Letters to the editor
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This isn't the '60s, but we still have work to do
The events in Jena, La., show once again that we must continually work on monitoring and improving our justice system ("Rallying for the Jena Six," Sept. 21). We can never take for granted that the system is perfect. As the political rhetoric heats up on the issue, we may feel that we are back in the era of the 1960s. But in the Sept. 21 PG, a front-page photo showed the protest marchers and in front of them were two state troopers, hands locked together leading the group. One was black and one was white. That is something we would not have seen 40 years ago.
The photo gives one a sense that we have come a long way since the days of Selma and Mississippi burning, but there are still things we must do.
About Jena injustice
I absolutely do not understand the whole "Jena Six" ordeal. Back in August 2006, three ropes tied in nooses were hung in a tree; no one was injured. Six clearly identified individuals beat down one single individual; they are promptly charged, and people gather from around the country to support the actors?
What is the message I should take from this? Who is telling whom that racism is very much alive in the United States?
I am closely following the debate about "BODIES ... The Exhibition" at the Carnegie Science Center with great interest ("Carnegie Science Center Previews Its Controversial 'BODIES' Exhibit," Sept. 7). My family and I saw the exhibit when it was in New York City last winter. We all enjoyed it. As a former science and health teacher, I wished I had been able to take my students on such an excellent educational field trip. It is an outstanding instructional display that illustrates the wonders of the human body and the value of a healthy lifestyle.
I understand the concerns about the source of the bodies and the unique method of preserving them, but I am confident the science center has exercised appropriate due diligence on these important matters.
Instead of condemning the science center and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, we should commend them for the courage to bring such a powerful teaching exhibit to our region. In doing so, they have defined what a progressive museum is all about -- revealing to us the marvels of nature, inspiring us through the genius of talented humans and provoking thought and debate. I encourage people of all ages to be curious enough to see the exhibit. I feel confident most will find it delightful, exciting and insightful.
Recently, a Pittsburgh woman posted comments on the Post-Gazette Web site about why the Steelers enjoy the highest percentage of female football fans in the entire nation ("Women Here Lead the League in Loving Steelers," Sept. 14). She said, "The Steelers have never alienated the real women of the city of Pittsburgh by bringing in scantily clad Barbie doll cheerleaders like many other NFL teams."
In that spirit Pittsburghers should oppose a strip club seeking to locate near the Majestic Star casino and the sports stadiums. On Wednesday it was temporarily stymied by the owner of the building it sought to lease ("Keep Your Shirt On: N. Shore Strip Club Appears Unlikely," Sept. 20), but that probably won't stop the applicant from continuing to seek an ideal site near the casino.
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert recently exposed the mass degradation of women in the "adult" businesses that flourish near the Las Vegas casinos. Mr. Herbert concluded, "If you pull back the thin, supposedly sexy veneer of the commercial sex trade, you'll quickly see the rotten inside, where females are bought, sold, raped, beaten, shamed and in many, many cases, physically and emotionally wrecked" ("City as Predator: Las Vegas Abuses Women, Proudly," Sept. 7 Perspectives).
A strip club is not the kind of development that will enhance the North Side's entertainment district; it will detract from all of Pittsburgh and degrade our men, women and children.
Pittsburgh Coalition Against Pornography and WholeHearted.org
How many more obstacles does the developer of the North Side casino have to endure? The latest is a real joke! The gaming implementation task force is concerned that a 119-foot-high parking garage will affect the scenic view from the Fort Pitt Bridge and Mount Washington ("Panel Rejects Huge Garage at Casino Site," Sept. 11).
What scenic view? That part of the North Side is anything but scenic and any construction will be an improvement. If you drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel into Downtown, you would have to radically turn your head to the left to see the proposed site. It is not part of this breathtaking panorama. As for Mount Washington, the site also is not part of the beautiful view. It is far to the west.
If there is a problem, it is one of appearance not size -- cosmetic problems can be rectified easily and inexpensively. As a former Mount Washington resident, I would like to see this project move on. How much longer are we going to tolerate this nitpicking of a project that will benefit a blighted area and provide significant revenue, which will help to reduce property taxes?
Shaffer Mountain isn't the right site for a wind plant
Gamesa's Shaffer Mountain wind plant in Somerset County has drawn unprecedented opposition from thousands across Pennsylvania ("Somerset Wind Farm Proposal Generates a Tempest Over Birds," Sept. 4). Consider these Shaffer Mountain facts:
It contains the highest-quality, intact habitat in Pennsylvania.
It has two exceptional value native brook trout streams -- Piney Run and Clear Shade.
It has the heaviest raptor migration in eastern North America.
The endangered Indiana bat lives here -- in the middle of Gamesa's project area. Wind turbines are magnets for bats, killing thousands at wind plants in West Virginia and Meyersdale.
Gamesa wants to build 18 miles of 60-foot-wide rights of way on Shaffer Mountain. Thirty 404-foot-tall wind turbines turning at 200-plus mph will be built in the middle of the raptor migration route, fragmenting the best wild habitat left in Pennsylvania, when there is an 1,800-acre reclaimed surface mine one mile from the project site. That's why people are mad.
Best management practices are not enough to protect Piney and Clear Shade if massive road building occurs on the steep fragile forest soils. They will be degraded.
Rare raptors will suffer, too. Audubon has collected migration data on Shaffer Mountain for the past nine years. Data is peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal. It documents great numbers of raptors using Shaffer Mountain. Gamesa ignores it.
Gamesa claims windows and cats kill more "birds" than do turbines ("Our Plans Will Reduce the Wind Project's Impact on Wildlife," Sept. 10 letter). We are not talking about "birds" -- sparrows, robins -- on Shaffer Mountain. We are talking about "raptors" -- hawks, eagles, ospreys, falcons. When is the last time you saw an eagle run into a window or get caught by a cat? They eat cats. But they can't avoid blades traveling 200 mph in their migration path.
There are no environmental laws that apply to wind plant construction in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game and Fish commissions are powerless to stop or alter wind plant construction. Go to www.shaffermountain.com and click on "The Voluntary Agreement" to see why. The only line of defense in Pennsylvania is DEP, which is headed by the person who brought Gamesa to Pennsylvania. Politics or science? Thousands across Pennsylvania are waiting to see which it will be.
Regarding the story "Wind Turbine Foes Make a Flap" (Sept. 18): There is no perfect source of making electricity, but wind energy helps to solve serious public health, environmental and economic threats created by burning fossil fuels to make power. Wind power can provide in Pennsylvania enough electricity for 1 million homes -- without mining, blowing off forested mountains and burying streams, or creating pollution that is deadly to people, birds, fish and other wildlife. And wind power has no fuel costs, meaning that investing in wind energy today won't result in rising costs tomorrow, unlike every other form of dirty power production.
Wind energy development in Pennsylvania has already created more than 1,500 outstanding jobs, with many more on the way.
If we want to be serious about energy security, keeping electricity costs at bay, stopping global warming, keeping Pennsylvanians healthy and making sure we have forests and streams that support wildlife, then we need to be serious about wind energy today. The science and statistics are clear: Pennsylvania ranks third-worst in the nation for creating heat-trapping gases causing global warming, and the health and environmental impacts of coal-fired power generation are devastating.
Pennsylvania needs wind power.
Director of Outreach
Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future
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First Published September 24, 2007 12:00 am