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Ritalin DefendedAs a special education teacher, my...


Ritalin Defended

As a special education teacher, my observation of parents' reaction to the report of a genetic link to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of relief.

Relief that they can finally have some comfort in what they have felt all along, but also relief that many others will understand that their child's behavior problems are not necessarily due to bad parenting.

However, I do take exception with the statement in your April 8 article, "Gene Defect Tied to Flaw in Behavior," that the typical treatment for ADHD is Ritalin, "a controversial drug that some critics charge can create passive 'zombies.' "

Like any other medication, no one drug is the treatment of choice for all people.

Ritalin is not the only medication that has been shown to be effective when working with ADHD children. If children do experience side effects with Ritalin, other medication should be prescribed.

Often a child with ADHD can be helped without medication, but can be aided through a consistent, well thought-out behavior management program and thorough modification of the child's learning environment.

I take strongest objection with the only image that you present of Ritalin, that it is a drug that has no therapeutic benefits. Many of the parents that I work with say that since their children with ADHD have been prescribed Ritalin, the children are better able to manage their behavior, develop better leaning skills and socialize with their peers in more appropriate ways.

You do a disservice to parents who have had a child diagnosed with ADHD, when you report that a potentially powerfully therapeutic medication creates "zombies."

For many parents, the decision to put a child on medication is a difficult process of weighing options. It is important that when relaying such a scientific breakthrough to the public, as in your article, that the facts be presented in an objective manner.

I suggest that in the future you present a more complete composite of the potential benefits and risks involved with Ritalin, along with options for treatment for ADHD.

Peter LaCount


Foreign Trucks

There's been a good deal of discussion in Washington over whether or not imported multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) -- sport utility vehicles, minivans and vans -- should be classified as cars or trucks for tariff purposes.

As manager of the General Motors North American Truck Platforms Plant in Baltimore, my facility employs more than 3,600 people and is a high-volume builder of MPVs. To us the solution to the MPV issue is simple, and a matter of consistency and fairness.

When a vehicle is designed to perform as a truck, built like a truck, is classified as a truck for emissions and fuel economy standards (and for purposes of the gas-guzzler and luxury taxes) then it ought to be called a truck for tariff purposes.

In 1989, the U.S. Treasury made a political decision to overturn a Customs Service ruling that had properly classified all MPVs as trucks. Treasury decided that two-door versions of MPVs were trucks and four-door versions were cars for tariff purposes.

This Treasury decision gave a unilateral tariff concession to Japanworth $300 million a year for which, as President Clinton said recently, "the U.S. got nothing, and I repeat, nothing in return."

From my vantage point, this ill-conceived Treasury decision not only costs Americans millions of dollars in lost revenue but has increased jobs overseas.

While some have argued that reinstatement of the higher MPV truck tariff will prompt price increases here at home, the record speaks forcefully to the contrary.

Over the last 12 years, Japanese vehicle prices have gone up 80 percent compared to 44 percent for U.S. producers, which is well below the 60 percent rise in the overall Consumer Price Index.

We are competing and, in many ways, beating the competition in the marketplace. We've got great new products. We are seeking consistency and a level playing field on the MPV issue.

More important, we are concerned that the Treasury decision will harm plants such as ours.

We applaud President Clinton's recognition that the Treasury Department made a major error in 1989 when it overturned the Customs decision.

We look forward to his reinstating the original Customs decision that all MPVs are trucks for tariff purposes.

Robert R. Rieman


Russian Victims

In these times of remembering the horrors the Holocaust brought to the Jewish people, let us not forget the 18 million, or as many as 22 million, Russian people who died during World War II. (No wonder the Soviet Union built a wall around itself after the war.)

Stephen Taylor


Bill James

In October of 1979, the Maryland Conservation Council held a testimonial dinner in honor of then State Treasurer William S. James. Two hundred people turned out in the newly renovated (( grand ballroom of the Belvedere Hotel to pay tribute to Bill James. A Baltimore Sun columnist reporting on the dinner took note of the "hard to classify" guests, which included environmental leaders and an astounding mixed bag of politicians.

As president of the Maryland Senate, Bill James was the principal architect of many of Maryland's most important environmental laws, including the tidal wetlands law, Program Open Space and agricultural land preservation.

state treasurer and member of the Board of Public Works, Bill James' influence was extremely important to the environment. His basic understanding of ecological principles and the need for historic preservation brought a balance to decisions concerning historic and natural resources and economic development.

In March of 1987, Bill James retired after 42 years of public service, including 12 years as Senate president and 12 years as treasurer. Despite his upset as state treasurer, Bill James continued to defend the environment. He served as a trustee of the Maryland Environmental Trust (another legislative innovation of Senator James) until last summer when his declining health forced him to resign.

Maryland will be the beneficiary of the vision, wisdom and statesmanship of Bill James for decades to come. The environmental laws that he so skillfully crafted and guided through the legislative process two and three decades ago are even today serving as models for other states.

Ajax Eastman



Forgive my cynicism, but the hypocrisy reeks.

All of a sudden many Americans want to put on a white hat and start an air war to stop ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

They want to lift the arms embargo so the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians can arm themselves to fight the Serbs. This will only extend the war, not stop it.

As in the Iran-Iraq war, where over 1 million people lost their lives, the arms merchants will be making money arming both sides. These merchants and their politician friends will prosecute this war to the last drop of other peoples' blood.

Why should we trust the U.S. government's intentions in the former Yugoslavia? We have ethnic cleansing still going on today in Central America.

As I write, U.S. and Guatemalan troops are conducting joint maneuvers which are displacing many people.

Over 100,000 ethnic Mayans have been killed in the last 12 years by the Guatemalan government while the U.S. maintained trade relations with it. Where is the outcry for these native Americans? Are European lives worth more?

When the massacres became so bloody that the U.S. government was forced to stop arms shipments to the Guatemalan government, who stepped in to save the day? Israel provided military advisers and weapons for Guatemala throughout the 1980s, possibly as a favor to the U.S., which provides Israel with $3 billion a year.

If we are against ethnic cleansing, we should stop our duplicity and embargo Guatemala.

Let those without sin cast the first stone against Serbia. If Americans want to set an example to the world to discourage anti-civilian carnage, let us start by prosecuting U.S. officials who violated U.S. and international law in El Salvador.

The U.N. Truth Commission ruled that the Salvadoran army and affiliated right-wing death squads were responsible for 85 percent of at least 50,000 civilian deaths during the 1980s.

As this was accomplished with the financing, training, arming and knowledge of U.S. officials, let them be brought to justice.

We should also embargo the Salvadoran government until it gets rid of the officers responsible for the tortures, rapes and massacres.

If American leaders are not willing to clean up their own house, why should anyone trust them to stop atrocities in Europe? The )) answer is: They shouldn't.

U.S. intervention will only make matters worse. The only winner will be the military-industrial complex, as usual.

Richard Ochs


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