Fingerprints and photos annoy, delay US visitors

Regarding the Jan. 6 article "New tracking system to safeguard borders": The decision to photograph citizens of certain countries, while allowing others to enter and exit without a visa seems arbitrary. Why is it that most citizens of the European Union and some Asian Pacific countries are exempt from needing a visa, and yet South Americans and most Asian nations are required to have them? Are Europeans less apt to perform acts of terrorism than Asians or South Americans? Or is it that they are the more lucrative trading partners, and therefore shouldn't be offended?

Is the US to become a nation of people locked away from the rest of the world? Granted, there is a certain danger in interacting with the world, but the danger of not interacting is far more threatening.
Gene S. Wheeler
Shizuoka Ken, Japan

Consider for a moment those 24 million visitors to the US who are expected to be fingerprinted and photographed. Each one takes less than a minute. But, for argument's sake, let's round that up to a minute per visitor, which means that 24 million minutes will be dedicated to this effort in 2004, or 400,000 hours, or 16,666 days, or 45 years.
Matt Meyer
Marlborough, N.H.

Afghans dabble in democracy

Regarding the Jan. 6 article "Afghans' first stab at democracy": The recent approval of a new Constitution is certainly an important step. However, this is hardly Afghanistan's first stab at democracy. Notably, the period between 1963 and 1973, with the earlier Constitution approved in 1964, has sometimes been called the New Democracy.
Edward Thomas

Both sides of the plate on Rose

In his Jan. 9 opinion piece "Pete Rose Feels Better - But Why Don't We?," Andrew Abrams has finally made the point that seems to have been totally missed by most of the pundits in their judgments of Pete Rose and his quest for reinstatement and admission to Baseball's Hall of Fame. Mr. Rose had it all, but through greed and lack of "integrity" he chose to take the lower path leading to his "prison without bars." He has a great deal more to give back to baseball, before baseball gives him the recognition that he quite properly deserves.
Dick Godfrey
Chester, N.H.

Now is the time for Major League Baseball to lift its ban on Pete Rose and allow him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Everyone agrees his records over many seasons qualify him for selection. Betting on baseball games is a serious offense, but I believe Mr. Rose is genuinely sorry for what he did and has paid dearly over the past 14 years. I hope baseball will see fit to extend him some grace. I believe a reinstated Rose, who owes so much to the game he played so well, could once again be an asset to baseball.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Louisville, Ky.

Invasive pines fight global warming

Regarding the Jan. 8 article "Waging War on Pine Trees": Currently large-scale pine-tree plantations, often called forestry offset projects, are being established in some nations by industry as a proposed solution to global warming. Industries may plant trees to compensate for, rather than reduce, greenhouse gas emissions, and accrue carbon credits to trade at market value. These plantations are vast monocultures, not forests, that often replace native habitats with adverse impacts on biodiversity. With the additional incentive of earning carbon credits, expect the situation of invasive pines to worsen.
Kimberly L. Olson
Missoula, Mont.

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