Salute from Saudi

Wonderful story of courage and initiative ["Cambodian Queen," by Melissa Hung, April 13]. I wish that all who came to the United States seeking opportunity would demonstrate the same qualities. Last month, while on a visit to Cambodia, I met many young people who were not waiting for someone to take care of them, but were working to get an education and to help build Cambodia into a tiger of the 21st century. What a great spirit. Bravo, Melissa, and bravo, people of Cambodia.

Paul McCord

Saudi Arabia

Catching a Whopper

Your recent articles on Sam Rayburn Reservoir and our paper mill at Lufkin ["Reeling," by Bob Burtman, April 6] require clarification and a clear statement of what the facts are, at least from our perspective:

The TNRCC rules change is based on scientific data gathered from the area. The data collection process was overseen and approved by the TNRCC. This change, along with our investment of more than $200 million, will mean that Donohue's process water effluent will be in compliance with all applicable standards and limits. The mill already operates under the most restrictive BOD permit limits of any bleached kraft paper mill in the South. The reservoir will retain its high aquatic life use designation.

It is not reasonable to hold the Lufkin mill to a standard the river itself cannot meet, much less a standard not based on sound science. With or without a paper mill, this part of the river can support only intermediate aquatic life.

Parks and Wildlife has determined that the likely cause of the fish kill was the largemouth bass virus, which also hit nine other Southern states and was probably caused by high temperatures and low lake levels.

Four times a year minnows are put in straight 100 percent effluent from the mill for two days to test for effluent toxicity. The fish have always survived this test. The reservoir is producing quantities of fish of normal and championship size. At a recent B.A.S.S. tournament, more than 3,000 fish were caught. The winner caught 15 fish with a total weight of 55 pounds. We learned of a recent trophy bass that weighed 13.77 pounds.

Seth Kursman, Donohue vice president


Saint Bernard

You did a great job on the Russell/James Coney Island story ["Bad Dog," by Brad Tyer, April 13]. I've known Ivy Bernard McLemore for a number of years, stretching back to our Houston Post days. He is far and away the most reasonable person I know, thus demonstrating what assholes James Coney and its attorneys are.

The world needs more stories like this (the victims' pains aside, of course).

Tom Kennedy


Don't Blame the Clinic

This is in response to the nameless mother from Crosby who bemoaned the fact that her teenage daughter was allegedly counseled inadequately as to abortion alternatives by the folk at the clinic where she received one [Letters, April 13].

In spite of not being informed by the misguided souls who copy down license plates and notify relatives of people's visits to health clinics ["Poison Pen," by Steve McVicker, March 23], this woman obviously found out somehow that her daughter not only had had an abortion before, but was now pregnant again and sexually active. Has it never occurred to her to sit down and talk to her daughter about these goings-on? Apparently not, since it's far more convenient to scapegoat someone else for not doing one's own job.

When did it become a health clinic's responsibility to provide the moral and ethical instruction her daughter apparently lacked? Even if it hadn't prevented her from having premarital sex or seeking an abortion, it might have at least given her the tools to prevent conception or disease. That's the parents' job. The clinic is there to provide a service, not talk people into or out of anything. Silly me. My mistake.

Name withheld by request


School Functions

You missed a critical issue regarding "Carlos" and other children having difficulty transferring their Spanish language skills into English skills ["Tongue-tied," by Margaret Downing, April 6]. An assessment needs to be given to him to fully evaluate his skills, abilities and capabilities and knowledge of Spanish (I'm not sure whether these assessment tools are readily available and used in HISD). He may be functioning at a preschool level in Spanish. Unless one knows his abilities in his native language, how can any curriculum or program aid in transfer skills, and how can one recommend a faster pace to the same program?

Denise Reilly


I'm a big fan of the Houston Press and almost never miss an issue. However, as a practitioner of bilingual education, I found this column to be more a trashing of bilingual education than a well-researched attempt at grasping the issues underlying the role of it in helping or hindering student success.

Downing characterized poor "Carlos" as "trapped" despite the fact that his mother had the legal right to remove him from the program. Downing cites statistics to show that program students fare better than those limited-English students who opt out, but she chooses to give greater credibility to a disenchanted bilingual teacher. She also faults the bilingual program for insulating its students from English-speaking peers when, in fact, many schools with bilingual programs are 90 percent or more Hispanic.

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