Readers Write

Courageous leadership is not bound by history

Regarding your Feb. 21 article "US attack on Iraq keeps ricocheting": What a disappointing beginning for our new administration's foreign policy. Many of us had great hopes for a more even-handed approach in the Middle East, certainly a more thoughtful and potentially successful approach.

I had hoped that this administration would seek the higher road, with an emphasis on humanity's fellow citizenship, and try to find ways to subdue the sense that we are strangers separated only by artificial boundaries. Courageous leadership is not bound by history.

Where was the diplomacy, given the opportunity to pursue a fresh approach? It is hard to believe that Secretary of State Colin Powell, initiated this action. Mr. Powell is the most revered individual in our new administration. His guidance and leadership in foreign policy seem to be ignored at our nation's and this administration's peril.

Susan G. Lapointe Lexington, Mass.

Toward more efficient energy use

Your Feb. 21 article "California unplugged" extolled the virtues of solar power. A key element was scarcely mentioned - the battery.

Given the five to six hours a day that solar power is available, virtually all of the presently installed systems use a lead-acid storage battery. Its lifetime rarely exceeds seven years. Given an expansion of the number of electric automobiles with lead-acid batteries in them, it will eventually happen that a battery will be ruptured in a collision, thus dumping sulphuric acid onto the roadway. One of the solutions for home systems is to revive the nickel-iron-alkali battery that was developed by Edison a century ago. Although it is bulkier, it is much more friendly to the environment and its lifetime is far superior to the lead-acid systems.

Philip Baumeister Sebastopol, Calif.

Your Feb. 21 article, "California unplugged" is quite encouraging. If Californians can adopt energy-saving ways with the enthusiasm reported in your article then it is possible that the whole nation can do it.

This is fortuitous in that more and more evidence is coming in that a global peak in oil production will arrive within the next 10 years and bring an energy dearth with it.

Marvin Gregory Renton, Wash.

Regarding your Feb. 9 editorial "Piping Heat": I take exception to your assertion that wind and solar energy "are not yet economically viable." How could we possibly know?

Our government system subsidizes the oil and gas industries in ways which make no fiscal, economic, or ecological sense. All this so that we can benefit from artificially cheap energy while these industries make a profit. These industries have the required influence on our elected officials to keep their most profitable products in use and the alternative sources of energy far on the back burners.

While I do not believe that wind and solar energy alone can solve the current "crisis," I do believe that if those industries received the same level of subsidies as the oil industry - they would be economically viable.

Vince Bosnar Sunnyvale, Calif.

Will private schools value vouchers?

Two questions for Dan Corley who wrote the Feb. 22 opinion piece "My school can use $1,500": Are you going to accept all the students who come to your door carrying the $1,500 voucher in hand and will they be afforded the same due process for behavior, etc. as students in public schools?

Chris Deibler Lincoln, Neb.

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