- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2001

Alexandria is aiding abstinence

The city of Alexandrias campaign against out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy, which encourages teens to resist peer pressure and "just wait" to have sex, is consistent with what teens say they want to hear ("Ad campaign targets teen pregnancy," Metro, May 2). According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, more than 88 percent of teens said they want "a strong message from society that they should abstain from sex until they are at least out of high school."
Alexandria is also on target in "prodding parents into talking to their children about sex." In a May 5 Commentary column, Linda Chavez writes, "According to the best research available, the first and most important step to preventing teen pregnancy and early sexual activity is to talk to teen-agers." Mrs. Chavez quotes: " 'Remaining abstinent is a tough challenge, says the campaign, but 'using contraception carefully and consistently is an equally tall order, because most contraceptive methods require both motivation and a constancy of attention and action that are difficult for even married adults to maintain, let alone teen-agers."
The Alexandria approach telling teens to remain abstinent and involving parents is a sea change from what Planned Parenthood and most government bodies have been doing for three decades. Planned Parenthood has been funded by federal and state governments, foundations and corporations to promote contraception among teens. It has received almost $2 billion over the past 14 years from the federal government alone.
Billions of dollars have been spent on the contraceptive approach, even though data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute show that the contraceptive failure rate for teens is extremely high. (See www.agi-usa.org.) Teens relying on contraceptives are just about guaranteed a pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and other problems. Also, Planned Parenthood seeks to separate teens from their parents and regales them with titillating material that encourages sexual activity (www.teenwire.com).
Anyone who wants to help teens avoid pregnancy will promote the common-sense Alexandria approach and support cessation of the disastrous funding of contraceptives and the separation of teens from parents regarding sexual matters.

JOHN NAUGHTON
Silver Spring

Marketing stars and general berets

Regarding your May 4 editorial "Battle of the black berets," certainly it is appropriate for an editorial to address and take a position on important issues. The decision of the chief of staff of the Army to prescribe a black beret as the Armys official headgear is an appropriate topic. However, it is inappropriate to malign Gen. Eric K. Shinsekis character in the process of challenging that decision.
There are many words that might be used to describe our chief of staff: Selfless, humble, caring, leader, patriot and war hero come to mind. The term "marketing guru," however, is not one of them. Further, to suggest that the chief of staffs decision regarding the black beret was made "cavalierly" is clearly uninformed as well. At every grade, Gen. Shinseki has been known as a thoughtful, introspective officer who always considered the best interest of the country, the Army, his unit and his soldiers.
One final thought: No soldier should ever be described as "ordinary."

LT. GEN. JOHN A. VAN ALSTYNE
U.S. Army
Fort Monroe, Va.

Irresponsible prescription for bovine doctrine

In taking note of the anti-milk protest lodged against D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, you left your readers with the impression that this organization is a serious source of public health wisdom ("Mayor shaves milk-mustache ideas," May 3). Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Physicians Committee is an animal-rights front group. Its goals are to abolish the use of animals as food (including milk and eggs) and to eliminate the use of animals for advancing science and medicine. The groups president, Neal Barnard, co-chairs the multimillion-dollar Foundation to Support Animal Protection with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Ingrid Newkirk.
The opinion of the American Medical Association is unequivocal, calling the Physicians Committees recommendations "irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans." In a separate public censure, the AMAs board of directors mused on "how effectively a fringe organization of questionable repute continues to hoodwink the media with a series of questionable research that fails to enhance public health."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is an ideologically biased source of health information. Your readers should know that it dispenses potentially dangerous dietary advice, which is based on animal-rights doctrine rather than on sound nutritional science.

DAVID MARTOSKO
Research director
Guest Choice Network
Washington

Watery facts in a fertile debate

In artificially setting up a battle between farmers and endangered fish in the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon and northern California, you told readers that the economy is "solely dependent upon agriculture" ("Endangered fish given water farmers need," April 28). In fact, farming and agriculture services account for just 2 percent of personal income in Klamath, Modoc and Siskiyou counties, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Moreover, to call the Klamath Basin "a dust bowl," as one of your sources does, is just wrong. The three-county region has seen an 82 percent growth in personal income over the past 30 years (adjusted for inflation). Employment has risen 46 percent, with impressive gains in technology and health services.
What has victimized Klamath Basin farmers is a collection of market forces that have nothing to do with efforts to protect the environment. The areas sugar-beet market has disappeared because of increased sugar imports; potato farmers now make only 50 cents on every dollar they invest in growing the crop; and grain prices are severely depressed. That is why dozens of farmers are working with conservation and fishing groups on a plan to sell their land for conservation purposes. It is inaccurate to suggest that the only people who have a stake in water distribution are farmers. The stunning decline in fish population has hurt the Klamath, Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Indian tribes, all of which historically have been fishing people, as well as the regions commercial fishing industry. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations is an active member of the coalition urging the federal government to restore the natural water system.
Local economies in many parts of our country are in transition. I hope you will present more diverse views in future stories. The National Wilderness Institute, which you quoted, is not a conservation group. Despite its name, NWIs goal is to minimize wilderness protection.

CAROLYN ALKIRE
Resource economist
The Wilderness Society
Washington


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