- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Why are Russia's anthrax labs off-limits to U.S. inspectors?

Wesley Pruden's column "The rousing chorus of Nervous Nellies" (Nation, Sept. 3) reminded me of the contract Russia signed to give the United States samples of old, Soviet biological weapons and anthrax for study in exchange for U.S. money. We have given the Russians hundreds of thousands of dollars but they refuse to give us the anthrax samples. In 1997, Russia claimed to have made its anthrax resistant to vaccines. Why have they done this and why are they being so secretive about it?

Several days ago Sen. Richard Lugar, who oversees the dismantling of Soviet-era nuclear weapons, was denied entry to two Russian bio-weapons plants at Obolensk and Kirov. It seems odd that the Russians allow U.S. officials at their nuclear weapons sites but refuse entry to their bio-weapons sites. We need to remember that Russia is an economic, political and military ally of both Iraq and Iran, terrorist states that hate America. Russia is desperate for money. What do the Russians intend to do with their anthrax? We must question the trustworthiness of Russia in these matters.


MARK A. BRADBURY

Indianapolis

Other avenues to an international role for Taiwan

In the Sept. 2 "The U.N. Report," Betsy Pisik discusses why China's U.N. Security Council veto makes it impossible for Taiwan to join the United Nations. She quotes Andrew Hsia, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, who bemoaned the fact that "without U.N. involvement and participation, we have problems taking part in international life." Ms. Pisik poses this question from "sympathetic observers": "If the Palestinians who don't have statehood or a capital can be permanent observers with every privilege but a U.N. vote, why can't some creative arrangement be crafted for Taiwan?"

Maybe something can.

At the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last week, Yale University debuted a new book titled "Global Environmental Governance: Opinions and Opportunities." This book urges that all types of "environmental entities" including Taiwan join in international efforts to protect the world's natural resources. At a press conference, law professor Dinah Shelton of the University of Notre Dame said that U.N. mechanisms governing the environment should comprise all "ecological units," which Taiwan certainly is.

This might bode well for Taiwan. As China will not let it join international bodies as a "country," perhaps it could join environmental groups, the World Health Organization and other U.N.-affiliated organizations in which full international participation is essential for success, as an "environmental entity" or "ecological unit." Its contribution, by any name, would be just as noteworthy.


LORNA HAHN

Executive director

Association on Third World Affairs Inc.

Washington

It takes an army to raise a soldier

Saturday's Page One article "An army of one" on Pat Tillman's transition from National Football League safety to soldier and Ranger candidate was overall a well-written and highly motivational piece .

However, I have two minor criticisms. One, my fellow conservatives (especially Elaine Donnelly's Center for Military Readiness) and fellow service members take issue with the Army's "Army of One" slogan, as it typifies the touchy-feely political correctness that's undermining our military. (I believe The Washington Times' own editorial board has derided the slogan as well.) On the one hand, I understand the use of the phrase in the headline given the subject of the piece, but on the other hand it seems to lend credence to that stupid PC recruiting slogan.

Second, I'm wondering about the technical accuracy of "Pvt." Tillman. Unless the Army recently changed its policy, it's my understanding that if you enlist in the Army with a bachelor's degree, you immediately are rated at the E-4/specialist (aka, spec-4) rank and pay grade.My beloved Air Force, by contrast, only starts baccalaureate-bearing recruits as an E-3 (airman first class, the equivalent of an Army private first class).

It would be interesting to see if Mr. Tilman decides to pursue a commission through Officer Candidate School (OCS) once he's done with Ranger school. In any event, I wish him success and bid him a hearty "HOOAH!"


CHRISTIAN D. ORR

Panama City, Fla.

The sucking sound down south

;"Fix the 'funnel effect'." That is the message I took away from the Northern Virginia Sales Tax Rally, which was covered so well in Sunday's paper ("Northern Virginia sales tax foes rally," Page 1).

Voters need to consider these issues before voting on the referendum:

• Massachusetts received two and one-half times its contribution to the Federal Highway Fund from 1992-1996 while Virginia received only 83 percent of its contribution back funds funneled from the state. (Source: The Virginia Institute for Public Policy)

• Fairfax County received only 19 percent ($417 million) of the revenues the state collected in Fairfax County ($2.221 billion) in 2000 funds funneled from Fairfax County. (Source: published data of Annandale resident Bruce Novitsky, provided by the county)

• The "average" Virginia school division receives less than half of its financial support from local government while Fairfax County schools must rely on local funds for three-fourths of their budgets funds funneled from Northern Virginia. (Source: the Fairfax County Public Schools 2003 budget)

• Property tax rates in some areas of the state are about half of the $1.21 per each $100 of assessed value in Fairfax County more funds funneled from Northern Virginia.

The common denominator of all the these redistributions is the funnel effect. It is time for our state legislators to revise the formulas to send more of the revenues collected in Northern Virginia back to it. It is time for our federal legislators to ensure we receive 100 percent of our Federal Highway Fund contributions.


MARIE A. SCHUMACHER

Falls Church, Va.

A bridge not too far

The three bid dates announced "last week" on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge ("The bungled Wilson Bridge project," Editorial, Friday) have been in the public domain since July and appeared in the July 19 edition of the Maryland Highway Contractors Association weekly newsletter, which is accessible on the Web at www.mdhighways.org.

We should all applaud Maryland's decision to split the original project into three smaller ones because local contractors now have a chance to bid on them. This project also means thousands of good, productive jobs in Prince George's County over the life of the construction. Splitting up the project induces competition, which, in turn, results in lower, more realistic bid prices. With the exception of the one rejected bid, the dozen or so Wilson Bridge contracts Maryland has advertised have attracted low bids that are, on average, 5 percent below the engineers' estimates. This is a win-win situation.

Projects of this size and complexity are always subject to bureaucracy's wiles, but we hope we can count on your support on keeping the Wilson Bridge on the fast track as it moves ahead and keeping the public informed of its progress.


BRIAN HOLMES

Executive Director

Maryland Highway Contractors Association

Glen Burnie, Md.


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