Hasty decision on Asian oysters could be disaster

First, President Bush attacks Iraq to cure its problems, without a plan for the long term, and the results have been, predictably, unsuccessful, if not disastrous.

Now, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plans his attack to cure the oyster problem in the Chesapeake Bay by introducing hardy Asian oysters, without sufficient information on the long-term effects of such an introduction on the health of the bay and the people who live near the bay ("Experts fear Asian oyster health impact," Dec. 14).

Clearly, there are plenty of reasons to suspect that the consequences of such biological tampering are fraught with uncertainty - and hence require substantial further study, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

And am I the only one having difficulty remembering examples of the successful import of foreign organisms into new habitats?

Certainly there are plenty of examples of such introductions (intentional as well as unintended) that led to a host of unforeseen problems far worse that those that prompted their introductions in the first place.

John Kloetzel


Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s haste to introduce a non-native species of oyster to the Chesapeake Bay to restore oyster populations devastated by disease defies science, ecology, history and just plain common sense.

Insisting on a quick decision on the introduction of the Asian oyster, Mr. Ehrlich ignores the calls of scientists who need more time to understand their possible effects.

He also turns a blind eye to the lessons of history and ecology. Time and time again throughout the world, humans have (deliberately or accidentally) introduced non-native plants and animals into foreign lands, only to be dumbfounded by the unanticipated, and often devastating, effects.

If Mr. Ehrlich's plan is implemented, our bay could become the next example of the devastating consequences of hastily introduced non-native species.

Instead of introducing more problems into our ailing bay, let's concentrate on addressing the problems it already has.

If we could succeed in restoring some of the bay's basic qualities, such as its chemical and nutrient balance, it might become a healthy habitat again, and all its plants and animals, including its oysters, might thrive once more.

Tamara Mittman


Let the lobbyists wait their turn

Some of the comments made by lobbyists about losing their "right" to skip the lines at the State House make me sick ("Lobbyists losing their easy access to state office," Dec. 16).

Where do they get the audacity to think that just because they are paid to represent taxpayers they are more important than taxpayers themselves?

We have, for instance, Bruce C. Bereano, who says, "It's grossly unfair to discriminate against private lobbyists. Our actions on behalf of private citizens is part of the democratic process. Why should we be singled out?"

But even Mr. Bereano can't spin this story to get sympathy. How is making him wait with every other taxpayer singling him out?

The current system is the one that is discriminatory.

Currently, if you pay a lobbyist to be represented, you get better access.

Now that's unfair.

Davis Maloy


No great mystery in choice of Kerik

One expert is "mystified because there were so many red flags" raised before President Bush nominated Bernard Kerik for the vital job of directing the Department of Homeland Security ("As Kerik's problems pile up, pressure to explain screening," Dec. 15).

It is widely believed that President Bush nominated Mr. Kerik without a thorough vetting, because he personally liked the former New York City police chief and his tough-guy image.

A quick Web search defines the word cronyism as favoritism shown to friends and associates, and says the practice is a long political tradition.

The mystery is why some experts are perplexed.

Mr. Kerik is just an old-fashioned crony.

Joe Otterbein

Shrewsbury, Pa.

War funds could aid Social Security mess

Everyone is worrying about money being left over to cover future generations retiring ("Fix Social Security now, Bush says," Dec. 17).

They really should worry about the monies used to fight this unnecessary war in Iraq that could have funded Social Security, and the killing of our young men that make up our once-respected country.

Frank F. Braunstein


Spam ruling abuses the public interest

So Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson feels obligated to protect spammers from their victims, the majority of the public ("Judge faults Md. law on spam," Dec. 14).

Has the good judge never examined typical spam messages offering pornography, questionable medicines, restricted drugs, fake copies of reliable products, millions of dollars from Nigeria, pirate copies of copyrighted products and devices for cheating phone and cable companies?

I volunteer for a charitable organization and have to delete hundreds of these trashy messages from our computer each day.

I wish I could forward this spam to the judge to clog his computer.

Elliot Deutsch

Bel Air

Adoptees can get heritage information

I would like to respond to the letter "Adoptees deprived of knowledge of past" (Dec. 9).

Adult adoptees' right to access birth family information has changed over the years.

In October 1999, a new law went into effect that allows adult adoptees and birth parents, 21 and older, to apply to the state Department of Human Resources' Social Services Administration for adoption search services.

With the assistance of a state-certified confidential intermediary, adult adoptees and birth parents may request non-identifying heritage information, updated medical information and/or contact and reunion with birth parents.

All parties must give their consent to share identifying and updated information.

To be eligible to apply for these services, the adoption must have been finalized in Maryland.

Since 1986, Maryland has also maintained a Mutual Consent Voluntary Registry on which adult adoptees, birth parents and birth siblings, 21 and older, can register.

The purpose of the registry is to help families find each other.

Anyone interested in receiving adoption search, contact and reunion services can contact the Department of Human Resources.

Christopher J. McCabe


The writer is secretary of the Maryland's Department of Human Resources.

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