- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

CAMRA — unique and important

John McCaslin’s Inside the Beltway column recently criticized the CAMRA bill and suggested our organization agreed with his opinion (“Costly rerun,” Aug. 10). We are sending you a reply, as we believe our position is misrepresented. We do not think there is sufficient research information about media effects, and we support the bill.

American children spend more time using media than they spend in school, with parents, or pursuing any activity other than sleeping. The Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA) is designed to fund research about the effects of media, particularly the newer interactive media, on children’s health and development. Citizens Against Washington Waste argues that sufficient research already has been done about the role of television in children’s lives and that, hence, CAMRA is a waste of money that duplicates past efforts.

We do not agree. Though millions of research dollars have been spent on the effects of lead in the environment or on effective curricula, similar funding has never been available to study the physical and mental effects of media, an environmental exposure that is more widespread and whose health, educational and social influence affects more children.

What we do know is about television, and what we know about that often gives cause for concern because of outcomes ranging from violent behavior to obesity to possible attention deficits. However, with the right programs, educational television can improve early and long-term academic achievement.

CAMRA is not just about television, though. It focuses on the pervasive effects of interactive media in children’s everyday lives as they play video games; watch DVDs in cars; and go online to study or to explore Web sites, create Web logs, and instant-message one another.

There are vast gaps in what we know. The Kaiser Foundation report tells us about early viewing patterns, but it tells us little about how those experiences affect children’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time for children younger than age 2, but it did so based on neurodevelopmental research rather than research with media and infants. Knowledge is essential for informing policy-makers, child advocates, pediatricians and families about how our children can use media in constructive, not destructive, ways. CAMRA is a positive step in ensuring that outcome.

SANDRA CALVERT

Director

Children’s Digital Media Center

Georgetown University

Washington

MICHAEL RICH

Director

Center on Children and Child Health

Harvard University

Cambridge, Mass.

PATTI MILLER

Director

Children and the Media Program

Children Now

San Francisco

The IAEA record

Your Monday editorial “Kerry’s proliferation fantasyland” offered commentary on the nuclear policies of the presidential candidates. The International Atomic Energy Agency has, of course, nothing to say in that context, nor is it for us to corroborate your account of the intentions and actions of governments, including those of Libya and Iran. However, the editorial contains several important misrepresentations of fact relevant to the IAEA that should not be left uncorrected.

While it is fair to assert that the IAEA, because of its limited authority at the time, “got it wrong” in its pre-1991 statements about Iraq’s nuclear program, the IAEA was not in the least “embarrassed” by Hussein Kamel’s revelations in 1995. Quite to the contrary, Mr. Kamel’s information substantiated the picture already assembled by the IAEA at that time. By 1995, despite the lack of full Iraqi cooperation, we had methodically pieced together a detailed understanding of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, and we had destroyed or removed from the country all significant components of the program.

We are pleased that nothing learned since the war has contradicted our reports about the lack of evidence of any revival of Iraq’s nuclear program.

As for the claim that the IAEA was unable to detect North Korea’s secret program: In point of fact, it was the IAEA that, almost immediately after beginning inspections in North Korea in 1992, sounded the alarm that North Korea had not reported its total production of plutonium and, in 1993, reported North Korea’s violations to the U.N. Security Council. In retrospect, rather than being embarrassed, the IAEA has much of which to be proud in terms of its accomplishments in Iraq and North Korea.

Equally disturbing is your statement that IAEA Director- General Mohammed ElBaradei opposed the U.S. operation to remove enriched uranium and radioactive sources from Iraq in June. In fact, the IAEA had been in consultations with U.S. representatives for a year about this operation. The operation was performed with the IAEA’s foreknowledge and with the consent of the Iraqi interim government. Mr. ElBaradei reported to the Security Council on the transfer, as he is required to do. Far from complaining about the operation, Mr. ElBaradei has described it in media interviews as a good decision, given the prevailing security conditions in Iraq.

Your readers should be aware that the IAEA, a product of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative, is an international organization that works hard to address the concerns and priorities of all its member states, including those of the United States. As with previous administrations,wehave worked closely with the Bush administration on nuclear issues ranging from nonproliferation to agricultural productivity in developing countries. Regardless of what occurs in November, we expect that pattern of cooperation to continue.

In the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq’s nuclear program, the IAEA sought significant additional authority that would enable detection of clandestine activities. That authority is being granted gradually but remains limited to those countries that agree to sign an “additional protocol” with the IAEA. Mr. ElBaradei has been advocating other measures that would render the agency more capable of investigating and detecting illicit networks of nuclear suppliers, such as those that supported clandestine programs in Iran and Libya.

International institutions are only as effective as the international community permits them to be. Your editorial attacks the IAEA for limitations thrust upon us by our constituent countries and misrepresents our achievements as failures.

MARK GWOZDECKY

Chief spokesman and director of public information

International Atomic Energy Agency

Vienna

What population problem?

The inference could be made from the Associated Press article “Drop in population forecast for many developed nations” (World, Wednesday) that the world is heading toward an underpopulation crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While industrialized world inhabitants are projected to increase by a mere 4 percent by 2050, developing world population is estimated to soar by 55 percent. Consequently, the same report shows, a full 99 percent of the nearly 3 billion population increase by midcentury will be added to the very poorest countries. This would mean that some 8 billion of the nearly 9.3 billion people expected to be on this planet in 2050 would live in countries where already far too many endure a day-to-day struggle for survival.

Meanwhile, the United States is projected to be a glaring exception to the diminishing population estimates for industrialized countries. The United States is expected to see a 43 percent rise in its population — from today’s 293 million to 420 million — by 2050. To believe that the world population problem has been solved is an exercise in coddling the comfortable and ignoring the afflicted.

WERNER FORNOS

President

Population Institute

Washington


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