- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

Getting tough with players

The problem with the violence in the National Basketball Association is simple to understand and simple to resolve (“NBA punishes 9 after melee,” Page 1, yesterday). When you have a league of wealthy professional athletes where too many of the players are either felons or have convictions for misdemeanors, the answer is res ipsa loquitur (a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself”). Crime is usually rampant where criminals gather and security is an unfunny joke.

My solution is equally simple and straightforward, which is why you should not expect it to be implemented by the NBA. If an NBA player is convicted of a crime, his contract should be voided and he should be expelled from the league.

No convicts — no crime. In addition, the head of security for the NBA should get the heave-ho, although he would certainly make a wonderful addition to either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or a local mall near you.

Why would anyone want to attend an NBA game, now that the total lack of safety and security planning has been exposed to the world? Who wants to pay top dollar to endanger their lives and those of their guests, knowing of the criminal element pandemic in the league and the abject failure of Basketball Commissioner David Stern to have taken any proactive measures to prevent violence and protect the fans? Not me. I hope not you either.

Remember, just like other professional sports events, basketball is just a kid’s game. Giving ridiculously inflated salaries to players while being blind to their misconduct and failing to make these games user-friendly and fan-safe, is but a symptom of the general cultural degradation infesting America.

Instead of banning guns, maybe legislatures should outlaw hooligans masquerading as professional athletes and the so-called businessmen who bring these bums into our communities.

MARTIN W. SCHWARTZ

Attorney and counselor at law

Former assistant district attorney Bronx County, New York

Nanuet, N.Y.

Condi, keep the Russians honest

Let’s hope that President Bush’s nominee for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, as a specialist in East European affairs will, succeed in eliminating an irritant in our relations with the Russian Federation (“The Rice appointment,” Editorial, Wednesday).

Since the admittance of Estonia and Latvia to NATO and to the European Union, Russia has intensified its psychological warfare against these countries. Specifically, it accuses them of violating the human rights of their sizable Russian-speaking population.

The aim is to discredit both countries in the eyes of their Western allies. During her recent visit to Estonia, Elizabeth Jones, the State Department’s assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, learned of the Russian accusations with regard to Estonia’s and Latvia’s treatment of their Russian-speaking minorities. In her opinion, this could not have been possible in countries in NATO and the European Union.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that the majority of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia and Latvia consists of illegal Soviet immigrants who poured into these countries during the occupation and their offspring.

As such, they do not qualify automatically for Estonian or Latvian citizenship but have to earn it by passing a basic language test. According to the Russian government, however, Estonia and Latvia in 1940 voluntarily joined the Soviet Union. Consequently, Russians in these countries should have the same rights as the indigenous population.

Our government’s non-recognition of the illegal Soviet annexation of the Baltic states should show the futility of the Russian argument. Sooner or later Miss Rice will have the opportunity to meet with her Russian counterpart and we hope that she will advise him that it is time to join the civilized world and to put an end to the distortion of facts unless Russia is determined to discredit Estonia and Latvia at all cost.

There is another point of dissatisfaction concerning Russia for which Miss Rice can do nothing, however. Because of its dismal past, Russia is morally unjustified in accusing any country of human rights violations. Moral consciousness was considered to be an outmoded capitalist concept by Communists. It did not have a place in the former Soviet Union and, unfortunately, has no place in the present Russian Federation as well.

CAMILLA KUUS

Washington

Sound science on Yucca disposal

It is remarkable how much progress has been made at Yucca Mountain, given that the anti-nuclear power lobby is bent on stopping anything that might encourage the safe use of nuclear energy and plays up worst-case scenarios involving waste disposal at Yucca (“Yucca’s energy role,” Editorial, Saturday).

The sound science and engineering progress attests to the appropriateness of the original choice of Yucca Mountain. Those who have visited the site are struck by the physical isolation of its location, with the almost total lack of water to disperse already hard-to-dissolve wastes.

This is an appropriate place to hold hazardous materials, such as nuclear waste, given that the Nevada test site, where for years nuclear weapons were detonated, is adjacent to the site. Finally, if innovative and economic uses of spent nuclear fuel are identified, the current plan is to have the wastes retrievable for at least 50 years.

Through their votes and with their elected representatives in Congress, the people of this country said they are interested in cleaner power that is not excessively priced, and that nuclear energy is certainly one of the best alternatives available.

MIKE CORRADINI

Chair

Department of Engineering Physics

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wis.

Visa policies unjust

The denial of U.S. visas for Ukrainian officials because of violations during the presidential elections (“U.S. rejects visa of candidate’s key supporter,” World, Thursday) is a punishment already faced by countless Ukrainians who did not violate any laws. In my own case, the U.S. consulate in Ukraine has imposed what amounts to a several-year visa ban on my research and travel to the United States.

This refusal prevents me from starting my work on research projects on the political prosecution of intellectuals during the Great Terror in the Soviet Union and on the politics of American intellectuals at the Centennial Center of the American Political Science Association in Washington.

My visa ban is justified solely by the fact that non-immigrant visas that the U.S. consulate issued previously for my graduate study and post-doctoral research in the United States prove my intention to immigrate during my six-month long stay at the Centennial Center. Such an approach is just one example of the arbitrary nature of the U.S. visa policy toward Ukraine, and it makes a mockery of the statements by the Bush administration in defense of freedom and democratic rights of Ukrainians.

IVAN KATCHANOVSKI

Visiting Scholar, Centennial Center

Smith College

Volyn Region, Ukraine

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