- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Slower drivers arent necessarily smarter drivers

I was very disappointed in Ronald Frasers April 24 Op-Ed column, "Wanted: smart drivers." Perhaps Mr. Fraser needs driving lessons himself. He states that he drove on the Beltway at 55 mph. The first rule of driving safety is that the most dangerous kind of road is one on which vehicles go at different speeds. If all other cars are going at 65 mph, he is a bottleneck at 55 mph, forcing the cars behind him to change lanes. Mr. Fraser may feel pious going at the posted speed limit, but he is a danger to other drivers. He should not recommend that others follow his example.

In addition, Mr. Fraser shows a complete misunderstanding of traffic flow and congestion when he chides police for not enforcing the 55 mph posted speed limits. The police are aware that for the volume of traffic on that road, strict enforcement of the speed limit would cause monumental traffic jams. They understand that, at lower speeds, each car stays on the road longer than at higher speeds and, therefore, lowering speeds increases the number of cars on the road. To prove the point, just imagine if the speed limit were lowered to 30 mph. That would mean that each car would be on the road twice as long and, at any given moment, twice as many cars would be using the Beltway as at 60 mph and we would have total gridlock.

The police are not fools. They understand the dynamics of traffic.



Sharon not responsible for massacre

It seems there is no charge too ludicrous or extreme for anti-Israel activists to use. The hundreds of Sabra and Shatila residents not all of them innocent civilians massacred in 1982 have, in Myriam Hamdallahs fantasizing, become "thousands" ("Israeli prime minister has shown pattern of disregard for human life," Letters, April 22). Next stop, tens of thousands?

Also, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then a general, was not "responsible" for that terrible deed. It was perpetrated by the Christian Lebanese militia. Alas, too many leaders in the troubled Middle East amply qualify for war-criminal status. Mr. Sharon, however, is not one of them. Despite the Nobel Peace Prize committee´s incredible lapse of judgment, Yasser Arafat surely is.


Syracuse, N.Y.

Newspapers have duty to support religious liberty

In an April 21 letter to the editor, Nelson Marans attacks "B.C." comic strip writer Johnny Hart for his Easter strip, published by The Washington Times on April 14. Mr. Hart uses the imagery of the Passover menorah to demonstrate what the Christian scriptures teach: that Jesus Christ has become the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Christianity was born among the Jews 2000 years ago, and its truths cannot be expressed apart from its Jewish heritage.

While Mr. Marans expects Mr. Hart to speak a "message of support for all peoples and religions," he himself wants to "reprimand," "screen" or possibly stop the publication of Mr. Hart´s strip because it espouses a religious view.

Mr. Marans repeats a common fallacy in regard to religious liberty in this country. It has become popular to insist that no one espouse a religious belief, what Mr. Marans calls "proselytizing." This view confuses the issue of religious liberty. We have a right to the free exercise of religion in this country, which means we can write about, speak for, believe in and practice whatever religion we want. Mr. Hart has every right to express his religious faith in his comic strip.

I was personally upset with The Washington Post when it chose to censor Mr. Hart´s Sunday strip, and I am extremely grateful that The Washington Times had the courage and good sense to give Mr. Hart a voice. Freedom of speech and religion are tightly bound, and I hope The Times will continue to support them both.



Fear of nuclear power impedes progress

Your forthright April 24 editorial "In praise of nuclear energy" underscores the folly, indeed the damage, of what you call "environmental zealots." Their demonizing of nuclear energy has prevented the building of much-needed nuclear plants since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. The efficiency, near perfect safety record and benign impact on the environment of Americas nuclear power complexes are ignored or denied by the zealots.

It may be instructive to recall the words of Edward Teller after the Three Mile Island accident. Furrowing his heavy eyebrows, he insisted that he was "the only victim" of that accident. He was so upset by the media hysteria over radiation that he suffered a heart attack.


Chevy Chase

Thank you for the editorial "In praise of nuclear power" (April 24). Building nuclear power plants is an environmentally friendly way to solve California´s energy crisis. Such a tactic could play a major part in a national energy policy that would put the United States in full compliance with the Kyoto treaty and significantly reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

Between 1973 and 1999, U.S. nuclear power plants reduced cumulative emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollutants controlled under the Clean Air Act by 31.6 million tons and 61.7 million tons, respectively. Over this same period, the nation´s nuclear plants reduced the cumulative amount of carbon emissions by 2.61 billion tons of carbon. In 1999 alone, U.S. nuclear plants prevented the discharge of 168 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

No one was hurt or killed at Three Mile Island. The Chernobyl crisis was caused by flaws not in nuclear technology itself, but in the Soviets´ execution of that technology. Nonetheless, the fear of nuclear power caused by these events halted nuclear plant construction and licensing. Meanwhile, the increase in fossil fuel consumption necessary to compensate for nuclear power has done real harm to people and the environment.

Generating one million kilowatt-hours of electricity produces about 150 metric tons of carbon from a natural gas-fired plant, 265 metric tons from a coal-fired plant and 220 metric tons of carbon from an oil-fired plant but no carbon from a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear plants in France take only five or six years to build and provide 80% of that country´s electricity. A Nuclear Regulatory Commission study that found that if the United States used nuclear power to the extent that France does, it could in one fell swoop achieve the goals of the Kyoto treaty, which calls for a 10 percent reduction of U.S. emissions below 1990 levels.

As the French have shown, nuclear plants using the basic American reactor design can be built quickly and designed to run efficiently and safely. In addition, the French are using technology for safe storage of used nuclear fuel.

California´s energy crisis and our nation is self-inflicted. If you want milk, you need cows. If you want electricity, you need power plants.



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