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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Redirect war funds to care for veterans

The Sun's article "Flawed jewel" (March 11) was heart-wrenching, alarming and frustrating.

This article by Robert Little - along with his award-winning report on the experimental drug used on soldiers ("Dangerous remedy," Nov. 19-Nov. 21) and Bob Woodruff's recent reports on ABC about the Department of Veterans Affairs' handling of injured veterans - have made me very angry.

I am so tired of hearing that glittering generality President Bush regularly utters - "support our troops." Is this the way this administration supports our troops?

We have put more than 100,000 American troops in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we can't care for them properly when they return badly wounded - here in a country that has the best medical care in the world.

Firing top-level people may be a start, but more is needed.

When the mother of a wounded soldier is told the hospital doesn't even have enough sheets and blankets, and gets an attitude as well, where are our leaders and representatives?

When President Bush asks for billions for the war effort, Congress should earmark some of that money for the care of our veterans.

They should practice what our president preaches - and support our troops.

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Democrats defer to the Israel lobby

By pulling an amendment that would have required congressional approval for an attack on Iran, the Democrats once again have failed to stand up to the friends of war in Washington ("Democrats halt attempt to limit acts against Iran," March 13).

The Democratic leadership apparently gave up this essential check on President Bush's war powers at the behest of, or out of concern for, Israel.

Nothing better shows the Israel lobby's baleful influence on Congress, and how America's excessively close relationship with Israel has skewed our priorities.

John Bailey

Edgemere

It's right to require papers for Medicaid

Although I am truly sorry that recent legislation has had an adverse impact on U.S. citizens ("U.S. citizens feel change in Medicaid," March 12), I am appalled that birth certificates and other clear proof of citizenship haven't been required to receive Medicaid benefits all along.

But then again, I would only have learned how the Medicaid system works if I had needed to use it - so I thank The Sun for enlightening me.

I certainly do not feel that requiring authentic proof of citizenship is too much to ask.

And perhaps with these new rules in effect, we will have more resources to take care of more of our legal residents.

Louise Adler

Baltimore

Holding the line is no budget cut

In The Sun's article "Democrats propose Md. budget reductions" (March 13) the following gem appeared: "The largest single cut, $26 million, would be achieved by maintaining current limits on Medicaid services."

Only in the eyes of our politicos would "maintaining current limits" be considered a budget cut.

George Orwell would be proud of such doublethink.

Emerson D. Champion

Pasadena

Wrong leadership for county schools

It seems that Baltimore County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston has hired Sonia Diaz, someone he has known for 10 years, in spite of the fact that she was recently fired by the Las Cruces school system in New Mexico after only four months as its leader ("'Assertive' leader to apply audit," March 7).

Las Cruces cited her poor management style, yet Mr. Hairston says, "We needed someone who understands leadership."

I would suggest that someone who "understands leadership" might be able to squeeze more than four months out of a leadership position.

Kenneth Shapiro

Baltimore

The writer is a teacher at Deer Park Elementary School.

Vegetarian options keep kids healthy

As a dietitian, I wasn't surprised to read that the number of teenagers undergoing obesity surgery has tripled ("Anti-obesity surgery for youths triples," March 6).

It's time to step up our fight against childhood obesity - and teaching children about healthy vegetarian diets can help.

Most young people only eat about half the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. They tend to fill up on sugary snacks, sodas and greasy, fatty foods such as chicken nuggets and pizza.

But researchers have found that vegetarian adolescents eat more fruits, vegetables and fiber and have lower intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat than non-vegetarians.

This means they have less risk of obesity and the diseases that come with it, including heart disease and diabetes.

Banning sodas and junk food is a start. But we also need to teach the importance of grabbing an apple instead of a candy bar or a veggie burger instead of a cheeseburger.

This will set our young people on the road to a lifetime of healthy eating.

Dulcie Ward

Washington

The writer is staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

No need to apologize for deeds of others

The Sun's article "Slave trade elicits call for apology" (March 11) left me with so many questions that I don't know where to start.

None of the citizens living in Maryland today was involved in the slave trade. Whether their relatives owned or were slaves is irrelevant today.

And while taking personal responsibility for what you have done wrong should be the norm, apologizing for something you didn't do or have any knowledge of (because you weren't even born yet) is ludicrous and laughable.

Elected officials certainly don't speak for many of us when they apologize for the sins of the past.

Many of us teach our children to do what's right and take responsibility for their actions, good or bad. But we certainly also teach them that they are not responsible for what others do or have done.

Many of us are very tired of hearing about the problems of the past. And we are certainly not willing to apologize for the actions of people who lived hundreds of years ago.

Raymond T. Merryman

Rosedale

L'Ouverture a hero on behalf of Haiti

With all due respect, I am compelled to correct Madison Smartt Bell's assertion that Toussaint L'Ouverture may be "the highest-achieving African-American hero of all time" ("The Greatest Ever?" March 11).

A hero? Certainly.

But L'Ouverture was not an African-American. L'Ouverture was Haitian. To fail to make that distinction undermines the pivotal role L'Ouverture played in making St. Domingue into Haiti.

The ability to be Haitian and free is, after all, what L'Ouverture fought most fiercely for.

Kerry Lessard

Ellicott City

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