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by Inlander Readers & r & & r & Disaster Waiting To Happen & r & After the catastrophic destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, it was revealed that before the event, detailed scientific determinations showed the certainty of New Orleans' vulnerability and what preventive measures should be taken. None were. Documents show that Katrina warnings were ignored by high levels of government, including the White House.

In the same time frame and in parallel circumstances, the Rathdrum Aquifer and Spokane are threatened by the risk of major aquifer contamination from major oil spills at Burlington Northern Santa Fe's refueling depot over the aquifer at Rathdrum. Cogent engineering and seismic data pertaining directly to the project was offered to local government bodies but ignored. Permission to operate was based essentially on cost of operations versus an available alternative.

It's terrifying that 500,000 people are on the edge of an abyss. The North Idaho/Western Montana area is one of the most seismically active areas in the lower 48 states. Siting of all major infrastructure in the area must take this fact into account. Construction and operation of dangerous facilities onto our sole-source aquifer was and is a morally corrupt act. Oil tanks do not withstand earthquakes. It is time to revisit this.

Jim Rowe and Jules Gindraux & r & Hayden, Idaho

The Great Wall of Money & r & With the Bush administration, there is always a hidden reason for how an issue is dealt with. So I've been wondering why immigration has been the issue du jour for so long, besides the obvious pandering for votes. Right-wing radio is in full-throated roar about that part. Now it becomes obvious what the real reason is: It's just another money pit for well-connected corporations. There's money to be made on an issue that is far down the list of America's serious problems.

Interesting that among the people I know, those who are most opposed to "illegal" immigrants are also the ones who shop at Wal-Mart and benefit from cheap immigrant labor.

Steve Gigliotti & r & Davenport, Wash.

Pacific Paradise & r & Tom Delay has called the Northern Mariana Islands a "petri dish of capitalism" and Grover Norquist says it is a capitalist paradise. They have been protecting that petri dish with all their might, at the behest of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. If the Mariana Islands are a shining example of capitalism, we have a good idea of what our future would look like if the extreme right wing continues to hold power in this country.

Labor laws are feeble in the Marianas. Minimum wages are less than half of the U.S. minimum wage. Women from the Far East are brought to the islands to work 20-hour days in high-pressure sweatshops just to repay the recruiters who booked their passage there. The average worker arriving there owes $7,000 to the recruiter.

In the Northern Mariana Islands, you can stay if you have a job. If you complain, you are fired. Without a job, you are deported. Women feel pressured to get abortions if they become pregnant, in order to keep their jobs. Many are pressured into the sex trade. CNN's Mark Shields reports that "91 percent of the workforce who were immigrants -- from China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage and were forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing."

The Republican Party has shown its true moral foundation in this scandal. This is the future they want for us. Cathy McMorris has taken $5,000 from Tom Delay and has voted his agenda 97 percent of the time.

Glenn Lange & r & Marcus, Wash.

Correction & r & In Good News/Bad News last week, we implied that a Spokane County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man in Chewelah. Though the Spokane County deputy was present, it was a Stevens County deputy who fired, according to Spokane County Sheriff's Department officials.

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