Letters to the Editor

Readers write about weapons in space, big-league responsibility, and the housing market.

US should publicize the risk of not intercepting satellite

Regarding your Feb. 25 editorial, "Satellite fallout": The editorial suggests that the interception of the ailing US 193 spy satellite was motivated primarily by a desire to prevent harm from its toxic fuel if the satellite fell to Earth. Whenever such operations are conducted there is a technical risk assessment done so that one can have a basis for deciding whether or not it makes sense to destroy the satellite.

Noticeably absent, in this case, were any firm numbers from the government on actual risk probabilities of the hydrazine fuel injuring anyone should it reach the ground.

In all likelihood, the risk of the satellite (or its fuel) injuring anyone was minuscule: The well-regarded Aerospace Corporation estimates that "the risk that an individual will be hit and injured is estimated to be less than one in one trillion."

The hydrazine fuel, too, would have burned up during reentry and, in any case, its toxicity is not so high as to prevent the Air Force from transporting it by rail, sea, and even roadways.

If an arbitrary decision was made to intercept the satellite, it would be akin to robbing the United States public of about $50 million, not to mention the cost of negative international repercussions. If the decision was not arbitrary, American citizens have a right to know what the risk numbers really were of letting the satellite reenter by itself.

Yousaf Butt
Cambridge, Mass.

In response to your recent editorial on the shooting down of a US satellite: It surprises me how no one takes into consideration that this spy satellite was only launched a few years ago and contains our nation's latest technology.

Since the larger a chunk of material is the more likely it will be to reach Earth's surface intact, I am betting the satellite was destroyed to protect our nation's secrets rather than to intimidate.

Allan Dennison
Acton, Mass.

MLB shirked its responsibility

Regarding Ryder Stevens's Feb. 25 Opinion piece, "Why baseball balked at integrity": Thank goodness Mr. Stevens addressed Major League Baseball's role in the steroid scandal.

To my knowledge, his is the first column to point this out. MLB established "guidelines" on prohibited drugs without establishing testing policies, saying in effect, "We're not going to test. If you use steroids, don't get caught."

MLB should acknowledge its complicity and really change its behavior. Any capable manager should publicly admit:

We did it. I will deal with the specific issues. You can trust me.

Right now, I doubt many Americans trust baseball.

Denny Conroy
Columbia, Md.

Falling home prices are good for some

Regarding the Feb. 22 article, "Urgent need to buoy home prices?": Rather than wanting prices buoyed, people I know are glad to see home prices falling. The prices in many markets have become way too high for ordinary people.

Expensive houses are investments for the rich, rather than a place to live. Propping up home prices by various means keeps houses as investments rather than as affordable homes. This affects the lives of families who need two incomes in order to have a home.

It's disappointing to realize that high home prices were not the result of home-owner demand, but of government and banking policies.

Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey
Beavercreek, Ore.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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