Agent OrangeIn a recent discussion about the Veterans...


September 13, 1994

Agent Orange

In a recent discussion about the Veterans Administration's attitude about diagnosing and treating veterans suffering from the effects of Agent Orange, I remarked to my wife that it would be interesting if a medical team went to Vietnam to see if people there were suffering the same ill fate that those Americans who served there are.

Now I see that Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong is studying second-generation cancers and birth defects.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against these children, but it will be interesting to see how Washington will treat this matter.

After all, it took the Freedom of Information Act to get the authorities to admit to these health problems in the first place.

How will they explain to the widows and deformed children of the Vietnam veterans that, "Yes, we'll have to find some money to help those poor people out, but we still can't find any for you"?

Albert Bailer


Credit Clinton

I noticed with considerable interest that the Irish Republican Army has agreed to a truce and is willing to try peaceful means of settling their differences with the English and the Irish Protestants. I have been in that country and hope that its long-festering wound will heal in time.

It is interesting that Bruce Morrison, an American of some prominence who was a major player in bringing about this truce, gives President Clinton credit for initiating this effort.

When one investigates further, it becomes apparent, despite some backing and filling, that President Clinton has been responsible, certainly in large part, for several positive and progressive accomplishments during his term of office to date.

To name a few:

* Positive upturns in the economy and a reduction in the deficit inherited from the previous Republican administrations.

* Some positive reduction in the unemployment level.

* A crime bill, while not perfect, but clearly something badly needed and wanted by the American people and fought at every turn by the Republican leadership.

* The beginnings of health care reform legislation. Health care now claims 14 percent of our national economy, at least 20 to 30 percent of which serves the insurance industry, redundant health care facilities and providers and hangers-on, but not at least 40 million Americans.

* And there is some movement in improving the condition of the air we breathe and the water we drink, in spite of fierce opposition from entrenched interests in the mining, grazing, lumber and agribusiness industries.

It is time to give our president credit for his positive accomplishments and to depart from the peripheral sniping from the mean-spirited and the frustrated and the Republican leadership wannabes.

Ernest M. Stolberg


A Long Wait

E. Kaufman's letter (Sept. 5) on the United Nations Population Conference in Cairo and the plight of women, especially in the underdeveloped countries, states in part:

"Unfortunately the Vatican has encouraged a coalition with the Islamic fundamentalists in an effort to undermine the reproductive health provisions . . . I hope I live long enough to see the church admit that there is a limit to the number of children a family can care for and that God does not always


Magellan -- yes, Magellan -- offers a helpful insight. The following is from William Manchester's history, "A World Lit Only By Fire":

When in 1522, after the first circumnavigation of the world, Magellan's surviving ship reentered Spanish waters and found it had gained a day, ". . . geocentrism, the age-old conviction that the earth was the center of the universe, was therefore discredited."

European men of science unanimously concluded that ". . . the earth was not only round, . . . it was revolving around its own axis," which led to confirmation of the Copernican theory that the earth circles the sun.

"Couriers galloped off to report both the circumnavigation and -- the confusion over dates to the pope. He now rejected the obvious explanation. The church had always held that whenever observed experience conflicted with Holy Scripture, observation

had to yield . . .

"Accordingly the Holy Office in Rome declared that the notion of a moving earth circling the sun was 'philosophically foolish and absurd and formally heretical, inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrines of Holy Scripture in many places . . .' "

Twenty-eight successive pontiffs agreed. It took the church 300 years to change its mind.

So good luck, E. Kaufman, in your desire to live long enough to see the Vatican change its policy on reproductive health provisions, but in view of its record on observed reality, the odds are not in your favor.

Alex Armstrong


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