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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Health tax plan shifts burden onto workers

While President Bush's State of the Union address was mostly a less confident rehashing of the same old fallacies, I would like to point out the one new distortion that was presented during his somber speech: I am hoping that the American public is smart enough to see through his health care reform scam ("Tax proposals get mixed reviews," Jan. 24).

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The "tax deduction" for individual policies is intended to benefit only the insurance companies and corporations, placing further burden upon the shoulders of the working class.

The fact that was left out of the speech is that tax incentives for employers to carry employee health care are removed. Thus the weight of health care expenses is shifted from employer to employee.

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Any "tax deduction" is irrelevant to a worker who has to choose between health care and feeding his or her family.

The insurance companies and corporations would see increased profits, and the worker would, again, suffer.

Matt Golden

Baltimore

Pakistan is no friend in the war on terror

After a first-time visit to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has come to the realization that a resurgent and resilient Taliban has set up shop in Pakistan to commit cross-border atrocities in Afghanistan ("Gates notes terror activity," Jan. 17).

The tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan grows as Pakistan turns a blind eye to the illegal activities of the ever-brazen Taliban in North Waziristan, a wild and ungoverned area of Pakistan that straddles Afghanistan. The Pakistani government struck a peace deal with the tribals of Waziristan claiming that this would help in the government's war on terror.

This is a joke.

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Pakistan's cooperation with the United States against terrorists is half-hearted at best, and it has not changed the fundamental landscape of Pakistan as a haven for terrorists.

The United States is obsessed with Iranian nuclear capabilities, but the distinction of making the first Islamic bomb belongs to Pakistan.

The Bush administration, which boasted that its pre-emptive war in Iraq will douse Islamic extremism with democracy, calls Pakistan an ally in the war on terror and President Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator, a friend.

Does this make any sense?

Usha Nellore

Bel Air

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U.S. strategy denies reality in Mideast

Columnist Trudy Rubin is right ("President's new plan for Iraq founded on delusions," Jan. 17). Another good example of President Bush's delusion is the spectacle of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting the Middle East ostensibly to promote Palestinian-Israeli peace after having ignored this crisis over the last six years.

But look who Ms. Rice is talking with: the heads of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states. She refuses to talk with Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, because talking might somehow legitimize them. If Ms. Rice was paying attention during her trip, she would have learned that the legitimacy of the aforementioned countries and groups comes from the overwhelming support of the Middle Eastern street.

As long as the Bush administration and its envoys are in denial of the reality on the ground and refuse to engage the real players, anything they initiate will continue to be a disaster for the region and for the interests of the United States.

Fariborz S. Fatemi

McLean, Va.

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The writer is a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reach agreement on Mercy solution

There appear to be many agendas within the preservation community that make attempts at compromise difficult for Mercy Medical Center, the city and preservationists regarding the historic rowhouses owned by the hospital ("Mercy's demolition permit hearing postponed," Jan. 25).

Mercy's proposal to create a mini-museum within the hospital resonates with me. A further idea would be to preserve and move one or more of the fa?ades to a more hospitable location. The current site - on a busy one-way street that also serves emergency and business traffic - seems a dreadful location for tourists and students of history or architecture.

One hopes a rational solution can be reached soon, rather than another embarrassment like the Rochambeau fiasco.

S. M. Schmidt

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Middle River

The best approach to city growth issue

The writers of the letters "Warehouse isn't best use of city parcel" and "Construction cranes boost city's future" (Jan. 4) elegantly laid out what they think would be best for Baltimore. However, they missed the point.

What preservationists are saying is that there must be some coherence to the planning and shaping of growth. At this point, there are few controls. Simple greed and ego are the engines driving Baltimore's urban planning.

What is most disturbing about the city's rush to demolish the Terminal Warehouse on Guilford Avenue is that there appears to be no firm plans for what is to replace it, other than a six-story parking lot.

The warehouse in question is directly across the street from a huge parking lot, which is next to another parking lot, which is surrounded by another parking lot.

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This area is a half-block behind where Mercy Medical Center wants to expand ("Hospital might spare one house," Jan. 5).

Why can't these developers build what Mercy needs on one of the parking lots? That way, the rowhouse buildings could be saved, Mercy would have its new tower, the developers would make their money, a blighted area would be rebuilt and the city would benefit.

If there was ever a case for aggressive city involvement and use of eminent domain powers, this is it.

Tim Goecke

Baltimore

Rasmussen shows his aural acumen

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The relationship of language, geography and sports became evident in an article by Frederick N. Rasmussen ("'Bawlmore'? Maybe to a sportswriter's tin ear," Jan. 20).

Mr. Rasmussen takes issue with several writers and with sports announcers in the interpretation of the speech heard in Baltimore, specifically the pronunciation of the word Baltimore as "Bawlmore." Linguistically, the issue appears to be the choice of the vowel, the deletion of the second syllable, or perhaps the placement of the stress marker on the first syllable of the word.

Mr. Rasmussen goes on to point out other examples of geographic differences in the pronunciation of words spoken by individuals from New Jersey, who, according to Mr. Rasmussen, say "Bal-tee-more," and by persons from New York, who pronounce the word coffee as "kawfee."

Mr. Rasmussen should be given his due for his phonetically acute ear.

Ever since the introduction of the word shibboleth into the English language, linguists and casual observers of speech have embraced or denounced certain aspects of pronunciation or grammar considered to be representative of a given geographic area.

This observation of language heard in a given region is still the case today.

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Milford A. Jeremiah

Baltimore


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