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The Baltimore Sun

Paint makers need to pay part of bill

The Sun's article "Lead tied to criminal behavior" (May 28) summarizes another study that connects lead poisoning to brain damage and an increased risk of criminal behavior.

Parents, policymakers and the lead paint industry itself have known for years about such consequences of lead-paint poisoning.

More than 100 years ago, doctors determined that lead paint was poisonous to children, causing brain damage and even death.

By 1928 many countries had banned lead paint. But in the United States, eight lead-paint manufacturers formed an association that successfully fought for another half-century to stop all attempts to ban lead paint.

Their efforts paid off - to the tune of billions of dollars earned by the paint companies as they marketed their toxic substance as safe for household use.

Even though lead paint was finally banned in 1978 in this country, many homes built prior to this ban - including nearly all the homes in Baltimore - still have a poisonous legacy of lead paint.

Until this paint is removed from our homes, it will continue to plague our children for generations to come.

And lead-poisoned children who have diminished abilities to control impulsive behavior and determine right from wrong will continue to fall behind in class, drop out of school and turn to criminal behaviors.

Lead-pigment producers have a huge responsibility to bear for the poisoning of Maryland children. They must be part of the solution.

We must include the producers of lead paint in the extremely expensive equation for finally ridding our homes of a toxin.

As it stands now, the only people paying the costs for lead-paint poisoning in our state are our children and the Maryland taxpayers who provide care for them - after they are irreversibly ill.

Samuel I. Rosenberg, Baltimore

The writer represents Baltimore County in the House of Delegates.

Book merely hints at Bush's failings

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book has caused a media frenzy and a furor among Bush loyalists ("Past, present White House aides denounce memoirs," May 29).

While his book is critical of President Bush's Iraq adventure and handling of Hurricane Katrina, it only scratches the surface of the catastrophe that is the Bush administration.

Mr. Bush and his cronies made a disastrous mistake in invading Iraq. The fallout from that fiasco includes today's higher food and fuel costs.

Additionally, Congress and the Bush administration have gone on a spending spree that threatens to bankrupt the nation. They have sold us out to China by exporting jobs and bonds to finance our debts to Asia. Free trade agreements exacerbate such problems.

Mr. Bush's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina speaks for itself.

And today our tax dollars are rebuilding the Iraq we destroyed while much of the damage from Katrina remains unaddressed.

Mr. Bush's legacy may be as one of the worst presidents in our history. Our nation may never fully recover.

Dennis Sirman, Selbyville, Del.

Truth-telling makes McClellan different

I thought it revealing that in The Sun's article "Past, present White House aides denounce memoirs" (May 29), none of the Bush aides cited questioned the truth of statements by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan on the origins of the Iraq war.

Several suggested that they didn't recognize the Mr. McClellan they knew and loved from his book.

But not one person contradicted Mr. McClellan's contention that the president disregarded or discarded intelligence that disputed the contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps the reason that they don't recognize Mr. McClellan is that he's finally standing up and telling the truth instead of spouting the party line.

John Oetting, Columbia

Senator's wife is fair game for critics

Sen. Barack Obama must accept the fact that spouses of presidential candidates are legitimate subjects of public discussion and are not exempt from criticism.

Mr. Obama complained and whined on ABC's Good Morning America that campaign criticism of his wife, Michelle Obama, was unacceptable.

Yet Mrs. Obama has been an active speaker on his behalf on the campaign trail.

Her comments have often been harsh and critical of our country, and she should not be immune from criticism.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

How would critics protect families?

Opponents of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples are decrying the governor for signing two bills extending rights and protections to "domestic partners" in health care and taxation in Maryland.

The arguments against the bills are circular and based on fear-mongering rather than on concern about the difficulties faced by same-sex couples, who have real-life needs that require a legal relationship.

Opponents of the bills argue that the definition of domestic partner is so broad that it can be applied willy-nilly to casual relationships without the significant obligations and responsibilities associated with legal marriage.

However, it is opponents of same-sex marriage who, by denying full marriage rights - and the obligations inherent in them - to same-sex couples, put fair-minded Marylanders in the awkward position of having to create a piecemeal, watered-down institution like "domestic partnerships" to provide even limited protections to same-sex spouses and their children.

Same-sex couples seeking legal marriage seek the full obligations and responsibilities of marriage as well as the protections afforded by it.

Instead of fighting laws that seek to legally protect these couples and their children in the face of difficult health and life circumstances, those who oppose domestic partnership laws should explain how they would grant such crucial protections to these families.

Rabbi Sarah Meytin, Gaithersburg

The writer is assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

Missing a chance to stand up for kids

Across the country, health advocates watched, informed, urged and likely prayed for Gov. Martin O'Malley to show leadership on the "alcopops" issue.

The governor had the opportunity to stand up for children by vetoing the bill that ensures a lower tax rate for such beverages. He chose, instead, to sit. He neither vetoed nor signed the bill ("No change in tax, law on 'alcopops,'" May 22).

By showing no courage in the face of a powerful industry that targets our children, Mr. O'Malley allowed the alcohol industry to move full-steam ahead in marketing these beverages.

One has to wonder: What part of the research and information on their dangers did Mr. O'Malley not understand?

What part of the industry's argument trumped the pleas of experts in public health and safety?

As a professional who has been working on this issue for nearly 20 years, I am disappointed in his decision.

Our children deserve better.

Diane Riibe, Omaha, Neb.

The writer is executive director of Project Extra Mile, a Nebraska statewide coalition of organizations working to prevent underage drinking.

Stand on principle to stop executions

Gov. Martin O'Malley moved on May 22 toward ending Maryland's moratorium on executions ("O'Malley OK's step toward executions," May 23).

Like me, Mr. O' Malley opposes the death penalty.

Our two previous governors favored the death penalty; together they executed four men.

Were I in Mr. O'Malley's position, and asked to issue a death warrant, I would resign.

Nothing has more dignity than standing on one's principles.

No job or career is worth killing one human being.

Gerald Ben Shargel, Baltimore

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