Federal policy needed to make stem cells work While we...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 12, 2002

Federal policy needed to make stem cells work

While we should encourage debate on controversial scientific research at all levels of our society and government ("Scientific debates best left to states," Opinion

Commentary, April 5), it is ultimately policy at the federal level that governs both the pace of scientific progress in any area of research and the application of new discoveries in the clinic.

The exciting potential of stem cell research and cloning, along with the intense debates triggered by them, have reiterated this principle.

To bring the potential of stem cells to the clinic, formidable scientific challenges must be met. Only federal dollars can enable this work to go forward, by permitting the large number of scientists necessary to meet these challenges to engage in this research.

Because of the necessity of obtaining FDA approval for any new therapies, federal policy will prevail in applying this research to patients. And along with federal funding would also come federal oversight of the funded research, which is of critical importance in these controversial areas.

But it is unfortunate that, in the area of stem cell research, we have no federal legislative base. Thus the president sets administrative policy, very much influenced by the political climate.

This results in a federal policy that is not only inconsistent from one administration to the next, but that might not reflect the views of a majority of our society.

John Gearhart

Shannon Fisher

Baltimore

`Sun Journal' betrays bias against Israel

Any data compilation by B'Tselem must be immediately suspect ("Mideast death, by the numbers," April 3). There is no Israeli human rights organization to the left of this radical group, and no group better at presenting even a count of the dead so as to promote its agenda.

In the article, the word "killed" is applied to all deaths, with no distinction between innocent victims murdered (as were virtually all the Israeli civilians) and Palestinians killed while attempting murder, after completing murder or engaging Israel's military.

We read that a number of Palestinian "civilians" were "extrajudicially executed" by Israel. I'm quite certain, even without the stamp of judicial process, that those assassinated were not innocent civilians, but rather terrorist leaders or those on their way to commit terror murder.

The article continues by quoting an op-ed article from Ha'aretz, the most far-left of Israel's major newspapers. Of course it spouts the party line: The suicide bombers "grow out of hatred, out of a sense of despair and defeat ... [and] cannot be eradicated by military force alone."

This is surely a wise judgment - advice that should be followed by our government in our war with al-Qaida.

Then came editorials from Abu Dhabi and Jordan that were so ludicrous as to serve only for comic relief

A Jerusalem Post editorial was included, presumably to offer balance. But it was particularly benign fluff, offering little to offset the gross bias of this "Sun Journal."

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Rights activists silent on bombings

It's remarkable how vocal human rights activists get when Israel goes in to defend itself. Yet not a peep is heard from these people while Israeli women and children are blown up indiscriminately.

Zev Griner

Reisterstown

U.S. and Israel just don't get it

The United States just doesn't get it. It will never have credibility in the Arab and Muslim world as long as U.S. tax dollars support the brutal Israeli occupation.

Israel just doesn't get it. Tanks, helicopters and rockets will never make Israel secure.

Linda K. Brown

Baltimore

Senate should scorn wasteful energy bill

Shame on the U.S. Senate. Despite all its talk of energy independence and security, 62 senators rejected a proposal to boost vehicle fuel economy standards, which could have saved 25 billion gallons of fuel per year, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Now the Senate is preparing to vote on the Energy Policy Act of 2002, a bill that now resembles the "more coal dependence, more oil dependence, more climate change" policies desired by Vice President Dick Cheney and energy industry representatives.

As we approach Earth Day, I hope our senators will exert leadership and vote down this misguided policy. Let's replace it with one that's based on policies of efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.

Johnnie Fries

Catonsville

Disruptive students deserve suspension

As a resident of Towson, I was pleased to read of Judge Alexander Wright Jr.'s decision upholding Jennifer Baierlein's suspension from Towson University for the disorderly conduct she displayed at the Colony Apartments ("Judge upholds suspension of Towson U. gymnast," April 4).

Towson students who live in the residential communities surrounding the university routinely disrupt the peaceful atmosphere other residents have a right to expect, which devalues our neighborhoods.

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