LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Get gang members off streets forever

If the allegations against them prove true, the 28 people indicted last week are precisely the sorts who have made it a fashion trend for young hoodlums to stalk and attack innocent citizens in our city's neighborhoods ("Inquiry targets Md. gang," Feb. 26).

The charges go far beyond everyday drug crimes.

Just to become a member of this disgusting group, young recruits must prove their worthiness by committing a violent crime - and not just on rival gang members.

Carjackings, brutal robberies, killings, witness intimidation, you name it: These gang members seem to embrace it all as some perverse badge of honor.

I believe this twisted way of life now rules our streets. I believe it goes beyond drug gangs.

I believe the four young men who nearly beat my husband to death last June felt a thrill and took pride in this demonic "code" when they embarked on the hideous adventure that has ruined my life - and virtually ended that of my husband.

People like this have made citizens' lives a living hell for long enough.

I implore the federal and local officials to go the distance with this prosecution.

Make the charges stick. Arrest the rest of their foul network.

Let's get them off our streets forever.

Anna Sowers

Baltimore

The writer is the wife of Zach Sowers, who was beaten into a coma during a robbery in Baltimore last June.

Rural art gallery an exciting idea

The prospect of a remarkable art gallery in Baltimore County is very exciting ("Museum proposed in rural Balto. Co.," Feb. 27).

Other museums (e.g., the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., and the Barnes Foundation's museum outside Philadelphia) are successfully situated in similarly nontraditional settings.

They are accessible to all, but have limits on parking and advance reservations.

It can be done.

Barbara Shaw

Lutherville

Cancel ICC to save billions, cut carbon

The Sun's editorial "Toll ahead" (Feb. 29) claims that the Maryland Transportation Authority's funding problems "are not of [Gov. Martin] O'Malley's making" because they are mostly caused by the money going to the Intercounty Connector.

This makes little sense, as Mr. O'Malley supports the ICC.

While a lot of homes have been torn down and trees clear-cut, there still isn't any concrete poured. Mr. O'Malley could stop the ICC tomorrow if he wanted to and save most of the money dedicated to the project.

And the $2.4 billion estimate The Sun quotes for the ICC's cost is from 2004 - you may be assured that construction of the road will cost far more since oil was at $40 a barrel in 2004, and has gone to $100 today bringing higher concrete, steel and asphalt prices with it.

Mr. O'Malley supports the Global Warming Solutions Act, which would require future governors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If he truly cares about global warming, he would cancel the ICC and devote the money instead to public transit.

Carl Henn

Rockville

Right to retaliate for rocket attacks

Since Jan. 1, approximately 800 rockets have been launched from Gaza by Hamas and its terrorists into civilian areas of Israel, including the town of Sderot and the city of Ashkelon ("Abbas halts Mideast talks," March 3).

These rockets are designed to kill and maim civilians.

Among the wounded and dead: a college student in Israel who was killed, leaving a wife and four children, and an 8-year-old boy who suffered the amputation of his leg.

Since Israel withdrew its citizens and military from Gaza in August 2005, more than 4,500 rockets have been fired into Israel.

Instead of seeking to build a country, with jobs, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, Hamas spends its money and energy on death, and intentionally locates its Qassam rocket launchers in civilian areas so that Israel's retaliation hurts civilians.

Israel is exercising its absolute right to protect its citizens.

We would not stand idly by if our Mexican neighbors were shelling us. Israel should not have to exercise restraint in its pursuit of security.

Irwin E. Weiss

Baltimore

U.S. policy backs the Cuban people

The Sun's editorial "A new man in Havana" (Feb. 20) misses the point about the Bush administration's policy toward Cuba.

Cubans have been oppressed for more than 50 years and denied the freedoms we enjoy in the democratic world.

U.S. policy toward Cuba is designed to prevent resources from reaching the Cuban regime - resources the regime would use to oppress the Cuban people.

At the same time, the American people are the largest provider of humanitarian aid to the island.

We stand with the Cuban people in their efforts to promote human rights and stimulate a dialogue about their future.

Until political prisoners suffering in jail are freed and Cuban citizens are granted fundamental human rights, we will not fuel the fires of oppression.

We look forward to the day when Cuba will join the inter-American community as a free, democratic society.

Carlos M. Gutierrez

Washington

The writer is secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Continuing carnage in war without end

Despite Republicans trumpeting the surge's success, 29 Americans were killed in Iraq during February.

Any first-grader knows that's a death a day, but no one can tell us why they are dying, and there's still no end in sight.

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called on Turkey to get out of Iraq "as soon as they can," and Turkey vamoosed.

Can we hope Mr. Gates will quickly heed his own advice?

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall

Prefers a new voice for afternoon radio

I, too, am a supporter of WYPR. And given a choice between listening to Marc Steiner and Dan Rodricks, Mr. Rodricks wins with me, hands down ("A perfect public radio storm," Feb. 22). I don't want to criticize Mr. Steiner while he's down, but I welcome the change.

I would listen to Mr. Steiner, but with Mr. Rodricks on the air, I will make a point to turn on the radio in the afternoon.

Pat Stilwell

Baltimore

Congress has issues bigger than Clemens

Let's see now: People are losing their homes ("'A tough time,'" Feb. 29) - and then there is Roger Clemens ("National policy debated," Feb. 28).

Elderly people are looking for a job to pay their utility bills - and then there is Roger Clemens.

The cost of food has gone way up - and then there is Roger Clemens.

The cost of health care went way up - and then there is Roger Clemens .

Gasoline is up to $102 a barrel - and then there is Roger Clemens.

Yes, Congress truly has its priorities straight.

Roberta Salamon

Odenton

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