- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

Arctic refuge in jeopardy, again

I was delighted to read of Minnesota Sen.-elect Norm Coleman's reaffirmation that he will vote against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska ("Reformer Coleman plans to 'get it done' in Senate," Page 1, Monday). Unfortunately, other members of the Republican Party think otherwise.

Congress most likely will attempt to open this pristine location to oil drilling either through the budget process or through the energy plan.

This issue has nothing to do with the budget process and everything to do with the oil industry's power and influence on Capitol Hill. Furthermore, drilling for oil in the refuge will do little or nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil or to address America's long-term energy needs. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the refuge has only enough oil to supply all of America for six months, and even industry officials admit that the oil would not be available for years.

The refuge is one of the last pristine ecosystems left in our country. It will remain so as long as Mr. Coleman holds to his convictions, even under pressure from fellow Republicans to change his stance.


JOSHUA BUSWELL-CHARKOW

Alaska Coalition of Minnesota

Minneapolis

Keep 'great sex' in the bedroom

The big, bold advertisement headline Tuesday on Page A3 "Do You Want Better Sex More Often?" certainly caught the attention of my preteen Tuesday morning. The ad promotes the X-Patch, a sexual-enhancement formula for both men and women available to those who call for a "30 day risk free trial." Similar ad headlines over the past few weeks have included "Take Your Sex Life to a Whole New Level" and "Sex for Life."

I called The Times office last year to complain about similar ads and received no explanation or feedback. How can a paper that claims to be family oriented run ads promoting great sex? I sure hope our family will be able to continue subscribing to a newspaper we can all read together.


LINDA EMERICK

Herndon

College Christian group deserves fair treatment

I hope that Rutgers University reconsiders its decision and allows InterVarsity Christian Fellowship funding and access to campus facilities ("Christian student group sues Rutgers over access," Nation, Tuesday).

As a mother of two coeds involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Maryland at College Park one of whom is a group leader I have had the opportunity to meet many college students involved in that organization. These students are some of the finest human beings I have met. For many, InterVarsity is a welcome alternative to the binge drinking and partying that takes place in so many of our universities and that sometimes results in student deaths.

Unfortunately, it appears that we as a society have become tolerant of every group except Christians. I am concerned when I see our religious freedoms being chipped away. In this particular instance, university officials say InterVarsity discriminates by disallowing anyone not of the Christian faith to be a group leader. But how can one be chosen to lead who doesn't adhere to the faith that underlies the purpose of the organization? That would be ridiculous.

We all should be encouraged that this Christian group is taking a stand against this assault on our basic human rights of freedom of conscience, religious liberty and the First Amendment. I hope that more universities and parents will encourage and support InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.


LORRAINE RYAN

Berwyn Heights

Joint custody is a good deal - except for lawyers

Thank you for printing an article that touches on some of the issues regarding the need for joint custody of children ("Men aim for equal custodial rights," Metropolitan, yesterday).

Yet, Delegate David Albo, Fairfax Republican, "thinks" the present system is "fair." Does somebody have some hard evidence in favor of this opinion who doesn't belong to the Virginia Bar Association? What lawyers really fear is losing the lucrative divorce industry.

Mr. Albo's suggestion that we use juries to decide custody may simply increase public expenditures and legal fees. It definitely guarantees that lawyers continue to feed at this trough. This approach continues to violate the right of good parents and their children to associate freely as a family.

In fact, children living without significant contact with both parents are more likely to suffer in relationships, physical and mental health, and delinquency. As for the price of this outcome, I requested Gov. Mark Warner's office to provide information on the costs of divorce to the budget of the state government, and I have yet to receive an answer. Clearly, divorce and human misery can be curtailed and budgetary savings achieved by presuming parents' rights to joint custody.

Virginia's juvenile courts function as fiefdoms in which judges make custody decisions behind closed doors. Loving parents, extricated from deciding their children's fate, are afraid of retaliation should they complain against judges.

Our children deserve a system that promotes marriage and reconciliation. Our children deserve both parents.


CHUCK DEHART

Fulks Run, Va.

Nothing remedial about racial preferences

Tuesday's editorial "End it" was absolutely right in calling on the Bush administration to file a brief with the Supreme Court opposing the University of Michigan's use of racial and ethnic preferences in its admissions policies. I would like to offer one correction, though.

The editorial twice characterized the racial preferences as "remedial," although the university does not even make that claim. It instead seeks to justify its discrimination on the grounds that prefabricated "diversity" in the student body improves educational outcomes.

This claim is even less persuasive than the remedial one. Indeed, it is interesting to note that, when Brown vs. Board of Education was argued before the Supreme Court 50 years ago, the segregationists sought to justify their system as an arrangement that provided similar educational benefits.


ROGER CLEGG

General counsel

Center for Equal Opportunity

Sterling, Va.

Arbitration key to solving malpractice madness

Monday's editorial, "Malpractice insurance madness," correctly states that malpractice lawsuits are threatening patient access to healthcare. We cannot sue our way to better healthcare.

But the real solution is simpler than the editorial's proposal for tort reform. The real solution already exists, and that solution is arbitration. Arbitration is the ideal forum in which to decide disputes concerning healthcare. Patients and providers can agree to shift future disputes out of the lawsuit system, with its huge risk and expense, and into a fair, inexpensive and efficient "private court system" arbitration. Arbitration does not limit a party's right to seek redress but simply shifts the resolution of the dispute from the court system to a more rational forum.

California recently adopted standards endorsing "consumer" arbitration, including arbitration of medical malpractice disputes, as long as the arbitration process is fair. Many other states, recognizing the advantages to both patients and providers, have statutes providing for arbitration of medical malpractice claims. These states are prudently putting their faith in arbitration, which holds the promise of resolving the health-care crisis.


KEITH MAURER

Assistant general counsel

National Arbitration Forum

Roseville, Minn.

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