No secret enigma, just AT&T; office at...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

No secret enigma, just AT&T; office at Finksburg site

The Sun's article ("Cracking a Carroll enigma," June 14) on the Finksburg AT&T; facility was absolutely absurd.

My former wife, Sandi, worked for AT&T; at the Finksburg facility from 1990 to 1999. I have visited it and walked down the 56 steps to the AT&T; long-distance switch many times. My children have been there many times.

All telephone facilities, for obvious reasons, must have good security. This facility also has good security, so we could visit only because Sandi was an AT&T; technician. AT&T; owns the facility, and the National Security Agency rents a small section.

No AT&T; employee works for NSA in any manner. The NSA section is off-limits to all of them. The only thing you got correct in the article was that NSA does do Key Management there.

There are many "telephone" trucks about the switch. The underground is like a giant walk-in computer. It is a large telephone distribution office, a switch, for fiber-optic transmission and has been used for all forms of telecommunication.

AT&T; wanted to use the space that NSA is using, but instead is building the new $8 million addition for more switches. Nothing else is going on there of any significance. Of course, some AT&T; employees do like to fool the public into thinking that there is some deep, dark project.

Robert A. Herrmann

Annapolis

Women's lacrosse among safest sports

We would like to commend Nancy Menafee Jackson on her recent article ("Heading injuries off at the pass," June 18), which draws attention to the issue of head injuries in youth athletics.

However, the article's accompanying photo, which suggests that women's lacrosse entails a "high" risk of head injury, is misleading.

Certainly, injury may occur, but the risk of significant head and neck injury in women's lacrosse is much less than in football, women's gymnastics and even cheerleading. Available injury surveillance data from the NCAA has found women's lacrosse to be one of the safest sports played at the collegiate level.

Discussion continues concerning protective eye and helmet wear in the women's game. This may decrease incidental face and eye injuries, but may also encourage more aggressive play leading to an increase in other injury types. Unfortunately, there is not yet enough objective data to settle this debate.

Along with a team of sports medicine epidemiologists, US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse, has initiated prospective injury tracking studies in youth boys and girls lacrosse.

This information will help further prioritize lacrosse injuries, define relative risks of participation and direct preventative strategies. We look forward to sharing this information with the lacrosse community, sports medicine specialists and the general public.

Nancy Burke

Richard Y. Hinton, M.D.

Steven B. Stenersen

Baltimore

The first two writers are members of the US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Committee; the third is executive director of US Lacrosse.

Atlanta poor example of good city planning

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown CEO Mayo A. Shattuck's op-ed piece ("Ships a symbol of city's hopes," June 23) struck an appropriately positive note concerning Baltimore's hopes for a brighter future in the new century.

However, as one who has taken refuge in Baltimore from the runaway "rebirth" of Atlanta, I wish he had chosen another example for how a city can evolve. Atlanta has changed all right, but it has changed from a place once called "a city among the trees" to a city that exemplifies urban sprawl, with out-of-control air pollution, shortages of water, 24-hour traffic reports and an assault on all things environmental.

From a city once known primarily for its affordability and quality of life, Atlanta has turned into a place where a quarter-million dollars buys a "starter home" in a bad neighborhood with two bedrooms and a bath or a plywood box of a condo in a massive building where a pastoral neighborhood once existed.

Baltimore has the advantage of being located in proximity to other major cities, while Atlanta exists in relative isolation. That isolation provided unlimited outward expansion that has grown to include 11 counties. But now that the baby boomer's children are growing up, their parents, sick of commuting two hours or more each way, are moving back to the relatively small city proper and causing real estate prices to spiral out of sight. Still, that boomerang effect could cause in-town prices to inflate even here in Baltimore unless homeowners and neighborhoods can somehow hold the line and avoid the rampant greed that blinds property owners in Atlanta.

Mr. Shattuck's ambitions for Baltimore may be well intentioned but, believe me, this city doesn't want to be the next Atlanta.

As an economic entity, Atlanta may seem like a dream. But as a place to live, it has become a nightmare -- unless, of course, one happens to be a wealthy investment banker like Mr. Shattuck.

Joe Roman

Baltimore

Angelos honors U.S. law in stand on Cuban players

Orioles owner Peter Angelos has come under fierce fire for his purported refusal to hire defecting Cuban athletes (which he has denied).

What his critics, including Sen. Jesse Helms, fail to realize is that there is no merit to their harsh recriminations against Mr. Angelos since he is not heedlessly discriminating against Cuban ballplayers but honoring the U.S. immigration code.

In fact, Angelos has been vindicated by the White House's decision to abide by a 1994 agreement struck with Havana when it repatriated third-baseman Andy Morales and his companions to Cuba after the Coast Guard discovered the member of Cuba's national team, along with 30 other would-be refugees, on a boat stranded near Key West.

But this was not the fate of 35 other Cuban athletes who have been welcomed into the country over the past decade.

Unlike in previous cases, Mr. Morales was returned to Cuba under the 1994 immigration agreement, which had been pressed upon Fidel Castro by the Clinton administration. Once repatriated, his personal security is guaranteed by that same pact.

A good law-and-order man like Mr. Helms might consider giving a pat on the back to the White House for abiding by the immigration agreement that it had so diligently sought from Havana, and which it had never fully honored until the Morales case.

Those who lured Mr. Morales assumed that, as in the past, they would have the inevitable cooperation of the Justice Department and the White House in jumping him ahead of tens of thousands of Cubans who have legally signed up to be given one of the 20,000 places awarded annually to prospective Cuban emigrants by U.S. authorities. There is no clause in the U.S.-Cuba immigration agreement that makes exceptions for Cubans with a .350 batting average, or a 90 mph fastball.

Instead of criticizing Mr. Angelos, Mr. Helms and others might consider shedding their hypocrisies and direct their wrath toward those who encourage the illegal migration of Cuban ballplayers to the United States, thus violating U.S. laws and unfairly crowding out others who are patiently waiting their turn to come here.

Julie Dasenbrock

Washington

The writer is a research associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

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