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Misinformation adds to conflict with Iran

The editorial "Two steps backward" (Sept. 29) is correct that Iran will be a foreign policy challenge going forward. But because of our profound ignorance and misperceptions about Iran, the challenge will be more difficult.

Instead of the failed policy of the last 28 years of isolating Iran, a policy that has left us bereft of knowledge about that country, we should be moving quickly to open a U.S. Interest Section in Tehran staffed with our best Farsi-speaking diplomats.

And instead of inflammatory statements and disinformation from our so-called foreign policy experts, commentators and those who aspire to lead us, we should offer Iran unconditional negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues based on justice and dignity.

How many times have we seen and read statements such as the one in the editorial that "the U.S. and its allies fear Iranian scientists are pursuing a nuclear weapons capability."

But did anyone notice what CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said on Sept. 16 before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council?

Referring to Iran, he said: "We assessed that the nuclear weapons program had not resumed as of mid-2007, a conclusion that subsequent intelligence still supports."

This view is also backed by the reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency over the last two years.

So why do we hear such distortions and misinformation about Iran? Whose purpose do they serve?

Certainly not the national interest of the United States.

Fariborz S. Fatemi, McLean, Va.

The writer is a former staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

U.S. health system offers better care

I hope all those eager to see the United States convert to a national health care system read "Computers can help spot cancer on mammograms" (Oct. 2).

As the article notes, the British national health system pays for one mammogram every three years for women age 50 to 70. Here in the U.S., we encourage women to have mammograms every year starting at age 40.

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after the detection of a lump by a mammogram one year and five days after my previous, normal mammogram.

My tumor was the earliest noninvasive cancer that could only be seen on film. But if left untreated, say for three years, it could have developed into a much more serious cancer.

Ilene O'Connell, Baltimore

Targeted tax cuts can aid middle class

Marylanders are not alone in feeling desperate during these shaky financial times ("Md. taxpayers left on their own," Sept. 28).

Millions of American taxpayers need support and are looking for economic policies that will help them keep up with the ever-rising cost of living.

Sen. Barack Obama's proposal to cut taxes for low- and middle-income households is what working families need, not Sen. John McCain's plan to make the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.

Mr. McCain and the Republican Party have demonstrated a lack of respect for ordinary Americans by ignoring, if not paving the way for, a mortgage crisis and an economic upheaval of epic proportions and creating policy after policy that hurts the middle class.

Marylanders who are still undecided about which candidate to support should ask themselves: Is another four years of failed policies what our state and country need?

Arnold Hamilton, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Baltimore chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

Could swimming star save the swim club?

With all the controversy surrounding the possible sale of the Padonia Park Club in Timonium to Grace Fellowship Church, here's one suggestion if the current deal isn't culminated.

While I don't want to tell him what to do with his money, our hometown hero, Michael Phelps, could take this opportunity to purchase and maintain the park as a swim club.

The club's various pools could then continue to be used to foster interest in competitive swimming.

That way, Mr. Phelps could do for swimming what Cal Ripken has done for baseball and also be a champion for all the good the club's current use of the land does.

Chris Harvey, Cockeysville

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