Rid the world of the nuclear weapon threat

In his thoughtful piece on U.S. policy in Iran, Michael Hill quotes Middle East expert Louis J. Cantori, who notes that "Iran is ... quite intelligently trying to obtain a nuclear weapon of its own to balance the Israeli nuclear capability" ("Old Enemy, Still There," July 25). This is a crucial point, usually absent in discussions of weapons of mass destruction.


Iran is a short missile's throw from Israel, which possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads. Iran has also been targeted by the United States as one of three members of the "axis of evil."

As Mr. Hill's piece points out, Iranians across the political spectrum favor the pursuit of nuclear deterrence capability. They know, as the North Koreans know, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq would not have been invaded by the United States if Iraq had actually had this capability.


The nuclear deterrence capability pursued by nations that perceive themselves as threatened - and we should add Pakistan and India to the list - is a corollary of the doctrine of mutually assured destruction employed by the United States and the Soviet Union to avoid nuclear confrontation during the Cold War. But the pursuit of nuclear deterrence, however intelligent in the short run, threatens the safety of the planet in the long run.

The disarmament apartheid that targets only so-called rogue states such as North Korea and Iran must be replaced by support for total nuclear disarmament by all states, including the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France, which together possess tens of thousands of nuclear warheads.

Only then will we be safe from the nuclear terror that has threatened the world since Hiroshima.

Dean Pappas


Take smart steps to stop the sprawl

After reading the article about the building ban in Middletown ("Middletown fights state ban on building," July 26), I couldn't help but think: Thank goodness there are some state-imposed boundaries to this never-ending problem of suburban sprawl.

When masses of people move out of the city and the suburbs near it to "get away from it all," don't they realize they are basically just bringing the conditions of the suburbs to the once-quiet town to which they moved?


Many of the fields and forests of our state have been developed into a sea of cookie-cutter developments, and the air quality in Maryland continues to deteriorate because of the increased driving time to get to jobs in the urban centers as the congestion on the highways increases.

After recently moving back to the area, I am shocked and saddened by this sprawl, which is like a blob engulfing everything in its way.

When will it stop - when the entire state is one mass of strip malls and developments?

We can be proactive by looking at controlling our population, protecting more land from development, rehabilitating existing neighborhoods and being smart about growth instead of just greedy.

Jennifer Singleton



Find nonlethal ways to control the bears

I want to thank reporter Scott Waldman and The Sun for covering Saturday's demonstration against the state's proposed bear hunt ("Protesters take bear-hunt fight to Ehrlich's door," July 25).

While I was unable to attend the rally, I support the views of those who were there to speak out on behalf of the bears.

A greater effort must be made to adopt measures that both humans and nonhumans can all live with - nonlethal methods, especially those that prevent confrontations between humans and animals to begin with, such as sealing up trash properly and securely to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.

Cheryl Kucsera

Silver Spring


Many USM schools offer courses online

Reporter Jason Song could have made a much stronger case for the opportunity for online education in the University System of Maryland if he had researched the number of online students at other schools in the USM, then used Frostburg State as an example of a small school that is starting to take advantage of online teaching ("Frostburg State offers an online example," July 25). For instance, the University of Maryland University College has more than 100,000 online enrollments annually, more than all other USM schools combined. The University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Towson University; and several of the smaller schools in the university system have had online course offerings since 1998.

Frostburg State's efforts are admirable, but they are just part of the university system's online story.

Thomas Thompson


The writer is a professor of business and management at the University of Maryland University College.


More competition won't improve care

Now the Bush administration wants to ban Maryland and other states from requiring a "certificate of need" before approving hospital expansion or addition of specialized facilities, calling such measures "anti-competitive" ("States' OK for hospitals disputed," July 24).

But is hospital care (or, for that matter, health care in general), really an area in which "competition" should be a prime objective?

Don't people go to the hospital where their own physician practices, or the one that is accessible, rather than seeking price comparisons?

And for specialties such as heart surgery, doesn't a patient with a choice seek out the one where the greatest number of such surgeries is done rather than where the surgery is cheapest?

What happens to the quality of care if such concentration on expertise is lost?


Mary O. Styrt