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The Baltimore Sun

New ways to help youths in trouble

The monitor's report highlighted in The Sun's article "Monitor faults conditions at state juvenile centers" (May 21) raises concerns that programming is lacking at the Victor Cullen Center, a new secure facility in Western Maryland. Advocates for Children and Youth released an analysis last week that amplifies the same concerns.

The state has invested $20 million in reopening the Victor Cullen Center and is planning to spend hundreds of millions more to replicate that model in Baltimore and in Prince George's County.

It is imperative that the Department of Juvenile Services develop an effective treatment program that includes appropriate services after a child is released from DJS custody.

ACY's recent report tells the story of youths whose experiences show that this is not happening.

Some of the solutions to this problem are clear, and indeed are being effectively implemented in other jurisdictions.

For higher-risk youths, Missouri has demonstrated that quality rehabilitative services, during and after confinement, can lower recidivism.

For youths who do not require out-of-home placement, multisystemic therapy is a proven, intensive home-based service model that reduces arrests and improves youth and family functioning.

Maryland should join the list of states that realize that effective programming improves safety and saves money.

Angela Conyers Johnese, Baltimore

The writer is juvenile justice director for Advocates for Children and Youth.

County can afford raise for teachers

So let me get this straight - there is a $94.8 million reserve in the Baltimore County budget, and a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for teachers would have cost $9.5 million ("Police pay to rise in new budget," May 23).

Do the math: Couldn't the county have gotten by with a surplus of $85.3 million?

No cost-of-living increase means that many Baltimore County teachers will be making less, in real terms, next year than we currently do. And that is unacceptable.

MaryLee A. Stritch, Abingdon

The writer is a media specialist at Westowne Elementary School.

Navy is preparing to respond to crises

I couldn't agree more with Lawrence Korb and Max Bergmann's assessment of the U.S. military's new role as a "global first responder" ("Embracing new role," Commentary, May 20). In fact, our new maritime strategy - "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" - is grounded, in part, on that premise.

This strategy, published last October, charts a course for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps to work with each other and our international partners to prevent crises, man-made or natural, from occurring or to react quickly if one should occur.

Our deployment of hospital ships and other humanitarian assistance missions reinforces that objective.

The strategy recognizes the economic links of the global system and how disruptions can adversely impact our prosperity and our quality of life.

Adm. Gary Roughead, Washington

The writer is chief of naval operations for the U.S. Navy.

Inured to waste in war in Iraq?

Have we become so inured to the waste in Iraq that a report by the Pentagon concerning $8.2 billion in unaccounted-for taxpayer funds appears on Page 12A of The Sun ("Payments without records," May 23) while an article about praying at the pump appears in the center of the front page with a photo ("Calling higher for lower prices," May 23)?

Monica Kelly, Towson

No harm in talking to our enemies

The writer of the letter "Bush was right on appeasement" (May 21) asks what was untrue or historically inaccurate about President Bush's remarks on appeasement.

Although what the president said about appeasement of Adolf Hitler was true enough, his comparison of that historical situation to the modern situation is inaccurate.

In addition, his implied comparison of former President Jimmy Carter's talks with Hamas and Sen. Barack Obama's statement that he would talk with Iran's president to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler is inaccurate.

There is never any harm in talking to your enemies.

Talking does not imply giving in - only finding out the whole story before launching military action that kills thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Imagine that.

Carl Aron, Catonsville

Democrats distort McCain's words

As a registered Democrat, I recently received in the mail from the Democratic National Committee a "Presidential Campaign Survey," which I was asked to complete and return with a donation.

One of the survey questions is: "Do you believe that John McCain's pledge to keep troops in Iraq for another 100 years will be a liability in the General Election?"

Democratic candidates for office have a duty to question Mr. McCain's positions on the Iraq war. But this blatantly dishonest use of the senator's reference in January to a possibility that American troops might be stationed in the Middle East for as long as 100 years is ill-conceived and could backfire.

An article last month in the Columbia Journalism Review criticized Sen. Barack Obama for quoting Mr. McCain out of context when accusing him of being willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war in Iraq.

The review article printed in full Mr. McCain's original statement about maintaining "a presence in a very volatile part of the world."

It added: "It's clear from this that McCain isn't saying he'd support continuing the war for 100 years, only that it might be necessary to keep troops there that long. That's a very different thing."

Frank P.L. Somerville, Baltimore

Easy to make money better for the blind

America's paper money could be changed to accommodate the needs of the blind without substantially altering its appearance to the sighted ("Paper money unfair to blind, court says," May 21).

A number of small holes, large enough to be felt between finger and thumb, could be punched along the right edge, say, six for a $1 bill, five for a $5 bill, four for a $10 bill, three for a $20, two for a $50 and one for a $100 bill - or a variation on that plan.

Jeffry D. Mueller, Eldersburg

Let teams back city chess league

What a wonderful article about young students learning to master chess and become champions ("Student learn the right moves for life," May 19)

It should be easy to get the money to support the chess league: If each of our professional teams in Baltimore would just contribute a small amount to this project, it could ensure that our young folks could continue to be champions.

Sue Maddox, Baltimore

Economic choices too complex to plan

Julie Sensat Waldren eloquently explains the difficulties of "being green" ("It's not easy being green," Commentary, May 17).

For example, consumers cannot possibly know how the environmental impact of disposable cups compares with that of ceramic cups whose production consumes lots of energy.

Contrary to a profusion of claims by naive pundits, the economy is far too complex for any person or even a committee of geniuses to trace the full environmental consequences of any of the hundreds of ordinary decisions consumers and producers make daily.

Economists since Adam Smith have taught that the best we can do is to have well-defined property rights that owners use and exchange as each judges best.

The unplanned result isn't an earthly paradise, but it's vastly superior to what emerges when people consciously aim to bring about a specific outcome in the overall pattern of economic activities.

Donald J. Boudreaux, Fairfax, Va.

The writer is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.

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