Advice on whether planning for a tsunami makes sense

Regarding the Dec. 28 article "After tsunami, relief begins": It is of paramount importance that money be invested in developing ways to evacuate thousands of people. Alerts and warnings must be on all states' and central governments' agendas, but coordinated evacuation plans should be made locally, long before things happen. Numerous areas around the world are at risk and it is only locally that preparedness can be done. First and foremost, it is through educating the public that orderly evacuation can happen. A well-trained population where everyone knows what to do is far better than expecting authorities to take care of every detail.
Marc Bedard
Notre Dame des Bois, Quebec

While I agreed with your Dec. 27 editorial, "Tsunamis Need Not Take Lives," which argued for better tsunami detection and awareness, you left out a major factor. Though tidal waves are fairly common in the Pacific, this was the first natural disaster of its kind in the area in more than 150 years. Any plans to place tsunami detection systems in the Indian Ocean a week ago would have been deemed a huge waste of money.
Benjamin Jones
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand

As a former resident of southern California, I would take no solace in any tsunami warning system, as coastal areas are over-developed. Attempting to escape via vehicle or on foot would be difficult even if no hysteria occurred. I remember no instructions given to me or any communities in which I resided about tsunami preparation.
Phil Jordan
Incline Village, Nev.

Finding the gold in class rings

Regarding the Dec. 28 article "Today's class rings blend something old, something new": Class rings are indeed symbols of tradition and school spirit. But because of irresponsible gold-mining practices, the rings are also associated with negative images like human rights abuse and environmental destruction. Gold mining is one of the dirtiest industries; producing gold for one ring creates 20 tons of waste.

Local communities are often displaced from their lands by giant open-pit gold mines that use massive quantities of cyanide to extract gold. These communities bear the brunt of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic byproducts.

To change this, students across the country are demanding that the top class ring companies - Jostens, Herff Jones, and American Achievement Corp. - use only gold produced by mining companies employing more responsible practices. These include not dumping wastes in oceans and rivers, disclosing all environmental impact information, and not mining in sensitive areas.

By supporting cleaner mining, makers of class rings can add social and environmental responsibility to the values their rings embody.
Keith Slack
Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam America

Is Republican red turning purple?

In his Dec. 28 Opinion piece, "New Year's resolutions for the red and the blue," Dante Chinni suggests Republicans "stay firm in [their] beliefs." A better resolution for the red would be to figure out what those beliefs are.

Bush's first term was characterized by massive spending, growth of entitlements, and policies inimical to free trade. The recent election gives some reason to think that will change.

However, if the Republicans don't return to their role as protectors of limited government and free markets, we might find the red and the blue with disturbingly similar resolutions.
Ross Kaminsky
Boulder, Colo.

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