The Baltimore Sun

Programs help poor to help themselves

The fact that Thomas Sowell has to fall back on criticisms of Karl Marx and the "policies of the 1960s" in his column "Political 'progressives' have an investment in failure" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 22) shows just how out of touch he is with the advances and strategies that have measurably improved the lives of low-income children, families and individuals in recent years.

For instance, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Family Economic Success initiative is helping Community Action Agencies in Maryland and other states.

The program's mantra of "Earn it; keep it; grow it" underlies its well-developed set of strategies that help poor people move toward greater self-sufficiency and away from welfare dependency.

And the Maryland Rural Development Corporation, another Community Action Agency, provides hands-on help to small communities with wastewater management, environmental issues and other needs as basic as Head Start and family development programs.

Examples of the effectiveness of programs fighting poverty are apparent in hundreds of communities across America.

The good people who work hard to provide such services and programs to poor people and make our nation stronger deserve our appreciation, not Mr. Sowell's snide criticisms.

Don Mathis


The writer is president and CEO of Community Action Partnership.

Demonizing the left is no real argument

Thomas Sowell may have had some valid points in his column "Political 'progressives' have an investment in failure (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 22) but it was hard to see them in the face of his demonizing of a vast, conspiratorial "left."

As an avowed leftist, I certainly didn't see myself represented in the behaviors he attributes to us leftists.

And perhaps Mr. Sowell could have told us about the conditions that led to Latin American successes against poverty and how we can emulate them - instead of just alluding to those successes and then blaming people like me for somehow ignoring them.

Kevin Bonds


Add some figures to fine for Loyola

The illegal destruction of 50,000 square feet of forest in Woodberry by Loyola College should come as no surprise to anyone involved in the fight over this project ("Woodberry frustrated after Loyola College improperly fells trees for construction project," Aug. 21).

When key members of the City Council, notably then-City Council President Sheila Dixon and council members Robert W. Curran and Rochelle "Rikki" Specter, championed the college's plan to cut down a swath of forest to build a sports complex, environmental and community activists knew they had no hope.

After that, the plan was a done deal.

If there were any justice, an extra zero or two would be added to Loyola's $30,000 fine for violating the project's forest conservation plan and plans would be made for the return of the land to the people - those who really care for the land and don't see it in terms of dollar signs.

Myles Hoenig


The writer is a co-chairman of the Charm City Green Party and a former member of the Woodberry Planning Committee.

No need to tolerate the abuse of animals

Michael Vick and others who engage in dogfighting are beneath contempt ("Eventual comeback isn't out of question," Aug. 21). What kind of person gets pleasure from torturing helpless animals?

Mr. Vick is unworthy to be any kind of role model as a sports hero, and I hope he never again plays professional football.

Something good, however, could come of this hideous situation: a real crackdown on dogfighting, which apparently is commonplace.

Laws against it must be enforced and punishment must be certain and appropriate.

A civilized society should not tolerate abuse of animals, especially when we also consider that people who abuse animals are likely to abuse other human beings, too.

Kathleen Truelove


Congress can boost drug safety for kids

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory regarding the safety and effectiveness of cough and cold medicines for children ("FDA agrees to 2nd look at cough medicines," Aug. 16).

The advisory was issued because of the frequency of reports of serious and life-threatening episodes - even deaths - involving children given these common medicines.

Every day parents and guardians unknowingly give their children potentially dangerous medicines.

Approximately 75 percent of pediatric medicines have not been proven safe and effective for children, which puts our kids at serious risk.

Often children are under-dosed or overdosed because doctors just don't know how much of a drug they need.

The solution is simple: To ensure correct medical dosages and drug formulations, medicines must be tested and produced specifically for children.

Over the past decade, Congress has enacted laws - the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act and the Pediatric Research Equity Act - which have dramatically increased the number of drugs tested and labeled for children.

Since these laws were enacted they have prompted completed studies of 132 medications which were already on the market.

These studies have led to more than 115 drug labels being changed to incorporate new pediatric information.

However, both these laws will expire on Oct. 1 unless they are renewed by Congress.

Provisions to renew these laws are included in bills before both the House and the Senate to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration.

Congress should pass such legislation in September.

Let's give our kids access to the same safe and effective medicines that we demand for ourselves as adults.

Diane E. Thompson


The writer is a vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Killing of Armenians is well-documented

The letter "Genocide charge remains unproven" (Aug. 18), with its misleading denial of the 1915 genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, deserves little serious response.

Nevertheless, unfortunately it is necessary, for the sake of historical accuracy and human accountability, to continue to testify to that genocide.

And countless documents, in addition to thousands of accounts from survivors and eyewitnesses - including testimony from Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1913-1916, and other international luminaries - demonstrate and prove the systematic extermination of one-half of the Armenian population in Turkey.

For more contemporary confirmation of those events, the letter-writer might consider the writings of Turkish Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, who was prosecuted in his own country for investigating and writing about the Armenian genocide.

Anne T. Booher


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