Should military service be requirement for Congress?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I absolutely disagree with the criticisms of former special counsel Robert Mueller during his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. He intentionally avoided all the traps that were laid for him. The questions, especially from the Republican members of Congress, were mostly traps from individuals who have little or no military experience.

Those of us who are veterans know that it is absolutely necessary to deflect questions intended to be traps. Maybe the problem is that there were too few veterans in the room and in our society, veterans who have lived with the nuances and dangers in the U.S and in the world.

Perhaps a requirement for all members of Congress should be at least two years of military service. If you have served in the military, you know that politics are complicated, just as military decisions are complicated, just as life is complicated.

Criticism of Mueller’s appearance is immature and inappropriate and a danger to the future of the country.

Richard H. Lindsey Jr.

Charlotte, N.C.

Health care professionals urge climate change action

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

On July 21, the RTD reported that 1,062 people visited emergency departments or urgent-care clinics for treatment of heat-related illness since July 1, compared with 584 in the same time period last year and 764 in 2017.

Virginia’s health community is increasingly seeing the effects of climate change on our patients and communities and engaging in advocacy for climate solutions.

In doctor’s offices and hospitals across the commonwealth, health care providers are noting shifts in medical conditions due to rising temperatures. Increasing extreme heat events are placing more Virginians at risk of heat illness.

Warmer winters and earlier springs are contributing to major increases in tick populations and associated infections like Lyme disease in Virginia.

Earlier springs and later falls are causing Virginia’s allergy season to get longer and stronger, worsening risks of respiratory illness like asthma.

Rising awareness of the health risks associated with human-caused climate change has caused clinicians across Virginia to join together to advocate for clean energy solutions.

More than 300 doctors, nurses and allied health professionals have joined Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action (VCCA).

Formed in 2017, this group is educating health practitioners, legislators and the public about how the necessary transition to clean, renewable energy is a win-win strategy that promotes health, resilience and a strong economy.

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Health launched its Public Health Impacts of Climate Change website, http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/commissioner/administration/climate-and-health.

Across the nation, major health systems are recognizing the threat that climate change poses to their patients and are transitioning to zero carbon energy sources.

The transition to a clean energy economy is a necessity and an opportunity to protect the health and safety of our families today and for generations to come.

Samantha Ahdoot.

Chair and co-founder,Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.

Some modern buildings enhance, others don’t

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In recent letters, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art at Belvidere and Broad streets was called an “absolute eyesore.”

Then Jim Peters, one of those “who value contemporary art and architecture,” dismissed that as mere opinion in the eye of the beholders.

The building is an intentional, revolutionary thrust into the eye of tradition.

Improvement respects what is improved, and changes in architecture are intended to update their expression of the service they render in the cities they inhabit.

Richmond is an excellent example of the constant changes and improvements to traditional forms.

Certainly VCU’s Egyptian Building, the Old City Hall, and the Mosque (Altria Theater) shook things up by bringing in something new.

They were different, but they sat well in a city deeply embedded in architecture’s classical tradition that has been constantly enriched with wonderful and rich variations: Thomas Jefferson’s Capitol, John Russell Pope’s Broad Street Station (Science Museum of Virginia), Ralph Adams Cram’s Byrd Park Carillon and more. Within Richmond’s neighborhoods from Church Hill to Windsor Farms and Monument Avenue, variations enrich that tradition. And downtown on Broad and Grace streets we see equally welcome early 20th-century tall buildings.

Now consider the new buildings on Grace and Cary streets and the apartment buildings sprouting up in Shockoe Bottom.

They are less dramatic but equally disruptive, revolutionary, uncivil showoffs than the “absolute eyesore” that is the ICA. They and others like them elsewhere are defacing Richmond. Where are the guardians of the gate when we need them?

Carroll William Westfall.

Richmond.

Herring should block further pipeline work

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The Virginia Attorney General’s website explains that “We are the Commonwealth’s law firm, defending the interests of Virginians and Virginia government.”

I hope that as the commonwealth’s lawyer, Mark Herring will indeed step up and defend the interests of Virginians against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, or the MVP, a fracked-gas pipeline project intended to benefit investors in a Pennsylvania corporation.

Virginia citizens have been crying out for protection from this bad corporate actor since well before construction began in early 2018. Not only has this pipeline project trampled on the rights of Virginia landowners along its path, construction threatens Virginia agriculture and tourism, and it has hurt water quality and threatens our environment.

Its construction has created dangerous erosion conditions, causing 13,000-pound steel pipes to slide onto private property, tipping giant excavators over, and, as the RTD reported on July 18, allowing construction materials to wash into Smith Mountain Lake, endangering boaters at this popular recreation spot.

The MVP claims these erosion problems are isolated events, but there is a clear pattern of irresponsible corporate behavior here. Indeed, because of hundreds of documented violations against Virginia law, Attorney General Herring’s office already has filed suit against the MVP. But as the pipeline construction and the erosion continue despite this suit, the MVP continues to break the law. It wouldn’t make sense for the commonwealth’s attorney general to sue a bank robber, but then stand aside mutely while he continued on a crime spree. The MVP is a threat to the safety and welfare of Virginians, and it is the right and the duty of our attorney general to file an emergency injunction to stop work on this project. Standing up for Virginians requires standing up to bad actors like the MVP.

Beth Kreydatus.

Henrico.

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