TWA crash treated as photo opportunityAs an employee of a...


August 07, 1996

TWA crash treated as photo opportunity

As an employee of a public transportation company, I have followed the aftermath of the destruction of TWA Flight 800 with interest and compassion. There is much to be learned here about anger, exploitation and helplessness.

While my organization has never (as far as I know) been the victim of a terrorist bomb -- and the evidence clearly, in my opinion, points to this -- we have known serious accidents with loss of life. What is rarely discussed is the way employees involved in this sort of tragedy also suffer, even though they were in no way responsible.

I feel sorrow for the employees of TWA because they were denigrated by politicians who saw the tragedy as a photo opportunity. This was cruel grandstanding and had no place at such a time.

I also feel tremendous sympathy for the Suffolk County medical examiner. I cringe to think of the physical implications of his job, yet he has been pilloried as well. And the allegation that he was "spoon-feeding the bodies" to the victims' families was totally out of line.

Had I lost a loved one under similar circumstances, I cannot imagine my reactions or behavior. If the crash of Flight 800 turns out to be a mass murder, it is highly unlikely anger will ever subside. But it might be joined by another uncomfortable emotion, that of embarrassment.

In the years to come the pain of seeing statements publicly made in anguish and anger will prey on the minds of these families as well. The so-called "grief counselors" should have taken this into account.

osalind Ellis


Vivid writing wins praise

The July 22 article, "In Flanders fields, old shells kill," by Dan Fesperman makes one's hair stand on end.

On a largely-ignored topic the thorough research and vivid writing ought to get Fesperman nothing less than a Pulitzer Prize.

M. H. Cadwalader


Strouse clothing an early firm

Jack Levin writes vividly about the patriotic fervor occasioned by America's entry into World War I. His July 31 Opinion Commentary article errs, however, when it suggests that Strouse & Brothers, among other firms, was a 1920s offshoot of Sonneborn.

Rather, Strouse & Brothers clothing manufacturer was founded in 1868 and competed with Sonneborn from its infancy.

A plaque at the former Strouse factory at Lombard and Paca Streets bears testimony to the firm's role in Baltimore's textile industry. Labor-management strife and the collapse of raw material prices following the end of World War I drove the Strouse firm into bankruptcy in 1921.

Bruce L. Rosenberg


Reasons to try drug alternatives

Perhaps if addicts could obtain their drugs, unadulterated and in consistent dosage, at a public health clinic at a nominal cost, addicts would have no need to steal and often kill in their desperate attempts to finance their addictions.

Dealers would have no reason to kill over bad drug deals (three out of every four murders in Baltimore are drug-related, according to Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier).

Addicts would not die from overdoses or poisonous additives, abandoned homes would not become crack houses and addicted prostitutes would not spread HIV and other venereal diseases or give birth to crack babies in their efforts to finance their habits.

Baltimore hospitals would not lose well over $200 million each year through emergency room overdoses. Cops, courts and prisons could be put to better use or be retired and there would be sufficient funds for treatment on demand.

People would feel that it is safe enough to move to -- instead of out of -- Baltimore. The cartels would have to have foreclosure auctions, the Mafia, the liquor and tobacco interests would have conniptions.

So why don't we?

A. Robert Kaufman


Gamblers should go out of state

I agree with your editorial (July 27, "No, Mr. Mayor") about legalized gambling in Baltimore. If someone wants to gamble, let him go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas. No school system should be subsidized by such activities.



Falsified data hurts honest scientists

Reporter David Folkenflik states (July 24) that Michael W. Washabaugh's academic reputation has been crushed because he supported his theories by ''exaggerating the strength of his evidence.''

The reporter claims in great length and with many repetitions that Johns Hopkins University was treating ''errors'' of the innocent biochemist too severely and sacrificed him to protect its good name.

In this article the facts are misinterpreted. The importance and the consequences of the errors are not mentioned.

Dr. Washabaugh supported his grant applications with several graphs demonstrating results he invented. What the reporter calls ''exaggerating the strength of evidence'' is, for instance, that on one graph there are 12 made-up points but also several dTC verified points. A student was berated for sloppy work and Dr. Washabaugh deleted inconvenient results.

He combined the rest of the points with points from a book,

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