- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NASCAR in NYC

In response to “NYC hate” (Culture, Etc. Aug. 23), I am surprised and dismayed that The Washington Times would bother to lend credence to the generalizations included in this blog posting by Steve Gilliard by reprinting them in the paper.

Mr. Gilliard certainly does not speak for me or for the vast majority of New Yorkers, who do not hate Southerners and, yes, do enjoy the country’s fastest-growingsport: NASCAR.

As a matter of fact, New Yorkers made up NASCAR’s second-largest television market in the country last year, and it keeps growing. That is true despite the fact that New York won’t have a track in the city until the end of the decade. It is important to note that NASCAR fans, many New Yorkers among them, have a higher level of education than the average American. “The sport of drunken idiots” is not even close.

For hundreds of years, New York City has welcomed people from all over the country and all over the world in peace and cooperation. And, yes, that includes Southerners, thousands of whom call New York home. To say Mr. Gilliard’s description of New York bias toward all things with Southern roots is nonsense would not be a generalization. To say that he speaks for real New Yorkers would be the greatest incorrect generalization of all.



ALEX MITCHELL

New York

The catastrophe in New Orleans

In the wake of all the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (“New Orleans under water,” Page 1, yesterday), perhaps now is the time to discuss human tragedy, not energy prices. But considering the effects on oil and gas production and refinement in the Gulf of Mexico, the government must do something to curb the effects on the national economy of this terrible tragedy. In my humble, admittedly unresearched opinion, the federal and individual state governments should consider temporarily reducing or suspending the taxes on energy and gasoline.

For example, some gas stations in my area disclose that federal and state taxes add more than 30 cents to every gallon. With prices at the pump about to push past $3 a gallon, the government could ease the pain by reducing those taxes. In places like Florida, where there is no state income tax, recouping that money obviously would require more insight than I have, and may be impossible, but for the federal government, perhaps rolling back the tax cuts from the past five years would recoup the money.

I know that’s something no Republican wants to hear, but considering that the majority of those cuts went to the wealthy, who don’t care as much if gas costs $2.50 or $3 a gallon, it is the right thing to do. The people most affected by these prices are lower-income workers who cannot afford to live near their jobs and have a long commute every day. Thus, the spike in prices hurts those least helped by the tax cuts and hardest hit by the energy prices.

This obviously is a short-term solution, but until the extent of the damage to the Gulf’s drilling and refining capacity is known and repaired, a short-term solution is what is required.

TODD BOWMAN

Sarasota, Fla.

The story “Looters undeterred by flooding, police” (Nation, yesterday) recalls a stark sentence I read years ago in a book on the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake — “The police were authorized to shoot looters.”

I recalled this shocking idea when I read about the brazen looters in New Orleans today who “filled industrial-sized garbage cans with clothing and jewelry and floated them down the street … as National Guard troops lumbered by.”

What is more morally repugnant than criminals taking advantage of other people’s misery? We Americans may be more humane than a century ago, but perhaps we should consider giving police and National Guard troops the authority to shoot brazen looters in the legs if they refuse repeated warnings.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

As we find in most catastrophes, Hurricane Katrina has brought out the best and the worst of society. Most persons in the areas primarily affected by the hurricane pulled together, trying to help each other and responding cooperatively to the directives of authorities. Even the thousands of poor souls who piled into the New Orleans Superdome, many with small children in tow, were in generally good spirits. There were no reports of substantial unrest or hysteria, not when power and water pressure were lost nor when the roof partially peeled off, letting in large quantities of water.

Those who seek to wickedly take advantage of their fellow man reared their ugly heads, given the numerous reports of looting. Those who would seek to steal from people who have sustained catastrophic losses are appropriately decried by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Mr. Barbour was right to instruct Mississippi law enforcement authorities to be ruthless in their dealings with looters, a directive that should be followed nationwide. If looters were shot while in the commission of their crimes, I imagine only the most extreme members of the American Civil Liberties Union would rally to their defense, the balance of society recognizing the menace these criminals pose to civilization.

If Hurricane Katrina is an appropriate barometer to use, it would appear that most human beings are good and decent people. It is regrettable that there is a small minority who engage in the most evil anti-societal acts. These miscreants are deserving of no mercy.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Saving Virginia’s wildlife

Many thanks are due to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game for the comprehensive plan promoting the protection of hundreds of imperiled wildlife species in Virginia (“925 species found imperiled across Virginia,” Metropolitan, Aug. 18).

Our national forests and other public lands provide refuge for many of the species of concern, such as the beautiful wood turtle. Virginia lists it as “threatened” and considers it a “tier 1” species, meaning it is in the greatest need of conservation. It is vulnerable to harm from collection; road kill; predation; and habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation.

The wood turtle is only found in the far northern portion of the state. Its natural habitat of clear-running streams and associated forest is undergoing intense growth and development.

Protecting wood-turtle populations and habitat in the George Washington National Forest appears essential for ensuring their long-term survival in Virginia.

Tragically, the U.S. Forest Service continues to inflict harmful projects upon the turtle. Meaningful and accurate surveys, data gathering and analyses are not performed. So-called mitigation measures are woefully inadequate. In perhaps the worst example, the Lee Ranger District recently decided to log right on top of perhaps the only population of the turtles in the national forest in Virginia.

Wood turtles cannot fly or run away from harm. Populations of this species are extremely sensitive to the human-caused loss of any individuals. Yet the Forest Service consistently fails to implement reasonable and prudent measures to protect wood turtles in the national forest. Spending our tax dollars on cutting down the forest takes precedence over protecting a “very rare and imperiled” species.

We sincerely hope that with the issuance of this report by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, wood turtles and all wildlife in Virginia will start to get the respect and attention they deserve, in our National Forests and elsewhere.

STEVEN KRICHBAUM

Conservation director

Wild Virginia

Staunton

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