'Cost of oil' exhibits impact of our waste
I applaud The Sun for its thorough assessment of the impact of oil extraction on the communities of the Niger Delta ("The True Cost of Oil," Dec. 17-Dec. 18).
The series shows the true cost of oil in refreshingly human terms and further illuminates the far-flung impact of our dependence on foreign oil.
I would like to note, however, that the negative impacts of our dependence on oil are certainly not confined to those distant communities where the oil is extracted.
Among the impacts we see in our own communities are groundwater contaminated by leaking gasoline tanks, air polluted by smog and other asthma-inducing emissions and temperatures rising because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
And I would suggest that the need to address such impacts is not confined to distant governments and oil companies.
By conserving electricity, driving less and remaining aware of our impact on our local and global environment, we can help minimize the damage to our own communities as well as those of the Niger Delta.
Thank you for showing us the connections between our world, and that of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
In addition to describing the appalling poverty, corruption and ecological devastation which has accompanied Nigeria's oil boom, The Sun's series "The True Cost of Oil" by reporter Scott Calvert and photographer Andr? Chung bluntly exposes the heavy price others sometimes pay so that we Americans can continue to pursue our wasteful, inane lifestyle of conspicuous consumption.
Herman M. Heyn
'Cheap' energy costs world's poor dearly
Thanks to The Sun for yet another timely and valuable series - this time on the "The True Cost of Oil" (Dec. 17- Dec. 18).
Such crucial reporting begs for a follow-up series on the true cost of coal.
In remote areas of nearby West Virginia and other Appalachian states, companies are engaging in mountain-top removal mining.
In this process, to reach coal veins, most of the mountain is removed and cast into a nearby valley. The environmental damage is catastrophic.
And this suggests the need for another follow-up series on the true cost of nuclear power and its problems concerning waste storage and disposal.
The poor and helpless here and abroad are the first to be victimized.
But ultimately we are all subsidizing what big business gets to call "cheap" energy.
Kathryn J. Henderson
Extend regulations to all gift cards
Congratulations for the editorial on gift card fees and expiration dates ("Playing your cards right," Dec. 17).
Now we can only urge the General Assembly to finish the job by extending the limitation on fees to gift cards sold by malls, banks and credit card companies.
Under current law, these operations are exempt from the limitations under which other retailers operate.
It's time the legislature brought all gift cards under the same rules.
George F. Harrison Jr.
'Magic moment' ad sends wrong signal
I found The Sun's article "This magic moment" (Dec. 18) very surprising and interesting.
Everyone I have talked to about the BMW ad featuring screaming children has had the same reaction - if our children screamed that way after opening a gift, it would be thrown in the trash and might be the last gift they would ever receive.
In fact, two people I know have written to BMW to complain about the ad.
The article makes it sound like unrestrained screaming is a good thing. Many people would disagree with this idea.
I am amazed that the author of the article found that so many people viewed the screaming so favorably.
Maybe it's a generational thing.
Nothing to lose by talking to Iran
In his column "U.S. has nothing to gain from dialogue with Iran" (Opinion
Commentary, Dec. 18), Victor Davis Hanson quickly dismisses the Iraq Study Group's recommendation of talks with Iran as "misguided and amoral."
His solution? "U.N.-endorsed, global trade sanctions" and reaching out more to Iranian democratic dissidents and stabilizing Iraq.
But these suggestions can easily be shown to be less viable than the idea of talking with Tehran.
Global trade sanctions are very unlikely to work, especially with countries such as China, India, Russia and several European Union nations having important trade and investment relationships with Iran.
At least one of these countries is certain to oppose such sanctions or cheat to avoid them.
And historically, sanctions have generally failed to achieve their goals - just look at the situation in Cuba, North Korea and Iran itself.
Talking to democratic dissidents is an even vaguer, more unviable policy option.
Which groups is he referring to? And to what end? Regime change?
We have seen the results of regime change in Iraq where, unfortunately, stabilization appears more unlikely every day.
It is my hope the administration will listen to the ISG and talk with Iran.
If engagement fails, we have all other policy options available, including those Mr. Hanson favors.
But to squelch any suggestion of dialogue smacks of the same arrogance and myopia that put us in the current situation.
Falls Church, Va.
Taxes won't prevent teens from smoking
While I agree with the idea that if fewer people smoked there would be more healthy people, I must disagree with the logic of the idea that raising the tobacco tax by $1 a pack will somehow decrease smoking ("Tobacco tax increase can expand care," letters, Dec. 17).
If this sort of thing were true, we wouldn't have any drug addicts.
I also think that it is flawed logic to fund programs based on money derived from behavior we wish to reduce -where will we get the money to fund the programs once the behavior is reduced?
If you don't want your teenager to smoke, learn where he or she spends time and spend a little time with that teenager.
King David's story reveals role of grace
In The Sun's article about the sins of King David, scholars wondered why the account of David's misconduct was included in the Scriptures ("King found guilty - 3,000 years after the fact," Dec. 18).
It was not to humanize the king or to make his indiscretion public, as some of the scholars assumed.
The whole account was given of David's sin to show the grace of God toward us.
King David was forgiven by God, by grace.
I am a simple Christian, not a scholar. But God's grace is so simple a child can understand it.