Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Racial history should not be oversimplifiedI strongly...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Racial history should not be oversimplified

I strongly disagree with the Sept. 5 letter of John G. Barry. . . . Those who think they can offer any insightful views regarding the plight of African-Americans or the evolution of America cannot do so without serious study and devotion to the subject. . . .

The segregation that Mr. Barry accepts as the confirmed national way of life should also be acknowledged as the extended and transient ideal of racist, barbaric, European exploitation and expansionism. . . . War or no war, Euro/Anglo-Americans have never wanted to positively attend to this situation with any healthy resolve, which is why it worsens.

For Mr. Barry to subtly compare W.E.B. DuBois to Benedict Arnold is ignorant and unfounded. . . . America betrayed W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm X. Benedict Arnold and Aldrich Ames were welcomed into this racist machinery and, because of principles of power and greed, chose to betray America.

It is an historical pattern for Europeans to bankrupt nations to benefit their own selfish tribe. I believe American citizens should be more responsible and find this unacceptable for our nation.

Mr. Barry writes of DuBois accepting the Lenin Peace Prize. Well, what about Joseph Brodsky, a Russian immigrant of five years who then became poet laureate of our nation? Would this have been so acceptable if he were a dark-skinned, kinky-haired immigrant?

Eric James

Havre de Grace

Alaska oil is good for nation

It has been 15 years since the question first was posed by Congress of whether to open the narrow coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil exploration and development. Government-sponsored studies have concluded that it should be opened.

It has been eight years since oil began flowing through the trans-Alaskan pipeline from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields -- just 65 miles west of ANWR. So far, 10 billion barrels of oil have been produced in the region in an environmentally sound way. No harm has come to wildlife.

Now, just as Congress is moving toward opening the area to oil leasing to provide new revenues for the government, two "draft studies" from the Clinton administration -- which opposes ANWR oil development -- have suddenly been leaked to selected sources. Together they reportedly contradict the conclusions of

prior government studies by asserting adverse environmental impacts and less abundant resources.

In the Opinion * Commentary article, "The Treasure in the Arctic," Aug. 25, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt downgraded the energy and economic potential of ANWR, ignored the successful record of the North Slope and brushed aside any notion of careful development of a tiny fraction of the refuge.

His comparisons to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park were wildly inaccurate. National parks are reserved for recreational visits. Wildlife refuges are defined by law as multiple use lands. Oil and natural gas production have occurred safely for decades on many of the nation's wildlife refuges.

The logical question then is: Why not develop the oil resources in ANWR -- with appropriate environmental sensitivity -- when we are doing so in other refuges?

William F. O'Keefe

Washington

The writer is executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute.

How America got its anthem

Having done some recent research on Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), author of the Star-Spangled Banner, it was most gratifying to find an article in the Sept. 10 Perspective of The Sunday Sun.

Perhaps it was a typographical error, but Key's wife's correct name was Mary Tayloe Lloyd, whom everyone called Polly.

Also, please note that according to the definitive biography of Key written by the late Edward S. Delaplaine, Key wrote a rough outline of the poem we today call our national anthem on the back of an envelope he found in his coat pocket, while standing on the deck of the cartel ship on which he had pursued the British fleet under a white flag.

Key, John S. Skinner and Dr. William Beanes, whose release was the object of Key's journey, were under British marine guard on their own ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry and not on a British ship as many believe.

On Sept. 14, 1814, after he retired to a Baltimore hotel (perhaps the Fountain Inn, a popular travelers' rest stop), Key wrote the final text of his best-known poem. The next day, Key's brother-in-law, Judge Joseph Nicholson, took the poem to the offices of the Baltimore American, where he found an apprentice printer named Samuel Sands.

Sands, only 14 years old, set the poem in type and it was from this that handbills were printed and posted throughout Baltimore.

Delaplaine says the first newspaper to publish "The Defence of Fort McHenry" -- notice the correct 1814 spelling of "defence" -- was the Baltimore Patriot on Sept. 20. The American printed it the next day.

As an aside, it was Dr. Beanes' special care of British soldiers wounded in the Battle of Bladensburg in Montgomery County that led Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, commander of the British Army, to grant Key's request for Beanes' release.

John W. Ashbury

Walkersville

Essex, Middle River aim for improvement

The bleak picture of Essex and Middle River which emerged from the report by the Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation as featured in The Sun Sept. 9 is both unsettling and encouraging.

As a teacher in Essex Elementary School, it is alarming to read such troublesome statistics. Essex Elementary is not shielded from the problems of the area but it is imperative to note that the Essex community is well served by our school.

Teaching is a challenging job in any area. The challenges of our area appear to be intensifying, however. Essex Elementary, a landmark in the community, has been fortunate to have a dedicated staff, a strong PTA and students with high expectations.

Recognizing the need to revitalize the area, the County Council has demonstrated a commitment to improve deteriorating conditions. The funding and construction of a new school building for Essex has greatly bolstered community spirit. Hopefully, this kind of interest will inspire more people to take notice and continue to reverse the downward trend described in the community conservation office's report.

My colleagues and I are proud to be associated with the Essex community. I am confident that the positive forces in this community will serve to preserve and protect its integrity.

Jessica Haslbeck

Essex

Ripken, Packwood as role models

The front page of The Sun's Sept. 8 issue offered an interesting contrast in role models. At the top of the page Cal Ripken is waving to a crowd of well-wishers at a parade celebrating his record. The story underneath is about Sen. Bob Packwood's resignation from the Senate.

The juxtaposition of these two stories on the same page could not have been more timely. For the reader who perhaps had grown tired of seeing Ripken's picture and hearing about his record, Packwood's photo presented a pointed reminder: leadership, achievement and integrity of character are a rare occurrence in the same individual.

The nation became enamored with Cal Ripken in the days leading up to 2,131, because under the microscope the man himself is as awesome as the record. Ripken is genuinely a good person who lives honestly and acts according to his own high standards. He is easy to love and cherish, and celebrate.

Bob Packwood, on the other hand, represents more of what we have grown accustomed to in this country: Another elected official denying to the bitter end that all the evidence of misconduct against him has any real meaning at all.

Ironically, a person of shaky character, begging for respect, could not look any more laughable than he does next to a class act like Cal Ripken.

Michael Breschi

Baltimore

Computer porn shocks mother

I was appalled to see news of the child pornography ring running through America Online. As a mother of a first-grader, I am sickened by this horrible misuse of technology.

At a parent-teacher open house, I was excited to learn that my son's school would be joining the Internet and soon a school-to-home link would be in use. He and his cousin in New York are already able to talk back and forth via the Internet.

But, unfortunately, there are sick people out there who prey on innocent children, thus creating major roadblocks to today's technology.

While I believe that these people should be punished severely for their crimes, I think that something more important needs to be addressed. As parents or guardians, we need to take responsibility here and fight back.

There is one form of communication that has been around for a long time and we don't need a computer to use it -- education. We need to talk to our children and explain the difference between right and wrong. If a family is a user of the Internet, then it should be the parent's or guardian's responsibility to monitor that household's use. Keep the lines of communication open so that when children do see something that doesn't feel right, they will come immediately to you.

Unfortunately, I think there will always be some form of pornography out there. But as parents and responsible citizens, we can fight back. We can make it harder for these people to influence our children.

Remember, it is our children who are our future and it is they whom we need to protect and educate.

Kathie Krieger

Timonium

Family doctor gets industrialized

A recent Johns Hopkins University report refers to the transition of its medical functions as "the industrialization of medicine."

Yes, we have to agree about the great changes affecting all institutions of learning, research facilities, hospitals as well as doctors, medical staff and patients.

As a retired management professional, I am fully aware of, and can empathize with, the hectic schedules doctors and their staff have to meet.

The old saying "time is money" can surely be observed at the majority of doctors' offices. But the question arises, can sophisticated testing devices and computerized records replace the human aspect of the doctor-patient relationship?

A recent visit to my general practitioner's office turned out to be a unique experience. The total time spent with my doctor was approximately 10 minutes, including the examination.

The doctor interrupted the examination three times to answer phone calls, then handed me a form indicating the different tests to be taken. He left the examining room before I had a chance to ask any questions.

Eight days later a staff member called me to report the test results, which meant, again, that there was no opportunity to speak with my doctor and get answers to specific questions regarding my health problems.

My memories of the image of the family doctor, a caring individual, who was willing to provide help when needed, are fading quickly. "Industrialized medicine" anyone?

Joan U. Alston

Baltimore

Not enough codes; going to need more

With regard to the proposed changes in local telephone area codes by Bell Atlantic, I offer a simple solution: Give the cellular phones, pagers, etc., their own exclusive area code, rather than changing all the local area codes again. I still have business cards and stationery with the previous area code on it! Bell Atlantic claims the new area codes are needed because of the explosive growth of new technology. Let the new technology have the new area codes.

Louis J. Nehmsmann

Baltimore

Morgan's transit center is on track

An article (The Sun, Aug. 21) suggested that the National Transportation Center at Morgan State University had not developed as envisioned.

The center, one of only three national centers in the country, is charged with expanding the pool of minorities in transportation careers and conducting transportation-related research. The supporting grant from the federal government totaled $5.5 million and required a dollar-for-dollar match from non-federal sources.

Unfortunately, at the time the center was authorized, the university did not have the funds to match the grant.

Because of the long recession, funding was not available through the state.

Without additional funding it was impossible to plan, staff and execute the mission of the center beyond the limited in-kind contributions the campus was able to generate.

Failure to achieve the desired level of activity at the center has nothing to do with "bizarre accounting practices," as one source was quoted as saying in the article. The university processes and records all of its expenditures, regardless of funding source, consistent with state rules and regulations promulgated by the state comptroller. These are the same procedures and recording practices the university currently uses, without difficulty, for more than 70 other grants and contracts.

Lack of development at the center also has not been related, as the article suggested, to a failure by the university to provide release time for faculty from their teaching duties. Although Morgan is primarily a teaching institution, the university encourages selective use of release time for research and public service.

Finally, a lack of development of the center was unrelated to any notion by the university that the grant was just a lot of money to be spent any way it wished.

To the contrary, the university refused to allow significant expenditures without ensuring the consistency of those expenditures with the designated purposes of the center or knowing the source of the match.

When there was no match, there was no expenditure. The administration is intent on not committing Morgan beyond its resources, no matter what potential the project has.

The most disconcerting aspect of the article was omission of the fact that the state has provided for the match in the university budget . Also, Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead has expressed great enthusiasm about the role of the center. The staffs of the university and the transportation department currently are working cooperatively and aggressively to develop the center in the fashion originally envisioned.

Full development of the center will increase the capacity of the state to address future manpower needs and to conduct research in key fields related to transportation. More exiting are the linkages between the Morgan center and the $209 billion National Automated Highway Project and the Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems Consortium. These provide avenues for involving Maryland in the research, design, testing and implementation of the nation's automated transportation systems of the future.

Such involvement will not only improve the quality of life of residents of the state, but it also will promote economic development throughout the region.

Lawrence K. Montgomery

Baltimore

The writer is Morgan State University's acting vice president for institutional advancement.

Harry Wu is not the last word on China

I am a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University. More than six years ago, I participated in the Tiananmen demonstration in Beijing and was involved in the initial organizing stage of the democracy movement in China.

After gratefully landing on American soil, I find myself again in a world of injustice, but of another kind.

Harry Wu was detained by the Chinese security apparatus when he tried to cross the Chinese border in the northwest desert area. He was later charged, tried and convicted on several charges including spying and stealing state secrets. Mr. Wu admitted his guilt and waived his right to appeal.

As soon as Mr. Wu came back to U.S. soil, he started talking extremely tough again.

He claimed that he lied to the Chinese authority while in China, and justified his action by his motto, "Should I be honest to liars?"

Later, he alleged that the Chinese police cheated him on a $1,000 traveler's check and called them by the crude pejorative "turtle eggs" while he chuckled in amusement. In addition, he vowed to seek compensation from the Chinese government for "fabricating spy charges" against him.

Everyone remembers the infamous phrase, "No justice, no peace," and most condemn it, simply because it causes more trouble to an already unbalanced society. Mr. Wu is using exactly the same logic to justify his own deeds: He should lie to someone because someone lied first.

An obvious extension to this rationale would be that it is justified to lie about someone if someone lied in the first place. Not to mention the wrong message by the sentence itself, it prompts me to question Mr. Wu's credibility in other circumstances.

If he always acts under that logic, he might have lied in his many famous testimonies to Congress about the Chinese prison labor export. (In fact, he confessed to the Chinese that he fabricated "facts" about these issues.)

Mr. Wu might have justified his actions because he regards them as necessary to punish the "true liars," the Chinese.

Another hint of Mr. Wu's possible untruthfulness comes from the realization that he frequently uses dirty language in Chinese but not in English, because he would otherwise be regarded as impolite and untrustworthy by the American public.

After all, true human rights activists should always live up to the highest standard of human values and principles.

Eye-for-an-eye can never be a justified excuse or reason for any untruthful deeds.

More importantly, Harry Wu labels himself as a "Chinese human rights activist" and is widely respected by the news media and hence the American public. However, Mr. Wu has never appealed to the real Chinese community.

Most Chinese from the mainland dislike and do not support what he has been aggressively advocating. Many call him a liar.

Are the Americans going to believe Harry Wu alone and ignore the many voices from the real Chinese? (Don't forget that Mr. Wu is an American citizen now.)

I do not have the slightest doubt that Mr. Wu's voice is very appealing to the American public, since he knows exactly what the Congress and public would want to hear.

But the Chinese human rights issue should be primarily decided by the real Chinese, should it not?

Shouldn't the American people think twice about heavily supporting a person who barely has any respect in the real Chinese community yet wields human rights as a weapon?

There should be no doubt in any law-abiding citizen's mind that putting on a policeman's uniform and pretending to be a policeman to engage in prohibited activity is a crime. Why do Americans insist on Harry Wu's innocence while knowing he had done exactly that in China?

Many politicians here have spoken extensively about human rights in China without understanding the Chinese people to the slightest extent, let alone their history and culture.

In fact, it is not uncommon for the Chinese community in the U.S. to detect exaggerations, lies and extremely biased reports about China-related events.

People rooted in China know the problems. Please consult them first before lashing out at China.

Yigong Shi

Baltimore

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