- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

Corporate clean up is home run for the Hudson

Michele Malkin's Aug. 6 Commentary column, "Dredging up more junk science," is remarkable for its strict adherence to the flawed logic and misinformation that has characterized the effort of General Electric Co. to stall and avoid its legal responsibility to clean up the Hudson River. GE's dumping of health-threatening polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste over 40 years turned a national treasure into the country's largest toxic waste dump. Miss Malkin's column could have been written by GE itself.
All the independent and international peer review studies have supported the need for cleanup. GE alone holds the view that PCBs are not a problem, that the river is cleaning itself up and that the cleanup will only make things worse. There is significant bipartisan support up and down the river for this remediation project, with the governors of New York and New Jersey, 32 members of Congress, 69 municipalities, 12 labor organizations and more than 175 civic and community groups supporting the EPA's cleanup plan.
Far from destroying the community, the proposed cleanup will protect public health, restore a magnificent environment and bring significant short-term and long-term economic gain to the river communities. An economic analysis commissioned by Scenic Hudson and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater found that of the EPA's proposed $460 million cleanup project expenses, nearly half $225 million would be expended locally, with 3,543 jobs being created and $88 million in wages added to the local economy.
This looks like a home run for the environment, public health and the economy.

Scenic Hudson Inc.
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Pitch of statistical relief doesn't win population ballgame

University of Aarhus, Denmark, statistics professor Bjorn Lomborg's conclusions, as cited by Commentary columnist Arnold Beichman, prompt a false sense of relief regarding the status of world health and greatly undermine the importance of programs that work to eliminate poverty and improve environmental and living conditions across the globe ("Overcooked statistics," Aug. 14).
Population growth rates may be on the decline, but world population as a whole is still increasing, adding approximately 75 million people each year, largely in the poorest parts of the world. Hunger, disease and poverty remain widespread. Today, an estimated 350 million women in developing countries still lack access to effective family planning methods and other basic reproductive health services. Women in these countries face a 1-in-65 risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth during their lifetimes, compared with a 1-in-2,124 risk for women in developed countries. This problem is compounded by the fact that half the world's population of 6 billion is under age 25; within 15 years less than one generation they will all have reached childbearing age.
These statistics are not "exaggerated" or "imaginary," but rather a harsh reality faced by women and families across the globe. The need to strengthen and increase family planning programs, reproductive health services and other development interventions should be underscored, not undermined.
As Mr. Lomborg's study notes, we are making progress toward alleviating some of the most critical concerns of our generation. This progress, however, is attributable to the numerous organizations that believe these concerns are indeed "real" and their unrelenting efforts to make a positive difference.

Population Action International

Palestinian claims are far off base

Three letters to the editor in the Aug. 16 edition reinforce my conviction that misinformation and distortions are the biggest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. Even the title of the letters "Both sides to blame for Mideast violence" is a distortion of what each writer said. Each clearly blames Israel for the violence, as if there is a moral equivalency to Israeli responses to acts of violence.
Walter Burr claims that Yasser Arafat cannot control the various factions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The intifada was conceived by Mr. Arafat after the failed Camp David meetings, waiting only for any excuse to start the violence. He started it. He can stop it.
Tait Graves claims that Israeli settlements are illegally built on confiscated Palestinian land. He should refer to historical documents such as the Ottoman decrees, the Palestine mandate agreements administered by the British, the Geneva conventions, the U.N. partition plan and the Oslo accords and subsequent accords. None of these agreements precluded Jews from settling in any part of Israel. Jews have lived in these areas for thousands of years, except when Arab armies drove out or killed Jews during their control of the West Bank from 1948 until 1967. Furthermore, he should learn that first the Ottomans, then the British and finally the Israelis "owned" the land, with some exceptions. The current settlements are not built on "confiscated" Palestinian land. In many cases they are built on land previously occupied by Jews or built on hilltops not owned by Palestinians.
Riad Hamade adds his distortions by incorrectly referencing U.N. Resolution 242 to justify his contention that settlements are on "occupied land." In fact, 242 does not even contain the word "settlements." It does call for the "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency." This is not what Mr. Arafat is doing by perpetuating the violence.

National Unity Coalition

Chill out, chief

D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey needs to take a deep breath and read more carefully your Aug. 9 editorial "For-profit photo radar" ("Traffic camera editorial offends police chief," Aug. 17). No one is accusing D.C. police of being Nazis. What many of us oppose is the gradual ceding of our personal liberty to government expediency.
There are two reasons people obey the law they believe it is the right thing to do, or the penalty for violating the law is painful enough to be a deterrent. Even if there were no other objections, the photo radar units will do little to solve the problem. People with no regard for the safety of others respond only to significant financial loss or inconvenience. If police reacted to serious violations by imposing huge fines or suspending licenses, they might be able to reduce violations. However, radar units (the accuracy of which remain in question) at well-publicized locations, with small penalties, will have no long-term effect.
Much more serious, as you pointed out, is the lulling of our citizens into accepting loss of liberty for the "greater good." Are we are so busy, so lazy, or so uneducated that we are willing to accept however government decides to solve our problems? The latest "for your own good" scheme is the proposed bar-coded ID card for D.C. schoolchildren. For every new program designed to solve a problem (which usually does no such thing), the potential for misuse is enormous. It horrifies me that so many people see no relation between the growing use of mass surveillance and the loss of liberty.
One does not need to be an alarmist to be concerned. As Walter Williams said in the May 20 Commentary column "National amnesia," "if we're ignorant, we won't even know when government infringes on our liberties. Moreover, we'll happily cast our votes for those who'd destroy our liberties." Well said.


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