The Plane Truth
Re: "Nuclear Reaction" by Matt Bivens (Oct. 4-10)
I found this article to be very interesting as well as frightening. The position of the NRC is that only a "large" aircraft weighing more than 6.25 tons poses a threat to the integrity of a nuclear facility. Six and a quarter tons sounds like a lot, but let's put this in perspective. Any "commuter" aircraft operating in or out of TIA easily meets or exceeds this barrier. The Beech 1900 model and the deHavilland Dash-8 weigh in at approximately 12,000 and 36,000 pounds respectively. The irony is that the FAA and other federal authorities consider these airplanes to be less than favorable targets to terrorists, yet the FAA and the National Security Council have not seen fit to allow these same aircraft to operate at Washington-Reagan National airport for security reasons.
Re: "The World According to George" by Lynn Waddell (Oct. 4-10)
As an engineer who spent a youthful summer touring Europe via motorcycle I can attest to roundabouts as the most fluidly efficient method of moving motorized vehicles through traffic intersections. Unfortunately, whatever the circularized aberration is that resides in Clearwater, it is most definitely not what I experienced in Europe. It would be easy to blame the engineers, but often as not the politicos say, "Here's the land you've got to work with and here's what we want put there." For the uninitiated Yank encountering a roundabout in a large European city during rush hour, it can seem like a scrum of sorts. However, once you get the hang of it, major intersections here seem right out of The Flintstones.
Over the Line
Re: "A Line in the Sand" by John F. Sugg (Sept. 27-Oct. 3)
You presented information that was, at best, one-sided and distorted.
You made several bold statements stating that we have our foot on the neck of world; the world despises us, etc. "Most of the world" does not look at us as a sponsor of terrorism on a massive state scale. I have traveled recently to India, Thailand and Japan. I have pen pals in Vietnam, China and Russia. I have no idea where you get this information, and my friends overseas don't either.
You are correct that we as a nation have made mistakes. People have died and suffered. But not to the extent you allude to. Sometimes, especially in the past, we were forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Many times there are no good choices to be had.
You quote Madeleine Albright as stating that the 500,000 children that have supposedly died in Iraq due to sanctions were "worth it." You know as well as I do that she was talking about the overall effects of the sanctions against Iraq to hinder their continued attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Also, you failed to mention that food and medicines have been exempt from the embargo for quite some time.
You call the actions in Kosovo a "coward's war." I suppose you want our pilots to fly low so the enemy can have a fair chance of shooting them down. In the Gulf War we destroyed the Iraqi tanks before they could even see our tanks. Snipers routinely kill without ever being seen. In World War II, we sent waves of bombers to overwhelm Nazi and Japanese cities. That's how war is done, whenever possible. I assure you if you were piloting one of our planes you'd find a whole new attitude.
The Taliban and bin Laden are dangerous criminals. Yes, we supported bin Laden during the cold war. He was a terrorist then; you are correct. But did you consider that his terrorist actions were against an occupying army, who did things like disguise bombs as dolls and pens to kill and injure children? The atrocities committed by the Soviets were as bad as or worse than bin Laden did to them.
You mentioned the $43-million we sent to the Taliban, but failed to mention it was for humanitarian aid, or that the Taliban promptly used it for themselves and let its people starve.
I am glad we are in a free country where people like you can express themselves, but as a journalist, you have a responsibility to report the facts and/or the different sides of opinion. In this article you did not.