- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 24, 2001

Suburban sprawl threat or menace?

Your hasty Nov. 8 editorial "Sprawl Alert" missed the point of the study "Creating a Healthy Environment: The Impact of the Built Environment on Public Health," which was written by doctors and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published by Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse. The conclusions of the report were unequivocal: Sprawl and its attendant traffic congestion are a major threat to our public health.
According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, in 1997 on-road vehicles accounted for about 58 percent of carbon monoxide emissions in the United States, nearly 30 percent of nitrogen oxides, roughly 27 percent of volatile organic compounds and about 9 percent of particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to ground level ozone pollution, which is known as smog.
According to the American Lung Association, there are approximately 5,000 asthma-related deaths nationwide each year. In the summer of 1997, smog pollution was responsible for more than 6 million asthma attacks, 159,000 visits to emergency room for treatment of asthma attacks, and 53,000 asthma-related hospitalizations.
With sprawl-induced vehicle miles traveled in passenger cars skyrocketing, asthma rates among children in the United States more than doubled between 1980 and 1995, from 2.3 million to 5.5 million. The asthma rate in the District, at five percent, is more than twice the national average. And in the Washington-Baltimore region, nearly one-third of the 6.4 million residents who are younger than 14 or older than 56 have respiratory problems. There are no smokestack emissions in this area the increase is due to automobile exhaust.
In addition, in 1997 and 1998, 13 percent of all traffic fatalities 10,696 people were pedestrians. Approximately 1,500 of these were children.
These illnesses and death are preventable. The imperatives of dealing with the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy should not be used as rationale for ignoring other pressing problems. By reducing sprawl, we can improve the health and well-being of thousands of children in the District and millions around the country.

Executive Director
Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse

Opus Dei 'secrets' open to all

In Jerry Seper's review of Adrian Havill's new book on the double life of Robert Hanssen, Mr. Seper comments that Mr. Havill "should and could have spent more time developing Hanssen's connection to Opus Dei" ("The paradoxical Hanssen," Op-Ed, Nov. 20). He goes on to describe Opus Dei, a lay group within the Roman Catholic Church, as "secretive" and as "viewing Russians as a moral adversary and a satanic force."
As a member of Opus Dei, I can assert that neither description is in any way accurate. Opus Dei, always in keeping with the tradition of the Catholic Church, does not view any country or person as a moral adversary or satanic force. Rather, the purpose of Opus Dei is to promote and help the church's belief that all are called to holiness wherever they have been placed in the world.
As for being "secretive," anyone can discover Opus Dei's "secrets" on the Web at www.opusdei.org and in numerous books and other reference materials readily available. All, especially Mr. Seper, are invited and encouraged to check out these sources.


Today airports, tomorrow grocery stores?

Now that we have nationalized our airport security teams, I think it is time that Democrats look at another high-risk environment: our nation's grocery stores.
Never mind that we risk life and limb daily by slipping on a loose grape on the floor or a spill in aisle seven, terrorists can now easily slip into and out of our grocery stores, tainting foodstuffs or even wreaking havoc in the parking lots dinging our cars with shopping carts.
First, we need to replace all part-time bag boys and shelf stockers with full-time federal employees, who will receive high wages, retirement plans, and premium health care plans. Each should be trained in the martial arts and target shooting, as well as double-bagging and sorting foods from nonfoods.
Next, we need to replace all checkout clerks with federal marshals, the butcher shop with a SWAT team, and the bakery ladies with special-ops forces. Grocery carts will be equipped with sensors in the handles to detect known terrorists, extra thick rubber bumpers, and new wheels that don't randomly shudder, spin, go wobbly or lock up unexpectedly.
This plan must be implemented within two years. We can pay for it all with an affordable tax of $2.50 per shopping bag.

Palm Bay, Fla.

Peaceful resolution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict will benefit U.S. security

Shaazka Beyerle's Nov. 21 Op-Ed piece, "The War of Peace: American national security and Israel," is essential reading for any American trying to understand Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent speech on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Mrs. Beyerle argues quite rightly that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "matters to Americans because it concerns the national security of the country."
"Growing anger in the Arab world over the escalation of the conflict," according to Mrs. Beyerle, gives the terrorist an opportunity to "channel fury on the Arab/Muslim 'street' toward his own malevolent ends, namely to gain followers, recruit terrorists, turn the Muslim world against the United States and the West, and twist Islam into a primitive reactionary force." For sure, all terrorism and hatred against the United States will not disappear if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. But if Mr. Powell's peace initiative, outlined on Monday at the University of Louisville, can succeed, it would help to stem the increasing hatred of the United States in the Arab world. It would also make it more difficult for terrorists to exploit and hijack. Ultimately, then, Mr. Powell's plan would greatly benefit America's national security.
Mrs. Beyerle appropriately draws attention to the words of Uri Avnery a journalist, escapee from Nazi Germany, and former soldier in the 1948 war against the Arabs. Mr. Avnery strongly counsels against allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to escalate during the ongoing U.S.-led war against terrorism. If it does, he says, terrorist groups throughout the Arab world will have more leverage to topple pro-American governments in the Middle East. As Mrs. Beyerle suggests, Mr. Powell's words on Monday, together with "serious, sustained American involvement" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will "inspire public confidence on both sides and create positive pressure for a resolution benefiting both peoples" as well as America, and indeed, the whole world.


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