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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Baltimore remains real murder capital

The Sun had a small notice in its "National Digest" about how Chicago has regained its infamous title as the "murder capital" of the country ("Chicago regains title as U.S. 'murder capital,'" Jan. 2). This is an excellent example of what I call "The Data Game."

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According to The Sun, Chicago led the nation in terms of the total number of people who were murdered last year, with 599 homicides, compared with 596 murders in New York City and fewer than 500 in Los Angeles. However, if one were to compare rates instead of totals - i.e., determine the number of homicides per capita - one sees a very different picture.

Indeed, with 271 homicides reported in Baltimore in 2003, our homicide rate (271 out of 638,614 total population, or a rate of 42.4 homicides per 100,000 population) is twice that of Chicago (20.7 per 100,000 residents), more than three times that of Los Angeles (about 13 per 100,000), and almost six times that of New York City (7.4 per 100,000).

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Let's be honest and remember that our city's drug-entrenched, violent nature still keeps us the true "murder capital" of America.

Lindsay Beane

Baltimore

Some common sense on subject of slots

Jeffrey C. Hooke does make common sense of the slots issue ("'Giveaway' of slots licenses criticized," Jan. 3). If Maryland is going to have slots, then it would only be reasonable for the state to get the biggest chunk it can.

I, along with many others in this "Free State," highly object to slots. Slots are a blight, not a savior to our fiscal dilemma.

If they need to be put in place, however, the profiteers should not be a few persons or entities. The profits from this immoral behavior should be shared by the citizenry.

I think the state needs the funds much more than the few people who own the racetracks do.

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Peter J. Schap Jr.

Cockeysville

Put Md. taxpayers before track owners

Thank you for once again allowing the Maryland Republican Party to display its inclination toward fratricide and self-immolation by demeaning the important work of Jeffrey C. Hooke and his foundation ("'Giveaway' of slots licenses criticized," Jan. 3).

Once again, the press has given the Ehrlich administration a chance to redeem itself in the eyes opinions of many conservative Republicans who are still holding their noses about the gambling wing of the Maryland GOP. Along comes Mr. Hooke, whose ideas offer the hope of taking the stink off supporting gambling as a major state revenue stream. And yet the governor's communications director dismisses his ideas as "goofy" and not "helpful."

I will urge my elected officials to support Mr. Hooke's ideas and fight for a gambling deal that puts the interests of state taxpayers and the credibility of the state Republican Party first and track owners second.

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Mike Netherland

Severna Park

Spiraling taxes still out of control

Something is dreadfully wrong when Maryland has increased some tunnel tolls from $1 to $2 per vehicle, and has gotten huge revenues from cigarettes, sports, lotteries and other funding sources, yet it has to resort to soaking Marylanders with more taxes, off-setting much of the gains they will attain from the reduction in federal taxes ("State, local taxes rise as U.S. levy falls," Jan. 4).

This could be expected from a tax-and-spend liberal Democrat such as former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, but not from a conservative Republican such as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Mr. Ehrlich must reverse the tax-increase policies in the state.

John A. Malagrin

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Baltimore

Ehrlich right to resist Democrats' pressure

We found The Sun's article "Ehrlich shows a solo style" (Dec. 28) heartening as it shows that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is getting the people's business done despite strong Democratic legislative opposition. Go, Republican governor, go.

Harry Betsill Sue Betsill Parkton

Security steps are making us safer

I think that Ellen Goodman's question about whether we are "safer" in America is directly answerable with a resounding "yes" ("Safety dance," Opinion Commentary, Jan 5) based on her own list of recent events:

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The capture of Saddam Hussein, known butcher of thousands of humans.

An alert system, now Code Orange, in full use and understood by U.S. citizens.

Six Air France flights grounded because of our new homeland security program.

Armed guards on certain flights to decrease vulnerability of our country to terrorist attacks similar to those of Sept. 11, 2001.

Libya's Col. Muammar el Kadafi's decision to allow nuclear inspectors into his country.

Personally, I feel a lot safer because of the events on this list. Can Ms. Goodman truly argue that these events are not the result of a program for a safer America?

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In our society, when there is a perceived danger, we are permitted to change our behavior to protect ourselves until we can feel safe again.

Such action safeguards our liberties. Just as in the days of the Revolutionary War, the issue today is one of defending our rights after experiencing out-of-control vulnerabilities.

Our revolution continues as we defend ourselves from the likes of the perpetrators of the Washington-area sniper shootings as well as those behind the attacks of Sept. 11.

Cynthia D. Allen

Towson

Pushing the envelope to get troops home

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In his column "Dutch Ruppersberger's very excellent idea" (Opinion Commentary, Jan. 4), C. Fraser Smith lauds Maryland freshman Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger for his very excellent idea of allowing American citizens and companies to donate frequent flier miles so that soldiers arriving at Baltimore-Washington International Airport can continue to travel to visit family.

This excellent idea is exactly the kind of "push the envelope" idea President Bush invoked with compassionate conservatism and faith-based initiatives that allow good things to be done without the costly interference of government.

C. D. Wilmer

Baltimore

Switch comics and editorials?

The comic pages of The Sun have in recent years become somewhat political in nature, with "Doonesbury," "Boondocks" and "Non Sequitur" all offering a blatantly liberal message that is more editorial than humorous.

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I would suggest those three strips be moved to The Sun's editorial section.

Several years back, a comic strip about a sports writer, "Tank McNamara," was removed from the comic pages and placed more appropriately in the sports section, so the precedent for a different placement does exist.

And, bearing in mind The Sun's approach to editorial commentary, perhaps the editorials would be best moved to the comic pages.

John P. Eck

Stoneleigh


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