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Early elections key to bringing peace to Iraq

The Sun's excellent editorial "Ballot questions" (Dec. 8) got it exactly right. The issue for the people of Iraq has always been the legitimacy of the U.S. role as an occupying power.

The interim governments that we fashioned have lacked legitimacy, which fuels the vicious insurgency that has cost the lives of so many of our brave servicemen. That is why it is important to stick with the January date for elections in Iraq. Delay only means more death and destruction.

When the election takes place and majority rule is established, the government formed will have legitimacy. That means the government will also be empowered to end the occupation and, by doing so, will in its own way end the insurgency.

It then can proceed to govern according to the dictates of the Holy Quran - govern with the consent of the governed.

This is what Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has always advocated. And what this is what the administration has never understood.

Fariborz S. Fatemi

McLean, Va.

The writer is a former staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Transfer policy hurts soldiers and families

Analysis of the presidential election suggested that President Bush was re-elected in large part because of his positions on family and moral values. But as The Sun's article "Officers to see more transfers in Army plan" (Dec. 8) explains, the administration has set aside policies that had been in place for two decades to protect military families.

Officers can now be transferred more frequently and with less notice. Moves will no longer be delayed until after the school year ends or to allow children to finish high school if they are entering their senior year.

Despite all the talk, it doesn't seem Mr. Bush has placed the family very high on his list of priorities.

The families of the men and women serving their country around the world surely deserve better.

George Hoke


Elk Neck project must protect bay

While I would like to believe the Erickson Foundation's mission in building the NorthBay project is for the greater good, the lack of attention given to the building process and the haste to complete the project is troubling ("Education center-resort rising quietly at Elk Neck," Dec. 8).

And even if the Chesapeake Bay Foundation got involved late in the process, doesn't it make sense to analyze its concerns?

Given that the center is being built, in large part, for environmental study, I find it appalling that more attention has not been given to the ecological impact of the campus, and even more, to using green building techniques and "whole systems" thinking.

If the buildings of the future fail to teach the users or inhabitants how to treat the environment better, we will only add to our environmental decline and societal troubles.

Samuel H. Kosoff

Owings Mills

Redirecting funds will hurt the sickest

I am dismayed that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed cutting health care to the state's most vulnerable people ("Ehrlich poses using surplus for doctors' rate increase," Dec. 9). The idea that "funds to insure sickest in state would be diverted" is disheartening.

This shortsighted approach would cause our state's sickest citizens to resort to using emergency rooms for their care, but often not until it is too late to prevent costly complications.

In the long run, this would drive up health care costs for everyone.

The governor ran on a promise not to cut health care services, and Marylanders have a right to expect him to live up to this promise.

Lora Wilder


The writer teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Other ways to fund malpractice costs

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal to fund doctors' malpractice premiums by jeopardizing health care coverage for Maryland's sickest and poorest citizens is outrageous ("Ehrlich poses using surplus for doctors' rate increase," Dec. 9).

There are ethical ways to solve the problem of excessive malpractice premiums.

Stricter regulation of insurance companies, for instance, could prevent them from losing money on risky investments.

Meanwhile, the state could fund malpractice premium assistance, and also avoid cruel Medicaid benefit cuts, by closing some of the glaring loopholes in its corporate tax laws.

Robert Rochlin

Chevy Chase

In absence of ethics, knowledge is empty

Thomas Sowell laments that our young people are being cheated out of their educations because too much classroom time is being devoted to discussions of "ethics" and other "indulgent" issues ("More study, less talk," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 9).

He points out that "presiding over classroom chatter is no doubt a lot easier than teaching the Pythagorean theorem or differential calculus." This sounds true, of course, until you realize that his definition of "chatter" blankets some mighty important issues.

Yes, math and science are vital subjects, but no subject should be taught in a vacuum.

Knowledge without ethics is like an empty suit.

Dennis Kaplan


The writer is an instructor at Goucher College.

Unplugging column is a loss for readers

As a regular reader of Mike Himowitz's "Plugged In" column, I was shocked and very dismayed to learn that "Hybrid drive a good vehicle for transferring video to DVD" (Dec. 9) would be his last column.

Mr. Himowitz has done an excellent job explaining gadgetry, offering computer fixes that readers can actually use and providing excellent information that assists a consumer in making an intelligent choice when purchasing electronics.

I think the decision to stop this column is a huge mistake for The Sun, and a great loss for consumers.

Susan Luebbert


On Thursday, The Sun announced the end of Mike Himowitz's technology column because of a lack of "advertising support for personal technology products." It's funny, I seldom see a funeral director's advertisement but The Sun still has obituaries.

Mr. Himowitz's column has been one of the more informative parts of The Sun. In a period when technological advances have been rapid, his articles have been very helpful.

If this action is just to save costs, I suggest The Sun look elsewhere in the paper.

Bob Schmidt


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