Closing detox center shuts a door to help

The decision by Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center to expand services to methadone maintenance patients is to be applauded ("Bayview closes its drug detox center," July 12). Funding these services by eliminating the detoxification program is a tragic mistake.

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition, and permanent abstinence clearly will not be achieved by a 10-day to 14-day period of detoxification.

But even a brief respite from the compulsive need to use opiates can mean the difference between life and death and, when provided to large numbers of patients, will yield substantial benefits to the community as a whole as well.

Fifty funded detoxification "slots," for example, can accommodate 1,500 or more admissions yearly. And even a modest investment can make it possible to offer a promptly available alternative to the next heroin fix for vast numbers of opiate-dependent individuals - which is a moral imperative for cities such as Baltimore that have long waiting lists for comprehensive maintenance and drug-free programs.

It would appear that Bayview's decision is an example of the best becoming enemy of the good. A handful of people will now get "the best" drug treatment while the large majority of those desperately needing help may be denied "the good" and simply be abandoned.

Dr. Robert Newman

New York

The writer is director of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center.

Editors aren't ready to run foreign policy

The Sun's propaganda disguised as editorials is really getting old. The paper's hatred for the Bush administration reaches new lows every week.

Now The Sun blasts the Bush administration's response to the current Mideast crisis in "Dual assaults occupy Israel" (editorial, July 13).

The adjective The Sun used for its response was "pitiful," and the editorial suggested that the administration is indifferent to the situation.

So let me see if I have this straight: According to The Sun, when it comes to protecting this country from terrorism, Mr. Bush is heavy-handed with his monitoring of suspected terrorists who aim to destroy our way of life and in his handling of detainees in prisons. But he is supposed to be more involved in this current crisis. How? By negotiating with the militants?

It is so easy for the editors to sit in their offices and pretend they know how to handle foreign policy and can offer a pat answer for complicated and dangerous situations.

But I trust the president to do the best he can under very trying circumstances.

The Sun's judgment on this, and many other matters, is sadly lacking.

Stan Goodman


Belated checks on petulant president

According to The Sun's article "Bush forced to reverse course again," (July 14) "President Bush made two reluctant bows this week to the limits of his wartime powers, the latest examples, analysts said, of his administration's practice of asserting the broadest possible executive authority until forced to reverse course."

Anyone who has lived with a 2-year-old child is familiar with this kind of behavior.

Better parenting skills from Congress and the Supreme Court might have nipped it in the bud.

Nancy Spies


Attacks cost Israel moral high ground

As an American Jew and a Holocaust survivor, I am shocked and deeply embarrassed by the terror unleashed by Israel's government on hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in pursuit of its military objectives ("Israeli troops stage strike into Lebanon," July 18).

This policy emulates the crimes of our oppressors. It cedes our high moral ground to Hezbollah.

It violates the biblical injunction of "an eye for an eye" - which was intended to make the response commensurate with the injury.

Alex Hershaft


New pollution limit will be boon for bay

Far from seeking to ease pollution limits for Baltimore's harbor, as The Sun's July 7 headline "State seeks to ease pollution limit" erroneously suggested, the state and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) have stepped out smartly to address the requirements of the Clean Water Act in every respect and established enforceable maximum daily load limits for discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus into the harbor for the very first time.

Instead of applauding the estimated 37 percent reduction in these pollutants that is likely to come about from this action as a giant step forward for the city and the bay, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has apparently chosen to scoff at what MDE has accomplished and hold out for totally unrealistic limits.

As a longtime member of the bay foundation and a supporter of its aims, it saddens me to see it yet again minimize or denigrate some of the positive steps that the Ehrlich administration has taken to improve the bay's health.

I applaud Phil Lee, the head of the Baltimore Harbor Watershed Association, and some other fellow realists committed to improving the environment, for at least giving the MDE and the administration the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

Dick Fairbanks


The writer is a former vice chairman of the Baltimore City Republican Party.

City still boasts affordable areas

It seems to me that both the Baltimore City Task Force on Inclusionary Zoning and Housing and The Sun are not giving an accurate assessment of the affordable housing available in Baltimore.

For example, The Sun's editorial "The housing crunch" (July 17) seems to suggest that the choice is between "deplorable housing" and "a glittering array of million-dollar residences."

But there are many affordable and stable neighborhoods in Baltimore in general, and in my area of southwest Baltimore in particular, that are not often mentioned as solutions to the current expensive housing market.

So let the word go forth, to young families just starting out and to the Adele Plitts of the city who are being forced out of their revitalized neighborhoods, that there are plenty of great authentic city communities that would gladly welcome them home.

John Tully


Right to protest is bedrock of freedom

It is a sad day when so many Americans, including the writer of the letter "Desecrating the flags spits on our freedom" (July 13), completely misunderstand what freedom is.

Even under the most deeply entrenched dictatorship, people have always been "free" to do things that the community favors.

The whole point of freedom is the right to disrupt authority or offend your neighbors, so long as you don't physically harm them (and no, hurt feelings don't count).

The right of political protest is the bedrock upon which our nation was founded.

Francis Uy

Ellicott City

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