Note alcohol was a factor in Diana's deathI, like many...

LETTERS

September 13, 1997

Note alcohol was a factor in Diana's death

I, like many others, mourned the tragic death of Princess Diana, whose life was shortened at the hands of a drunken driver.

As a health professional working with addicted clients, I believe the tragedy will be made worse if we, as a society, engage in some form of collective denial about the disease of alcoholism.

Denial, a primitive defense mechanism that causes one to ignore the reality of a life event that is too painful to accept, is also used to avoid confrontation with the consequences of drinking. Both features are endemic to the disease of alcoholism.

Each morning in this country, some well-meaning alcoholic employee gets behind the wheel of a car, an Amtrak train or a school bus. Each day, under the influence of alcohol or some other drug, an impaired employee operates some form of machinery or makes a life-threatening decision as the result of distorted judgment.

Conservative statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse tell us that 25 percent of the U.S. work force suffer from the subtle and seductive disease. Estimates indicate that the costs to industry in the United States alone are in the neighborhood of $90 billion annually due to job accidents, absenteeism and worker compensation claims.

The highest cost is the loss of someone we love.

reda J. Amprey

Baltimore

The writer is director of the employee assistance and wellness program for Baltimore City public schools.

One more reason to wear seat belts

Drinking and driving are a lethal combination, but let's not forget that the lone survivor of that horrific accident in the tunnel was wearing a seat belt.

Laurel S. McDermott

Baltimore

Only thing to do with mines is ban them

In response to the article, ''Land mines should be limited, not banned'' (Sept. 9), I agree with only one point: ''Land mines have a grisly effect.'' They maim or kill anyone who activates them; children as well as soldiers. Andrew Efaw writes in favor of ''smart,'' self-destruct mines which he says are ''aimed only at valid targets [enemy soldiers] for the purpose of saving U.S. soldiers' lives.'' But these self-deactivating anti-personnel mines are just as indiscriminate as the ''dumb'' mines and they often fail to destruct, as happened to at least 1,700 U.S. self-destruct mines in the Persian Gulf war. In Vietnam a third of our casualties were the result of mines, including our own.

What is needed is a complete ban on land mines. The United States needs to sign the treaty banning the weapons this December. There should be no exemptions; no weakening of the ban. None. Then the next step is to remove the mines in place before more children, men and women lose limbs or their lives.

Jeanne M. Ruddock

Baldwin

Cassini could help get us to the stars

Why do people always have to oppose new and innovative things? The Cassini spacecraft represents a step forward for our space program. We are not going to get to Mars or the stars on solar power. Nuclear power is the key, and the only way we are going to refine it enough to use on manned interplanetary craft is TC to use it and find the kinks. I trust NASA's verdict that it is safe. They've only had one major accident, the Challenger, since they came into existence. I would risk slight health complications to take mankind one step closer to the stars, and the risk is small and the benefits could be great.

Jason Ruth

Baltimore

Chinese beach resort is no Ocean City

The Aug. 25 article, ''Beijing's version of Ocean City'' by Frank Langfitt, left me angry and frustrated. I am somewhat knowledgeable about the resort known as Beidaihe, since I worked with Chinese officials in a nearby town and had the privilege of visiting Beidaihe and swimming there. Mr. Langfitt goes to great lengths to describe an environment which is different from Ocean City. He paints it as bad, unpleasant and disagreeable.

Had he taken the time to try to understand Chinese culture, he would have discovered that vacationing as we know it is a luxury very few Chinese enjoy.

In less than several decades, the People's Republic has overcome famine, expunged the corruption of a previous government and given dignity to hundreds of millions of human beings.

Food, shelter, health care and education are more important issues than neon signs, glittering paint and other materialistic things. They do not need American commercialism to have a good time.

We are informed that buildings need repair, but we are not told that nowhere will you find empty bottles, cans, paper, graffiti or other trash.

There is a noticeable absence of noise pollution from cars, trucks, motor boats, boom boxes or vendors. There are occasional sounds of Chinese music and frequent laughter and the sound of the surf.

Since few guests have anywhere to lock valuables, they place them with clothing on the beach, with full knowledge that no one will take anything. There is very little crime, since the punishment is swift and severe.

It seems ludicrous to compare this to Ocean City.

We note the description of a gritty beach and polluted waters of Bo Hai Sea, which is not true.

We are told the beach is segregated into Chinese and foreigner areas. This is true, but missing is the fact that people who are bilingual and can swim are assigned to monitor and be of service to the foreigner section.

As for privatization and bulldozers, I think even the Chinese scale weighs heavily in favor of open, natural sand, not concrete jungles. Most Beijingers who come from the congestion of city life do appreciate the pleasures of Mother Nature.

Louis W. Willett

Towson

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