Gambling's political contributions are legitimate Before you assail "Big Gambling" as the next "Big Tobacco" or "Big Alcohol," as you did in your Oct. 6 editorial "Gambling's political campaign," you owe it to your readers to give them all the facts - not just those that fit your preconceived notions about the gaming industry. The gaming industry's political contributions reflect its growth as an industry and its stake in national issues. While you decry the increase in contributions from our industry, you neglect to mention that overall contributions from industries have increased 840 percent.

You mislead your readers when you say we are trying to "forestall" recommendations from the National Gaming Impact Study Commission. The truth is, we agreed with the majority of the recommendations made by the commission, most notably that all gambling except Internet gambling and Native American gambling should continue to be regulated by the states.

You were right about one thing, however. Any federal attempts to ban soft-money contributions should apply to everyone - not just the gaming industry.

Any fair moral assessment should include the benefits brought to the individuals that are part of our industry and the communities we serve. In our industry, more than 325,000 employees earn total wages in excess of $8.7 billion annually, with full benefits. The industry has an outstanding track record for providing jobs for those hardest to employ - those leaving the welfare rolls, minorities, and the disabled. Our employees contribute more than $58 million every year in charitable donations. And the $2.5 billion in tax revenue from our industry helps build schools, health care facilities, roads, and libraries in our communities. Millions of employees, customers, and shareholders in the gaming industry deserve to be part of the political process like any other legal business. Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., Washington President and CEO American Gaming Association

Improving Japan's nuclear safety Although the accident at a uranium processing plant in Japan was nowhere as bad as the Chernobyl disaster, it should be a wake-up call to the Japanese government ("Fallout of Japan's nuclear policy," Oct. 1). As a nuclear engineer, I am appalled at the laxness and failure to meet proper operating standards at Japan's nuclear fuel facilities. That the US is experiencing greatly improved performance of its nuclear plants has a lot to do with our insistence on technical competence and personal responsibility, and to the devotion of the late Adm. Hyman Rickover to developing well-trained young people to operate Navy reactors under careful supervision. Rickover thought the best way to keep plant personnel on their toes was with surprise quizzes.

These quizzes were the forerunner of inspections now performed on civilian power reactors by the Nuclear Regulatory commission and the Institute of Nuclear Operations.

Rickover's legacy is a stubborn devotion to excellence in nuclear operations. Will the Japanese, who are no strangers to hard work and technical competence, emulate it? Barclay Jones, Urbana, Ill.

Improving bipartisan relations In your Oct. 19 editorial on the need to create a bipartisan foreign policy consensus you write, "For one thing, you don't reach out to Republicans by attacking them as Neanderthals in a campaign-style press conference as President Clinton did last Thursday."

You have slandered the Neanderthals. They survived 100,000 years. Those who storm-trooped the Senate vote on the test-ban treaty will be forgotten in 10.

Mr. Clinton has the right idea; you do not. Mark A. Melton, Las Vegas

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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