Letters To The Editor


May 21, 2007

Immigration deal rewards wrongdoers

As a U.S. citizen born to legal immigrants, I am disgusted by the prospect of what is basically amnesty for illegal immigrants, those who broke the law ("Democrats, GOP reach accord on immigrants," May 18).

Any legislation passed by Congress must focus first and foremost on enforcement and border security. Anything else would be a slap in the face of those Americans who waited patiently and followed the legal procedures to come to this country and who now embrace it completely as their new home.

While I do not doubt that many of these illegal immigrants are hardworking individuals, the fact of the matter is that they are draining our social welfare programs and the criminal justice system.

Yes, the immigration system may indeed be broken, but rewarding wrongdoers should not be the centerpiece of the solution.

Furthermore, as a Republican, I now understand the frustration that my liberal friends have with President Bush over the Iraq war. Just as the American people now overwhelmingly oppose that fiasco, they also strongly reject giving amnesty to lawbreakers. But apparently this president, along with Congress, is completely blind to the will of the American people.

Sebastian Kurian


Maryland farmers lead in conservation

In a column May 9, Janet Kauffman writes of bare-earth, scorched-earth farming impacts, especially in her area of Michigan ("Bare earth, scorched earth: America's farms must return to roots," Opinion

Commentary). We encourage her and the policymakers in her area to look to Maryland for examples of the farming practices she rightfully says should be implemented.

For more than 20 years, Maryland has had an Agricultural Water Quality Cost Share Program, which has contributed about $90 million to match about $11 million of farmers' money to implement conservation practices on their farms.

Maryland and Delaware were the nation's earliest adopters of no-till practices to reduce runoff and minimize erosion in the fall and winter.

In 1997, Maryland became the first state to participate in the voluntary Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Conservation funds have been used to protect about 74,000 acres of environmentally sensitive cropland in Maryland with streamside buffers, wetland restoration, conservation cover and about 8 million trees planted, and other best-management practices.

Many of our fields are green in the winter, unlike the bare earth of which Ms. Kauffman writes. Since 1994, we have helped farmers plant cover crops - 230,000 acres were planted this year alone - to prevent soil erosion and nutrient runoff in the winter months.

Environmental protection is everyone's responsibility, and farmers in Maryland are national conservation leaders.

Roger L. Richardson


The writer is Maryland's secretary of agriculture.

Baltimoreans right about folly of ICC

Count me as one Baltimorean who is tired of people praising the Intercounty Connector as a solution to our region's traffic woes ("Baltimoreans wrong on the need for ICC," letters, May 18).

I commute, via MARC train, from Baltimore to College Park every day, although it is not exactly convenient from my house. I take the train because Interstate 95 and Route 295 are so unbelievably congested - so I understand the frustration of commuters who drive.

However, the ICC would be only a very short-term solution. Even the state's final environmental impact statement on the ICC acknowledges that the new road would have minimal effect on easing congestion on the major roadways in this area.

Instead of building another road, we should focus on major public transportation projects such as the D.C.-area Metro's Purple Line, designed specifically for commuters traveling east-west in the Montgomery County area.

Sue Johnston


Look at all evidence on use of vitamins

In Judy Foreman's essay "Hard to swallow: vitamins, supplements are questioned" (May 18), she declares that her love affair with vitamins is over. Unfortunately, she proves that love is not only blind, it is also misinformed.

Consumers can't expect vitamins to be a "cure-all" for whatever ails them or make up for a lifetime of bad habits. Nor should Ms. Foreman judge all vitamin benefits based on one report.

She cherry-picks four negative studies out of hundreds published in peer-reviewed literature over the past 13 years to declare the end of her affair. All four have been widely criticized. One ascribed effects that were limited to smokers to the general population. Another declared that antioxidants don't improve life expectancy, yet excluded trials where all the subjects lived.

Current media coverage of vitamins does a disservice to consumers. It holds up a single study du jour as if it's the final word rather than viewing individual studies as building blocks toward a larger understanding of how nutrients and vitamins work.

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