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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Trucking rules balance safety with mobility

The new federal regulations updating 60-year-old rules governing the number of hours commercial drivers can operate their trucks each day will save hundreds of lives, safeguard billions of dollars in commerce and improve the safety of our highways for years to come.

The new "hours-of-service" rules also combine the best scientific research and real-world analysis to prevent driver fatigue and save lives on our nation's roads, a fact overlooked in The Sun's article "Longer mandatory rest times anger truckers" (Feb. 8).

The U.S. Department of Transportation has waged an aggressive education campaign to inform drivers and trucking companies of the rules' requirements and safety benefits. Early reports reflect that drivers, motor carriers and shippers are adjusting well to the new regulations.

The rules strike the right balance between protecting highway safety and the flexibility truckers need to keep America moving. They allow more drive time on the road where truck drivers earn their living, and provide two additional hours of daily rest time to make sure drivers are more alert when driving.

As a result, the department estimates that 75 lives will be saved and 8,226 fatigue-related crashes will be prevented every year, numbers that add up to safer highways for all of us and $628 million each year in savings to our economy.

Annette M. Sandberg

Washington

The writer is administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In rush to fund war, domestic needs lose

Reading The Sun's headlines, I noticed two articles "City teachers reject cost cuts" (Feb. 7) and "Diverse group to examine war data" (Feb. 7).

While the current administration is now finally getting around to accurately examining the false intelligence used to justify war, the administration's damaging effects on domestic programs continue.

Huge appropriations, like the $87.5 billion approved last fall, will be needed to continue the current military operation in Iraq. Yet the new federal budget, with a projected record deficit of $521 billion, already calls for a 7 percent increase in military spending, not including an estimated $50 billion that will be needed for Iraq and Afghanistan next year.

Concurrently, domestic programs, including education, will be left behind.

We are not a safer America today because of President Bush's actions in Iraq. Rather his squandering of lives and money will ultimately deal a profound blow to America.

An association must be made between the two headlines; we must realize it is not Iraq that threatens the foundation of America, but rather the ongoing lack of funding for even the most basic of social programs.

Jacob Gillig

Towson

The writer is a freshman at Goucher College.

War wasn't about weapons, democracy

Reading G. Jefferson Price III's column "In case for war, imminent threat was implied" (Feb. 8), I am amazed how the media managed to ignore one of the most condemning facts about President Bush's lies.

The U.N. inspectors went to Iraq, they searched and searched and did not find anything. They asked for more time and the Bush administration refused to give it to them, telling us that the threat was so grave, that there was no more time.

But the reasons for the rush had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or terrorists or democracy.

Aliza Stewart

Baltimore

Stop whining and fund the schools

Every week we see politicians use schools during the day as backdrops to some speech or photo op. Many of these politicians do these political events before cutting funds for schools.

So why should children not get service credits for going to Annapolis to ask for smaller class sizes and textbooks ("Teachers' pets," editorial, Feb. 8)?

The governor should stop whining and keep his promise to fully fund Thornton.

Mary P. Marsh

Arnold

U.S. cannot become the world's dietitian

Thanks for letting me know why Americans are so overweight -- it's those darn Republicans again ("Heavy denial," editorial, Feb. 9).

If I had only known that too much sugar and too many calories are bad for me, I wouldn't have had the waffle for breakfast, the doughnut to get me to lunch, the super-sized fries with lunch, the soda to perk me up in the afternoon, the chips to hold me until dinner, and the ice cream for a nightcap. I might have even walked a few steps.

We're having some challenges as the world's policeman. Perhaps the world's least-fit country shouldn't try to be the world's dietitian.

Bob Byrne

Fulton

DNR right to approve the hunt for bears

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) plan to permit a hunting season in Garrett and Allegany counties certainly has my support ("DNR plans for fall bear hunt released," Feb. 5).

I spent the month of July last year at Deep Creek Lake State Park and personally experienced the visits of black bear on more occasions that I want to remember. I am sure that the "outrage" that the Silver Spring animal rights group is demonstrating would soon disappear if while enjoying a vacation in the mountains of Maryland its members encountered a 400-pound bear in their path or, much worse, met a bear with twin cubs while walking with their dog and grandchildren.

Many of the homeowners in the Deep Creek area have gone to much expense to purchase gated trash containers to deter the bears from getting food and discourage them from the area. But the folks renting in the area do not seem to be as careful with their trash and this attracts the bears.

I encourage DNR to work closely with various hunting clubs to field more experienced, responsible, licensed hunters to manage the bear population.

Barbara V. Reynolds

Reisterstown

State has no business regulating marriage

Why does government have any business regulating or sanctioning marriage or any other mutually consenting relationship between two adults ("Mass. rejects compromise on gay partnership," Feb. 12)?

Contractual issues such as economic support, allocation of income and property disposition can be agreed upon between the parties involved, and be subject to existing statutory and common law.

Preferential treatment of individuals on taxation, health care, pensions and other benefits should not exist in any event, and it should certainly not be determined by government fiat based on their living arrangements.

The only aspects of individuals' relationships and their consequences that should concern society in general and be subject to government purview (other than those of a criminal nature), are those concerning responsibility for support and welfare of any children from such relationships.

Paul M. Heid

Baltimore

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