The note recovered from the body of an officer in the remains of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk is an agonizing reminder of the horror its crew suffered at the bottom of the Barents Sea. But it offers no clue to the massive explosion that sank the vessel in August, and the Russian government remains as secretive as ever.
That is cause for concern.
The Russians now confirm that at least 23 sailors and perhaps many more survived the initial explosions aboard the Kursk. They bravely made their way to the compartment of the sub where the escape hatch is located. But, as the note tragically relates, ''None of us can get to the surface.''
Like the rest of the world, these shipmates expected that their government would do everything possible to rescue them.
Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to cut short his vacation to attend to rescue efforts and with what appeared to be old-style Soviet arrogance balked at repeated offers of help from Britain, Norway and other countries. When he finally did address the crisis, it was only to lie and raise false hopes.
Perhaps that was to be expected. The Kursk was one of eight nuclear subs Russia launched in the '90s. It cost $1 billion. But it was sent to sea without emergency batteries that might have saved its crew.
Even now, as the dead are being removed from the sunken behemoth, Russian officials continue to deny the most likely explanation for the Kursk's demise: on-board explosions. They blame instead a collision with a foreign submarine.
The United States and Britain say that none of their ships was involved. The Kursk had a rubberized hull designed to withstand even torpedoes. Experts say a vessel that struck hard enough to cause such damage could not have escaped undetected. Which makes the Russian position as implausible now as it was in August.
Russia is laboring heroically to raise the remains of the Kursk. Hopefully, in the process, it will find the will to dredge up the truth.
-- Daily News, New York
The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., on the Roger Clemens bat-throwing incident:
Millions of Americans, young and old, witnessed a childish act by a grown man during the World Series: Roger Clemens became violent over a game.
Mr. Clemens, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, hurled the jagged barrel of a bat toward Mets batter Mike Piazza. Despite this outrageous overreaction to a misperceived slight (the largest chunk of the broken bat ended up near the pitcher's mound through no fault of Mr. Piazza's), Mr. Clemens was allowed to remain in the game. He later was fined a reported $50,000 -- a pittance for such a highly paid athlete, and a penalty that well could be reduced, or covered by his team.
Clemens should have been thrown out of the game. And although the disciplinary official with the commissioner's office said ''intent is always difficult to establish,'' the act speaks for itself. ... Roger Clemens deserves a serious punishment for his serious offense -- and young people deserve a better example from America's pastime.
Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, on America's military cannot be shortchanged:
Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney stuck with GOP tradition during a speech Wednesday in Roswell, N.M., asking a vital question that has been transformed into many forms since first being uttered by former President Ronald Reagan.
Cheney asked a crowd of 2,000 people if the U.S. military is better off today than eight years ago. He answered his own question, replying: ''You know it is not.'' Cheney should know. He is the former secretary of defense under President George Bush and helped lead U.S. forces in Desert Storm.
The readiness of the U.S. military should be of the utmost importance to Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and Democratic candidate Al Gore, especially now considering the volatile situation in the Middle East. Voters in the Panhandle also should consider each candidate's priority on the military. ...
Bush supports an increase in military spending by $20 billion over five years, including additional research for a national missile defense system. Gore favors continuing the current increases in military spending that fail to meet current needs. Much like President Clinton, Gore has not enthusiastically supported a national missile defense system. ...
The U.S. military is the strongest, best-trained and well-equipped military force in the world.
However, in order to maintain this standard, the courageous men and women who risk their lives for their country deserve adequate pay, strong leadership and a financial commitment from an administration that recognizes the price of freedom.
The Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, on the national drunken driving standard:
Everyone wants to make highways safe from the havoc of drunken drivers. Despite contradictory studies from its own agencies, the federal government has set a national standard for drunken driving. Ohio is one of 31 states in which a driver is legally drunk when the blood alcohol content is 0.10 percent. Congress has lowered that to 0.08 percent, a figure used in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
States that fail to comply with the national standard by 2004 will lose federal highway money.
Richard Finan, president of the Ohio Senate, has called this blackmail. He's right.
Not only could this mandate cost the state money it needs for highways, but it could also affect county justice systems, which would have to cope with whatever additional arrests the new standard prompts. It's a bad law.
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