Klamath Basin deal sets bad eco-precedent
Regarding your Oct. 20 article "Cowboys, Indians, and land: an old saga's new twist": The recent proposal to take national forest lands that belong to all Americans, including Indians, and give it to the exclusive control of the Klamath Tribes if the tribes will relinquish or not exercise their senior water rights to the Klamath River is a deceptive move on the part of the Bush administration. I believe the administration sees privatization of public lands as a backdoor approach to increasing logging in an area that currently must meet federal environmental standards. Also, it can avoid the politically difficult decision to reduce water use to benefit wildlife and fish.
If it is deemed appropriate to give lands to the Klamath Tribes, then such lands should be purchased from the existing private lands in the region. Taking federal land that all citizens own and giving it to any group - even native American tribes - is a bad precedent and one that will surely rob the country of its precious public lands.
Regarding your Oct. 20 article "Bush in Asia: all about security": For all the new optimism, I think that new American-led nonproliferation efforts are a day late and a dollar short. For decades, US policymakers have glossed over evidence of Chinese nuclear and missile transfers to rogue nations, and the result is a nuclear Pakistan and a near-nuclear North Korea.
Pakistan recently got caught transferring nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran. Yet it seems to have gotten only a slap on the wrist. Is there any reason for Pakistan to refrain from selling nuclear technology again?
Now imagine if the US had intercepted the planes carrying nuclear material from Pakistan to North Korea - wouldn't that have been a stronger statement than some meaningless sanctions? Proliferators learn only one lesson from the Chinese and Pakistani examples of American inaction: The US doesn't really care about nonproliferation as long as its other interests are accounted for.
Good teachers, not gadgets, are the key
Regarding your Oct. 14 article "Why computers have not saved the classroom": As a former public-school history teacher, I had many opportunities to observe and experiment with teaching methods. I have watched one technological fad follow another with no improvement in student performance. The computer, as Todd Oppenheimer suggests, is only the most recent of these fads.
I call this faith in classroom technology the Bunsen-burner theory of education: Buy more gadgets, and everything will get better. It doesn't work. The teachers who succeed combine respect for children with a passion for the subject matter. This applies from kindergarten through 12th grade. Convince a class that knowledge brings power, using examples from close to home, and those kids will pay attention. One inspired teacher is worth more than all the computers in California.
Regarding your Oct. 15 article "The power of 1": While singles may comprise a larger portion of the population, they are not similar in their demographics. Many singles are single only temporarily (either young and unmarried or between marriages), while some are single by choice for the long haul. Others are single by default. The age range for singles is pretty wide. This heterogeneity means that marketers and political parties will have a hard time targeting them.
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