Military takes funds that could save crabs
Concerning the loss of funding for the research project on increasing the crab population in the bay, I think it is helpful to put the amount of money spent on the project in 2007 - about $4 million - in perspective ("Md. crab project loses U.S. funding," Jan. 7).
Including appropriations for the wars abroad, total defense spending for 2008 is likely to be about $2 billion a day.
The $4 million spent on research on increasing crab populations in the largest estuary of the United States amounts to about three minutes' worth of defense spending.
The next time someone in the federal government tells you there's no money for education, the environment or for better government services, think again.
When the government is spending about $80 million an hour on defense and on wars, the priorities are pretty clear.
Maneuvers in strait a dangerous gamble
It would be good if, when The Sun runs an article about a confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz, it also includes a map of the strait and the surrounding countries so that readers can visualize the location ("Navy video shows feint by Iranian boats," Jan. 9).
Once people understand how close to the Iranian coast our warships are maneuvering (a site roughly equivalent to having Iranian warships maneuvering 15 miles off the Delaware coast) some people might suck in their breath and ask, "Isn't this kind of gamesmanship sort of inviting trouble?"
Herman M. Heyn
Needle exchange needs to do more
As an HIV-prevention researcher who has worked with injection drug users in Baltimore over the past 10 years, I have seen the numerous benefits of Baltimore's needle exchange program ("More clean needles," editorial, Jan. 8).
Time and again, research in Baltimore and elsewhere has found that involvement in needle exchange programs is associated with reduced HIV incidence among drug users and increased rates of entry into drug treatment.
Baltimore's program not only exchanges syringes but provides services such as HIV testing and pays for hundreds of drug treatment slots each year. This is all done with a modest budget and a small but extremely dedicated staff.
But in a city with an HIV epidemic predominantly fueled by injection drug use, we are falling short of doing all that we need to do.
Lifting the federal funding ban on needle exchange programs could help us scale up our services and enhance our ability to reach the thousands of injection drug users in Baltimore who do not have access to needle exchange or other needed services.
The writer is a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an adviser to Baltimore's needle exchange program.
Shortfalls caused by excess spending
I was struck by a line in The Sun's article "O'Malley lists opening agenda for 2008 session" (Jan. 10) about using revenue from slots to "solve the state's chronic budget deficits."
I find it curious that the wealthiest state in our country has chronic budget deficits.
And it is this taxpayer's humble opinion that there is not enough revenue in the entire galaxy to solve Maryland's budget woes.
To put a new spin on an old adage of the Democratic Party - "it's the spending, stupid."
Gas cost makes drive to Delaware useless
The writer of the letter "Driving to Delaware for new purchases" (Jan. 9) suggests that, given Maryland's new sales tax rate, he will be going to Delaware to save on purchases.
Will he be walking then?
Or is he getting a special deal on gasoline?
Evidence execution does deter killings
The column "Global shift against death penalty" (Opinion
Commentary, Jan. 1) makes the case against capital punishment, arguing that it is being recognized around the world that there is no rational reason to continue to kill citizens guilty of heinous crimes.
However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, a dozen studies by economists over the last decade have demonstrated the deterrent value of capital punishment. The studies suggest that each execution can prevent three to 18 murders.
The authors of one study, professors Roy D. Adler and Michael Summers of Pepperdine University, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that their research yielded even more dramatic results: "Each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year."
I think we have a moral obligation to keep capital punishment as our ultimate punishment.
I urge our legislators to keep in mind that, if we abolish the death penalty, we are telling someone contemplating the most heinous mass murders imaginable that, if he or she should get caught and found guilty, the worst that can happen is that he or she will live with free housing, food, clothing, medical and dental care and legal representation for the rest of his or her life.
Eula M. Marshall
Must state regulate our listening habits?
The proposal by Thomas Kunkel, the dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, to place programming decisions for radio and TV stations in government hands is most welcome ("Make them cover the news," Jan. 6).
Under our current system, broadcast stations succeed if they attract a sufficient number of listeners. But if people do not tune in, the station must close, or change its format.
While a system based on listener choice may be superficially appealing, and may even appear to the uninitiated to be based on American values, it is fraught with problems.
While the common people of the United States are noted for knowing what they like, they do not know what is good for them.
Fortunately, our graduate journalism schools are staffed with experts who are both wise and benevolent.
Not only do they know what is good for us, they also have our best interests at heart.
System is broken and needs fixing
The writer of the letter "Change itself isn't always a blessing" (Jan. 9) says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
However, there is one problem with this idea - our system is broken and most assuredly needs fixing.
And if you think it "ain't broke," all you need to do is take a look around.
Take a look at the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the invasion of Iraq, the federal budget deficit, the dollar's decline against other currencies, the housing bubble that is bursting, the corruption of the Bush administration and, if you're honest, you'll have to admit that the system is most assuredly "broke" and definitely needs fixing.