The editorial "Drug Testing and Public Safety," Dec. 31, points out that drug tests must be accurate and fair. A urinalysis is neither. I am aware of an incident where a job applicant unknowingly ate food containing poppy seeds prior to this test. The individual tested positive for morphine. The applicant was then in the position of proving her innocence and possibly not getting the job she applied for. It was a difficult and time-consuming task to clear the erroneous record indicating drug usage. With c ongressional help, it took months; without it, clearing the record might have been impossible.
Since drug screening has become a necessity, those responsible for developing and administering the tests should either use precise testing methods or warn applicants beforehand of potential causes of false-positive test results. Gail Jokerst, W. Glacier, Mont. Pollution in US cities
I write in protest of the article "Pollution in US Cities Hits Minorities Hardest," Jan. 7: The article cites examples and then quotes University of California professor, Robert Bullard, as saying, "black neighborhoods were usually the path of least resistance" in the siting of pollution sources.
The article is replete with this type of statement which - while it may be correct - is a misleading half-truth which fans the flames of racism.
The fact is that the article would be equally correct had it substituted the word "poor" for each use of the word black or minority. Blacks often are poor, and all too often poor people get the short end of the stick, but that does not mean racism is involved. "Environmental racism" is a term generally used by people who are searching for examples of racism but who are sloppy with their logic. Let's keep the racism focus on ridding this country of prejudices and injustices that truly are based upon race,
not coincidence. John R. Bermingham, Denver Saving US cities Somalia-style
Now that the military in Somalia has recognized that its mission cannot be achieved without also some effort to disarm the marauders in Mogadishu and other areas, I would like to offer a suggestion. Couldn't troops also disarm the residents of public housing projects in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago? Hundreds of lives could be saved in this way, and the residents of these projects would be just as grateful as the citizens of Somalia. There is no issue of the right to bear arms; it is a matt er of urban marauders using illegally acquired arms to terrorize thousands of innocent citizens - just as in Somalia. John W. Chuckman, Manotick, Ontario Tighter sea-traffic regulations
The article "Britain Begins Look Into Causes of Spill," Jan. 8, alerts us to the need for worldwide sea-traffic control. This could be done economically by equipping ships with transponders, so the same satellites that watch over civilian aircraft for air-traffic controllers could be used to regulate the movement of ships.
This service is especially needed today when ships are automating old single-hulled vessels and placing them under foreign flags to save money. If automation is profitable, why not install monitors to transmit pictures of a ship's indicators, where shore-based marine international traffic controllers can watch over the ship's progress. Mandatory conversion of single-hull tankers to double-hull bottoms would be cheap insurance.
It is better to spend a few million dollars preventing an oil spill, rather than billions of dollars pretending we know how to clean up one. Paul Brailsford, Ipswich, Mass.