Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 26, 2005

Let NASA's reach exceed what it already grasped

The new NASA program to go back to the moon lacks the vision of earlier programs ("NASA recalls Apollo," Sept. 20).

Even the troubled space shuttle program was revolutionary. But "Apollo Again" is not. It seems like buying a used car.

Sure, the program would involve some new technology. But we have been there, done that.

The program largely ignores Mars and focuses on an achievement we attained 35 years ago.

If we are going to spend $100 billion or more if needed on a NASA program, lets spend it at the very limits of our knowledge and technology, not for "Apollo on steroids."

Let's be visionary. Let's look beyond the past. Americans want to dream big dreams of the undiscovered country.

We don't need a $100 billion retread when we can't even keep our window on the edge of the universe (the Hubble Space Telescope) open.

Let's use the $100 billion to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina rather than on a project without vision, depth or purpose.

The plan NASA announced has no guts, glory or common sense.

Space is a huge risk, no matter which way we go.

Why settle for the moon when we can shoot for the stars?

Dudley N. Thompson, Riverside

Financial aid ban hurts ex-offenders

The Sun should be commended for its efforts to steer ex-offenders in the right direction ("After falling so far, coming back can be a long, hard climb," Sept. 18) by referring them to job placement services in the city.

Finding a job and becoming a contributing member of society is often one of the toughest obstacles formerly incarcerated people are faced with.

One of the barriers in this struggle is the federal ban on financial aid for people convicted of drug offenses.

While passed into law under the guise of reducing drug use on college campuses, the ban has had the devastating effect of denying educational opportunities to more than 175,000 people since it took effect in 2000.

These are people actively seeking an education and the means to get their lives back on track.

While Congress is debating this policy as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization process, The Sun should encourage members to reopen the doors of opportunity by repealing the ban.

Christopher Mulligan

Washington

The writer is a campaign director for the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform.

New Orleans' poor soon to be forgotten

George Baca's column "A steady withdrawal from responsibility" (Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 19) was perhaps the most accurate assessment I have recently read of why and what is happening to the poor and African-Americans.

The Sun deserves praise for publishing this column, and for making readers aware that this discussion runs deeper than the floodwaters in New Orleans.

The sad part is that when the waters have been drained from the city, the "gloss" will reappear, the city's elite and middle class will start rebuying antiques with their insurance settlements and private companies will get richer from the reconstruction of the city.

New Orleans will get back to its daiquiri-flowing streets filled with convention tourists.

The poor will be back to their hand-to-mouth existences, and no one will talk about the problem again.

Jehangir Singh

Baltimore

Pork is peddled by both parties

While Allan Kanner made some good points in his column "Republicans' policy of `pork before people' takes a terrible toll" (Sept. 22), it was unfair of The Sun to point to Republicans only in the headline.

Idiotic pork spending is pushed through Congress by both parties. It's a shame that we, the voters, don't get to decide where the money goes.

You don't need to be a congressional scholar to realize that the fastest talker wins.

Apparently the congressmen from Louisiana need to sharpen their bargaining skills.

D. Pazourek

Sparks

Race isn't barrier to higher education

Michael Olesker's column "Steele report ignores the racial divide in Md. schools" (Sept. 16) misses the point.

Contrary to Mr. Olesker's conclusion, students who make the grade can attend college.

With financial aid, it is very doable. It's not easy, as it involves a mix of scholarships, loans and work, but it's doable.

We are not guaranteed a life of easy accomplishments. The real problem is that not enough students are making the grade.

Race is not an issue. The issue is meeting standards and a willingness to take loans if necessary and to take an on-campus job.

These are the same issues faced by all students, not just black students.

Ed Paulis

Timonium

Loopholes allow testing on children

The Sun's article "Exceptions in new EPA rules would allow testing pesticides on children" (Sept. 14) exposed loopholes in an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would allow the testing of pesticides on humans in ways many consider highly unethical.

In a letter to the editor in response, the EPA continues to mislead the public about what its human testing rule would allow ("EPA rules will not allow pesticide testing on children," letters, Sept. 20).

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