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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Citizens fight back against city's crime

The article "Losing the streets" (July 1) may leave the impression that Baltimore residents are not outraged by violent crime - or indeed by all crime. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in Northeast Baltimore.

The HARBEL Community Organization is a coalition of residents and businesses united in trying to keep Northeast Baltimore's many neighborhoods safe and stable.

Residents have banded together with HARBEL since 2000 to form the successful Northeast Citizens Patrol.

And residents recently joined together to fight the crime and fear surrounding the operation of a tavern that had been a problem in this community for many years. We were successful in shutting the bar down.

But after 37 years of helping communities, we believe that forming partnerships between residents, police and elected officials is a far more successful way to fight crime than marching and protests.

Community leaders know that the police and city officials are well aware of the issues we face and are just as eager to keep the bad guys out and let the good guys enjoy tranquillity.

We believe that working together with the law enforcement community and city officials is the way to successfully achieve solutions to some of the most difficult problems our city faces, and HARBEL is committed to doing exactly that.

Naomi Benyowitz

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the HARBEL Community Organization.

Focus on progress Baltimore is making

I've lived in the Remington neighborhood for about a year now. I chose the neighborhood because I thought it was pleasantly gritty, showed a lot of potential, and had a lot going on. The recent drug-related shooting in the area doesn't change any of that ("Unnerved by the violence," July 2).

I didn't know the victim. I'm sorry that he died, and my prayers are with his loved ones.

Even before I moved to Baltimore I knew that there was a very simple rule: If you don't want to get shot, don't get involved in the drug trade.

What Remington doesn't need right now is pessimism. We've had one recent shooting in the neighborhood, and all of a sudden I'm seeing all kinds of negative articles about our community.

However, we have new businesses opening in sites that have been empty for years. We have abandoned houses being purchased, renovated and occupied.

We have a strong team of police officers working in the neighborhood who are making real progress. We have a large number of neighbors who are active in the community.

We had a rough month for violence. The whole city had a rough month. That happens frequently, across the globe, when the weather turns hot, and it's nothing to freak out about. So let's not focus on a handful of bad events. Let's focus on the progress this city is making - progress Remington exemplifies.

Craig Bettenhausen

Baltimore

Back to square one after years in Iraq?

Trudy Rubin offers a good evaluation of the chaos in Iraq in her column "Let's forget the Iraq fantasies and focus on the realities" (Opinion * Commentary, July 3).

She notes that hard-pressed U.S. commanders in Iraq now have three modest goals for that damaged country: to allow no haven for al-Qaida, to prevent a worsening or spreading of civil war, and to ensure the flow of oil.

Given the reckless policies of President Bush up to this point, even these goals might not be within our reach.

This fact is galling, considering that the conditions we now hope for were realities in Iraq before we attacked that nation.

In other words, after four years of bloody conflict, with many thousands killed and many billions spent, our soldiers are trying desperately to get back to square one.

Those soldiers and the people of Iraq are paying the price for President Bush's poor leadership.

Mark Weaver

Catonsville

It's time to impeach a lawless president

By commuting the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., President Bush once again demonstrated that his loyalty and that of his administration are to its friends and not to the country or the Constitution the president pledged to defend ("Libby sentence met guidelines," July 4).

When the Democrats took back control of Congress last year, I was not a supporter of the impeachment movement. I thought it would be political theater that the country could do without.

However, in the eight months that have passed since the new Congress was elected into office, it has become clear that this administration feels no compulsion to be accountable to anyone. Every day that it remains in power, more damage is done.

To paraphrase President Gerald Ford, it is time to end this long national nightmare.

If President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are not removed from office, the generations to come will rightly ask how we could have let them continue to destroy our country.

It is time for Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to stand up and show the courage necessary to put an end to this administration's arrogant abuse of power.

We need to impeach Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney now, before it is too late.

Robert Casero

Glen Arm

When is it legal to kill a fetus?

I'm not writing to express approval of the actions of David L. Miller, who is accused of murdering a pregnant woman and her fetus ("Charge filed in death of fetus," July 3).

But what I do not get is how he can be accused of murder in the death of a fetus (which I believe is a life) when doctors in abortion clinics get away with causing the deaths of fetuses on a daily basis.

Is there something wrong with this equation?

Albert J. Hess Jr.

Darlington

The questions Moore raises need answers

The vehemence of the response to Michael Moore's movie Sicko - for example, in Grace-Marie Turner's column "Look at health data, not propaganda" (Opinion

Commentary, June 29) - reflects the fear in some quarters that Mr. Moore may be striking a nerve among the American people, many of whom probably can empathize with the admittedly carefully selected vignettes Mr. Moore presents in his movie.

For the most part, however, these critics miss the point of Mr. Moore's effort.

In a nutshell, Mr. Moore asks Americans two questions:

What kind of people have we become who can tolerate so much callousness and outright cruelty in our health system, even if only at the margin?

Given that we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as Canada and many European nations spend, do we get anything commensurate in added value for our spending?

It is time to stop defending our health system by trashing any studies that raise questions about it and, instead, address the overarching questions raised by Mr. Moore.

Uwe E. Reinhardt

Princeton, N.J.

The writer is a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University.

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