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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

City was right to join lawsuit to cut emissions

Kudos to The Sun for the outstanding article "Baltimore enters legal fray on mercury pollution rules" (June 7).

The fact that lobbyists for the energy industry - the industry most responsible for poisoning our air and water with toxic mercury emissions - have the effrontery to call into question Mayor Martin O'Malley's motives is quite simply shameless.

It is precisely because Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. took the unprecedented step of vetoing the Maryland attorney general's effort to add Maryland's clout to the combined legal effort of the attorneys general of 12 other states that the mayor took this step ("Ehrlich bars Md. challenge of EPA rules," June 1).

Preventing the impending rollback of Clean Air Act mercury standards is vital to protecting public health and the health of the living resources of our rivers and the bay.

Mercury controls must be strengthened, not put off for more than another decade and made subject to the vagaries of pollution trading.

Lax state regulations already allow local power plants to continue using pre-Clean Air Act generators dating from the 1950s, and to avoid installing technological upgrades that would reduce toxic mercury emissions by more than 90 percent.

Lee Walker Oxenham

Ellicott City

The writer is executive director of Patapsco Riverkeeper Inc.

Guns help protect safety and liberty

Michael Olesker's column "Police make gesture of hope to the public in gun buyback" (June 7) flies in the face of common sense and constitutional jurisprudence.

Mr. Olesker claims that "lots of police don't like guns in the hands of citizens. They don't think it's healthy for any community."

Fortunately, our Founding Fathers were not so squeamish. They understood the vital importance of the right to defend oneself and one's property from violent criminals and from tyrannical governments.

Furthermore, Mr. Olesker asserted that "it is harder for them" - presumably, the benevolent and omnipotent government - "to protect us" - the helpless people - "when we insist on arming ourselves.

It seems to me that this sentence makes more sense when rearranged: It is harder for them to threaten us when we insist on protecting - and arming - ourselves.

Rob Dauses

Baltimore

Enforce registration to aid recruiting pool

The Sun's front-page headline about new recruiting criteria for Army officers sent shivers through me ("Army to set new criteria for officers," June 9). With voluntary recruiting efforts falling short recently, it appears that this liberalization of requirements for officer candidates is an effort to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

The proper solution would be to better enforce the law requiring all young men to register with the Selective Service.

When recruiting goals fall short, the old lottery method of drawing from the Selective Service pool should be used. This would provide manpower in the proper age group and improve the quality of new recruits.

This approach would provide a wider officer pool as well.

Phil Retchless

Baltimore

Commander in chief sets a lower standard

It was no surprise to me to read that the Army has decided to lower its standards regarding requirements for junior officers ("Army to set new criteria for officers," June 9).

One only has to look at how low those requirements have become for our commander in chief.

God help us all and continue to bless our dedicated troops.

Lorraine Kelly

Columbia

More than 1,600 dead for wrong reasons

Of all the news items and statistics in the June 7 Sun, the most distressing to me were in the column "Killed in Iraq."

As of the preceding day, 1,668 U.S. service members had died in the war in Iraq. They died in a conflict that we now know to have been started under false pretenses.

During the Clinton administration, Congress came to a virtual halt as it was determined that the president's alleged lies to a grand jury about an inappropriate relationship with an intern were an impeachable offense.

Yet now we have more than 1,600 lives lost as the result of the country also being lied to, and few people seem to see this as a problem.

Why is that?

James L. Waurin

Baltimore

Respect, self-worth prevent teenage sex

Gregory Kane's column "This is not a rights problem: It's all just about doing right" (June 4) suggests that the problem of older men having sex with teenage girls comes down to the availability of abortion and the lack of awareness that such relationships are sinful.

I wonder, then, how he and John Lofton explain the widespread priest sexual abuse scandals, in which all of those involved were committed Catholics who presumably had been taught that sex outside marriage is sinful and that abortion is wrong.

I would instead suggest that when girls feel loved by their parents and empowered by a sense of self-worth, those are the key factors in their being able to resist being seduced or coerced by older men.

And when men have been raised to respect women, they are less likely to prey on underage girls.

That is the focus of Planned Parenthood's counseling services: to give young women the self-respect and information they need to make healthy choices and stand firm in the face of pressure to get involved in unhealthy and inappropriate relationships.

It saddens me that Mr. Kane and Mr. Lofton did not see that as a message they could endorse.

Helen Glazer

Owings Mills

City health chief a national leader

In Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the citizens of Baltimore have had a tireless champion for the public's health ("Beilenson resigning post to run for House," June 7). On issues as diverse as violence prevention, lead poisoning, AIDS and drug addiction, Dr. Beilenson is a national leader.

Although he is stepping down as commissioner, many of the programs Dr. Beilenson created and nurtured will continue to thrive. For example, his Operation Safe Kids will continue to provide increased supervision and access to needed services for high-risk youth. The program has led to a 43 percent reduction in arrests among these youths.

Baltimore should be proud of all that Dr. Beilenson has accomplished.

Jon S. Vernick Stephen P. Teret Baltimore

The writer are faculty members at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University.

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