- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Friendly fire

I am an 81-year-old former Canadian soldier who served in Europe during World War II. I and many other Canadian soldiers and Polish troops were exposed to "friendly fire" around Falaise, France. There was no criminal investigation of the unfortunate navigational errors that misguided both U.S. and British bombers to the wrong targets.
I believe errors under fire should be treated as accidents and the investigation of the incident in which four Canadian soldiers were killed by a misguided U.S. bomb in Afghanistan should be directed toward making sure such errors do not continue to occur. Appropriate administrative punishments, not criminal charges, should be leveled. Unfortunately, this may not be the case, as the article "Air Force refuses new probe" (Nation, Nov. 12) suggests.
I suggest that the prosecution of the two U.S. pilots should be halted at the request of the Canadian government. After the shameless national parading of the families of the recently killed Canadian soldiers at Canadian Remembrance Day parades throughout Canada and the thinly disguised anti-Americanism of the soldiers' tributes, it is time to call a halt to the blame game.


Misidentified head of state

Yesterday's Page One article "Bush to Europe to rally allies" wrongly identifies the president of Romania as Emil Constantinescu. For the record, the Romania's head of state is Ion Iliescu.
Indeed, as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice announced at a White House press conference before Mr. Bush embarked for Europe, he "will travel to Bucharest, Romania, where he will meet with Romanian President Iliescu and make remarks to the Romanian people at a square in central Bucharest."
A correction of this regrettable error would be very much appreciated.

Ambassador of Romania
Embassy of Romania

Don't save the SUV

I wish to take issue with Sunday's editorial on sport utility vehicles, "Save the SUV," and in particular with the statements on emissions and efficiency.
The whole reason the Detroit motor industry has pushed sport utility vehicles onto the car-buying public is because they are counted as trucks and thus avoid the marginally more stringent federal regulations on fuel efficiency for cars. To say that sport utility vehicles meet or exceed federal truck limits is a false argument. They are a lot less efficient than cars, and thus they waste fuel.
As for the assertion that carbon dioxide's effects as a pollutant are a political issue, not a scientific one, it would be laughable were the ignorance illustrated not so scary. The existence of the greenhouse effect is scientific fact. The danger the Earth faces is the desertification of up to 50 percent of its surface area. Many whole countries will be submerged, and remedial action is needed immediately. Perhaps The Washington Times thinks this is just politics because the United States initially will be among the least affected by the greenhouse effect.
As a well-known newspaper, The Times should be attempting to lead public opinion, thus helping to move the United States away from its wasteful ignorance rather than playing to the gallery on this issue.

Oxford, England

Is there tofu turkey?

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the recent outbreak of avian influenza in Virginia ("Flattened by the flu," Business, Friday) reminds us that this year we may want to have Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey on the table.
As is the case for all factory-farmed animals, turkeys must live in overcrowded, filthy conditions. They endure mutilations without painkillers and have been altered to grow so large so fast that they can barely stand or walk. These birds never go outside or breathe fresh air until they are on the truck to the slaughterhouse. Many turkeys are still fully conscious when slaughtered.
More than 40 million of these sensitive, feeling birds will be killed this year for Thanksgiving alone. Each time we eat whether it is on Thanksgiving, Easter or any other day we can choose to show compassion for animals by eating vegetarian food.

Compassion Over Killing

Credit rich or cash poor?

The second paragraph of Friday's editorial "Greenspan speaks" laments the "flat retail sales" and talks of the consumer sector being "dead in the water." Yet the last paragraph references the "now excessively indebted American consumer."
So which sort of consumer should the country want?Do we want the consumer who will continue to borrow his way into bankruptcy, or do we want the consumer who will stop consuming long enough to pay down his debt? Must the American consumer spend every dime of his income and then borrow more just to keep the economy going? Isn't it OK to have a moment's break to put some money in the bank or pay down some debt without Wall Street thinking the economy is going to collapse?
Unemployment is low, and people are making money. Not spending it all (and more) is not a sign of an imminent depression. It could just be a small budget breather before the big Christmas plunge. I see some sign for optimism.

Epping, N.H.

The difficulties of 'inclusive' classrooms

Contrary to "Everyone learns from Inclusion" (Family Times, Sunday), inclusion is one of those concepts that sounds as if it should work but doesn't. Inclusion is a well-meaning but misguided attempt to democratize the schools by mainstreaming disabled children with non-disabled ones. I can state from personal experience that mixing children of vastly different developmental abilities only slows and frustrates normal students while reminding disabled children that they are not normal and don't have a hope of becoming like the others.
Back in the mid-'60s, my junior high school mainstreamed mentally retarded children into some classes with "normal" youngsters. The retarded students couldn't keep up with the others, so the classes wound up being geared to the slowest members, and the result was frustration all around. Some of us who were deemed to have the most patience were assigned to work with the slower ones. We wound up doing their work and ours just to get things moving along.
There were more discipline problems in those classes because the quickest students, usually the boys, weren't kept busy enough to keep them out of trouble. The slow students sometimes would lash out in frustration at not being able to catch on as quickly as the rest of us.
It was a lousy learning experience, and I don't recall learning much of anything in those mixed classes.
Contrary to the fervent desires of inclusion advocates, inclusion makes for a rotten educational environment. Our schools need to be turning out educated children, not politically correct ignoramuses who have learned to play nicely with others. Disabled children need to be taught in an environment tailored to their particular problems, not foisted in classrooms with children lacking those problems. The social skills and exposure that disabled children need can be obtained in church, synagogue or community social and educational programs, not at the expense of their non-disabled peers in the public schools.


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