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International -- Readers Report
In the Caribbean, Net Surfers Pay Through the Nose (int'l edition)
"Net surfers get a (price) break" (European Business, Sept. 20) sympathized with the Belgians for having to pay 2 cents a minute after midnight for Internet access, following a recent 50% reduction. My heart bleeds for them.
Here in the Caribbean, our local telephone monopoly, the British giant Cable & Wireless Communications PLC, charges 15 cents a minute after midnight. And before. (Cable & Ruthless, we call them.) As a consequence, the only people surfing the Net for any length of time are unsupervised office workers, able to bury the expense in their bills to clients.
Several of the Caribbean islands are testing the resolve of Cable & Wireless in the courts, but it is a long and hard battle.
Cayman IslandsReturn to top
Biofilms Can Also Help with Pollution Control (int'l edition)
"Getting a grip on bacterial slime" (Science & Technology, Sept. 13) was an interesting introduction to the topic. It rightly pointed out the importance of biofilms as a cause of problems in many areas of medicine and industry.
Although biofilms indeed play dangerous and destructive roles in many cases, they can be beneficial in other circumstances. In nature, biofilms are a prevalent mode of existence for microorganisms, and they are responsible for microbially induced cycling of nutrients and degradation of pollutants. In industry, they are commonly used in some fermentation processes and for pollution control.
Since, in biofilms, microbial communities are situated close together, their proximity allows for the transfer of genetic material (plasmids) in a "natural" way. By cultivating microbes in biofilms, new species that degrade polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were able to evolve. In addition, Biofilms offer new possibilities of metabolic engineering, where nutrients and products are exchanged between neighboring population clusters.
Civil & Environmental
University of California
BerkeleyReturn to top
Limit Guns by Sticking to What the Constitution Says (int'l edition)
I have a suggestion about new legislation for gun control ("Say yes to American gun control," Editorials, Aug. 16). My bill would use the Second Amendment's exact language about preserving a "well regulated militia" and "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
It would then prohibit "the people" from ownership, possession, or use of all handguns and other firearms except those guns and firearms "designated and used for lawful recreational purposes." The bill would additionally except from its prohibitions "the people constituting a well regulated militia as defined herein."
The definition section of the bill would restrict the meaning of "a well regulated militia" to the armed forces of the U.S. "acting legally while on active duty." In addition to the armed forces the definition would include "all salaried, full-time law enforcement officials while acting in their official capacity to enforce the law."
Of course, a penalty clause should be added for violations, but I believe such a bill would be constitutional. It would certainly assist in prohibiting illegal use firearms.
Philip P. Ardery
LouisvilleReturn to top