Space Technology Colonialism
The United States has been exerting pressure on the Russian and Indian governments trying to prevent transfer of Russian rocket booster technology to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
This pressure was stepped up by the May 11 State Department announcement of a two-year trade ban on the ISRO and on the Russian space agency, Glavkosmos.
Even more ominous is an amendment sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden pending before the Senate, which would cut off all humanitarian aid to Russia unless this technology transfer is canceled.
As the State Department itself admits, India needs a a rocket booster if it is to develop a civilian satellite launch capability, and both Russia and India have suggested that international observers verify that this technology is intended for peaceful purposes only.
Telecommunication and weather satellites have become an essential tool in the late 20th century, and they are especially indispensable in developing countries like India, which have enormous areas lacking other means of communication.
Thus, if news, education, weather forecasts and warnings of natural disasters are to be available in remote areas, inexpensive telecommunication satellites are essential.
At present, only a small cartel of nations has the ability to launch satellites. This near monopoly, which is maintained by agreements preventing transfer of space-related technology to other nations, has naturally resulted in extremely high launch costs. Such agreements would probably have been against anti-trust laws if entered into by private corporations.
This behavior is very similar to that seen during the colonial era. In the vast majority of instances, the colonial powers denied their African and Asian colonies access to the newly emerging technologies needed for industrialization.
Instead, the colonies were used as sources of raw materials and as captive markets, policies which caused the great disparities in wealth between the First World and the Third World, and, thereby, much of today's global instabilities. It is a pity that the West, including the United States, has not learned from these past mistakes.
Today, the United States distributes large amounts of foreign aid to poorer countries. But it simultaneously pursues technology and trade policies that perpetuate or increase the gap between the industrialized and under-developed nations.
Atul V. Aiyengar
'No Frills' Budget
I wish to commend The Sun on its May 1 editorial concerning Carroll County and the charter government debate.
I am personally puzzled by the desire for a charter government. As was pointed out in the editorial, Carroll has one of the lowest tax burdens in the entire state, not just the Baltimore metropolitan area. It is this low tax burden that has attracted many residents from the metro area.
The most important reason for low taxes in Carroll is the lack of pet projects of local politicians. Under the charter currently being proposed, Carroll would be divided into five districts, each being represented by one councilman. Under this system, it is inevitable that county spending will increase because each councilman will be proposing frivolous expenditures that are only to be used as a vehicle for the councilman's re-election.
Some of the proponents of the charter government claim that the commissioner system is too limited to address the new problems that are arising in Carroll today and that the charter system would be more efficient for the suburban county that Carroll has evolved into.
What the proponents of this idea ignore is that the current system was able to handle the huge growth experienced by the county in the 1970s and 1980s. Moreover the "efficient" governments, such as those in Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, had a hard time figuring how to make up for the reduction in state assistance. However Carroll, with its "whip and buggy" government, was able to absorb the cuts with speed and elan.
Carroll has been trying to figure out a way to control the county's rapid growth. Establish a charter government and the ensuing chaos will go a long way to halting the growth, and Carroll will become just another suburban county.
Guns Don't Riot
Matthew C. Fenton IV's letter ("Riot Deaths," May 11) is both naive and ill-informed.
Most of the riot injuries, including trucker Reginald Denny, were caused by beatings and stabbings. Few of the 58 deaths were caused by handguns.
David C. Toy, special agent in charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, recently stated that there is no such "proliferation of handguns" as Mr. Fenton claims. He said that there are no more handguns in the market today than 20 years ago.
Mr. Fenton conveniently overlooks the fact that Korean and other businessmen protected their property and lives with firearms, including the "dreaded" assault weapons.
These were the only businesses spared destruction.
Personal firearms provided their only protection since the Los Angeles Police Department retreated from the inner city area and did not protect them.
Sanford M. Abrams
The writer is vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association.
Sorry Images of the Preakness
I would like to register my objection to the extensive coverage and attention given to the activities that take place in the infield during Preakness Day by local radio and television stations.
I am a parent of two teen-agers who attend Baltimore County public schools where an attempt has been made to point out the dangers inherent in drugs and alcohol use. The seriousness of this message is contradicted by the implicit approval given to the excessive alcohol abuse that takes place in the infield on Preakness Day.
Surely, as a result of this behavior, many people are driving home under the influence of alcohol and, in addition, the free flow of alcohol on this day most certainly creates a situation where many minors obtain alcohol.
As the father of a 16-year-old learning to drive, I feel the last thing needed to impair young people's judgment is the influence of alcohol.
The attention given to this aspect of Preakness Day creates a very confusing situation for students, who hear a constant anti-drug and alcohol message in school and then realize that the excessive drinking of Preakness Day seems to be accepted behavior supported by local media's coverage of the activities.
Robert G. Dey
The Preakness is a classic event in Maryland that we all look forward to attending or watching on television.
Channel 13's coverage was enjoyable until the reporter went to the infield. We were shown a young man who told us he drank so much that he threw up but would continued to drink because it was so much "fun."
Then a young man informed us that he didn't bother standing in line for the Spot-A-Pots -- he just relieved himself between the toilets in the open and on the grass. Then if this wasn't enough, the reporter proceeded to tell us the amazing number of Spot-A-Pots needed in the infield.
Let the infielders have their fun, but is this the image of the Preakness we want beamed around the world? Is this the message we want sent to our young people?
With all the beauty of the Preakness race -- Old Hilltop at Pimlico, the horses, the owners, the trainers and jockeys -- why do the media focus on people who don't care for their dignity nor ours and have no sense of decency?
Baltimore deserves better!