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PCA cars abound 

PCA cars abound

I'll admit the recent hike in my property taxes has a bit to do with my complaint. Lately, I see Pulaski County assessor cars everywhere. Not the same car, but different, late model American cars tooling around town — the grocery store, gas station, Target. I see them on weekends and in the evenings. As I drove to work on a recent morning — in my own car — I saw a PCA car around 7:30 a.m. crossing the Broadway Bridge, headed toward downtown LR. Was it an assessment emergency that pulled him from his bed? Maybe somewhere in our city a house suddenly became more valuable and needed a stat assessment. I see the cars parked overnight in driveways. I need to know why the Pulaski County Assessor's Office needs a fleet of vehicles for employees. Not a good use of my ever-increasing tax dollars.

Tomye Modlin 

Little Rock

'Disgusted' by Miss Arkansas coverage

I have never read such a malicious, distasteful newspaper article in my life ("Musing over Miss Arkansas," July 18). [Cheree Franco] is invited to sit front row and watch these women who have worked countless hours trying to make a difference through community service and volunteer work only to be mocked. The world needs more people like these contestants. There is much more to them than just mud-faced make-up and bleached blonde hair. I'm sure Franco had no idea what she was in for when she was face to face with these women. Sounds like she was a little overwhelmed with intimidation. Miss Arkansas contestants have that effect on people. Her article reflected nothing but her insecurities. I expected more class from a fellow Arkansan and a newspaper covering this event. I think you owe the entire Miss Arkansas Organization and all the contestants an apology.

Deree Mitchell

Gravette

For a nuclear-weapon-free world

Every year individuals and communities across our country take time out on Aug. 6 to commemorate the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two groups in Little Rock, the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice (ACPJ) and Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), annually hold a event for this purpose that is open to the public.

The United States is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon on a civilian population. More than 100,000 persons — men, women and children — died at Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and three days later another 60,000 died when an atom bomb was dropped at Nagasaki. It is useful to remember these horrific acts in which tens of thousands died an agonizing death. An annual observance serves as an act of atonement, or perhaps it affords a moment of accountability, or both. It was our government, after all, that undertook these deeds. And even if one claims that the bomb was necessary to save American soldiers who might otherwise have had to face a land invasion of Japan, we were the ones who opened this Pandora's Box of thinking that, in war, anything is justified as a means towards an end.

America has embraced nuclear weapons as the cornerstone of U.S. national security ever since, and particularly during the years of the Cold War. But President Obama urged placing the idea of a nuclear-free world on the agenda early in his administration; both ACPJ and WAND see this as a wake-up call, as a time that history can be made by eliminating nuclear weapons by 2020, the goal set at an international conference held in Hiroshima in 2010.

The New Start treaty, the first bilateral arms control agreement in a decade that we signed with the Russians in 2010, calls for a modest nuclear reduction in warheads (up to 1,550), and so will help, it is assumed, make the world safer. Each country is guaranteed continued insight into the other's strategic arsenals, with regular inspections. It allows even for a limited national missile defense program and the expenditure of funds (up to $100 billion!) to refurbish nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

July 16 marked the 67th anniversary of the first nuclear test explosion in New Mexico. This took place less than a month before the bombing of Hiroshima. In the years that followed the U.S. conducted 1,030 nuclear test explosions — more than any other country in the world. It has been shown that radioactive fallout from this testing has negatively impacted health all across America and the globe.

We should renew, immediately, our commitment to achieve a permanent ban on nuclear weapons testing by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Some 150 countries have already signed on. Our ratification will enhance our own security by adding a key tool — the prohibition of tests — to current efforts to stop the spread of such weapons. By eliminating the testing option for new or potential nuclear states, we make it much harder for proliferation to take place. It is virtually impossible for any state to detonate a nuclear test explosion without being detected. A testing ban also will make it harder for countries (and terrorists) to develop smaller and deadlier nuclear weapons technology. Not ratifying puts the U.S. in a league with India, Pakistan, North Korea, Egypt and China.

We have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and can afford to take a strong leadership role. But, we can't easily ask others to not test while refusing to commit to the same ourselves.

We remember the events of August 1945, commemorate the terrible losses in human life and recommit our country to seeing that it never happens again. America needs to ratify the CTBT now. Nuclear weapons are no longer acceptable. A planet free of nuclear weapons is the kind of world we've promised to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

We urge our senators, Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Mark Pryor, to help us take this step right now, moving us closer to ridding the world of the ghastly scourge of nuclear weapons.

Bob Estes

Chairman, Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice

Little Rock

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