Columnist makes candidate choice easier

To the editor:

I’m impressed. John L. Smith’s Wednesday column (“Angle’s soft lens tactics do little to obscure past pronouncements”) has done more to help Sharron Angle than any of his previous diatribes against her have aided her opponent.

Yes, the 1993 letter he printed from Ms. Angle to Harry Reid beautifully articulates what the Republican Party and conservatives stand for, and it is exactly why we are going to try our hardest to see that people such as Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, et al. get that same message in November.

Mr. Smith suspects that Ms. Angle still believes those principles she advocated in 1993. I sincerely hope so because that is precisely why I intend to vote for her. Those principles are what I and many others like me are proud to stand for.

Thank you, John L. Smith, for giving us such a clear reason to support Sharron Angle in November.

Linda L. Noel

Las Vegas

Snarky Land

To the editor:

Your Monday editorial, “Power to the State,” was shameful. Picking on undernourished children to promote your right-wing ideology is over the line.

Case in point, your snarky response to a legitimate question from a principal about who would feed the children who depend on school breakfast when the school year is shortened by three months. Your clever response, “Um, just guessing here, but maybe they should be fed by … their parents?”

There are a lot of reasons a child’s parents may not feed her, none of them good and some so irresponsible, they warrant the harshest criticism. But in the end, you still have a child with nothing to eat. In my country, when a child is hungry, we give her food. What country are you from?

Bart Atwell

Las Vegas

Racing foe

To the editor:

The tragic deaths of eight spectators at an off-road desert race near Lucerne Valley, Calif., should serve to shine a spotlight on the widespread, inappropriate and poorly managed use of national public lands for such dangerous commercial ventures.

Race organizers were operating under a permit issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the Department of the Interior entrusted to protect our public lands for all uses and users. Unfortunately, the Interior Department has consistently failed to protect both the public lands and the public itself from off-road vehicle races.

The nation’s public lands are an extraordinary national treasure.

No other country can boast a system of public lands such as the one we enjoy in America. As a society and as the owners of these lands, we must pause and ask ourselves whether such races are appropriate for our natural desert wildlands, as they can be both ecologically destructive and dangerous to participants and spectators alike.

In Nevada, such desert racing still occurs. One such event is the “Best in the Desert, Vegas to Reno Race,” which is taking place this weekend. This year’s race will cover more than 500 miles, but in the past has covered up to 1,000 miles — in either case, far beyond the ability of even a well-intentioned land manager or race promoter to adequately oversee. The racers and spectators are largely left to their own whims along the course, leading to the kind of “Mad Max” atmosphere that can produce the type of tragedy witnessed in California.

Racers tear through fragile wildlands, enclosed in helmets and racing suits, isolated and cut off from the sounds, smells, textures and wonders of the natural world, and oblivious to all but the most obvious sights of the desert. Desert wildlife and plants are flattened, animals are scattered from their shelter into the blazing summer sun, the viewshed is consumed in dust, and sounds of birds and insects are drowned out by the roar of engines.

Site visits after last year’s race revealed numerous areas where the impact from the race had spread well beyond the road’s width as racers veered off course, intentionally or not. Spectator areas and racing pits showed wide swathes of destruction. Debris littered the course. Roads otherwise used by non-racing recreationists were left in horrendous condition — deeply rutted or the surface powdered beyond function.

As the guardian and steward of our public lands, the Interior Department has the duty to ensure that the impacts and risks from a proposed race are thoroughly and carefully analyzed, disclosed and minimized.

Above this, however, the BLM has a moral and ethical obligation to seriously consider whether high-speed, dangerous and destructive events such as the Vegas to Reno Race have any place on America’s precious wild public lands. Venues on private lands and tracks exist and provide meaningful alternatives to the conduct of these races on fragile desert ecosystems.

Rob Mrowka

North Las Vegas

The writer is a Las Vegas-based conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Appropriate venue?

To the editor:

Building a mosque near Ground Zero is not a political issue. It is an issue of rights versus responsibilities.

With every right, inalienable or granted, comes responsibility. Freedom of speech allows anyone to yell fire at any time.

Responsibility and common sense are what restrict us from yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Likewise, there is an absolute right in our constitution for the Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Their responsibility is to consider those around them and then decide if they are being respectful and tolerant or irresponsible and provocative.

I am not aware of anyone who seriously believes that Muslims do not have a right to build the intended mosque near Ground Zero. But nearly everyone I know — even those who support the project — agree that there are more appropriate locations.

J. Thomas Peterson

Las Vegas

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