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Published: Sunday, 7/4/2004

Hubble is not being held hostage

The Blade accurately captured NASA's intent to "Keep Hubble alive" in its June 30 editorial, but that's about all it got right. The Hubble shuttle servicing mission was put on hold because it is doubtful we could mount such a shuttle mission that adheres to the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. There are several technical requirements for such a mission that may not be complete and tested prior to the Hubble telescope going dark.

NASA has elected to explore a robotic option. We began developing this alternative at the same time we put the shuttle mission on hold. The robotic option may be as expensive as a shuttle mission, so the cost trade-offs didn't enter into the decision. So The Blade's view that "a manned space shuttle mission to service it would be too expensive" is wrong.

The editorial suggested that Hubble is being held hostage to the President's new national exploration vision. To the contrary, a robotic servicing mission to extend the telescope's service life could help pave the way for the exploration agenda since it would demonstrate "autonomous rendezvous and docking" technology.

Just two weeks ago, the President's commission on the implementation of the exploration strategy issued a report that listed this technology to be among the unmanned, robotic capabilities needed to achieve the exploration vision.

The Blade seems to think, along with "some scientists," that a robotic mission is too risky to conduct on this amazing astronomy instrument. Well, that might well be true, but NASA is weighing that risk relative to the lives of seven astronauts on a shuttle servicing mission that wouldn't meet our standards of compliance with the Columbia Accident Investigation Board recommendations.

This is the Columbia legacy. It's called diligence. We make no apologies for that.

SEAN O'KEEFE

NASA Administrator

Washington, D.C.

God bless Bishop Leonard Blair for his June 26 Saturday Essay on the voice of religion and his long overdue and well deserved rebuke of Eileen Foley's writings.

The Catholic Church has been the bedrock of western civilization for 2,000 years. Despite a minority of its clergy being sinners, it has taught unchanging orthodox doctrine, educated, and cared for the sick and the poor.

It is a prize well worth keeping. And so is Bishop Blair.

MARTIN LaPORTE

Shasta Drive

In his June 26 Saturday Essay, Bishop Leonard Blair of the Diocese of Toledo enunciated with utmost clarity the position that any Episcopal leader of the Catholic Church must take with regard to his own religion, and as it pertains to those who are faithful followers of his church in real life.

Unlike the muddled thoughts and writings of uninformed nominal Catholics, or outright dissenters, Bishop Blair has no problem with his identity, and has unequivocally stated his authority, his responsibility, and his rights as the leader of his own flock. He deserves enthusiastic support from those who are genuine believers in the Catholic faith.

SYDNEY O. FERNANDES

Perrysburg

In his June 26 Saturday Essay, Bishop Leonard Blair wrote that religion plays an essential role in preserving our country's freedom. Not everyone agrees with that, certainly not Thomas Paine, who wrote: "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

By supporting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, the Catholic Church is not preserving the freedom of gays and lesbians.

LEOONARD HARGRAVE

North University Avenue

In her June 29 column, "Gay marriage could tip the delicate church-state balance," Kathleen Parker claims that in making same-gender marriages legal, the government will be "dictating what churches can do." Nonsense.

When Congress made employment-related sex discrimination illegal in 1964, did the Catholic Church have to throw in the towel and allow women to become priests? Of course not.

The government and the churches already disagree on the validity of some marriages (second marriages, unconsummated marriages, etc.). Adding same-gender marriages to the list will only make our beautiful, complicated world a little bit more complicated.

With just a little bit of research, Ms. Parker will find herself without a peg to hang her fears on.

REV. JILL WESOLOWSKI

Delta, Ohio

To add to Lindsey Mergener's June 25 article, I want to publicly acknowledge the generosity of Dick and Jim Moses. Their most recent donation of $242,000 from the sale of the third "Moses Wish House" means they have donated nearly $600,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio since 1994.

More than 70 subcontractors and suppliers worked on this house free of charge to ensure children with life-threatening medical conditions could have their "wish" come true. In a day and age when we have so much negative news, this truly was a labor of love by all who helped make this house a reality.

Although we can't cure an ill child, we can create some very special memories of joy for children fighting very grown-up battles. On behalf of all the children we serve, we thank the Moses family for helping us "share the power of a wish."

BRUCE JOHNSON

Executive Director

Make-A-Wish

Foundation of NW Ohio

I am a senior citizen and I believe that George W. Bush and his administration are the most dishonest and deceitful in my lifetime. Mr. Bush and the neo-cons have a far-right agenda that most Americans don't realize. One only needs to read Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson to get the big picture. There are many other books available that reveal a pattern of deceit by Mr. Bush.

They are also intent on destroying the working middle class of our country.

Free-trade agreements that are not fair to working Americans.

Tax cuts that are irresponsible and that benefit primarily the wealthy. These cuts at the federal level only cause state and local taxes to rise. Corporate profits are rising while workers wages are stagnating.

More examples of white collar crime and greed every day, in many cases brought on by deregulation.

Broken borders with no real security.

Billions for Iraq while worthwhile social programs, veterans benefits, and other programs are cut.

A Medicare drug plan that pays billions to HMOs and doesn't help most seniors.

Record trade and federal budget deficits.

An invasion of another country because of weapons of mass destruction that aren't there.

A prisoner abuse scandal that goes straight to the Pentagon and maybe the White House.

I believe in the strength and staying power of the American people. I support our troops who have no choice but to go where they are sent. I do not support George W. Bush. We need to go to the polls in November and send him and his administration into retirement.

GARY E. WULFF

Custar, Ohio

U.S. companies move their offices offshore to avoid paying taxes. CEOs become millionaires and billionaires while their employees are losing their health insurance and their life savings.

But a Bowling Green woman is accused of "stealing" electricity after it was supposedly shut off to her home.

It's good to know they're catching the real crooks!

RUTH LEU

Bryan, Ohio



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