Unnatural borders reason for slaveryThe excellent series...

LETTERS

June 28, 1996

Unnatural borders reason for slavery

The excellent series on slavery in Sudan by Gilbert Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane shows again the real problem that affects all of Africa -- artificial countries. Borders for countries in Africa are different from borders for people.

Where nations in Europe and Asia were created by people of common culture, the countries of Africa were created at the convenience of the European conquerors. The borders were lines that separated French colonies from German colonies and English colonies, etc. While this made colonial rule more efficient, it totally ignored the makeup of the tribes within.

Tribal wars continue as tribes try to gain control of their own destinies at the expense of other tribes within the same boundaries, while members of the same tribe are finding their struggle within a neighboring country or two.

It is happening in Bosnia and the former Soviet Union, so it is not an situation unique to Africa. As long as Africa has unnatural boundaries government-sponsored slavery and civil wars will continue.

J. Martin

Baltimore

Transit proponent questions figures

I would like to reply to Robert E. Latham's June 17 letter, "Mass transit gulps estate gas tax dollars."

As executive director of the Maryland Highway Contractors Association, Mr. Latham and the association have a vested interest in building highways and would be adverse to any attempts, real or perceived, to divert any funding away from this endeavor.

Mr. Latham seems to argue that subsidies for public transit siphon off funds needed for highways, most notably highway expansion. He states that "nearly 40 percent of trust fund expenditures over the next six years are stated for public transit." This is simply not true.

In the Consolidated Transportation Program, for the fiscal years1995-2000, the blueprint for all transportation-related expenditures in the state (the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Mass Transit Administration) account for 28.30 percent of expenditures, not 40 percent, while highways (State Highway Administration) accounts for 48.20 percent.

More importantly, Mr. Latham fails to mention that highways receive an additional $1.5 billion subsidy from federal aid, while transit's total subsidy accounts for $1.2 billion ($606.8 million of which is a direct line item in the federal budget for WMATA).

If Maryland's roads are as bad as Mr. Latham points out, I wonder why he does not advocate spending more for system preservation rather than system expansion? I wonder if he would rather add an another bay to his garage to the detriment of the continuing hole in his roof?

Maryland, like all states in the region, is struggling to keep pace with the needs of an aging transportation infrastructure, most of which was build more than three decades ago. I challenge Mr. Latham to come forward with an unbiased representation of the truth and to argue for solutions that are in the best interest of all Marylanders.

Shawn P. Dikes

Baltimore

Ozone analysis seen as faulty

The Sun's May 29 article, "State asks for group effort to limit smog," described the private-public sector voluntary program to reduce ozone pollution. Unfortunately, the article left the erroneous impression that this landmark program is relatively unimportant compared to alternative strategies and overall reduction requirements.

The article notes that the program will reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 10 tons per day. It goes on to imply that this is a minor contribution, citing the need for a reduction of 73 tons per day by 1999 and 131 tons by 2005.

This comparison is both misleading and invalid. The emissions reductions The Sun suggests as necessary are relative to emissions in 1990, not 1996, and much has been accomplished in those six years.

While the vehicle emissions testing program is expected to have a larger impact (18 tons per day), what wasn't mentioned is that many other mandatory pollution reduction programs being considered and adopted would eliminate as "little" as one or two tons per day.

Ozone air quality in the Baltimore area is vastly improved from what it was in the 1980s. If emissions had been at the same level during last summer's heat wave as they were in the mid-1980s, the area would have exceeded the ozone standard on 40 or more days, as opposed to the 14 days actually observed. Clearly, a vast improvement.

In fact, if summertime weather conditions are not abnormally hot over the next few years, the Baltimore area is likely to comply with the ozone air quality standard by the turn of the century. The new voluntary program can only enhance and possibly accelerate the achievement of that milestone.

Dan Mezler

Arlington, Va.

Today, everybody's a "provider"

I have recently learned that there are no longer prostitutes in our midst. The politically correct term is now "sex care provider."

The government in its considerable wisdom has determined that there are no longer physicians, doctors, or surgeons, but instead they are all "providers."

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