- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2006

Protect New Orleans from environmentalists

Both “Delegation to study flood-control systems” (American Scene, Monday) and “Anti-flooding expertise sought after Katrina” (World Scene, Wednesday) report that Sen. Mary L. Landrieu and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco are leading a junket of Louisiana politicians examining the system of movable barriers that protects Holland from the North Sea. They express the belief that such a system can be used to protect New Orleans from flooding by hurricane-caused storm surges such as the one created by Katrina. Apparently these politicians do not realize that such a system was previously blocked in Louisiana.

As with Katrina, in 1965 an engineering failure caused by Hurricane Betsey flooded New Orleans through Lake Pontchartrain, which is actually a bay opening into the Gulf of Mexico. As the most effective way to protect New Orleans from such floods, a project similar to the one that protects Holland was started by the Corps of Engineers. Using the Federal Environmental Policy Act, the environmental industry successfully sued in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana to stop the project. On Dec. 30, 1977, Judge Charles Schwartz Jr. decreed that “all persons in this areawould be irrevocably harmed” if the project is allowed to continue. The environmental group Save Our Wetlands posted this decision on its Web site.

If politicians on this junket are sincere in preventing future flooding of New Orleans, they should focus their energy on re-writing “killer laws” such as the Environmental Policy Act that are used to stop effective programs to save American lives and property.



Wiretaps, leaks and the law

The Bush administration’s response to the charges of illegal domestic surveillance puzzles me (“The wiretap hearings,” Editorial, Jan. 6). It is well-settled law that border searches do not require warrants or “probable cause.”

At the border, a vehicle, its contents and all persons are subject to search. The civil-rights community was delighted in 2001 when the Supreme Court ruled in Kyllo v. United States that a warrant was required to search for heat escaping from a hidden marijuana greenhouse. The energy was treated the same as the physical equipment inside of the building.

If energy and physical property are both to be treated the same way for border searches, then telephone calls and trucks are also to be treated the same way. No warrant is needed to search the truck; no warrant is needed to search the phone call. The phone calls at issue are cross-border calls. So it would appear that under the rationale of the Kyllo case, no warrant is needed to search cross-border calls. Why hasn’t the Bush administration said that?


Virginia Beach

Douglas MacKinnon hit the nail on the head with “Revealing a Viper in the Nest” (Op-Ed, Thursday). America may be done in not by outsiders, but by Americans themselves.

If trusted U.S. government employees or contractors with security clearances continue to divulge secrets to the press, al Qaeda and other terrorists won’t need much more help to complete their goal of destroying the United States.

If New York Times reporter James Risen truly believes that this policy is something that the nation should debate, then he doesn’t understand the nature of secret programs. The government classifies programs and documents to protect those programs and documents from our enemies. Secret programs, by their nature, cannot be publicly debated.

If Mr. Risen actually thought a policy was flawed, he should have told his source to stop talking to him and directed him to the appropriate inspector general of the agency where the source works or worked.

Whether anyone disagrees with a secret program, the program should not be disclosed to the world, for then the terrorists will use that information to their advantage and hit us hard, right here in America. I, for one, believe Mr. Risen is just as much a traitor to the United States as is his source.


Ashburn, Va.

Freeing of pope’s assailant a travesty

What has happened to justice in our twisted world? The man who shot Pope John Paul II with intent to kill has been released from prison (“Pope’s shooter to be freed,” World, Monday).

Germany has granted clemency to the thug who was a key participant in the hijacking of an American airliner and the beating death of a military man who was singled out for brutal treatment and death because he was a U.S. citizen.

Notorious gunman John Hinckley, who would have changed the course of history had the bullet with which he had intended to kill beloved President Reagan been an inch from its point of impact, has been permitted to have unsupervised visits with his family, sure to be followed by a request by his apologists that he be set free.

Dennis Rader, the Wichita, Kan., “BTK” mass murderer, who terrorized and tormented his victims and his community, is sentenced to a life in prison on the dole where his every expensive need will be financed by the civilized human beings who work and pay taxes.

When any notorious criminal is on the precipice of meeting his just end, death, candle-toting criminal sympathizers come out of the woodwork to protest, inveighing that it is not the criminal but society that is being inhumane in bringing the killer to his just end.

The good old days of “an eye for an eye” look better every day.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Developing wind generators

It is interesting to note the split in the green activists over wind-generated electrical power (“Wind power splits greens,” Culture, et cetera.; Wednesday). The main cause of the split appears to be the harm caused to wildlife by the current design of wind generators. I agree that the current design of wind generators, with their open propellers flailing unprotected in the open air, do represent a danger to local and migratory birds and bats. In addition, I also find them not just aesthetically unpleasing, but downright ugly.

This brings in to question why this design was even selected at all. In the early part of the 20th century (1926) a man named Anton Flettner developed a wind-driven electrical drive system for ships known as the Flettner Rotor. He actually converted one ship, the Baden-Baden, as a test bed to utilize his drive system. The Baden-Baden appeared like any late-design, full-rigged sailing vessel, except that the masts were removed and replaced with two tall cylindrical towers resembling large steamship funnels. These towers were the housings for the Flettner Rotors. The rotors themselves were large columnar wind turbines that provided the energy to drive electrical dynamos, which, in turn, supplied the power to the ships’ motors. The system was tested successfully, but building a vessel utilizing the Flettner system versus building a vessel with either motor propulsion or a conventional marine steam engine was not cost-effective.

The advantages of the Flettner design, beyond the utilization of free wind, are that the design is cylindrical and can take wind from any angle without provision for a pivoting generator head, and it is fully encased in a visible housing that, if need be, can even have screens installed to prevent entry of birds and airborne debris. The housings can also be designed to be more pleasing in appearance than the current wind generators. In addition, Flettner designed his system to make use of a phenomenon called the “Magnus Effect.” Flettner equipped his rotors with a small electric motor that drew current off the ships’ generator system. These motors initially imparted motion to the turbines and allowed them to spin freely, creating an effect not unlike the lift effect of an airplane wing. Air flowing around the rotor was split, and the air flowing in the direction of the turbine rotation accelerated, giving the turbine extra torque and increasing output.

Given the potential advantages of the Flettner system, I question why it appears that no one has looked in to the possibility of using the Flettner Rotor as the basis for a wind generator design.


Ashburn, Va.

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