A missile defense for any innocent nation

With all the discussion about abandoning the ABM Treaty because the cold war is over, it's time to remember that the ABM Treaty works. Because it has served the US and the rest of the world, by preventing human annihilation, it's not something to lightly dismiss so that we can play "star wars."

There are many obvious reasons why a new missile defense system, which would violate the existing ABM Treaty, should not be pursued.

Chief among those reasons: It would not have the support of other nations. The only defensible missile defense system would protect all world citizens, and have their support.

Perhaps we should follow up on Putin's suggestion of collaboration ("Putin's 'star wars' lite: Could it fly?," June 8) and develop a system that would protect all innocent, nonaggressive people within the framework of a revised ABM Treaty.

This treaty would have the support and signatures of many nations. The process of international collaboration would then drive the technology, rather than our star wars technology driving us into some other new kind of cold war.

Craig Kneeland Eden Mills, Vt.

'Water' on Mars: Was it just lava?

Regarding "Water damage ... on Mars," June 23: Science writers need to be careful, indeed skeptical, of self-serving NASA press releases and the theories of other enthusiastic sky watchers and writers with inflated space budgets and/or little green men on their minds.

The latest claim of "water" on Mars is simply unconvincing.

For one thing, as reported in an astronomy magazine about Venus' similar sculpturing, such "gullies" can be etched, as anyone can observe in our own Southwest, by lava just as well as by water. And lava is what had been flowing on Mars eons ago. Analogous effects likewise may be seen on the moon.

Pop-sci PR is no substitute for hard science. Until proved definitively otherwise, "rare Earth" and its exceptional compound of water, remain unique along with Earth's other biospheric possessions, distance from the sun, size, "well-timed" processes, and other factors. The odds of repeating all this elsewhere in the universe seem astronomical.

Albert L. Weeks Sarasota, Fla.

Putting a price on 'women's work'

In response to Edward E. Bartlett's June 23 letter regarding "Gender gap in kids' wages" (June 19): Certainly the "dangerous and dirty work that men are expected to perform" is valuable. But why is the work that girls and women are expected to perform any less valuable?

While boys push a lawn mower in the heat, girls nurture our next generation; while boys haul heavy crates, girls employ math skills at the cash register; while boys bus dirty dishes, girls use people skills to take customers' orders.

Is Mr. Bartlett suggesting we pay more for brawn than for brain? Is muscle power really worth more than the energy, patience, and tact required to spend an evening with two or three toddlers or to deal with an irate customer?

It's long past due for our society to recognize the importance and value of some of the less tangible skills required by "women's work," including the countless hours of work that women perform in our homes, raising children, keeping house, and taking care of the myriad little details that must be handled for all the men, women, and children of our society to function well.

Autumn P. Forsberg Concord, Calif.

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