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Energy BillThe views of Rep. Tom McMillen...


Energy Bill

The views of Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.) on the energy bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives make me pause to wonder whom he is serving.

His votes on the matter of nuclear plant licensing -- in committee and when the bill was on the House floor -- ignored what we have learned from past public hearings on nuclear plant operation.

Currently, nuclear plant licensing is a two-step process. After the plant is built (which can take 10 years) and before it can operate, a second public hearing is held to consider new relevant information learned since the construction permit was granted. No plant has ever been permanently halted by this second hearing, although some have had to make safety-related improvements.

Representative McMillen voted to strip the public and the states of our right to this second hearing on safety issues.

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, on the other hand, chose to stand with the minority who defied the record number of lobbyists "educating" legislators on the nuclear industry's point of view.

There's no longer any doubt as to why Representative McMillen is one of the leading recipients of political action committee money. He's got a tough fight ahead of him in November when he battles Representative Gilchrest for the First District Congressional seat.

Wayne S. Thayer


Ignorance Hurts

"Art hath an enemy called ignorance." (Ben Jonson)

As an arts supporter and patron for many years, it is inconceivable that a handful of residents in Federal Hill are determined to deny the rest of us this one piece of public art -- Lane Berk's "Baltimore" sculpture -- as a cultural addition to our neighborhood (The Sun, May 21).

Translated literally, this contemporary sculpture tells us that art is not elitist, does not have to be confined to a museum and that public art is art for the people. The lady should be commended for sharing a piece of her collection with all of us.

From the roof deck of my apartment building in Federal Hill, I see a multitude of television antennas, supported by poles of varying heights; chimneys; air ducts; rooftops of various colors and hues; and other protuberances. But -- alas -- I see few environmentally friendly roof gardens. The vertical sculpture is an inspiring respite from other 20th century roof adornments.

As a member of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, I strongly object to association funds being used to move the sculpture from the view of three of its members. If we have a surplus of $500 in the treasury, I would suggest it be donated to our neighborhood shelter.

Ms. Berk's sculpture is a most welcome contribution to our skyline. It is impressive, imposing and (should be) immobile. I thank her for her generosity.

Mary Lou Patrick


Iraqi Casualties

I read with much disgust and anger Jeffrey Record's article, "War Without Casualties" (Opinion * Commentary, May 26).

Mr. Record seems to have an obsession with presenting modern warfare with a pretty face. His civilian casualty counts as well as his assessment of the weapons that were used were totally inaccurate.

For example, he stated that the estimated Iraqi civilian casualty count was 10,000 to 12,000, when in fact, an unknown Saudi military source quoted a casualty figure of 65,000 to 100,000 dead Iraqis.

The London Observer's Middle East correspondent put the figure at 100,000 killed and injured. The Christian Science Monitor reported estimates as high as 200,000 dead Iraqis.

Another aspect of the war that was distorted by Mr. Record was the coalition forces' use of so-called precision bombs, and his emphasis on U.S. war technology.

Well, when we review the facts, you find that Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak stated that of all tons of bombs dropped by U.S. planes, only 7 percent were the so-called precision bombs.

Mr. Record failed to mention some other deadly weaponry that was used by the Allied forces.

For example, area-impact munitions (an explosive that is designed to destroy a wide area rather than a particular target), fuel air explosives (an explosive that has a blast overpressure of 200 pounds per square inch whereas humans can only withstand 40 pounds per square inch), and the use of the British BL 744 cluster bomb.

Ihsan Al-din


Polluted Harbor

I participated in Waterfront Walk '92 -- a relaxing sojourn on a pleasant day. We were surprised that the Baltimore Waterfront Promenade is three years away from completion -- a fact not mentioned in the publicity about this event.

More upsetting was the extent of the pollution in the harbor between Canton and Fells Point. The objects in the water ranged from empty containers to a sexual device. Not the atmosphere likely to bring me back to this well-intentioned walkway.

Dennis R. Conroy


One Who Won't Give Up the Gun

Michael Funk brings up some interesting but incorrect concepts concerning gun control ("Gun Carnage," The Sun, June 2).

Mr. Funk would have us believe that even though European cities have the same problems as we have, they have a low murder rate because of strict gun control.

This ignores the fact that England has twice as many homicides with firearms now than it had before adopting repressive gun laws. Also ignored is the fact that Switzerland has a true militia system, with 600,000 assault weapons, with two magazines of ammunition each, sitting at this moment in Swiss private homes. Yet Switzerland's murder rate is 85 per cent lower than ours.

The article would also have us believe that 100 innocent people are killed for every justifiable homicide. Let's look at these innocent people. Almost 55 percent are suicides, who arguably might find other ways to commit suicide.

Forty percent are homicides. Of these homicides, at least 25 percent were in self-defense or justifiable. The remaining homicides were committed by violent criminals, who will always have their guns no matter how tough the gun law. Twenty thousand gun laws already on the books prove criminals do not obey the laws.

Finally, firearms accidents have declined 62 percent in the last four decades and are now the eighth-ranked cause of accidental death, behind auto accidents, falls, poisonings, drownings, fires, suffocation and surgical mistakes. We could really cut down accidents if we outlaw automobiles and swimming.

Armed citizens like Tony Meeks and Norman Simples deterred criminal acts in Los Angeles for two days. When the National Guard finally took over, the two left their store, thankful and thinking all was well.

But platoons of fully equipped soldiers were no match for the level of protection provided by just two armed citizens. Only hours after the National Guard took over, the store was looted and burned to the ground.

Some anti-gun groups and politicians believe only the police should have guns, or that you should be required to wait days before being allowed to purchase a gun.

But in April, where was the L.A. police department? And, when all hell breaks loose, do you want to wait days to purchase a gun? The criminals won't.

Or do you really want to rely on the police or National Guard for your protection? I don't.

Robert L. Totten


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