NASA space program wastes money that US industries need

Regarding the July 6 article, "Why US feels the heat to keep its shuttles flying": While the United States went to the moon, Japan took away our machine tool, consumer electronics, and one-quarter of our steel industries, and now dominates the automotive industry. Europeans took away the ship-building industry, and Asian nations took the shoe and apparel industry.

If the US wastes resources and talent going to the moon and Mars, we will lose what industry we have left.

We have a national debt of $8 trillion, which adds up to $26,600 per person and an annual current account deficit of $800 billion.

It is time to cut back on unproductive frills. Future generations will curse the baby boomers for the space exploration projects.
Bruce Saltzman
Shelton, Conn.

Gratitude for interment flags

I would like to thank you for the excellent July 5 article, "Unflagging devotion," on the workers at Phoenix Industries in Huntsville, Ala., who manufacture the interment flags used to drape a veteran's coffin.

Recently my husband of 54 years died. He served as a first lieutenant in the US Air Force during the Korean conflict.

When his obituary appeared in our local newspaper, I was contacted by an Air Force officer, inquiring if I would like to have an honor guard present me with an interment flag at the funeral ceremony for my husband. Fortunately, my son-in-law, who is also a veteran, advised me to accept the offer, telling me that the flag would become a cherished memento for our children and grandchildren.

During the presentation service, as the guardsmen unfolded the interment flag, my grandchildren were asked to step forward, lay their hands upon the flag, and hold its edges.

That moment is one that will remain in my memory for as long as my life lasts.
Grace W. Brown
Ashley Falls, Mass.

A refreshing approach to campaigning

Regarding the July 6 article, "Reducing the campaign snooze factor": With all the cynicism and negativity out there in the political sphere, it's wonderful to hear about a campaign consultant who is principled and creative. I commend Ned Lamont for having the courage and foresight to challenge the status quo with his candidacy as Democratic primary challenger to incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, and for his selection of a new type of campaign adviser. I hope more people will be inspired to follow their lead.
J.E. Schwartz
Palo Alto, Calif.

Gaza crisis requires US help

The July 7 article, "Arab leaders may hold key to Gaza calm," emphasized that regional Arab countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, could be the key to resolving the current crisis in Gaza. While it is encouraging to see these countries play such a prominent role in working to mediate the current crisis, I would like to see greater leadership exerted by the United States, especially over the long term. As the article points out, the Bush administration certainly has other difficult issues to deal with such as the violence in Iraq and the threat emanating from Iran and North Korea.

However, a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only achievable if the United States actively works for a two-state settlement between the two sides. Consistent and visible US involvement toward resolving the crisis would boost our image in the Muslim world and contribute to our own security.
Sam Cowin
Highland Park, Ill.

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