Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 02, 2006

Dismayed by demise of state smoking ban

I was shocked and dismayed to read that Maryland legislators ignored all the public health data and killed the Clean Indoor Air bill for the fourth year in a row ("Bills on smoking, `flush tax' fail," Feb. 24). This at a time when a special report from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health recently showed that secondhand smoke exposure costs the state $500 million a year.

By next year, Great Britain, that bastion of smoky pubs, will have all public environments, including pubs, free of secondhand smoke to protect workers and the public.

And with Washington also going smoke-free, it seemed impossible that Maryland would not do the right thing.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said at the beginning of the session that health was a top priority for the Democrats this year.

How odd that Del. Peter A. Hammen, chairman of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, who chose to abstain in the committee vote that killed the bill, apparently didn't get that message.

The 1,000 Marylanders who die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke should be enough reason to make it a top priority, if one is indeed concerned about health.

Debra Kubecka Annand

Columbia

The writer is a consultant for the American Lung Association of Washington, D.C.

Criticism of Ehrlich underscores bias

Surely The Sun's editorial board is keenly aware of the criticism regularly levied against it: that its editorials have a clear liberal bias. I prefer to think of it as a tendency to swipe at a Republican even under circumstances in which a Democrat is more deserving of criticism.

As a consequence, one might think that the editorial board would attempt to be a bit more subtle in its expression.

But that's not so.

No finer example of this tendency can be found than in the editorial "Terminal indecision" (Feb. 26).

In this editorial, The Sun correctly made the point that there are far more serious security concerns facing American ports and that the "public reaction has risen far, far out of proportion to any threat posed by DPW's ownership by the United Arab Emirates."

Why, then, did the same editorial expend so much effort slapping the governor for having "concerns" yet remaining "hopeful," as if the governor's willingness to withhold judgment was the public reaction most worthy of rebuke.

Why, one must ask, was not our good mayor the subject of The Sun's criticism?

Was not his fist-banging, arrogant and shameless fear-mongering on the issue the very same "far out of proportion to the threat" hysteria that The Sun was criticizing?

One does not have to love the governor or loathe the mayor to see this bias.

In truth, I have grown tolerant of The Sun's spin.

I just wish it would be a bit more subtle about it.

Kevin Soper

Lutherville

Forbid foreigners control of facilities

The port sale controversy should not be one of religious or political affiliation but an issue of America's national security ("Port review faulted," Feb. 28).

The United States needs a law that absolutely forbids foreign ownership or control of certain critical facilities related to our national security and defense.

In addition to ports, these facilities should include railroads, airports, communications, power generation, water supply, defense contracting companies and the like.

Let's say no to any foreign control of critical U.S. facilities.

Elliot Deutsch

Bel Air

Invasion turned Iraq into a greater threat

The choice in Iraq seems to be increasingly between a police state that imposes order from above or a civil war with chaos unleashed ("Iraq moves aimed at curbing violence," Feb. 25).

Given the fractured history of that country - and the fractured makeup of its population - this outcome was predictable before our 2003 invasion.

The president thought that by saying "freedom and democracy" he could bring those things about, but his simplistic optimism never had a chance against Iraq's complex reality.

His war has taken a bad but stable situation under Saddam Hussein and made it far less predictable and far more threatening for the region and the world.

Robert Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Stem cell research promises new life

When I read in The Sun's article "Stem cell bill gains" (Feb. 25) that two committees of the House of Delegates approved a bill focusing on adult and embryonic stem cell research, I was delighted.

Maryland, a state formerly in the forefront of medical science, has been losing ground because researchers have been blocked in their ability to find ways to aid those with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases as well as to address more fundamental questions relating to how cells act in other fatal and near-fatal diseases.

Scientists believe that embryonic stem cells can differentiate into many kinds of cells, whereas adult stem cells are more limited.

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