The environmental impact of North Korea's missiles

Regarding John Hughes's July 12 Opinion column, "Diplomacy or defense? US tries both against nuclear wannabes": The American press has forgotten to ask what happened to the carcinogenic rocket fuel from the two North Korean missiles that fell into the ocean off Russia's coast.

Since the missile self-destruction system failed, most of its 20 tons of unburned, toxic, dimethylhydrazine fuel – one of the most dangerous pollutants to human health and the environment – was ostensibly released into the atmosphere and water near the two Russian cities of Vladivostok and Nakhodka, with a total population of nearly 1 million people. The region is wellknown for its rich fishery resources and beautiful recreation areas.

According to the Russian minister of defense, North Korea's missile launches were not a threat for Russian national security. But what about the potential environmental and health impacts on the Russian people?
Alexey Kostesha
San Francisco

Pakistan's democratic movement

The July 11 article, "After TV series, Pakistan rethinks rape, sex laws," is both timely and useful but in need of critical input from democratic political forces that have fought long and hard for the repeal of antiwomen laws in our country.

The article takes a clear position in saying that earlier civilian governments did little to change these laws or to provide relief to women. That view reflects much of the spin generated by the military regime.

In her first term as prime minister, Benazir Bhutto's government was the first to move a bill in the Senate of Pakistan to eliminate these laws that promote honor killings of women. But because the Pakistan People's Party was subject to the pressures of a coalition, these bills were rejected by the parliament.

Even today, it is the PPP that has spearheaded the debate on repealing the infamous Hudood Ordinances in parliament as part of its legislative initiatives by introducing the Hudood repeal bill, which the regime continues to oppose while granting the piecemeal concessions – such as the Ordinance to amend Clause 497 of our Criminal Procedure Code – enacted a week ago. This ordinance ignores the fact that once women are jailed for Hudood, they are often not accepted by society as innocent or free of taint. Nor does it have any provision for eliminating the surety money that most women in lock-up require.

Lastly, I would like to point out that even piecemeal reforms can never really take root in a climate of fear, where the rule of law is every day institutionally subverted by a military dictator.
Sherry Rehman
Central Information Secretary,
Pakistan People's Party
Sindh, Pakistan

Americans should try learning Spanish

I very much enjoyed John Hughes's July 5 Opinion piece, "A lesson on learning English as America debates new laws." It's true that immigrants living in the US can progress only so far in our culture if they don't become fairly accomplished in speaking and reading English. But I never seem to hear about the desirability of Americans learning Spanish – not only in order to relate to our Spanish-speaking neighbors but to enlarge our own literacy. I was delighted to learn that my two grandsons are studying Spanish in high school. Why isn't this more common? We seem to be becoming such an either/or society that I sometimes despair.
Frieda Arkin
Ipswich, Mass.

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