- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

Day-labor centers

If there is so much support for day-labor centers (“Fairfax seeks funds for day labor centers,” Page 1, Saturday), why does any tax money need to be spent? Why can’t the charitable organizations that are seeking a grant get enough in private donations to set up such a place? They come out and say it is “seed” money to get centers started, but seeds grow; this would not be the last dime spent if the grants run out. If the money is granted, will there be no oversight? They are going to regulate themselves? How do I get a government grant without having to worry about regulation or oversight? If this were a grant to buy high-tech school computers or new police equipment, you can bet every dime would have to be accounted for to prevent fraud and abuse. Fairfax residents need to ask themselves how many new textbooks, police officers, local road projects, or fire and rescue personnel this money could fund before allowing their taxes to be spent on the aiding and exploitation of day laborers.

These types of jobs offer no benefits or job security; how can that type of work force be good for the county? The focus should be on hiring legal immigrants to full-time jobs, not giving them day-to-day work.

SCOTT BELL

Woodbridge, Va

The anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings

Wesley Pruden’s Friday column, “It’s a day to thank Harry Truman again,” hit home with me, as I am one of those people who likely never would have been born had the atomic bombs not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This reality is doubly driven home to me as the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing is the day after my birthday.

My late father served in the Pacific in the Army’s 77th Division during World War II. His unit was scheduled to be in the first wave of Operation Coronet, as the invasion of Japan was code-named. He often pointed out that casualties for the first wave were projected to be 95 percent. Simple math shows that these were terrible odds, indeed perhaps verging on making it a suicide mission.

Sadly, many of my generation have either ignored or forgotten this aspect of history, and many younger Americans know only the politically correct “blame America first” version of history.

If they are still able to do so, these people would do well to ask their fathers and grandfathers about their service in World War II. Serving in the European theater would have been no guarantee of avoiding the invasion, as units were being moved to the Pacific in anticipation of an invasion of Japan.

In June 2000, I had the pleasure of meeting Lt. Col. Fred Olivi, the co-pilot of the Nagasaki mission, at an air show. I thanked him, telling him of my father’s, and hence my own, potential fate had the bombing missions not been carried out. He replied, with a hint of sadness in his voice, that he wished more Americans understood those implications.

Because of all this, I tend to view Aug. 6 as a “second birthday” of sorts. I trekked to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center Saturday to pay homage to both the Enola Gay and the brave men who flew the missions. Were it not for them, I would not be making the trip.

GARY A. SMITH

Baltimore

Nuclear power

I enjoyed reading “The advantages of nuclear energy,” (Editorial, Friday). As our thirst for energy grows every day and new proven reserves of fossil fuels grow ever scarcer, there is no question that we must totally reassess/rethink our energy strategy/policy to encourage conservation, reduce consumption, reduce foreign dependence for supply, and seek alternative sources of energy that do not warm the Earth further with greenhouse gases. I’m happy to see that President Bush is taking some positive steps in the right direction.

As our economic health is largely dependent on the availability of cheap energy, nuclear energy is still largely untapped and underused as a major source.

Nuclear energy is among the most reliable, safest and cleanest means of energy conversion currently available.

Sadly, however, the public is largely fearful and ignorant of anything with the word nuclear in it.

A major effort must be made from top to bottom to educate all Americans about nuclear energy and the technology that harnesses atoms. We also must fund more research into developing even safer and more secure nuclear reactors and start recycling or transmuting “spent” nuclear fuel as is done in France to reduce the amount of waste that ultimately will be stored.

MICHAEL PRAVICA

Assistant professor of physics

University of Nevada at Las Vegas

In advocating nuclear power, your editorial eclipsed the Achilles heel of the industry: nuclear waste.

No country has figured out how to safely and permanently dispose of radioactive waste, which remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.

Ignoring this dilemma will not make it go away. Nevertheless, Congress has just passed an energy bill that gives the mature nuclear industry its biggest boost in a generation, complete with hefty taxpayer subsidies.

The Times celebrates nuclear energy as a source that would not require dependence on foreign sources of fuel. However, uranium is a finite resource, and its purity and extractability will diminish over time.

There are not sufficient deposits in the United States to supply the nuclear power industry. If energy independence is our goal, why not support renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, whose fuels are free, infinite and available here at home?

Rather than support the finite fuels of today, we should support these infinite fuels of the future.

WENONAH HAUTER

Director, Energy Program

Public Citizen

Washington

Corruption in the Ukraine

I recently read Natalia A. Feduschak’s article on the lack of reform within the new Ukrainian government (“Ukrainians souring on new president,” Page 1, Aug. 1). Many instances are surfacing in which the corruption of the government is still bubbling right up to the top levels.

Right now, a couple of cases are getting a lot of attention in Europe but seem not to have made it into the press here.

The first case that comes to mind involves a major metal factory in Kiev, Kievtractorodetal, which employs more than 2,500 people. The director of the employee-owned factory was arrested several weeks ago on ostensibly trumped-up corruption suspicions but has neither been released nor charged after several weeks of being held without bail.

Meanwhile, the factory workers are on strike and blocking streets in downtown Kiev. The apparent underlying reason for the arrest is that some powerful people in Ukraine would like to close the factory and build a shopping mall on that land.

To do that, they need to silence the current administration of the factory. The details of the story are relatively interesting and lurid, perhaps enough for a John Grisham novel.

It appears there are judges and a prosecutor on the take in this case. Two days ago, administrators from two major German manufacturers held press conferences in Ukraine outlining their disappointment with the new government and threatening that they had no choice but to stop trading with Ukraine. This made the television news in Germany.

Probably not coincidentally, the same prosecutor was involved in a second case, in which a mayor was jailed, uncharged, for four months before finally being released.

His recent release was secured by American lawyers who used political means to get him out. His situation bore a striking resemblance to the first case I mentioned and is a monument to what can happen in a country with a strong constitution that is often ignored by the court system.

I think it’s important that this gets into the American press. Aside from being interesting stories, they start to show the true nature of what’s going on in Ukraine. Miss Feduschak’s story was a good start, and I was very happy to see it, but I felt it could have been more specific as these are two perfect cases to show what can happen there.

ERON COHEN

Laurel

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