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Mediation Helps Make Court a Last Resort

Regarding part one of the ``Business Goes to Court'' series, Jan. 25: As an experienced mediator, I have rejoiced to see a growing acceptance and implementation of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the United States. Interpersonal and international issues are being resolved through interest-based negotiation between the parties to disputes, resulting in nonadversarial explorations of each other's issues and concerns.

Many of the personal injury and liability cases, such as those involving the small-plane builders featured in the article ``Injury Lawsuits Said to Cause Financial Crisis for Many US Companies,'' could be handled in mediation. With the assistance of experienced, impartial third parties, individuals and organizations are daily formulating mutually acceptable agreements and contracts that they feel are fair and that they are willing to carry out.

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The key to these win-win solutions is that they are created by the primary parties themselves, to suit their particular needs. Since these mediations are entered into voluntarily, rather than imposed by an arbitrator or judge, there is a better than 90 percent chance of their being implemented. The costs in time, money, energy, and emotions are minuscule compared with the traditional adversarial route of litigation, and usually relationships between the parties are improved rather than ruptured. An increasing number of businesses are adding ADR clauses to their contracts, whereby mediation, followed by arbitration, are first recourses in case disputes should arise between them and their clients. The courts, which are overburdened, become a last resort.

Let us encourage government and industry to employ user-friendly routes to resolving complex conflicts. We should resolve our differences constructively by working together toward solutions that will benefit all parties. Elisabeth Seaman, Palo Alto, Calif.

No cross on Mormon temples

I was pleased to note in your Cover Story ``Religion Is Alive and Diverse in US,'' Jan. 10, that you recognize ``Mormon'' as one of the major religions of the United States. It is unfortunate that the article does not use the proper name of the church but rather its nickname. The proper name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A picture of the temple of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Independence, Mo., is mistakenly labeled a ``Mormon Temple.'' It is not. It is a different church. There are many Mormon temples that could have been shown - in Washington, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, and Los Angeles. We do not display the cross on any of our buildings.

The article also suggests that there may not be as many members of the church as we claim. As one who has worked with membership records for decades, I can attest that membership is very carefully documented. Calvin Quayle, Eau Claire, Wis.

Nuclear energy option

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The opinion-page article ``Reinvent Federal Energy Policy, Too,'' Jan. 5, is on target regarding the inadequacy of the United States' national energy policy. The author emphasizes energy conservation, but does not give the existing program due credit. Conservation only minimizes energy needs; it doesn't provide for new requirements.

With respect to renewable resources, the author mentions no specifics, implying that these are easy solutions. Renewables consist primarily of direct solar, which is expensive; biomass, which requires large land areas; and geothermal, which requires extensive drilling and disturbance of geological formations. These should be developed, but they are not easy or ideal answers to energy problems. Nuclear energy, which provides over 20 percent of electric energy, is listed in the article as polluting, but commercial plants have an excellent record. Nuclear energy can meet a substantial fraction of future needs, particularly if breeder reactors are available. I personally favor the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor for its excellence in safety, environmental impact, and flexibility in application.

We need a well balanced energy program to relieve our overdependence on fossil fuels. Donald B. Trauger, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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