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SATURDAY MAILBOX

The Baltimore Sun

Where's the outrage over use of torture?

As a resident of Baltimore, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, and a longtime reader of the The Sun, I am writing to express my outrage regarding the recent reports that President Bush's top national security advisers (including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) held numerous meetings in the White House to approve the use of abusive interrogation techniques (including waterboarding and sleep deprivation) on high-value detainees ("Justice Dept. letters shed light on tactics," April 27).

Not only do these meetings implicate top administration officials in condoning illegal acts that constitute torture, but, as ABC News reported, the president himself has admitted that he was aware of these meetings and approved of them.

I am indescribably saddened by this compelling evidence of the fact that our highest leaders condoned and participated in acts of torture.

I am also disappointed by the relatively mild response from the media and from the public to these revelations. I would have expected that news of the president's top advisers meeting, with his knowledge and permission, to authorize interrogators to illegally torture detainees would have been met with a widespread public outcry, and a deluge of press interest in the issue.

Unfortunately both the public and the press seemed to have responded with a collective yawn.

According to ABC News, after one of the meetings, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft asked, "Why are we discussing this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

Mr. Ashcroft was right: History will not be kind to the top officials who allowed detainees to be tortured.

If the American media and the American public do not respond to these revelations with the outcry they deserve, history may judge us unkindly as well.

Sr. Joan Serda, Baltimore

Invest in boosting green economy

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, we also have a suggestion for William P. Carey: invest in green-collar jobs ("Baltimore's Mr. Carey," editorial, April 28).

The growing field of green-collar jobs includes positions in the fields of renewable energy, green construction, organic farming and other industries that are springing up to fill our need for sustainable living.

Like biotechnology, the green economy is a sector with vast growth potential. But green-collar jobs are more easily accessible to individuals with little formal education - the group that has been most hurt by the loss of blue-collar jobs in Baltimore.

Mr. Carey could foster the growth of the city's green economy in numerous ways, including by supporting entrepreneurship in sustainable industries, developing incentives to boost demand for the green economy and seeding job training programs like the Green Corps program in Oakland, Calif., which trains low-income youths in green construction skills.

Green-collar jobs represent an ideal investment opportunity for Baltimore - in an industry that is only going to grow and can provide jobs for those who need them the most.

And given the mayor's interest in a cleaner, greener Baltimore, there has never been a better time to invest in this area.

Caroline Fichtenberg Jay Graham, Baltimore

Give new hotel a better profile

A previous letter-writer noted that the new downtown hotel is devoid of any real design, referring to it as "hospital-esque" ("Unattractive hotel ruins city skyline," April 25).

Indeed, if Hilton paid good money for an architect to design the structure, it should ask for a refund. A kindergartner easily could have drawn such a boring building, using black rectangles to signify the equally boring windows.

But hey, Baltimore, it's not too late.

Let's be proactive. Let's ask Hilton to reconsider its plans.

Let's do something special.

Put a ship on the top floor. Make the windows look like palm trees. Paint the building vivid hues of orange and purple (for the Orioles and Ravens, respectively).

Add some granite or marble. Whatever.

Just be creative. Make our downtown a showpiece.

If we're going to have a view-busting building, at least give us something that's fun to look at.

Catherine B. Parks, Baltimore

School discipline begins at home

Without a doubt, something needs to be done about our schools.

It isn't just Baltimore schools that are having discipline problems, although the problem is certainly pervasive in city schools.

As an elementary school librarian, and the parent of a middle school student, a high school student and a college student, I see this problem at all levels of education.

Anyone who has spent any appreciable amount of time watching the workings of a school can clearly see that the teachers are overworked. Administrators also have a great deal on their plates.

That's why they address the issues they can control, like gum-chewing.

Why aren't the larger issues tackled?

The answer is bigger than the suggestions in Julia Gumminger's column ("City students who run amok have many victims," Commentary, April 21) - better training, stronger discipline codes, parental demands of more from administrators.

While any and all of her suggestions might make a dent in the problem, any teacher will tell you that the missing link in many discipline cases, and in meeting the mandates of the No Child Left Behind law, is often the parents.

Parents need to support the teachers and school administrators.

Parents need not "demand more from school administrators" but demand more from themselves and their own children.

It is not the job of the school system to teach discipline, but to reinforce what a child has been taught since birth.

Accountability begins with one's own self and one's children.

Responsibility begins at home.

Cindy L. Lewis, White Marsh

Israeli attacks cause the carnage

The article "Palestinian mother, kids die" (April 29) describes how an Israeli tank fired into a house in the Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian mother and her four young children.

Two other children from the same family were badly wounded and hospitalized. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack stated, "We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries."

In other words, even though Israel continues its deadly siege in Gaza and continues using collective punishment, disproportionate force, targeted assassinations and home demolitions there, all the violence is somehow Hamas' fault.

What does Israel think will result from it bringing "army tanks, armored vehicles and bulldozers backed by helicopters" into Gaza, one of the world's most densely populated areas?

When will U.S. leaders find the backbone to stand up to the powerful Israel lobby and end our political, financial and military support of Israel's occupation and oppression of the Palestinians?

Ray Gordon, Baltimore

Political system begets mediocrity

When this boring campaign ends, the country will choose one of two ambitious, opportunistic political hacks for president.

Gender, color and party are not important. Intellect and integrity are. And none of the candidates has enough of either of those traits to lead the country. .

Journalists have tried and failed to make these candidates seem interesting or controversial. But they are typical of the pathetic choices we have been offered by the two major parties for years.

If we wish to promote mediocrity, our present system is doing the job.

Georgia Burch Benson, Timonium

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