Standing up for Florida's gators

How did an appalling article about wrestling alligators ("Paging Captain Hook" Sept. 19) rate so prominently on the front page! This distasteful entertainment activity recalls a time when "people who lived deep in the Everglades ... needed fresh alligator meat and hides to survive."

Certainly there must be less barbaric ways to make a living and provide a tourist attraction on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Florida. The alligators do not choose to participate in this spectacle for the pleasure of the paying visitors. However, when they are provoked by the wrestler who "enters a pool of gators, [and] grabs one by the tail," they have no choice but to fight back.

Lorelei de la Reza Houston

Proud to share N.Y.C. with the UN

Julia Gorin's Sept. 15 opinion piece "One big America-bashing moment" is shocking, but I'm sure other UN-haters will be delighted. I lived and worked in New York City for 10 years. My friends and I were proud that the UN was headquartered in our city, that we were at the heart of a structure that many of us consider to be the only hope for the survival of our community of nations.

Doris Sutter San Rafael, Calif.

Clinton left a wider income gap

Your Sept. 18 article "Economy's hot, but many left in the cold" points out that the US poverty rate is higher now than it was in the 1970s, and that the income gap is as wide as ever. Has the Clinton-Gore administration failed to improve things?

The facts are not very encouraging for the policies of liberals. The trouble with any big government wealth redistribution program is that bureaucrats take out a large part of the money for themselves and their friends. Individual and local initiatives are more effective.

Frederique St-Amant New Orleans

Your excellent article illustrates a weakness in unemployment statistics. Many employers maintain a pool of low-wage workers, employing each for substantially less than 40 hours per week. This makes employees more dispensable, and helps employers avoid the cost of health insurance and other benefits. Someone might only work four hours per day for three days each week, yet they are officially "employed." Hiring more workers for even fewer weekly hours would decrease unemployment, but increase poverty.

Stan Logue San Diego

Fresh Olympic coverage

I find your dispatches from the Olympics a breath of fresh air. Keep up your excellent coverage.

I wish I could be there, too, especially if I had a job to do.

Dorothy Milburn-Smith Ontario

Not all pit bulls deserve a breed ban

Many thanks to Vicki Hearne for a well-researched and well-reasoned opinion piece ("The much maligned 'pit bull,' " Sept. 15) about breed-specific legislation.

I'll admit my bias as the owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier. Take a bull terrier, raise it with love, train it with affection, and you will not find a steadier companion in the dog world.

But the truly horrible result of breed-specific legislation is that it's completely ineffective. If someone wants to own a vicious dog and they can't find a bull terrier, they'll get a Rottweiler, or a shepherd, or a mutt. Then they'll abuse it until it bites anything it sees out of fear.

When will we start punishing the owners of vicious dogs?

Cameron Crotty San Jose, Calif.

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