall Street brokers.

Some day, maybe, you and others will realize that there is very little relationship between 13-year-olds’ skills at bubbling-in answer sheets and adults’ skills at creating a thriving economy.

GERALD W. BRACEY

Alexandria

‘Reproductive racism’

Dutch Martin, in his letter “Stop blaming ‘the white man’” (Dec. 16) said the reason for the high number of black men in prisons is the “anti-social behavior of black American males” stoked by the victimology of many black leaders and the lack of incentive to better themselves produced by generations of welfare.

But why the anti-social behavior of black men? Heritage Foundation research and analysis has shown that single-parent families generally suffer much more poverty than two-parent families and that the children in single-parent families are much more prone to criminal behavior. Single-parent families (mostly headed by a female parent) are the overwhelming majority among blacks, whose illegitimacy rate is 70 percent.

Without fathers to guide them and with mothers who have little time to guide them, many black males turn violent and engage in criminal behavior.

The solution to the high percentage of black males in prison is not the recent berating of blacks by Bill Cosby, but the restoration of traditional black families. The first move in that direction would be to stop Planned Parenthood from enticing black teens into sexual activity that eventually leads to pregnancy and more single-parent families.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, blames white racism in the justice system for the “alarming overrepresentation” of blacks in prison (“Brothers behind bars,” Inside the Beltway, Nation, Dec. 13), but that is nonsense, as most of the blacks incarcerated are in political regions controlled by blacks. The reproductive racism leading to single-parent families practiced by Planned Parenthood is the primary reason.

JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

Responding to the world’s problems

Thank you for highlighting quotes from Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman’s Dec. 16 address at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “Social Engagement and the Transnational Research University,” in John McCaslin’s Inside the Beltway column on Friday. It’s unfortunate that the brief headline, “Is anybody wrong?” so widely misses the point of the quotes and the speech.

The thrust of Mr. Lehman’s address was that great research universities such as Cornell have a critical role to play in responding to the world’s transnational challenges. His reference to what John Keats termed “negative capability” — the ability to hold two opposing perspectives in one’s mind at the same time — was not meant to raise the question “Is anybody wrong?” It was posed to help answer the question “What do we need to know to make things right?”

For a better understanding of Mr. Lehman’s comments, please refer your readers to the full text of his address at https://www.cornell.edu/president/speeches_2004_1216.cfm.

THOMAS W. BRUCE

Cornell University

Vice president for communications and media relations

Ithaca, N.Y.

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