- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Harvard's unnecessary apology

It's hard to believe, but Harvard University and society at large once had integrity enough to be shocked by open homosexual behavior ("Harvard apologizes for its purge of gays," Nation, Sunday). How quaint.
About 80 years go, a small group of gay students were asked to leave the hallowed Harvard Yard after late-night sessions of "The Court" were discovered. The school was shocked that its staid and proper environs were being sullied by young men eagerly undressing before each other outside of the locker room.
Apparently, there was a time when moral understanding at the university level was not as cloudy as it is today, and such "lifestyles" were called what they were: aberrant and unacceptable. Instead of apologizing for how "intolerant" they were, perhaps Harvard's administrators should reflect on how far they have fallen morally by accepting what ought to be unacceptable. But a dose of reality is hard to take.

Springfield, Va.

Clarifying Buddhist issues

I am writing concerning the article "Dalai Lama faced with death threats" (Page 1, Nov. 23). I believe the validity of some statements was not carefully checked. By publicly stating that the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and I have a connection with the recent death threats made on the Dalai Lama and with the previous Dharamsala murders, The Washington Times has caused serious damage to the development of more than 450 NKT Buddhist centers throughout the world. The NKT will seriously suffer as a result.
NKT is a Western Buddhist community that is completely independent from Shugden groups in India, Nepal and other countries. We have no political affiliations. We are not against the Dalai Lama personally and never have been, but we previously requested that he retract his ban of Dorje Shugden worship. This was a request for the basic human right of religious freedom. At the same time, we also publicly clarified the true nature and function of this popular Buddhist deity. However, in October 1998, we decided to stop involvement with the Shugden issue, because we realized it is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or of the NKT. We made our decision public then.
I guarantee readers that the NKT and I have never performed inappropriate actions and never will do so. We simply concentrate on the flourishing of holy Buddhadharma throughout the world. We have no other aim. I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function.
In sum, your correspondent, Shaikh Azizur Rahman, is clearly mistaken on three points.
First, since 1998, the NKT and I have stopped involvement with the Shugden issue at any level, as explained above.
Second, the BBC has reported that police in Dharamsala are investigating an extremist Hindu group about the death threats on the Dalai Lama.
Third, World Tibet Network News reports that the threatening posters were signed by an unknown group called the Himachal Liberation Front.

Los Angeles

Energy firm sets record straight

The Associated Press article "Coal firm's water plan pipes Grand Canyon" (Business, Nov. 26) stated that Peabody Energy proposes to construct a pipeline in the Grand Canyon. I would like to set the record straight.
First, the proposal referenced did not concern the Grand Canyon. Second, it was proposed by others, not Peabody. Third, the proposal had already been reviewed and discarded.
The Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, generating plant owners and Peabody are committed to exploring alternatives for a water source to transport coal and ensure continued operation of the Black Mesa Mine and the Mohave Generating Station. This, in turn, provides hundreds of jobs for Indians, and injects nearly $2 million each week into the Navajo and Hopi economies, while providing low-cost electricity for families and businesses in the Southwest.

Vice president
Public and investor relations
Peabody Energy
St. Louis

Fat chance for baseball in D.C.

Despite the misleading headline, Saturday's editorial regarding the possibility of Major League Baseball (MLB) returning to Washington was, to put it charitably, wishful thinking ("Baseball sticks it to D.C. again").
The painful truth is that after two franchises failed in the nation's capital the first moved to Minnesota, and the other is now the Texas Rangers Washington doesn't have a chance of ever again having a major-league team. Unless, of course, the Orioles move to the District from Baltimore.
The situation regarding the Montreal Expos moving to Washington ignores the reality of north-of-the-border politics. The thought of the Toronto Blue Jays being the only MLB franchise in Canada surely would raise eyebrows on Ottawa's Parliament Hill.
Fans in Toronto and Montreal love it when the Blue Jays play the Expos, which is the only time when "O Canada" is the sole national anthem played before the games. (Especially on Canada's July 1 national birthday, what Canadian wants to hear "The Star-Spangled Banner"?)
If the Expos do leave Montreal, they most likely would be moved to Calgary or Edmonton in Alberta or Vancouver, British Columbia. MLB cannot ignore the importance of keeping the Expos in Canada, especially because the Blue Jays play in the American League.

St. Albans, Vt.

Let them talk and drive

The article "Is driving while dialing worth it?" (Page 1, yesterday) appears to report a misleading conclusion: that the monetary costs of accidents caused by a driver's use of a cellular phone are about equal to the value people place on being able to use it while driving, and therefore that such use should not be prohibited.
The Harvard study to which the article refers concluded that the use of cellular phones while driving leads to accidents costing about $43 billion a year. This amount, divided by the total number of cellular phone users (128 million), equals about $335 per user, which is roughly the amount users pay for their yearly cellular phone service, not just the time using it while driving.
Thus, because just a very small percentage of this total talking time is spent behind the wheel, the monetary value people apparently place on being able to chat while driving is just a small fraction of the total cost of the resulting accidents.
In other words, people probably would be willing to spend virtually the same amount of money to have cellular phone service even if the phones' use while driving were prohibited, and many cellular phone users might prefer a driving ban to slash their chances of being killed or injured by another phone-using driver.

Professor of public-interest law
George Washington University Law School

D.C. 'refunds'

Saturday's Page 1 article "District to void speeding tickets" quotes Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Regina Williams stating that it will take six to eight weeks to receive a refund. Good luck.
I received a letter dated Nov. 14, 2001, from the Automated Traffic Enforcement Office stating that my ticket of Aug. 21, 2001, for going two miles over the limit was voided. A DMV spokesman, Kevin Morrison, informed me in follow-up e-mails that I would be reimbursed. At the time, I was quoted in a Times article saying, "I won't hold my breath until the District will reimburse me the money." Well, I'm still not holding my breath, and I still haven't received the check. I point this out in case some of those 2,438 people whose tickets were just voided are hoping to have a check to help pay for Christmas gifts. It may not come in time for this Christmas or the next or the one after that.


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