- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 6, 2002

Don't be cruel to Humane Society

Once again, hunting columnist Gene Mueller is acting as a shill for the extremist U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. His June 26 column, "Debate between hunters, large hotel chain rages on," contains more inaccuracies than his June 19 column, "Motel chain angers hunting advocates" (Sports). Sure as shooting, Mr. Mueller does no reporting on his own and simply regurgitates portions of a press release from a hunting organization so obsessed with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that it wishes to destroy all the good work we do for animals.

A disagreement over one aspect of HSUS' work our campaigns against particularly unsporting and inhumane sport and trophy hunting practices has led the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance to attack our efforts to protect pets. U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance President Bud Pidgeon ludicrously argues that HSUS does no work to help pets.

On the contrary, we have donated $10,000 to a fund set up to help the animal victims of the wildfires in Colorado, and we are on the ground in Arizona rescuing pets left behind when wildfires forced evacuations. HSUS offers consultation services to animal shelters to help them improve services, trains staff to implement pet-behavior programs and conduct animal-cruelty investigations and publishes a magazine for the animal-sheltering community. We bring veterinarians to Indian reservations to spay and neuter pets, provide spay/neuter and animal-wellness services in Dallas, host the largest educational conference for animal-sheltering professionals, run a cooperative buying service enabling animal shelters to offer employees top-notch benefits, and offer rewards in animal-cruelty cases across the country.

HSUS protects other animals, too, such as by operating a wildlife rehabilitation and training facility on Cape Cod and protecting habitat through our Wildlife Land Trust. Our efforts on hunting target the most egregious and inhumane practices and even garner support from many hunters. We have criticized such practices as "canned hunting," in which captive animals are shot in fenced enclosures; the use of cruel steel-jawed leg-hold traps; and the trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species. We promote alternatives to the use of animals in research and testing and work for enforcement of federal laws requiring that animals used in research not be subjected to needless pain and suffering.

More than 7 million Americans directly support the work of HSUS, and many more agree with our mainstream goals of ensuring the humane treatment of animals. It's a shame that Mr. Mueller so brazenly and consistently misrepresents our work.


PAUL G. IRWIN

President and chief executive

The Humane Society of the United States

Washington

Article on sailing sinks due to errors

What possesses an editor to assign a reporter to write on a subject about which he or she apparently knows nothing? Such a practice inevitably leads to an article peppered with mistakes such as "Catch the Wind" (Life, June 13), which is about sailing.

For example, the article notes that a sailor "controls the main sheet with a rope." The main sheet is a "rope," although one would be drummed out of the sailing club if it were called that. Sailors never use the generic term "rope." Halyard, painter, sheet, line never rope.

Also, it seems odd that the reporter had to consult academic luminaries to assert obvious facts about sailing. "The carefully tapered shape of a boat aids its movement through the water," said one. No kidding. A physics professor tells readers "the wind makes sailing unpredictable." You didn't say?

Other facts misconstrued include:

Rainbow sloops may have foam flotation inserts beneath the seats, but they don't prevent the boat from capsizing.

The jib doesn't only control the front of the boat, nor does the mainsail control only the stern. At least the explanation of the forces by the wind on the sail make sense.

The steadying of the keel resists sideways drift, or leeway, but it does not reduce the chances for tipping the boat. The steadying force increases the tipping tendency; it's the weight of the keel that helps keep the boat upright.

Bodies of water are described on charts, not maps.

Knowing how to use a sextant is important, but I'm not sure I'd lay out $310 for a sailing course by an instructor who didn't have the sense to carry a dry cell battery-powered Global Positioning System receiver in case of power failure.

In short, let your reporter cover a garden party for her next assignment and not one so intricate as the art of sailing.


MILTON JENNE

Fort Washington

Visa accepted only

As a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who has had many consular assignments, I must respond to the comments by Rep. Dave Weldon and former U.S. embassy Vice Consul Nikolai Wenzel in "New department must direct visa outcomes, lawmaker says" (Nation, June 27).

This is the first time in my career that visa officers have not been criticized for being too strict on issuing visas. If anything, consular managers have to rein in officers who refuse too many visas, seeing fraud in every application.

The fault for the issuance of visas to the September 11 terrorists lies not with the State Department officers who adjudicated the applications but with the intelligence community, which did not give the officers the information that would have led to denial of the applications.

This would be just as true if the visa function moved from the State Department to the Department of Homeland Security.


BRIAN MCNAMARA

Alexandria). The article seems to indicate that leaders of both Pakistan and India have been making irresponsible statements about nuclear weapons. In general, it seems to follow the common trend of looking at both countries in the same light.

For those who know the region even reasonably well, however, the differences between the countries and their leaders are like day and night.

Pakistan was almost a failed military state until September 11, when President Pervez Musharraf wisely chose to align himself with the United States. India, on the other hand, is a thriving democracy with a professional military under civilian leadership and a liberalized economy that is one of the fastest growing in the world.

While India has an official "no first use" policy on its nuclear weapons contrary to the article's indication about Indian leaders making irresponsible statements about nuclear weapons Pakistan understandably has no such policy since it is that country's only reasonable deterrent.

The consequences of a nuclear war are clearly seen and understood on both sides. The reason for the current fiasco is very clear, as enunciated by President Bush when he repeatedly called for Gen. Musharraf to stop infiltration of jihadis across the line of control from Pakistani into Indian Kashmir.

Pakistan has been clearly using the threat of nuclear war to deter any retaliation to its continued training, support and export of militant jihadis into India. No civilized nation on Earth can tolerate continued infiltration of terrorists across its borders and attacks on its civilian and democratic institutions for more than a decade now. It is basically a proxy war that is already being carried out by Pakistan.

So it is about time to shed the uninformed ambivalence and stop treating both nations in a hyphenated fashion as though they are mirror images of each other.


JIT MUTHUSWAMY

Chandler, Ariz.


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