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THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sprawl ruins the rolling hills of Maryland

Some 50 short years ago, my brother and I would be picked up by a family friend on a July afternoon and begin an annual adventure, traveling from Towson through the Greenspring Valley out to Glyndon and Reisterstown and then onto Westminster and Taneytown, and ending up just shy of Emmitsburg at the friend's Hidden Valley Farm.

At that time, Baltimore County and Carroll County were awash with greenery, canopies of trees, rolling hills and farm after farm.

But looking at The Sun's map of zoning and development, I am sickened by the transformation that has taken place in five decades ("Md. farm preservation effort losing ground," Jan. 24).

A young couple, given a choice, will opt for a large home on two acres and expect stores and gas stations to follow their move. Developers will anticipate this and buy any land available. As demand increases, homes will be built farther and farther away from the city.

This scenario was apparent 50 years ago, 30 years ago, 10 years ago and now. The only thing that can block it is enlightened leadership.

If you look at the map, it is quite evident that such leadership has been found in Baltimore County but is lacking in Carroll County and completely lacking in Harford County.

To add insult to injury, the governor has been raiding the land preservation trust since he has been in office.

What a perfidious insult to the next generation of children.

William Tunney

Baltimore

Restrictions on aid protect Indonesians

The Sun is right to urge the United States not to resume military assistance to Indonesia ("War and aid in Aceh," editorial, Jan. 19).

The Indonesian military has failed to meet sensible conditions placed on cooperation by the U.S. Congress. These included justice and accountability for past human rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere, and an end to its backing of fundamentalists and other militia, such as those that have recently arrived in disaster-stricken Aceh.

However, long-time observers might question The Sun's assertion that "U.S. training would serve as a civilizing influence on the Indonesian army."

Senior Indonesian officials have repeatedly made clear that they are not interested in human rights training.

More telling is the fact that the military's worst abuses took place when the United States was fully engaged. During that period, President Suharto, Indonesia's dictator, brutally seized power, Indonesia invaded East Timor and martial law was first imposed on Aceh.

These actions and others took the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Since restrictions on aid were put in place, some progress has been made. For example, East Timor is now independent after a U.N.-conducted referendum in 1999.

John M. Miller

New York

The writer is media and outreach coordinator for the East Timor Action Network.

No reason to guard against Muslims

In his column "Letting our guard down" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 19), Cal Thomas leads us to believe that Muslim terrorists are lurking around every corner, waiting patiently to take advantage of our complacency. But his thesis - that an Islamic threat is quietly metastasizing among us - is unsubstantiated and smacks of racism.

Mr. Thomas' argument for increased vigilance is based in part on a TV drama (24) celebrated for its improbable plotting. That alone is absurd. But then he proceeds to cite evidence from a new book by Harvey Kushner (Holy War on the Home Front: The Secret Islamic Terror Network in the United States) that is more alarmist than compelling.

Should we really be afraid because the number of Islamic religious schools in the United States is growing? Or because the number of mosques has increased?

Such reckless insinuations just feed the misconceptions most Americans have about Muslims or, for that matter, about anyone who doesn't look like us or worship like us.

And for those of a wrong mind, the fear-mongering simply validates their racism.

Robert J. Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Anonymous charge unfair to ex-chaplain

I was dismayed to read an article about alleged abuse of a student by Father Jerome F. Toohey Jr. ("Former Catholic school student claims priest sexually abused him," Jan. 21).

As a Calvert Hall student during Father Toohey's tenure as chaplain there, I have never met a more honorable person.

"Father Jeff" was a friend and mentor to countless students. He personified God's love for other people, and he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

While I am embarrassed by the recent history of abuse in the Catholic Church, I am frustrated also by The Sun's policy of not reporting the name of the alleged victim in such incidents.

While Father Toohey's name grabs the headlines, the alleged victim can hide behind the newspaper's policy and avoid any connection to the incident.

Think about this: A teacher might teach thousands of students over the course of a career, and all it takes is one student from any time in his or her career to accuse a teacher of abuse.

Whether or not any abuse can be proved, the teacher's name and reputation are sullied in the newspaper and in other media outlets.

Most important, an article detailing the alleged abuse is almost always multiple times the size of the article that may later indicate that the abuse charge was unfounded after the investigation ends - if a follow-up article is even written.

I don't know how teachers sleep at night knowing any allegation of abuse from any student at any time in their career, even if it is unfounded, could ruin their reputation and career.

P. Marc Fischer

Eldersburg

Women over 50 can still savor life

Would Susan Reimer like a nice glass with that post-menopausal whine ("Some midlife discoveries aren't so hot," Jan. 22)?

If Ms. Reimer really believes that when a woman reaches 50 she can only look back with regret or ahead with fear, she might as well die right now and get it over with. She definitely is not an over-50 woman I want to have lunch with.

Ms. Reimer should go find some strong, smart, vital women over 50, find out what they're doing with their lives, and discover that we haven't abandoned either husbands or children, nor are we all tai chi teachers.

Does the name Oprah Winfrey ring a bell? Diane Keaton? Goldie Hawn? Cher?

And on the "real-life" side of the coin, many of us "regular broads" have friends who are our most precious assets, husbands who still enjoy laughing with us and taking us on dates, and grown children who are proud of the women we have become and happy that we find so much joy in life.

What do we do besides look back with regret or ahead with fear?

We travel (alone, in groups or with our spouses), attend cultural events, take long "girlie" weekends at the beach, read, tend to others, make it a point to eat lunch together as often as possible - and we laugh constantly.

I'm not as strong, quick, or thin as I was in my prime - and I really don't care.

I do not enjoy being in public places and sometimes feeling invisible because I'm not 25 years old and do not weigh 95 pounds - but in the overall scheme of things, I really don't care about that, either.

What I do care about is spending lots of time with my wonderful husband, watching my daughter become the confident, smart, talented woman she is still growing into, laughing with and supporting my loving friends and living the life that is mine now.

Dayle Dawes

Arnold

She held highest office with great distinction

In a moving homily at the funeral of Angela Detota, who died last week at age 91, Father Paul Holthaus noted her decades of devoted service to her beloved St. Ursula's parish.

He speculated that any account of her life should be headlined "Angela Detota, friend of priests."

Many of us who knew Angela best in her secular life would add "and of politicians and many others" to that headline.

I was one of those politicians lucky enough to win Mrs. Detota's support. It meant a lot.

Angela-certified candidates could be certain that she would canvass greater Parkville, produce a respectable turnout for political rallies and offer generous commentary, often gratuitously, to members of the press.

Mrs. Detota's accomplishments were not limited to her service to church and state. She was uncommonly well-informed and cared passionately about events around the globe and around the corner.

She was a successful businesswoman. She was unfailingly available to all who sought her help.

No one is likely to write an account of Mrs. Detota's life. She never held any official position or public office.

But it seems fitting to mark the passing of this extraordinary woman - who remained my friend long after the political years had passed - by remembering the maxim that in a democracy, the highest office is the office of "citizen."

It is an office that Mrs. Detota filled with great distinction.

Stephen H. Sachs

Baltimore

The writer is a former Maryland attorney general.

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