Terrorists Among Us

Worse than Osama: I agree with Richard Connelly that Houston's "bad air" and "impassable streets" would make a terrorist attack hardly noticeable here ("Uncivil Defense," March 13). However, Houston is not nearly "as likely a target as any other major U.S. city," as experts claim, but luckily has been rejected for these very reasons.

Our streets, reduced to rubble, already look like Afghanistan's, thanks to downtown developers who have leveled our most historic buildings, leaving nothing for terrorists to topple that isn't already next on the list. At the rate demolition has sent nearby residents scattering from their homes -- by force of eviction, eminent domain or fear of asbestos -- it is no wonder terrorists doubt they can compete with that, or with the threat of violence by gangs and police alike, notorious for terrorizing the local population.

Potential attackers very likely reasoned that, heck, with massive crowds of Houstonians jogging and biking up and down Memorial -- breathing high concentrations of benzene and carbon monoxide -- why waste precious biochemicals on these idiots? Why not wait a few years and let these health nuts gas themselves to death? For free?

Why groom pilots to target infidels in greater Houston, where unskilled drivers are using their own cars as tanks to run over each other as punishment for infidelity? Such ingenuity takes the fun and glory out of hijacking airplanes, while using a lot less fuel and relatively little training.

Emily T. Nghiem

Questions and conscience: "All Duct Up" made me laugh. Are we just now discovering that our globe has shrunk? That modern technology and an increasingly global economy now enable the hopeless and desperate in faraway places to reach out and touch us?

Houston is a global port. Much of our economy is based on buying and selling the world's resources. Have we even wondered if life is getting better for these faraway people?

Someone in the world dies of hunger every four seconds. Ending this suffering, according to UNICEF, would cost only $30 billion to $40 billion a year. That's the money people spend annually on golfing or that corporations spend every year on cigarette advertising. And every day, governments spend that huge sum on the military. One day's worth of military spending would buy a year of adequate health care, education, nutrition and clean drinking water for every person on earth.

Do we reap fear because we have sown fear? To build a safe world, should we spend a tiny bit of our military money on bringing good news to the poor? Would being a good samaritan and building up the kingdom of God gain us real homeland security?

Nan Hildreth

Checks and Balances

Deep background: I read with interest your article "A Killer Nanny" [by Wendy Grossman, March 6]. I own a business, Affordable Searches, that performs criminal history background checks. I appreciate the article and hope in the future more people will conduct more comprehensive background checks.

What I'm finding out in my marketing efforts is that people who run businesses such as nanny agencies, home health agencies, nonprofits and nursing homes want to go with the least expensive means of checking a background. Unfortunately, when doing this, they put too much trust in the results obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety database, which should not be the only resource used.

That Texas database and those in other states rely on their counties to submit correct information in a timely manner, which just does not happen. Also, a Texas check done on someone who just moved here will not show records from the previous state. But this is one of the least expensive means to check someone.

In order to do a comprehensive criminal history check, a person should start off doing a social security number trace, which will report current and past addresses dating back seven or more years. Then each county in which the person has resided should be checked. There should also be checks of federal criminal records, driving history, credit history and the state sex offenders' database.

Such a comprehensive check can be done for well under $100.

Everyone's goal should be to make certain that the person being checked is who they say they are, and to make certain they have no dark history.

Paul Marcus
Sugar Land

Big Game

Bigfoot bull's-eyes: I quite enjoyed your story on Bigfoot hunter Bobby Hamilton ["Wrestling with Bigfoot," by Mary Lee Grant, March 13]. I, too, stalk the wily beast. But I prefer the more scenic Cascades and believe the area around Mount St. Helens and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is Bigfoot's lair.

Hunting Bigfoot provides much pleasure, with the prospect of great adventure. Most especially, Bigfoot hunters irritate PETA types.

Another thing: While enjoying the never-ending Bigfoot hunt, the well-armed hunter is never confused with that biological pollutant now all too common in the mountains -- the brightly accessorized, cell phone-equipped urban backpacker.

To those who might take up the sport: Have an ultralight "sheep rifle"-style firearm made to your specifications. I recommend 6.5 pounds maximum weight using a 3-9x variable scope and a reinforced synthetic stock.

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