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Common sense on height limits finally emerges

Finally, some common sense on height limits in Mount Vernon: Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) rebuffs the developers by supporting height limits that would preserve the character of Mount Vernon ("Severe height restrictions urged for new Mount Vernon projects," June 28).

It seems that CHAP recognizes that buildings up to 230 feet tall would destroy Mount Vernon, a community made up mainly of three- to four-story townhouses built in the mid- to late 19th century.

The developers are trying to destroy the charm and ambience of one of Baltimore's most beautiful historic neighborhoods. And this is totally unnecessary. Historic districts such as Washington's Logan Circle are thriving with height limits of about 12 floors.

The height limit for Mount Vernon should be the height of the beautiful Latrobe building at the corner of Read and North Charles streets.

It is approximately 100 feet tall and fits perfectly with our wonderful neighborhood.

G. Byron Stover


The writer is a member of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

Flag editorial insults the nation's warriors

Being both a Marine Corps and an Army veteran from the Vietnam era, I was quite offended by The Sun's editorial "Flagravation" (June 27).

By characterizing the flag as a "bit of cloth," The Sun has, in essence, belittled the proud service of our warriors from the past and our current troops in their battle against terrorists.

And I daresay that if Congress passes a bill that makes flag-burning a crime, the country's freedom of speech will not be affected one iota.

Lew Ruth


Principles, not flags, need zealous defense

The editorial on flag-burning and the constitutional amendment to ban it was absolutely correct ("Flagravation," editorial, June 27).

Freedom of speech is a treasured right. We need to protect our constitutional rights and never pass laws to diminish them in any way.

As The Sun said: "It's our principles that require our most vigilant protection."

It couldn't be better said.

Paul Kinnear


Even hateful speech must be protected

Reading about the proposed constitutional amendment on flag desecration, I was forced to wonder if those who advocate this amendment have ever actually read the Constitution ("House OKs measure of flag desecration," June 23).

What makes America great are our constitutionally protected freedoms. Our freedom of speech should not be taken away because one form of expression of that freedom offends us.

If we truly believe in the freedom of each of us to speak and to criticize the government, we must allow expressions of speech that offend us.

To censor speech that we don't like would show a lack of confidence in our society and demonstrate that our belief in freedom is false.

No one is harmed by the burning of a flag. But to ban that burning would harm us all.

Neil Cohen


Flag fetish functions as form of idolatry

Congress is again trying to make it illegal to "desecrate" the U.S. flag ("House OKs measure on flag desecration," June 23).

The flag is not sacred. A flag is only a symbol.

The confusion of the symbol with that which it symbolizes is the definition of idolatry.

Furthermore, it is not the business of the government to rule on what individual Americans must hold sacred.

Judith Seid


Swinging the outlook toward impeachment

In "Outlook shifting in swing state" (June 26), Sean Amrine of Marysville, Ohio, says he wonders whether he made a mistake by voting for President Bush last fall.

I wonder how many more signatures I need to prompt his impeachment.

Sylvan Wolpert


Aiding the veterans ailing from asbestos

In The Sun's article on federal asbestos trust fund legislation, reporter Gwyneth K. Shaw neglects to point out that all current systems, including Maryland's two-tier system with its "inactive" docket for plaintiffs who aren't yet ill, fail to help U.S. veterans exposed to asbestos during their service to this country ("Trust fund proposed for claims of asbestos," June 20).

Asbestos was widely used by the military during and after World War II.

Thousands of veterans continue to be diagnosed with life-threatening, asbestos-related illnesses. Yet they are prohibited by law from seeking compensation from the government through the courts.

And going after the companies that supplied the government with asbestos is a dead end, since most of those companies have disappeared into bankruptcy.

While Maryland should be applauded for reforming the system so that the sickest asbestos victims go to the front of the line in the courts, these reforms do nothing for Maryland military veterans with asbestos-related illnesses.

The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act pending before the U.S. Senate would also make sure the sickest are paid first.

And because it would create a no-fault, privately financed trust fund to compensate all sick victims of asbestos exposure, the FAIR Act is the only solution that would ensure that sick veterans receive the compensation they deserve.

Robert L. Jones


The writer is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW-MIA affairs.

Bolton can reform corruption of U.N.

The United Nations is organized to secure peace in the world and help the world community. We, of course, expect its leaders to be honest and above reproach. Unfortunately, corruption appears rampant.

Recently, it has come to light that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a 1998 memo, appears to endorse a bid by a Swiss firm, Cotecna, to monitor the Iraq oil for food programs for that country.

What is wrong with this? Well, Mr. Annan's son, Kojo Annan, was in the employ of Cotecna, and Kofi Annan has said that he had nothing to do with Cotecna.

The Democrats in the Senate are blocking and up-or-down vote on the confirmation of John R. Bolton, President Bush's nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations ("Senate Republicans say only Bush can break stalemate over Bolton," June 23).

But obviously the United Nations needs reforming, and Mr. Bolton is the man to perform this task.

Donald B. W. Messenger


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