- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

To the contrary

I was astonished by a statement in the article “Endangered species list” (Metropolitan, Thursday) which offered as a fact that personal watercraft, commonly known as “jet skis,” somehow “hurt” animals using sonar to communicate.

This statement has no basis in fact. There simply is not a shred of evidence to support such a comment.

It is remarkable that a biology professor would make such an off-the-cuff statement without the data to support it. It is even more notable she would be unaware that the world-famous Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla. — an institution dedicated to the study of marine science, research and education for nearly 60 years — relies upon personal watercraft to help study marine animals. Mote finds these safe and quiet craft the perfect platform from which to monitor injured dolphins and other marine mammals, the very animals that depend upon echolocation to communicate.

The recent National Research Council study, titled Ocean Noise and Marine Mammals, highlighted that noise produced by recreational boating on the “underwater noise field has not been quantified” and, thus, the effect on marine mammals was “the least understood” subject in marine science.

It is a fact however that personal watercraft (PWC) are some of the most environmentally friendly boats available today. PWC exceed or meet California Air Resources Board standards, as well Environmental Protection Agency standards, and have done so years ahead of schedule. Personal watercraft are ultra-low impact boats that pose no threat to marine mammals in the acoustic environment.

The Washington Times has a hard-won reputation for accuracy. We appreciate the chance to convey the truth to your readers and urge future caution that casual remarks not be taken as scientific fact without solid evidence to the contrary.

CHRISTOPHER MANTHOS

Executive director

American Watercraft Association

Sterling, Va.

Bad immigration policy ahead

If, as the front page said Thursday, President Bush is willing to get assistance from the Democrats in Congress in passing and implementing a guest-worker program with amnesty for illegal aliens, we will see America become a lot like Europe (“Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty”).

Our present welfare system is very generous for illegal aliens and has been responsible in large part for their emigration to America to work here, where they can qualify for benefits and still send home large amounts from their salaries.

As they become citizens, they will, in reality, act nothing like citizens, as the culture of the Democrats encourages aliens to retain all vestiges of their old culture and pushes America to accommodate them in language and culture in the name of diversity.

It will cause division and unrest here, as it has in Europe. Democrats are always crying about how we should emulate Europe; now they have their chance to do just that with the illegal-alien issue, and it could be extremely destructive to our nation’s security. Combine that with the Democrats’ history of registering illegal aliens to vote, and they easily could sell America down the Rio Grande.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

I thought that if President Bush were going to make a change in his secretary of defense, it would have been the intelligent thing to do a while ago — and the Republicans probably would have held onto the Congress, or at least, the Senate.

But now that I read on the front page Thursday (“Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty”) that he has said that he will team up with Democrats to pass an immigration bill with a guest-worker program, I have to wonder if this guy doesn’t have a political death wish for the Republican Party.

I suggest that jamming (which is what it will take) an illegal-alien-friendly immigration bill through the Congress with the help of Democrats will so alienate the remaining conservatives’ support for the Republican Party that it will essentially seal the deal for virtually anyone the Democrats may nominate for president in 2008.

COL. BLAKE J. ROBERTSON

USMC (Ret.)

Stafford

Failures across the board

If you had listened to President Bush before the elections, you’d have thought terrorism was the only issue facing America. While he was right that protecting America is a priority, he was wrong to believe it’s all the nation cares about.

For perspective: About 3,000 U.S. citizens died in the September 11 attacks. Since that time, the number of men, women and children living in poverty has swelled to 37 million; the number without health insurance has grown to 47 million; the number of homeless on any given day exceeds 800,000.

America’s annual budget has gone from a $100 billion surplus to a $400 billion deficit, yet Social Security remains unsustainable; we are increasingly dependent on foreign oil; our ports are still unsecured; and immigration reform has stalled.

Overseas, we have lost the respect of the world through our arrogant unilateral policies and practices of torture.

On Election Day, Americans asked themselves: How has the president and his party done across the board? Their answer was evident in the sweeping victories for Democrats.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville, Va.

PG voting problems

It is good to hear that the nation’s road to electronic voting is getting less bumpy (“Nation’s road to electronic voting gets less bumpy,” Nation, Thursday).

Here in the back yard of the nation’s capital — Prince George’s County — voting was still very bumpy. Because of machine glitches, poorly trained poll workers and an extremely long ballot, lines of an hour or more were common across the county. Our officials still have not tallied the final results at many precincts (making us the last county to do so this election).

But nowhere in Prince George’s County was the election more bumpy than at the Student Union at the University of Maryland (UMD). At the Union, students were waiting in two- to three-hour lines from noon through the close of the polls. The reason? While the state allocated 10 voting machines for the more than 2,500 voters on the rolls at UMD, Prince George’s County only provided four machines. The result was gridlock, forcing dozens of students to skip voting in their first election because of school and work commitments.

By shortchanging student voters, Prince George’s County is effectively saying that it does not care whether we vote. If we want to build a strong participatory democracy in this country, this is an unacceptable way to treat our youngest voters.

Hopefully, our newly elected legislators will make the necessary changes to ensure that in 2008, young voters are given the resources and the respect that they deserve.

BILLY GRAYSON

Program director

Maryland Votes

College Park

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