NIH center meets design standards

I want to clarify several points raised in The Sun's article about vibration issues at the National Institutes of Health's new Biomedical Research Center ("NIH may use labs at old building," Jan. 7).


First, the building meets the design standards for conducting biomedical research, and its structure is similar to other research buildings that have been recently constructed, such as those at Yale University, the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To my knowledge, no vibration problems have been reported in these buildings.

Second, the most recent vibration measurements in the new building show it meets all the standard design criteria for state-of-the-art biomedical research. There is no evidence, as of yet, that any NIH experiments will be compromised in the new building. However, we are continuing to test equipment in the new facility this month.


Third, The Sun's article implied that NIH has decided to renovate an old laboratory building to house vibration-sensitive equipment. No such decision has been reached.

In summary, initial vibration concerns about the building were based on very preliminary estimates.

Recent readings tell us that the facility is capable of handling NIH's research needs.

Colleen Barros


The writer is deputy for management at the National Institutes of Health.

Winfrey told truth on scorn for schools

I usually don't agree with columnist Clarence Page. But he was right on target in "Daring to tell the truth about education" (Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 9).


In this column, Mr. Page writes that the queen of daytime talk, Oprah Winfrey, did poor folks a favor when she candidly explained in a Newsweek interview why she decided to build her lavish new school for impoverished teenagers in South Africa rather than in this country.

Ms. Winfrey said that Africans show a greater need and appreciation for education than U.S. inner-city students.

According to The Washington Post, Wilson High School, one of the best in our nation's capital, graduated only 53 percent of its seniors last year.

Such dismal and appalling statistics are matched in inner cities across the nation. But where is the outrage in the black community?

Mr. Page also suggests that old school buildings should be renovated. And indeed, if Americans can build state-of-the-art arenas for basketball, football and baseball, we can build state-of-the-art schools for our children.

Our children aren't the only ones with their priorities out of order.


Pamela A. Hairston


Ethics panel leaves issues unanswered

I received a "Breaking News" e-mail from The Sun informing me that Baltimore's Board of Ethics had cleared Sheila Dixon of any improprieties ("Ethics board clears Dixon," Jan. 12).

The Board of Ethics is made up of five unsalaried members. Four are appointed by the mayor, and three of these members are confirmed by the City Council. One member is chosen by the city solicitor.

How ethical is it that city officials thus police their own?


Had Ms. Dixon followed the city's crystal-clear ethics guidelines, she would have recused herself from any participation in discussions regarding a company her sister worked for.

The outcome of this inquiry suspiciously reeks of convenience, with justice and ethics pushed aside.

William Paparounis


A surge to victory is key to security

I fully agree with and support President Bush's decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq to win the war on terror ("Both parties question sending more forces," Jan. 12).


The increase in troop strength and the surge to victory are necessary and must be carried out now.

I urge the Democratic-led House and Senate to approve funds for the troop increase without undue delay.

It's high time the liberals and Democrats realize what is at stake here.

We must defeat the terrorists now -- over there in Iraq and Afghanistan -- while we have them at bay.

If not, we will eventually be confronted on our homeland and have to engage and fight them over here.

Al Eisner



Speech shows Bush still out of touch

Like a lost motorist who drives faster in the hope of finding his way, President Bush's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq demonstrates just how out of touch he is with the American people ("Iraq Situation 'Unacceptable,'" Jan. 11).

Publicly accepting responsibility for mistakes in Iraq is an important step.

Now he needs to do the difficult work of listening -- to Congress, to the advice of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, to a significant number of top generals -- and reversing a wrongheaded policy.

Heidi Blalock



Backing both sides in Iraq's civil strife

What's the difference between the civil wars in Vietnam and Iraq?

In Vietnam, our presidents backed the losing side. So, to avoid a bad outcome in Iraq, our president is backing both sides ("Both parties question sending more forces," Jan. 12).

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall


Iraq war vitiates reverence for life

The House of Representatives has again voted to expand federally funded research to support stem cell research ("House OKs boost for stem cell study," Jan. 12). The legislation is expected to pass the Senate as well.

The Bush administration is once again planning to veto such legislation, noting that the bill "would use federal taxpayer dollars to support and encourage the destruction of human life for research."

Given this administration's direct responsibility for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers in Iraq, President Bush's twisted logic never ceases to amaze me.

Robert H. Paul



Abortion sets stage for city's carnage

The Sun's article "Shot down while helping a friend" (Jan. 11) is an example of the sorts of bigger problems that citizens have to address. As incoming Baltimore mayor, Sheila Dixon said, "People have to begin to value human beings' lives."

I agree with Ms. Dixon. But throughout history, people have devalued human life. And this problem has escalated in the past 30 to 50 years, as we now permit the daily devaluation and destruction of innocent, vulnerable and defenseless human beings before they are born.

Because we use and kill human beings at an early stage of life, we have degenerated into a violent world that devalues and disrespects all human life.

Very few people want to address this problem. But until it is, killings such as the one described in this article will continue to plague our society.

Loretta J. Hoffman