- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Menhaden moratorium needed

So often, one hears conflicting reports on environmental conditions, many of which sound credible so that one is not sure what the truth is. Such is not the case for a menhaden moratorium, as espoused by Gene Mueller’s column (“Plenty of holes in menhaden cap, -18 ” Sports, yesterday).

I have fished the Chesapeake Bay and I can truly say all the resident rockfish I have seen have shown signs of stress and malnutrition. Such stresses mean the fish are more susceptible to disease, which could further deplete the population.

I think that unless we enact a moratorium, the commercial fisheries that net rockfish and menhaden will be put out of business permanently when the stocks of game fish such as trout, rockfish and drum are lost or reduced to levels that will not sustain commercial fishing. The sport-fishing industry will likewise be threatened, as fewer people will be willing to charter trips or buy the gas just for the chance to catch a fish that is underweight, if any fish are caught at all.

Did we restore the stock of Chesapeake Bay rockfish and endure a five-year moratorium on the fishing of them only to destroy it more fully by destroying the fish’s primary food source? I certainly hope not, and a moratorium on menhaden netting is needed ” and it is needed immediately.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

Terrorists, asylum and the courts

In “Getting political asylum right” (Commentary, Tuesday), Janice Kephart clearly demonstrates that making it harder for dissidents to obtain asylum is a solution in search of a problem.

It’s already easy to deny terrorists asylum. The statutory provision that forms the basis for asylum, U.S. Code Title 8, Section 1158, denies it if there are mere “serious reasons” (a standard far short of probable cause) to believe the asylum seeker has committed a “serious nonpolitical crime” under the laws of his home country or because he merely “incited” religious or political persecution of anyone, as nearly all Islamists do.

Courts cannot overrule an immigration judge’s decision to deny an asylum application, and the law states, “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to create any substantive or procedural right or benefit that is legally enforceable by any party against the United States.”

At least as far as Ms. Kephart’s column indicates, only one of the 11 asylum claims she mentions was successful

Nuradin Adbi was indicted in a reported conspiracy to blow up a mall, but, at least as far as Ms. Kephart, a former lawyer for the September 11 commission, indicates, he hasn’t been convicted. As the old saying goes, a good prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Ms. Kephart is nevertheless willing to convict the asylum system.

As Ms. Kephart admits, “Political asylum is one of America’s most coveted representations of who we are as a people.” Congress and the president should not reward terrorists who would like to destroy our freedom by participating in foreign tyrants’ persecution of dissenters.

JOSHUA DUNN

Burke

The Clinton Library revisited

In the article “All’s quiet in the library” (Page 1, Feb. 10), the claim is made that “[f]ewer visitors than expected have dropped by” the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. In fact, more visitors than expected have dropped by.

It was estimated before the library opened that 300,000 people would visit in the first year, and we are more than a third of the way there in just the first two months.

Although we have not sought to make comparisons with other presidential libraries, The Washington Times did, and it got the facts wrong. By comparing different time ranges, the article makes it appear that the Clinton library was visited by fewer people than other presidential libraries in their opening weeks. According to the official figures, that is simply untrue. In fact, during its first eight weeks of operation, more than 123,000 people visited the Clinton library ” even though it was closed for two days because of snow and ice.

Also, the article says, “A large percentage of library visitors are schoolchildren and seniors ” not your average tourist with disposable incomes.” In fact, only about 16,000 of the more than 123,000 visitors in the first two months were schoolchildren or seniors.

As for the opening day, The Times says we predicted 50,000 would attend the opening. That’s untrue. We expected 30,000, and the official attendance was close to that (27,000), despite the driving rain.

The article also misleads in its review of the economic impact of the library. Officials in Arkansas have confirmed that the Clinton Presidential Center has contributed up to $1 billion in development in the region, and since its opening, the local media has been filled with headlines such as “Hotel Room Revenue Skyrockets in November” and “Clinton library opening spurs boost in tourism tax revenues.”

Less important, but still mistakes: saying the former president has become “ubiquitous” in Little Rock since the opening, when in fact he’s been back on one occasion; saying he and former President George H.W. Bush taped a commercial in the replica Oval Office when it wasn’t taped there; and even saying Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt attended the opening, when they didn’t.

We hope people visit as many presidential libraries as they can, including the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. Contrary to what the Times claims, it’s a popular destination, and a very educational one as well.

JIM KENNEDY

Communications director

William J. Clinton Foundation

New York

Root of D.C.’s truancy problem

Your remarkable report “Almost a quarter of D.C. students were truant” (Page 1, Tuesday) helps explain why D.C. students test at the bottom of all U.S. states.

It should be evident that the root of this problem lies in homes more than in schools. You also reported that corrective actions were under way to decrease truancy. Sending great numbers of disinterested children back to school and penalizing parents of truants treat the symptom, not the problem. I fear that just forcing truants back into school will further deteriorate the learning atmosphere for those students who want to learn.

Truants’ parents have not motivated their children to learn. I suspect that many of those same families have multiple other forms of dysfunction (lack of discipline, poor English, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, impaired health) and that the parents would be regarded as having poor parenting skills. The truant children will go on to raise the next generation of generally dysfunctional children.

I hope that, rather than sentence parents of truant families to jail or fine them, the courts will require extensive parenting-skill training and that the District will offer this free to any adult or adolescent that wants it.

Hopefully, this would become part of compulsory high school curriculum. Helping train better parents will have a wonderful long-term benefit in the areas of crime, physical and mental health, employment and D.C. government administration, as well as education.

Rather than funding school vouchers, Congress should help the District become a leader in parenting-skill education. Society in general needs some new mechanisms (carrots and sticks) to motivate young people to learn and use better parenting skills.

JAN POLISSAR

Bethesda


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