Why is heroin wrong but methadone right...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Why is heroin wrong but methadone right for our drug addicts?

Thank you for your report ("Test of heroin maintenance may be launched in Baltimore," June 10). I found two statements particularly thought provoking.

First, Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist, said, questioning the claimed success of the Swiss experiment: "We're being presented with false choices."

We are left to guess what the false choices are. She fails to tell us what she is questioning in the "claimed success" of the Swiss experiment or why. She does not tell us why it is all right to give addicts the powerfully addictive drug methadone, but wrong to give them heroin.

The complete lack of scientific data to justify these statements is typical of the anti-drug moral crusader. She doesn't want us to know the facts.

Researchers have studied 1,146 hard-core addicts for three years as they were given heroin. The published data were accepted by the Swiss people, who voted for the expansion of the program by a two-thirds majority. Dr. Satel, who runs a methadone clinic, would rather have us "coerce" addicts into treatment -- methadone treatment, of course.

Then there was the statement made by David C. Lewis: "In many ways, the biggest prohibition is . . . on the discussion of new solutions to drug abuse." Once again we are tacitly invited to ask why this should be so.

The answer is, of course, that the government does not want us to know the facts. Were the facts disclosed, as they would be in any frank and free discussion of possible alternatives, we should come to see the "war on drugs" for the failed policy that it is.

Pat Dolan

Vancouver, Canada

Heston has to straighten illogical NRA position

I agree with the sentiments expressed in your June 9 editorial regarding Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association. Mr. Heston has a long way to go and a hard road ahead.

The NRA argues that all types of guns should be freely available because guns don't kill, people do. If this same logic were applied to drugs, it would proclaim that all types of drugs should be freely available because drugs don't become addicts and commit crimes, people do. The NRA must take a closer look at its logic and its policies. We all hope that Mr. Heston can help in these areas.

William A. Hubbard

Timonium

Coverage of Northern's feat in contest was appreciated

Thank you for the article "Northern High wins travel brochure contest" (June 10, The Education Beat). The event was a triumphant end to an extensive project for all the students and teachers involved, including the students from Forest Park High who won second and third place.

The contest was only a small piece of a large project intended to improve students' success by uniting learning across curricula and even across schools.

A joint project of the Baltimore City Public Schools and the Johns Hopkins University, our Baltimore Learning Communities (BLC) focused on tourism in Baltimore. Students designed a weekend tour of Baltimore for a family of four. Teachers from six high schools (Southwestern, Northern, Forest Park, Dunbar, Walbrook and Douglass) have been meeting for the past year to learn about forming cross-discipline teams.

Math, English, social studies, science and art teachers worked with the students. In algebra, they worked on a cost spreadsheet. In English they conducted research about the city and wrote articles about Baltimore and its attractions. In art they learned about designing an appealing brochure.

Our goal is that students in BLC will have higher grades, better attendance, a lower dropout rate and greater success on high school exit exams than their counterparts. Although the evaluation is still in progress, anecdotal evidence from the teachers and students points toward success.

Arnold Packer

Baltimore

The writer is a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Policy Studies.

Hold glaucoma in check with regular eye screenings

On my recent visit to Baltimore as a spokesman for the national Don't Be Blindsided! glaucoma program, I was impressed with the commitment of area health-care providers to educate and treat people with glaucoma.

During the Don't Be Blindsided! campaign in Baltimore, nearly 600 people took advantage of the program's free glaucoma screenings. Those who were identified as being high risk for glaucoma were given physician referrals for a complete eye exam. This screening would not have been possible without the help of the Hoffberger Foundation, NeighborCare, the Orioles, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Sinai Hospital and the Wilmer Eye Clinic.

Glaucoma forced me to retire from major league baseball in 1996. Today, however, I am on a mission to warn others about the disease and urge people to get their eyes checked. About 3 million Americans have glaucoma, half of whom are undiagnosed. A regular glaucoma exam is especially important for people with a family history of glaucoma, adults over 40 and African-Americans over 35. African-Americans are three to four times more likely to experience glaucoma than whites.

Kirby Puckett

Kalamazoo, Mich.

Memorial Stadium facade should be preserved

I was delighted to read that there is a chance Memorial Stadium will be preserved and put to good service. I found it hard to believe that the surrounding neighborhood organizations were in favor of demolishing such a wonderful piece of historical architecture that holds so many memories for many of us.

It would seem that if the state can spend more than $9 million to wreck it, the state could spend $10 million to save it and allow Johns Hopkins University to carry most of the burden of renewing it.

Marylu Manning Kennedy

Baltimore

There was no 'catastrophe' in this Middle East village

I must take exception to the accuracy of "eyewitness" statements in Ann LoLordo's front-page article ("For Palestinians, a catastrophe," May 10).

The truth is, there was no conflict between the Arabs in the village of Aqir and the Israelis in 1948, as Amne Shaqfa, one of the women profiled in the article, recounts. How do I know? I was there and passed the town on a daily basis for months on end. In fact, in 1948 I was an officer in the Israeli Air Force stationed at the former Royal Air Force Aqir Airfield.

Aqir, some miles from the air base, was a village of huts with no running water or electricity. The hilltop village was surrounded by cactus and constantly patrolled at night by legions of wild dogs. During the day, the village women would carry large containers of water on their heads, usually accompanied by their husbands riding donkeys.

This daily routine wasn't disturbed in the least by the fighting in 1948-1949. The Arabs in Aqir lived in peace with the Israelis and Air Force personnel. We made stops in the village now and then without incident.

The caption under Ms. Shaqfa's photo reads, "Refugee since 1948" and tells how she was "driven from her home in Aqir." The village was untouched by the conflict. If anyone left, it was probably to pursue the higher standard of living offered by the United Nations "refugee camps."

Eugene Blum

Baltimore

We should not ignore Tibet when debating China policy

I am writing in response to your editorial "China will not go Away" (June 7). It is unfortunate that a paper of The Sun's stature ignores the big picture when it comes to the complex issue of dealing with China.

In stating your opinion concerning trade relations with China, the issue of a Chinese-occupied Tibet was ignored. Will it take last weekend's gathering in Washington for the Tibetan Freedom Concert and the National Day of Action for Tibet to bring this issue to your attention?

It seems that when the U.S. oil supply was threatened by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, American consumers and the media couldn't jump on the bandwagon fast enough to support military efforts in the Middle East. We collectively turn our heads to the human rights violations China has committed and continues to commit in occupied Tibet. Many consumers are happy to ignore these crimes in order to benefit from China's trade offerings.

Trade with China, and any country for that matter, must be approached with more consideration than simply the effect on the almighty American dollar. Americans need to rejoice in the freedom we enjoy while doing what we can to help those whose freedom has been stolen.

Elise Andrews

Edgewood

Pub Date: 6/17/98

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