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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Bill allowing dogs at dinner is waste of time

I look in the paper on Tuesday and what do I see - a bill introduced in the General Assembly that would allow dogs to attend dinner with their owners in restaurants ("Bill to let owners dine out with dogs," Jan. 20).

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Shame on The Sun for printing such a frivolous article, and shame on the General Assembly for considering such a ludicrous bill. With all the issues that need to be wrestled with this session, including slots, funding for the Thornton education plan, and the state's budget shortfall, some legislator had the nerve to introduce a resource-sapping bill for dogs. Is it just me, or is this crazy?

I think I can speak for a majority of Marylanders and say that our legislators need to focus all their attention on the important issues.

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When dogs pay taxes and have the right to vote, then let's include them in the legislative process. Until such time, let's keep this acrimonious nonsense out of the Assembly.

Andy Peet

Parkville

Del. Dan K. Morhaim must have done a little too much celebrating in Europe if he wants to bring the charming ambiance of "dining with dogs" to Baltimore.

As a physician, has Dr. Morhaim forgotten that many people who suffer from allergies to dogs and would like to spend their hard-earned dollars on a dinner out would be unable to enjoy that because of congestion and sneezing?

Let's leave Fido at home.

Ellen F. Eisenstadt

Owings Mills

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Pesticide exemption hurts bay, taxpayers

I was surprised to learn in the article "'Green' solution to crisis urged" (Jan. 19) that Maryland has a sales tax exemption for pesticides purchased for agricultural use. If we are losing more than $2 million a year by, in effect, subsidizing pesticide use, that loophole should be closed immediately.

Maryland should discourage the use of pesticides. Environmental degradation costs us all money - in added health care costs, for the cost of cleanup efforts and in loss of jobs because of the loss of seafood from the bay.

Nina Rutledge

Baltimore

Legalizing drugs is the only answer

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Diana Morris is right that treatment is better than incarceration for drug addicts ("Maryland can't afford to keep locking up addicts," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 20). But she advocates mandatory treatment, which is still wrong. We don't require mandatory treatment for alcoholism, cancer or any other disease but drug addiction. And mandatory treatment still means prison for "patients" who test positive.

Mandatory treatment, although less onerous than incarceration, is still a continuation of the racist system of drug prohibition, which is the major cause of crime in our cities and which destroys innumerable lives and families.

Legalization is the only answer.

Henry Cohen

Baltimore

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Magnitude of deficit could be real bomb

The editorial "Time bomb" (Jan. 18) laments that the growing deficit is not perceived as a tragedy. But the magnitude of the problem becomes clearer if we relate it to our personal responsibility.

A family of four owes more than $7,000 to cover the fiscal year 2004 increase in the national debt. In addition, many state and local authorities have raised fees to cover budget shortfalls generated by decreased federal support and increased federal mandates.

Future projections indicate further increases in the deficit.

We all should be deeply concerned about the spiraling debt.

Gary Toller

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Columbia

Too soon to mothball the space telescope

As a scientist who is not connected with the Hubble Space Telescope program but has an admiration for the insight it has provided about the nature of our universe, I am appalled that it will be needlessly mothballed as part of President Bush's ill-conceived program to send astronauts to the moon and Mars ("Hubble faces an early end to space role," Jan. 17).

A national treasure is being sacrificed in a transparent effort to help ensure the re-election of a national liability.

John D. Venables

Towson

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The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most wonderful scientific things that has ever happened.

Don't let President Bush trash it to get re-elected.

Emily Johnston

Westminster

Impeding the effort to enforce gun laws

The Americans for Gun Safety study showing that 15 percent of crime guns are sold by 0.1 percent of federally licensed firearms dealers (including 11 in Maryland) does not come as a surprise ("Md. ranks 5th in number of 'high-crime' gun shops," Jan. 13).

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The gun lobby complains that gun laws don't work, but the laws are not given a chance to work. This administration is handcuffing law enforcement, not the crooks.

Since John Ashcroft has been U.S. attorney general, there has been a 25 percent drop in Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives cases against rogue gun dealers. And now there is even a move by Congress to reduce the time gun purchase records are kept from 90 days to 24 hours. The practical effect of this change would be to ensure that felons, terrorists and domestic abusers remain armed.

After Sept. 11, Americans expected their government to make special efforts to close off easy access to guns by criminals and terrorists. In fact, the opposite has happened. And that's the real crime.

Leah Barrett

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of CeaseFire Maryland.

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AARP suffers wrath of seniors scorned

Despite more than 45,000 members dropping out of AARP in anger over its support of the Medicare drug bill, the group's chief executive, William D. Novelli, still said he has no regrets about the endorsement ("AARP to push Medicare fix-up," Jan. 17).

But what's happening to AARP's membership is happening because it disregarded the needs of its membership.

The same fate will be in store for those politicians who turned their backs on their constituents and supported the new Medicare bill that does more for the HMOs and PPOs and the pharmaceutical companies than it does for their constituents.

LeRoy R. McClelland Sr.

Essex

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Scalia's socializing damages the court

Justice Antonin Scalia must recuse himself from reviewing any case in which his friend Vice President Dick Cheney has a vested interest ("Propriety of Scalia's socializing questioned," Jan. 18). The integrity of the Supreme Court demands it.

Justice Scalia's refusal to do so will only further erode the confidence the court lost because of its blatant partisanship in the Bush vs. Gore case concerning the 2000 election.

John G. Bailey

Edgemere


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