- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

No chips … no fries, either

It's not surprising that former corporate lobbyist Steven Milloy pooh-poohs the recent discovery in certain foods of a carcinogen known as acrylamide ("French fries scare choking on facts," Commentary, July 3). After all, Mr. Milloy, who has made a career fronting for embarrassed and discredited industries, similarly dismisses health risks presented by dioxins, tobacco, secondhand smoke and obesity. With Mr. Milloy, it's hard to tell where the quackery begins and the flackery leaves off.
Scientists and public health experts, though, take acrylamide pretty seriously. It's a chemical no one expected to find in food, and it's certainly one no one would choose to eat. It is not as harmful as tobacco, but it still may cause thousands of cancers every year. Governments worldwide rightly consider it a probable human carcinogen, and the World Health Organization sensibly declared it a "serious problem" and urged consumers to moderate their intakes of fried and fatty foods.
From his grassy knoll, Mr. Milloy sees something sinister about our recommendation that consumers avoid the foods shown to be most contaminated with acrylamide (i.e., potato chips and french fries) simply because horror of horrors we advise consumers to eat less of those foods anyway. It's true: A couple of pretty bad, fatty junk foods look a little worse, considering they have many times more acrylamide than what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for drinking water.
It's distressing that columnists such as Mr. Milloy consistently attack the bearers of bad health news. After all, cancer and heart disease don't discriminate on the basis of ideology.

MICHAEL F. JACOBSON
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington

Visa loophole gives lie to Bush's anti-terrorism rhetoric

Extending the 245(i) amnesty, which made it possible for an Egyptian immigrant who shot and killed two persons on July Fourth to stay in the country, remains, as your reporter correctly notes, a top priority for both political parties, which each day stoop lower in pursuit of the immigrant vote ("L.A. shooter exploited 'loophole' to stay in U.S.," Page 1, Thursday).

President Bush wanted very badly to use a revived 245(i) as a present for Mexico's President Vicente Fox when he visited that country in the spring. Now it has become a major selling point for presidential hopeful Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, who is supported by other Democratic heavyweights, such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The idea that illegal aliens can remain here indefinitely with virtually no background checks by paying a $1,000 fine and securing sponsorship undercuts the White House's assurances that the federal government is doing all that can be done to prevent further terrorist attacks on our soil.


DAVID A. GORAK

Executive director

Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

Lombard, Ill.

D.C.'s voucher non sequitur

There should be no debate about whether Congress should offer $7 million to $10 million a year to help our children receive the best possible education in kindergarten through 12th grade ("D.C. leaders oppose voucher bill," Metro, Thursday). After all, in 1999, D.C. leaders supported and praised the creation of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program, which provides $17 million a year for those fortunate enough to graduate from the city's public school system to go to the public or underscore "or" private university of their choice.

Now, when a similar program is proposed for children in kindergarten through 12th grade, our city leaders oppose it. Why? What is more important than the future of our children? Why shouldn't low-income families have the right to choose the schools we feel are best for our children?

This program isn't a threat to how our city is managed. It is a response to the thousands of low-income families, like ours, who have decided to seek assistance to help place our children in private schools. In 1998-99, when some of us first received our privately funded scholarships, almost 10,000 families applied for them.

If thousands of low-income families seeking assistance to escape D.C. public schools don't constitute a "significant grass-roots movement," what does?

Before our leaders categorically dismiss an additional $7 million to $10 million a year for our children, they should talk to the many families that have been asking for this type of assistance.


ROSE BLASSINGAME

MARJORIE HODGES

BARBARA MICKENS

LAVERNE RICHARDSON

VERMONT WHITE

Washington Scholarship Fund Parent Council

Washington

Partial-government employees

The Washington Times asserts in "California school sued over Islamic drills" (Nation, Wednesday) that the lawsuit claims that the school district "violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by using taxpayer dollars to teach students how to practice a religion." But The Times noted earlier ("Bush celebrates win for school vouchers" Page 1, July 2) that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a program "giving inner-city parents up to $2,250 in public money for each child for use at parochial or private schools."

The Supreme Court recently made it starkly clear in the Cleveland school vouchers case that spending public money teaching students how to practice a religion is acceptable. So I suspect that the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan is suing the Excelsior School near Oakland not over the use of taxpayer money to establish religion, but because of the involvement of direct government employees (public school teachers) as opposed to partial-government employees (such as teachers at semipublicly funded parochial schools).


AARON M. CLEMENS

Washington

Deregulating telecoms will encourage monopolies

Deregulation is not the panacea for what's ailing the tech sector, as Jeffrey A. Eisenach suggests ("Reviving the tech sector," Commentary, Wednesday).

First, there is no evidence that broadband deployment is being slowed by current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Recent studies show that more than 80 percent of U.S. homes could purchase some type of broadband service, whether it be DSL or cable modem. Many of those telecom companies (the Bell monopolists) that claim their profits are being "limited" by FCC pricing rules are the same ones running to Wall Street to boast about the substantial growth of their DSL business each quarter.

Furthermore, Mr. Eisenach incorrectly characterizes the rules under which a competitive carrier can lease facilities from the Bell companies. The FCC's pricing rules allow the Bell companies to collect their cost plus a reasonable profit. That profit margin is not as padded as what the Bell companies were accustomed to before the emergence of local phone competitors, such as the firms I represent.

The disappointment about broadband lies in the lack of compelling applications and services that would entice consumers to pay more than $40 a month for high-speed access. As Mr. Eisenach correctly noted, demand for Napster-like services is highest among broadband users. But concerns about electronic delivery of copyrighted content are stifling further growth of services that might make a $40 monthly investment worthwhile for consumers.

All deregulation would accomplish would be putting the Internet and delivery of innovative content in the hands of a few monopolists who have shown little devotion to innovation in the past.


RUSSELL FRISBY JR.

President

CompTel (Competitive Telecommunications Association)

Washington


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