- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

Why US Airways dropped out of the sky

Monday's front-page headline "Terror losses slam US Airways" was inaccurate and may have misled readers about the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of the locally-based airline.

As an author on aviation topics and a frequent flier, I have seen US Airways struggle financially for the past dozen years, under three CEOs.

Though US Airways had no aircraft hijacked on September 11, it did suffer from the weeks-long closing of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Nevertheless, it was not terror that brought this company down. As the article says, "US Airways' problems are symptomatic of the industry."

In the 1990s, the nation's airlines profited from business travelers flying on short-notice, high-fare tickets. One such flier, commenting on the high price of his ticket, said, "Why should I care? It's my company's money." My own travel, because I'm self-employed, comes out of my pocket.

This fare arrangement, the "hub and spoke" routing system and those laughable "random" security inspections at the boarding gate all have contributed to the financial woes of the nation's airlines. US Airways was further harmed by unusually high labor costs.

While the CEOs of American Airlines' parent company and Continental Airlines have spoken out against the "random" searches, the top executives at US Airways and United Airlines another carrier with financial woes have kept their silence.

We are all responsible industry, government and, above all, airline executives, employees and customers who fail to demand reform for destroying our airline industry. US Airways simply happened to be out front of its competitors with a fare structure and business model that don't work.

Unless the air-transport industry makes fundamental reforms, especially in fares and routing and unless the federal government halts the "random" secondary shakedowns US Airways will have plenty of company in the Chapter 11 arena.


Oakton, Va.

Teaching kids to make-nice to the 'Other,' with two legs and four

Debra Saunders' criticism of the California Senate's passage of a humane education bill is astounding, especially given that 18 states already require schools to use formal programs to teach compassion and respect for all life ("The compassionate curriculum," Commentary, Aug. 8). With violence rampant in our society, even in our schools, it is imperative to note that, in the words of the National Parent/Teacher Association Congress, "Children trained to extend justice, kindness and mercy to animals become more just, kind and considerate in their relations with others."

All too often, we have seen the consequences of a failure to teach the golden rule. All of the youngsters involved in the devastating school shootings in recent years first practiced cruelty to animals. Experts agree that some people hurt and kill because they have never learned empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Psychiatrists and law enforcement officials have documented repeatedly that when people are cruel to animals, they are likely to turn that violence against humans, including classmates, spouses and children.

Math is mandatory; teaching children the difference between kindness and cruelty should be, too. Humane education helps them interact compassionately not only with animals, but with anyone they may view as "different."



Health Department

Venice High School

Los Angeles

A marriage made in Canada

There is an error in the recounting of history in "Court ruling sets stage for gay union" (World, Monday). Canada has recognized the validity of common law same-sex marriage, as well as standard common law marriage, since Bill C-23 passed two years ago. (Colonial Canada was a Council of Trent country it was French before it was British so common law marriages have not traditionally been recognized in Canada.)

The current legal question is whether Canadian law on statutory marriage does or does not violate the Charter (Canada's constitution). But same-sex couples can already contract a common law marriage. Note that marriage in Canada is federal jurisdiction, whereas marriage in the United States is state jurisdiction.

Note also that the issue in question is same-sex marriage, not homosexual marriage. Homosexual men and women are lawfully married every day of the week. There is nothing in the law of any state or foreign country to prevent homosexual men from marrying homosexual, bisexual, asexual or heterosexual women. Neither has it ever been illegal for a homosexual woman to marry a homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual man.

The fundamental requirement for a valid marriage is that both parties be legally of the opposite sex at the time the marriage is contracted. There is no requirement the parties be of the same sexual orientation.

And the requirement that the parties be legally of the opposite sex only applies at the time the marriage is contracted. If a couple marries and one of them later undergoes sex reassignment surgery, the marriage remains legally valid even if the couple legally become a same-sex couple afterward.


San Francisco

Policing online cigarette sales to minors

When I read this article "Web sales cut states' tobacco tax take" (Business, yesterday), I was struck by the final sentence: "Rep. Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, who requested the report, said the study reveals a burgeoning market of online cigarette sales and a lack of oversight that lets children illegally buy cigarettes online."

What caught my attention was the phrase about illegal purchases by children. How the devil would children buy cigarettes from Internet vendors without a credit card? Parents who provide their children with credit cards would find out about cigarette purchases when they received the next bill and put a stop to it, or so one hopes.

It sounds like Mr. Meehan is blowing smoke. This is often the case when a politician cites the welfare of children as a reason for doing something.



Columbia's disappointing appointment

In response to skeptical questions asked by Rep. Bob Barr and other members of the House Drug Task Force about the background of Colombia's newly appointed intelligence chief, Juan Pedro Moreno, The Washington Times interviewed Mr. Moreno ("Directing the drug war," World, Aug. 6). The article quotes him saying, "I was the victim of an enormous screw-up by the Colombian police and the American DEA." The supposed "screw-up" involved potassium permanganate, a chemical used to manufacture cocaine.

To give some perspective to Mr. Moreno's self-appointed victimhood, former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Donnie Marshall had this to say about Mr. Moreno's company, GMP:

"GMP's practice of selling above-threshold amounts to individuals, presenting the identifications of others, and of making multiple sales to the same address on the same day to individuals without permits, greatly increases the possibility of diversion of the chemicals. These practices circumvent the requirement of a permit for sales under five kilograms or five liters. Also, the invoices containing fraudulent and/or incorrect information are further evidence that the chemicals may be diverted. As a result of these practices, it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the actual final destination of the chemicals sold by GMP."

According to the DEA, GMP was the largest importer of potassium permanganate in Colombia between 1994 and 1999. During a four-day period between June 3 and 6, 1997, inspectors found that GMP failed to enter required information into its control logs concerning the sale of 2,450 kilograms of permanganate. The Miami Herald reported that the DEA had seized shipments of permanganate to Mr. Moreno's company on four occasions.

Mr. Moreno's business practices may not be illegal under Colombian laws, but the wisdom of appointing such a person as intelligence chief is certainly debatable. Though he may possess in-depth knowledge of Colombian drug-trafficking organizations, there is no indication he is prepared to help prosecute them.



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