- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2001

Yuccas meltdown of good sense

As Charles Rousseaux elaborates in his Commentary columns, it certainly is hard to understand opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository ("NIMBY writ large at Yucca," June 6; "What Yucca offers … for 10,000 years," June 7). It sits at the same site where dozens of nuclear weapons were exploded over the past few decades. By contrast, the waste repository will be a quiet neighbor, with engineered and carefully chosen geological barriers between the public and the nuclear material.

This contrast reveals the true nature of the opposition to Yucca Mountain, which is fueled by political agendas. The anti-nuclear-power movement sees any progress toward solving the waste problem as removing the last impediment to expanded use of nuclear power. No matter how clean and safe, nuclear power somehow violates their ideology.

Then there are the politicians who are enhancing their statuses by making their constituencies believe they are protecting those constituencies from the big, bad nuclear menace. Again, the reality of how benign the repository will be, especially compared to many other technological marvels, is irrelevant to their political aims.

The United States needs to finally show some maturity with regard to nuclear power. We need to close the loop and finish the development of the repository at Yucca Mountain.


Lexington, Va.

Slavery reparations already paid in blood

I read with interest Walter Williams June 14 Commentary column on the increasingly strident claims for reparations to the descendants of slavery in America ("Reparations clangor"). I am a great-grandson of a member of Company C of the Wisconsin Second Infantry, an element of the Black Hat, later called the Iron Brigade, which fought with distinction for the North in the Civil War. My great-grandfather was wounded in the knee at the battle of Antietam, recovered and lived with a limp for the rest of his life. Company C of the Wisconsin Second Infantry earned the distinction of having suffered the highest percentage of casualties of any Union brigade. I think our family has paid a reparation in blood in helping to free our nation from the curse of slavery. If there are to be reparations, let them come from the states and cities throughout the South that still display the Confederate flag, a flag representing treason against our nation and a symbol of unrepentant disloyalty to a free America.


Mill Creek, Wis.

Freedom, the flag and fire

I just cant agree with John Fontes June 14 Op-Ed column, "Hands off the American flag," which argues for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the burning of the American flag. This country has a strong history and heritage of freedom of speech. We possess and should always possess the freedom to protest and criticize the government as vehemently as we would like without fear of governmental reprisal or assault. What more explicit way is there to criticize this country than burning the flag?

I agree, of course, that the flag should be honored. More important, so should the freedoms for which the flag stands.


Forest, Va.

What supporters of the flag-desecration amendment fail to address is the fact that in order to enforce it, there must be some form of punishment most likely imprisonment or a fine ("Hands off the American flag," June 14). Thus, in passing such an amendment, they give government the power to deprive people of their liberty and property in order to protect the symbol of a nation whose government was instituted to secure the people´s liberty and right to property.

We must be careful not to fall into the trap of valuing the symbol more than what it symbolizes.


Columbia, Mo.

Algerian demonstrators do not want to secede

In your June 13 article "Signs of secession rattle Mideast," you report, among other things, that during Algerias 1954-62 war of independence, the Kabylie region "was the scene of some of the most stubborn guerrilla activity against the French army."

All historians and observers of Algerian politics will agree that Kabylie has been united with the rest of the population of Algeria in resisting foreign domination. This is why these scholars would resist oversimplifying the causes of the demonstrations in Kabylie as Berber secessionism. These demonstrations were the result of three convergent forces:

•The growing hardships of working-age citizens, who were deprived of jobs as a result of government retrenchment.

•An active campaign unleashed against the state by the private press, some of which is subservient to the nouveau riche. This class reaped profits from the lack of transparency of the country´s liberalization process. Their vested interests are threatened by structural reform, transparency and the fight against corruption.

•Manipulation of the two previous forces by some "enlightened" ideologues and Kabylie-based parties advocating the autonomy of Kabylie, with some outside, not wholly disinterested encouragement.

Significantly, this notion of autonomy was denounced and rejected by the young demonstrators in the streets. They publicly challenged these ideologues and destroyed the premises of parties advocating autonomy, thus obliging the parties to make a 180-degree change of strategy. They now downplay autonomy, stemming opposition inside and outside Kabylie.

As for the excesses committed by the security forces, you mention that 100 persons were killed during the riots, a figure that is double the number made public by the government. As of May 27, the government indicated that 50 civilians and one member of the security forces had been killed, explicitly listing all of them. The government further indicated that 1,280 civilians were wounded, of which a full 1,000 were members of the security forces.

The fact that the majority of the wounded were from the police forces indicates that, contrary to some assertions, the latter were not engaged in a manhunt, as some biased reports suggested.

The material losses were huge, yet no rioter is imprisoned. The security forces, who were unprepared to face the riots, did their best to prevent them from slipping into anarchy.

In his address to the people, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pledged to set up an independent commission to investigate the events and to apply sanctions against the authors of violence and security forces convicted of excesses. He reminded the Algerian people of his plan to kick-start the economy of the country by allocating an additional $7 billion to the present budget, which should alleviate the problems of unemployment and housing.

With respect to the institution of a Berber language, Amazigh, the president has said that this will be taken up in the context of the next revision of the Algerian constitution.


Embassy of Algeria


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