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Letters

May 22, 2002



Cleaning up dirty mines imposes a huge cost

Regarding "Some brakes on mining" (May 20, Editorial): The time has indeed come to fix the rules related to this crucial activity. Here in the Idaho Panhandle, we are privileged to have one of the most enormous superfund sites in the nation as a result of past mining activity in the Coeur d'Alene region. No one knows how or whether the toxic residues of unregulated mining activity in the past can be controlled. We do know that the cost, born by the public, for even modest remediation is going to be astronomical.

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Mining companies are more than happy to strip the profit out of our nation's mineral wealth and leave the tax-paying public to foot the bill for the clean-up process that is often more an illusion than a reality. While we pay the bill for heroic attempts to clean up the horrific poisonous messes made by mining companies, the companies blithely move forward with other plans. Current federal mining law renders this awful progression inexorable.

Local experience and the results of similar disasters around our nation show that correcting the laws governing mining activity is long overdue.
Clark Cowley
Bayview, Idaho

No nuclear weapons would be better

Regarding "Flexibility in nuclear pact creates its own limitations" (May 16): I agree that last week's "accord is too cautious in cutting warheads." The nuclear-arms deal to be signed in Moscow this week does nothing to remove any of the thousands of nuclear weapons on either side from the insane launch-on-warning high alert that requires launch decisions made in minutes – not to mention accidental launch, which is by far the greatest threat these weapons pose.

The treaty imposes no timetable for taking warheads out of service. And destruction of warheads is not required. They can be stored for possible redeployment, and either side can withdraw from the accord on three- month notice.

As long as we remain fallible, the only true security is total, universal abolition of all nuclear weapons.

We promised such abolition by ratifying the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. It's time to follow through.
William F. Santelmann
Lexington, Mass.

A personal success story

"Redefine 'success' for kids" (May 15, Opinion) should be required reading. I'm a graduate student at Stanford University and have recently opted out of my PhD candidacy – after four years of work – for an MS. I chose this not because of failure, but for my own success (also known as happiness). It took me 26 years to figure out what your article said in one page.

I have always been at the top of my class and yet still have felt inadequate. I'm but one example of this very common problem caused by our abnormally high personal standards. Changing the paradigm of "success" will do wonders for everyone. Articles and professional opinions such as this one are huge steps in the right direction.
Trayle V. Kulshan
Stanford, Calif.

To junior high – and beyond!

Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's column "How to survive junior high" (May 17): If you offer these few words of advice to elementary schoolers preparing to enter the world of junior high next year, they will also be lessons for life. Lessons such as: refuse to do other people's "dirty work," and don't "fall into the habit of criticizing." It's my hunch we will be seeing Mr. Shaffer's words of wisdom circulating around in e-mails very soon.
Jessica Schwartz
Reston, Va.

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