- The Washington Times - Monday, April 17, 2000

Good Samaritans will see injured geese take flight[p]

During the noon hour on Thursday, I came upon a caravan of six or seven cars on the Fairfax County Parkway and saw a number of women huddled about a blanket-covered blob. A dog must have been hit; looks like they have it under control, I rationalized. A short distance later, feeling guilty, I made a U-turn and returned to the site on the median just north of Fair Lakes.

Two wild geese had been hit by a car and the women were comforting the animals. They had called 911 and were trying to figure out where Animal Control was. I knew it was nearby and volunteered to put the geese in my old wagon. One woman followed me, and the Fairfax dispatcher kindly agreed to tell Animal Control I was coming.

When I got there, the desk person noted that the shelter did not have a veterinarian and said I should take the birds to a vet clinic. The closest one was Pender Veterinary Clinic on Legato Road.

I finally got there after a harried odyssey and, with the help of the Pender staff, turned the geese over to the competent hands of Scott Stahl and Jennifer Stampf, whose veterinary expertise includes birds and exotic animals. I couldn't have put these two of God's creatures in better hands.

The geese have been provided first aid and have been examined, sedated and are resting in large cages while they recuperate. The prognosis is good. There were no broken bones. One of the birds will probably loose an eye, but the geese will be moved to the back yard of Jennifer Hutchins, veterinary technician at Pender, and they will be free to fly away when they are ready.

I wish to thank all the compassionate women who cared enough to comfort the injured animals. They wisely blanketed these wild birds, which calmed them. The Fairfax police dispatcher was kindly and helpful.

I think with all the money Fairfax spends on other things, our animal control centers should be staffed and equipped to handle emergencies such as this.

A special bouquet to the Pender Veterinary Clinic and the great doctors in their exotic animals wing. They are surely practicing the goodness of Albert Schweitzer's "Prayer for Animals," which petitions:

"Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry, for those who must be put to sleep. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share in the blessings of the merciful."



Multilayered missile defense plan hit the mark

"Are we ready for NMD?" by David Gompert and Jeffrey Isaacson was a good column (Op-Ed, April 13). I have been a proponent of national missile defense. However, I have become concerned about its effect on Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) treaties.

Though Russia is disarming because it can't afford to keep up its nukes, it would be better to hold Russia's feet to the fire with treaties. Thus, the effect of violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty may be worse than the benefit of NMD. Plus, the column lays out a true NMD that would cause real deterrence to other nations contemplating nukes. A tri-level NMD that would protect our allies, including Russia, would render nukes obsolete. They all would be dismantled quickly as the relics of the Cold War that they are. A real plan as laid out by the authors would do this.

The anemic plan offered by congressional Republicans and contemplated by a bullied President Clinton would not offer real deterrence. It would be a waste of money. It would be nice, however, if Mr. Clinton could make this decision based on the best interests of American and world peace and security, not on election-year politics.

Thus, it would be helpful for Republicans to hold their tongues from criticism if both parties can agree on the multilayered plan laid out in the column. It would provide real protection, not the impression of protection the current plan offers.


Salt Lake City

Columnist unfair using the term 'Islamic bomb'

As a Muslim, I was offended by Stephen D. Bryen's loose use of the term "Islamic bomb" in his April 10 Commentary column, "The new Islamic bomb."

I was not aware that bombs belong to religious denominations. Mr. Bryen did not take it upon himself to caution us about the perils of a Christian bomb here in the United States. And which is worse, an atheist bomb in the former Soviet Union or a Hindu bomb in India falling into the wrong hands? Mr. Bryen makes the common mistake of viewing 1 billion Muslims as a homogeneous body. When the Unabomber or Timothy McVeigh did their horrific acts, it was not Christianity's fault.

Islam is a diverse, open-minded, peace-loving religion. The very word "Islam" means "peace and submission." Thus, saying the words "Islam" and "bomb" in the same breath is not only offensive, but downright ignorant.


Knoxville, Tenn.


Mr. Bryen's "The new Islamic bomb" isn't just offensive, it is faulty. After all, when was the last time we heard of a Christian bomb?

Mr. Bryen admits candidly that "Pakistan does not need this type of material [caught recently in Uzbekistan] for its nuclear weapons program," but then claims: "Pakistan may be independently working on radiation-type weapons for itself or for others such as Iran." Mr. Bryen gives no reason why Pakistan would do this enormous favor for any neighbor, least of all Iran, with whom it has significant bilateral disputes.

His unsupported diatribe is a perfect example of the lopsided thinking that turned a once strongly pro-Western and secular ally such as Pakistan into a lukewarm and heavily sanctioned state on the periphery of American foreign policy.


Davidson, N.C.

Aging nuclear power plants not a worry

It should be no surprise that the re-licensing of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant was relatively routine ("Plant generates public support," Metropolitan, April 7). There is nothing magical about a nuclear plant's hitting the age of 40, a period of time originally chosen arbitrarily for the life of a nuclear plant's operating license. In fact, the continuous inspections that nuclear plants undergo and the routine replacement of many of the components that can wear out keep older plants in excellent shape.

The past decade has seen nuclear plants nationwide improve their operating efficiency, experiencing much less downtime than when they were only 5 or 10 years old, and the Calvert Cliffs plant is one of them. Basically, we now have an experienced work force operating seasoned plants.

The need to build extra storage for the spent fuel from nuclear plants certainly has created an unwelcome expense and headache, but it has left electric rates largely unaffected. The real question is, why should electric utilities have to pay for building their own facilities and also contribute billions of dollars into the federal waste fund for permanently disposing of the fuel? With the administration balking at fulfilling its obligation to take the material, everyone is losing.

Nuclear power plants have become bargains for their customers and owners. The investment in the plant already has been made, and the cost of producing power is well below that from any replacement power plant, such as one burning natural gas. Keeping these plants operating should be of paramount concern because they hold down electric rates and prevent the construction of more polluting fossil-fueled power plants.


Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Theodore Besmann is research group leader at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The opinions in this letter are his own.

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