LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Make Mandel leave the Board of Regents

True to form, former Gov. Marvin Mandel, now a member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, finds himself in hot water again for a violation of the Board of Regents' ethics policy ("Regents condemn Mandel lobbying," May 13).

As I said in my letter "Making Mandel a regent revives old-style politics" (March 7, 2003), "Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s appointment of former Gov. Marvin Mandel to the Board of Regents was a most disgraceful maneuver."

I stand by that statement, and now feel strongly that in the interest of all citizens of Maryland, Mr. Mandel should resign from the Board of Regents immediately.

What a weak, shameful excuse that Mr. Mandel, who is supposedly a man of wide knowledge, offered for his mistakes by suggesting that they were the result of an incomplete understanding of the Board of Regents' ethics rules.

Mr. Mandel probably will not exhibit the decency to resign, but I hope that the regents, university system Chancellor William E. Kirwan and Mr. Ehrlich will muster their fortitude and terminate Mr. Mandel's tainted presence on the regents to prevent any further embarrassment.

Quinton D. Thompson

Towson

Sending mentally ill into battle abusive

What have we become as a nation when the military violates its own regulations in order to fill its ranks?

For the military to provide weapons to individuals with known mental illness while doing less than even rudimentary mental health screening is cruel and reckless, and endangers not only those individuals but many others ("Mentally ill sent into combat," May 15).

And for families who lose a loved one by suicide as a result of this practice, this is a tragedy made worse by being avoidable.

We need congressional leaders to hold the Bush administration, and especially Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, to account for creating this situation - by invading Iraq without cause and by abusing those who have volunteered to join the military.

David Schwartz

Baltimore

NSA phone logs omit private information

Reading the editorial "Just trust us" (May 12) made me very sad.

The editorial calls the National Security Agency's phone record collection project "the most egregious example yet of the blatant violations of privacy to which this government turned in its panicked response to the 9/11 attacks."

What utter nonsense.

The program records only telephone numbers and the numbers each telephone called; it records no personal information.

How does this violate anyone's privacy?

The government has not explained how this database might be used, but I can think of at least one way.

If a known terrorist calls the United States from overseas and contacts someone at one of these numbers, the NSA would be able to immediately construct a network of that person's other contacts.

Speed is essential, and only by having a pre-existing database can the NSA move expeditiously.

Any follow-up involving identification of the callers and actually reading their messages would require just cause and involve obtaining the proper legal warrants.

Edwin S. Jordan

Ellicott City

Phone call database is simply Orwellian

It has been troubling to see the progressively greater invasions of our privacy by this government. Unauthorized tapping of overseas calls were bad enough, but the wholesale collection of phone records is Orwellian ("Bush to widen briefings on NSA wiretap program," May 17).

The president says our privacy is secure.

Sure it is - they took it, locked it up and can securely tinker with your private information at will.

Is there no point at which the Congress or the people will stand up and say, "Enough"?

John Sadler

Baltimore

Curran didn't stop misleading car ads

Following Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran's Jr. recent announcement that he will not seek re-election, I've noticed a number of articles extolling his virtues and praising the job he's done ("Attorney general wanted; must have integrity," Opinion

Commentary, May 15).

My view of the man is quite different.

For most of those many years, I have tried to get him and his office's Consumer Protection Division to crack down on misleading advertising by various automobile dealers, but to no avail.

The misleading ads today are just as blatant and frequent as they were 18 years ago, and have been during the many years since then.

No matter how many times I have made Mr. Curran or his "cadre of the best and brightest lawyers" aware of ads that appear to violate Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection rules, regulations and directives, such ads continue to appear.

Has Mr. Curran been effective in protecting the public interest in cases involving misleading automobile dealer advertising?

In my opinion, he has not.

Richard T. Seymour

Baltimore

The writer is an advertising executive.

'Stop and proceed' would add to chaos

Since apparently no one has ever shown the writer of the letter "Idling at red lights wastes gallons of gas" (May 11) a logical argument against proceeding on a red light after stopping, I'd like to give it a try.

Intersections with stop signs are usually smaller, secondary roads with light traffic and decent sight lines.

Broader, multilane roads carry faster-moving traffic, and often have sight-line obstacles.

Also, many drivers fail to stop completely at stop signs, which is dangerous enough. Imagine extrapolating that behavior to what would happen if we were allowed to "proceed on red after stop."

That sounds like a recipe for more mayhem to me.

Dennis Kaplan

Baltimore

Drivers abuse rules at intersections now

Do you remember when turning right after stopping for a red light became permissible? Not long after that became the law, many drivers modified the law to suit themselves.

Now, a small portion obey the law and stop, then proceed with their turn; many others you will see making their right turn after gliding through the red light without the mandatory stop first.

Other drivers don't even slow down at the red light; they just turn, even when there are cars bearing down on them.

Now think what would happen if they were allowed to stop at a red light, then proceed straight through the intersection if traffic allowed ("Idling at red lights wastes gallons of gas," letters, May 11).

Those same drivers who endanger all around them would try to save themselves a minute by scooting across the intersection ahead of the cross traffic at the green signal.

And there would be even more chaos on the roads.

Ward Wensch

Catonsville

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