By Melody Vallieu
The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester (Mass.)
Mikhail Kalashnikov died Dec. 23, but one of the last questions he asked himself is one that is likely to echo down the years: Did he do the right thing in designing the weapon that bears his name, the ubiquitous AK-47?
According to Izvestia, Kalashnikov summed up his dilemma in a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in which he stated “If my assault rifle took people’s lives, it means that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov … son of a farmer and Orthodox Christian am responsible for people’s deaths.”
Except that life isn’t that simple. Kalashnikov’s family was persecuted during the 1930s, and deported from their native village. Despite that, Mikhail, a young man fond of both poetry and mechanical devices, fought valiantly for his nation against the invading Nazis during World War II. Out of his war experience, he grew determined to design a better weapon, which was born in 1947 as the Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947, destined to become the most widespread and popular infantry weapon of the next 60 years.
We would give the same answer the church patriarch gave, absolving Kalashnikov of his guilt. Human ingenuity knows few bounds, and our history is full of inventions and designs that have been put to use, for great good and great harm.
The real question, as Kalashnikov himself identified in his letter to the patriarch, is “why the Almighty allowed humans to have devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression.”
To that, there is no easy answer. But a soldier serving his homeland need not give one, or carry such a burden of guilt as did Mikhail Kalashnikov. May he rest in peace.
The Providence (R.I.) Journal
A new report should allay concerns about the environmental and ecological risks associated with coastal ocean aquaculture, especially the raising of finfish, such as salmon, in pens in near-shore waters.
Critics have argued that the concentration of wastes and unconsumed feed in such situations degrades ocean habitats and is a vector for disease and other harms that risk decimating viable wild fisheries. They also point to the danger of escaped farm-raised fish, often bred to be larger than their wild cousins, upsetting natural balances, overeating food sources and disrupting ancient genetic strains by interbreeding with wild stocks.
A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should go some way toward dispelling such concerns. It evaluated such effects as interactions with water quality, ocean habitats and marine life in view of a range of farming practices and types.
Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to coastal ocean environments if diligent planning and safeguards are in place.
Fish, farmed or raised, provides healthy protein and demand is great, to the point that fisheries around the world report declining stocks. Georges Bank off the New England coast is a good example. Ground fish stocks have been struggling for 30 years. Aquaculture promises to alleviate the pressure on wild stocks, as well as providing good jobs in coastal cities. Aquaculture is ripe for expansion in the Ocean State.
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