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January 07, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-07

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OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, January 7, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

Vol. XCII, No. 79

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

IOW ABOUT A LIMIED
M1UM IKWAR?

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Reagan should not change
plans to end registration

qo4

P OLAND'S political unrest
reportedly has prompted some
presidential advisors-including
Secretary of Defense Caspar Wein-
berger-to revive their support for the
country's ill-conceived draft
registration plan. Now there are in-
dications that the president himself
may balk on his campaign pledge to
end draft registration, thus continuing
the violation of civil liberties of
thousands of young Americans.
During his campaign, Reagan vowed
to halt the unwise and ineffective
registration law, which has been
ignored by more than 800,000
Americans. He later postponed his ac-
tion until receiving word from a
military manpower commission ap-
pointed to investigate the matter. Now
administration sources say Wein-
berger, the head of the commission,
has changed his position and favors the
continuation of the registration
program. The Joint Chiefs also support
retaining registration.
This new support for registration is
largely a reaction to the military
takeover in Poland. Registration

proponents warn that abolishing
registration would send the wrong
signals to the Soviet Union; they argue
it would show American weakness and
unresolve, and would undermine U.S.
opposition to Polish martial law.
But through their concern over
demonstrations of American strength,
Reagan's advisors have fallen for the
same shoddy reasoning that induced
former President Carter to institute
registration in the first place, a move
Reagan opposed vehemently during
the 1980 campaign.
The registration proponents are con-
fused about what strength really is.
America's real strength lies in the
liberty it grants its citizens, not in un-
popular and unsound laws such as
mandatory peacetime registration.
Registration does not significantly
improve the country's military
readiness; it does, however,
significantly infringe on the civil liber-
ties of Americans.
Reagan is expected to announce his
decision on registration within days.
He should not allow this misguided ad-
vice to change his original resolve to
put an end to draft registration.

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Cleaning up theRe River,

The rise ofanti-Semitism

S In the n
IT 'S NOT surprising to learn that
anti-Semitism exists in the United
States. And although it's unfortunate,
sadly it's not surprising to learn that,
according to a survey by the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the
number of reported anti-Semitic in-
cidents more than doubled last year.
. But it is exceedingly depressing to
learn that 85 percent of the 114 people
arrested for acts of anti-Semitic
violence in the nation were 20 years old
or younger.
We hope this is not an indication that
anti-Semitism is on the rise among the
nation's young people.
The anti-Semitic incidents that were
reported were not only bigoted
remarks to Jews-which, by them-

ited States
selves are degrading enough. Many of
the incidents were of vandalism or
bodily harm, which cannot truly be
measured quantitatively. As Nathan
Perlmutter, the Anti-Defamation
League's national director said:
"There is no measure for the shock of
confronting a swastika smeared on
one's home or house of worship, nor for
the fear and indignity suffered when
anti-Semitic threats are received over
a telephone."
Hopefully, it is not anti-Semitism
that is on the rise among young people,
but that the numbers of reported
assaults merely mirror national
statistics for that age group overall.
The prospects of such a rise in anti-
Semitism are both frightening and in-
tolerable.

By Rasa Gustaitis
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Nowhere is the growing global water
crisis more dramatically apparent than in
this small country that for centuries has
lived-and prospered-by holding back' the
sea.
It is not just because of its famous dikes, but,.
also thanks to the Rhine River, that the
Netherlands has been able to build its market
gardens and to populate a landscape below
sea level.
RHINE WATER FLUSHES four-fifths of
the land area of salts that seep in from the
North Sea. It also is the irreplaceable
drinking water source for 2.5 million of the
country's 14 million people.
But now the Rhine is so polluted that it
threatens both agriculture and public health.
And restoring its water quality may prove to
be a tougher task than keeping the ocean out
of tulip fields ever was.
For unlike the legendary Dutch boy who
held off the ocean by putting one finger in a
leaking dyke, the Netherlands alone cannot
clean up the Rhine. Most of the pollution
originates in Germany, France, and Swit-
zerland,and so far no international effort to
stop pollution before it reaches the river has
proved strong enough.
TO BE SURE, the Dutch are not the only
Europeans worried about a dirty Rhine. Some
20 million people in four nations draw
drinking water from it. But because the
Netherlands is at the mouth of the river, the
Dutch get the worst of it. About 2,000
poisonous substances have been identified in
the iriver as it flows into the Netherlands, and
no process has as yet been devised to purify
the water completely of these toxins.
"In principle, all substances occurring in
the Rhine are found again in the drinking
water, albeit in minute quantities," according
to I. C. van der Veen, managing director of
the Amsterdam Waterworks Department.
To protect public health, the cities of Rot-
terdam amd Dortrecht at great expense have
shifted their water intake facilities to a
somewhat cleaner river, the Maas. But there
is no alternative for the growing population in
the Amsterdam region, according to a
spokesman for Holland's privately run water
supply industry. Indeed, the Rhine is expec-
ted to be increasingly important in the future
as a drinking water source.
DESPITE A technically sophisticated
purification system, the spokesman pointed
out, "the more we look the more we find dif-
ferent substances, in small amounts, that we

know are carcinogenic." To date, water
quality has stayed within international stan-
dards, he added. But the standards are based
on what is known-and nobody actually
knows how much of some substances found in
the Rhine is too much for human health.
Moreover, the Rhine's salt content has
risen at times to 200 miligrams per liter, ex-
ceeding the World Health Organization stan-
dards and becoming useless for the necessary
flushing action on farmland, according to
Gerald Peet of the Reinwater Foundation, an
environmental group which is working on the
Rhine problem with partial funding from the
Dutch government.
Flower growers and tomato and pepper
market gardeners have resorted to building
rainwater reservoirs for use at times when
the river water-even if taken from the
tap-is too salty to use on crops.
SINCE 1971, when a 100-mile stretch of the
Rhine became totally deoxygenated (so that
the water supported no more life and began to
stink), the oxygen content has improved,
largely because of treatment of domestic
sewage in Germany and Switzerland, accor-
ding to Peet. Dangerous mercury and cad-
mium content also has dropped. Butthe level
of organo-chlorides, many of which have been
linked to cancer and other health hazards,
keeps rising. There are fish now in the Rhine,
but they are sick fish, many of them suffering
from tumors.
The river's pollution has affected ocean life.
as well. The eating of eels from near the mouth
of the Rhine is discouraged by public
authorities.,The harbor-seal total 25 years
ago was 5,000, but it has dwindled to 500 today,
with some scientists blaming toxic PCBs for
low reproduction rates.
Even the shipping industry is feeling the
consequences. Silt inside two of Rotterdam's
harbors has been judged too hazardous to stir
up so that necessary dredging has been post-
poned in channels that already are too
shallow. Harbor authorities are considering
sealing them to isolate the poisons they con-
tain.
NUMEROUS STUDIES indicate that in-
dustries that now dump hazardous wastes in-
to the river must see it in their self-interest to
cooperate in the cleaning of the Rhine before
they will do so. "It is therefore essential to tax
the discharge of waste products to such an ex-
tent. that the amount is in principle equal to
the cost of eliminating these substances from
the environment," said van der Veen.
But though some levies have been in-

troduced in France, the Netherlands and
Germany, they are so low that it still is
cheaper for industry to pay the taxes and
keep dumping.
Some of the worst pollution comes from the
industrial Ruhr region in West Germany. "A
tributary from the Ruhr to the Rhinge has been.
turned into a concrete drain," said Peet.
"Just before the drain enters the Rhine there
is a 'purification' plant-it is ranked by Ger-
man scientists as one of the biggest polluters
in Germany.
BETWEEN 33 AND 40 percent of the salt
content in the water as it reaches the
Netherlands originates with French potash
mines, according to studies by the Dutch
government. In Holland, chemical factories
near Rotterdam dump in several toxic sub-
stances, including dieldrin and aldrin;
pesticides which are forbidden to use in-the
Netherlands, according to Peet.
Part of the reason' why it is so hard to' in-
stitute measures for cleaning up the river is
that the costs of pollution, are not translatd*
into money terms, according to R. Huetiflg,
head of the environmental division of the
Netherlands Bureau of Statistics. Never-
theless, he argues, pollution carries a
"shadow price," paid primarily in soial
costs.
To get the pollution prrce out of the shadow,:
the Reinwater Foundation is involved in a
lawsuit by Dutch horticulturalists againstth
French potash mines. If they succeed in win-
ning damages, they hope to set a precedent
for similar trans-boundary actions.
While the suit, which already has been in
the courts for six years, continues, various
environmental groups have kept the pollutionl
issue in the public's mind through such ac-
tions. as blockading ships hauling hazardous
wastes for dumping in the sea and public
media campaigns focusing on large firms
which pollute.
In addition, 10 Dutch environmental
organizations have launched plans for an In-
ternational Water Tribunal that will seek to
launch new initiative on water issues.
But while concern over pollution is growing,
so is the problem, leaving many of those in-
volved in the fight to save the Rhine painfully
aware of how much must be done. "You try
your best to focus on the work rather than on
your chances. for succeeding," said Rein-
water's Gerald Peet.
Gustaitis wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

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