Daily News from New York, New York on July 7, 2000 · 49
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Daily News from New York, New York · 49

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New York, New York
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Friday, July 7, 2000
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49
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Pols blather, gas soars 'HY IS IT that election A missile test right out of Monty Python Ws campaigns bring out an irresistible urge in A.M. ROSENTHAL T. . 4 politicians to show what mutton-headed simpletons the voters are? I have devoted a lot of thought and reporting time to that question, so pay attention. It is because politicians are convinced that voters are indeed champion, 10-second-sound-bite stupids. So when irritating problems come up around election LARS-ERIK NELSON T TT WASHINGTON f Yf High over the Pacif-T f ic Ocean tonight, the Pentagon tests an antimissile system in an experiment that has cleariy been modeled on the rabbit-shooting event in Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year contest. In Monty Python, the rabbit was staked to the ground and the contestants blasted away with shotguns Environmental Protection Agency spokesman. No! Outside the EPA, gouging is better known as profit taking, making money, free enterprise, even as capitalism, a word now banned in all publications except good old Forbes. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that's my favorite target. And, simplistic or not, I resent America's being called on to save the necks of the organization's grasping oil sheiks and the economies of its camp-follower nations, like Mexico. Oh, I hope I am around the next time the arrogant Saudi princes whistle for help against Saddam Hussein or when Mexico demands we again put up billions to rescue foreign speculators. Poor fellows didn't realize that investment in a staggering Third World country involves risk. They demanded and got their money back, from the U.S. The press! Reporters have a conflict of interest because some earn enough to own or lease cars. They keep saying the election is at stake, frightening Bush and Gore, which is not nice. (Columnists make so much money that we have no monetary motives and can be trusted, whatever we say.) Two, four, six, eight, whom shall we decapitate? Richardson.' Bill Richardson has served so briefly as secretary of energy that he has no responsibility in the price rise. So his trial will not have to waste much time before finding him guilty of something or other. Now that politicians have given the public their one-cause simplistic blather, your servant reveals a multifac-eted attitude toward oil that is warning! unashamedly patriotic and should begin now, before we are suck-ered into the next oil crisis. AMERICAN MILITARY STRENGTH and political independence rely on a suitable flow of domestic and foreign oiL "Suitable" means uninterrupted. We should be tough enough to get it Reduce gas-cleansing operations, which slow production, and increase American oil drilling. That means relaxing rules against new drilling. Yes, it might make Big Oil richer, even Little OiL It's infuriating: too bad. Use some of the U.S. oil reserve temporarily, if the military chiefs of staff agree. Be prepared for higher pump prices. Think of that as the independence tax, which it will be. Establish heavy fines and jail terms for conspired profiteering, even if it violates pure capitalist theory. Name guilty chief executive officers in presidential speeches, often. Inform OPEC and its vassal nations that if they choke the U.S. oil supply, they will earn American political, technological and economic enmity and learn that we are a lot bigger and stronger than they are. Or we have another choice: Keep wearing the OPEC dog collar and shut up. That's simple. time, the wise politician gives the voters answers simple enough not to annoy them. Since each contestant for office believes that he must never give the same answer as his opponent, right or wrong, the range of stupidly simple answers is soon covered. Then politicians do not have to worry about displaying the dangerous leadership of explaining how complicated and costly an effective answer would be. The pump price of gasoline has occupied the country more during the past few weeks than such boring things as the Chinese sale of missiles to rogue powers has in all of the past decade. Price to us means cost in our own gas tanks. The price at a British pump would give us heart attacks, so grip your armchair about $6 a gallon and going up. American politicians are understandably terrified that they will have to annoy us muttonheads by forcing us to think about a real solution. One result is that we now have a museum-class collection of idiotically simplistic answers. President Clinton's contribution is truly superb. He said he sees no "economic explanation," which is a rough translation of "dun." Blame Big Oil, says Vice President Gore investigate.' I will vote for the politician who says we should blame Little Oil. Vice President Gore, says George W Bush blame him. He wrote a book investigate? The administration's gas-cleansing regulations, which have given us a decent dose of fresh air, are not popular anymore. We discovered that they cost money ours. Administration spokesmen say that these regulations cost only a few pennies on the gallon; see their noses grow. Other government specialists, so honest that it was downright stunning to listen to them, say, not for attribution, of course, that the cleansing "reconstruction" of gas costs 25 cents a gallon, probably more. Our brains say it is worth the money to live longer, but our tempers say not in my tank, it isn't We are suspicious that gouging is going on, says an Teams are heart of the city at a range of 1 foot. In the Pentagon test, which is supposed to tell us whether it is possible to intercept a surprise missile attack by a rogue state, the interceptor crew will know when the test missile is fired, where it is coming from, what it looks like, how many decoys it will have (just one), what the decoy looks like and how it differs from the warhead and what paths the warhead and decoy are traveling. A real-life enemy isn't Likely to give us any of this advance information. Worse, a real-life enemy could hide its warhead inside one of many balloons, and, a group of physicists said yesterday, the test as structured cant prove it will be possible to distinguish the real warhead from the decoys. To make a decision to deploy (an anti-missile defense before you have that proof makes no sense at all, says Robert Park, head of the Washington office of the American Physical Society. On behalf of its 42,000 members, many of them nuclear weapons scientists, the society urged President Clinton not to begin installing the $60 billion defense until the Pentagon proves the system can distinguish decoys from disguised warheads. A similar plea, written by atom bomb scientist Hans Bethe and signed by 49 other NobeJ Prize winners, warned Clinton that even if tonight 's test works, "Any movement toward deployment would be premature, wasteful and dangerous." Supporters of the system say it is needed to defend America against an attack by a lunatic enemy that would not be deterred by fear of U S nuclear retaliation. But North Korea, the main theoretical villain, has been deterred from attacking South Korea for the past 45 years by the threat of U.S. retaliation. And if Iran, Iraq and Libya three other potential threats were truly suicidaL why aren't they attacking superior enemies like Israel right now? PARK, A PHYSICS PROFESSOR at the University of Maryland, says his fellow physicists are not opposed in principle to an anti-missile system. They are simply worried that the country is rushing to build a system before it has been shown to be technically possible. The Pentagon is hinting that it has secret ways of discriminating between decoys and warheads. But Lisbeth Gronlund, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says, "You can't classify physics." Balloons flying through space, she says, would look exactly alike even if some of them had warheads inside. She and fellow physicists insisted there is no way. using known physical principles, to figure out this shell game. It is true that the Pentagon could deploy ever more interceptors to attack everything coming in, decoys and all. But that's an easy way to bankrupt this country. It is much cheaper for an enemy to deploy balloons than it is for us to build interceptors to shoot them down. These skeptics of national missile defense are not poets and peaceniks. They are scientists, in some cases military scientists, watching one of the basic traditions of their craft the scientific method of honest experimentation twisted for political and financial reasons. They are also aware of the risks: The prospect of a U.S. defense might provoke Russia and China to beef up their nuclear arsenals or keep them on hair-trigger alert, making us less safe than before. On the other hand, there's $60 billion to be spread across the country on defense contracts. So the Pentagon stakes its rabbit to the ground and blazes away with shotguns at its easy-to-see target in the pretense that it is protecting us from harm. thriving ethnic communities. Our stadiums are old, lacking in amenities and technologically challenged when compared with the new stadiums in Seattle and San Francisco. But they are organically linked to New York's old and new immigrants. Yankee Stadium was originally built by a German brewer, and Shea Stadium is named after an Irish lawyer. Today, these stadiums are surrounded by new immigrant populations. One mile from Shea is Elmhurst. the most diverse neighborhood in the nation, according to its city councilman, John Sabini, and Yankee Stadium lies at the nexus of Puerto Rican, African-American and Dominican neighborhoods. Most important, the teams allow the By MITCHELL L MOSS THIS IS THE WEEKEND America gets to see how baseball is played New York-style. The Yankees and Mets face each other in a four-game series that highlights our city's resurgence and the energy that flows in the neighborhoods outside Manhattan. ' After a half year of Manhattan-centric millennium madness, starting with Times Square on New Year's Eve through the July 4 OpSail, we're going to focus on baseball, the Bronx and Queens. 1 For most of the nation, the image of baseball is farmland transformed into a "field of dreams." But for New Yorkers, baseball is a city game, played next to noisy elevated railroads and the sounds of mmmm salsa and merengue. John Rocker's inflammatory comments about the mix of people who live in the five boroughs drew a lot of attention. But he did remind us how much New York depends on newcomers to this city, people willing to -u. i i u ... .-. 1 1 Bronx and Queens to take center stage, nationally and internationally. After years of decline, the Bronx is surging with new housing, retail stores and industrial activity. More than 3 million fans are likely to attend Yankee games this season, proof that there is no need to move the team to Manhattan. Sure, the Stadium deserves to be renovated and the stairways to the elevated subway replaced with escalators, but the Yankees ttualiuuil uicu iiuiiicriuwiis aim iiuuidaiiua i for the opportunity New York offers. j i ju f ' Nowhere is this more apparent than in our baseball teams, where athletes of all races, m m m nationalities and geographic origins perform as equals. Is there any business or government agency that can match the Mets for diversity? Edgardo Alfonzo and Melvin Mora are from Venezuela, Rey Ordonez is from Cuba, Benny Agbayani from Hawaii, Mike Piazza from Pennsylvania, Derek Bell from Florida. And there are other players from Texas, Louisiana, California, New Jersey and Ohio. John Franco is the only homegrown player on the Mets, and he's a Brooklynite now living in Staten Island. The Yankees have had players from all parts of the Western Hemisphere, and both teams have had pitchers from Asian nations. It's no accident that baseball in New York is not played in some hermetically sealed, air-conditioned, antiseptic stadium, but right in the middle of the city's belong in the borough that made them the Bronx Bombers. Is there any conceivable benefit the team could gain by being close to the Knicks. whose management consistently finds new ways to spend money to fail in Manhattan? I remember when the Dodgers and Giants fled to California; Brooklyn has never recovered from the Dodgers' departure. But I also remember when Mayor Robert Wagner waged a campaign to attract a new National League team to New York. The rise of Queens can be directly linked to the arrival of the Mets. Today, the Mets, like Queens, symbolize the city's future. No matter who's in the World Series in October, for most New Yorkers, the series is this weekend. Moss is director of the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University.

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