Shadow conventions highlight drug-war failure

Regarding your July 27 article "Shadow conventions may shift klieg-lights from GOP": Those of us who have been paying attention to the societal harm the war on drugs causes are looking forward to the exposure the shadow conventions will provide. Zero-tolerance rhetoric drives addiction underground and compounds the problem.

Alcoholics would not seek treatment if confessing to their addiction were tantamount to confessing to criminal activity. The "land of the free" now has the highest incarceration rate in the world thanks to America's policy of locking up nonviolent drug offenders. Yet drugs are cheaper and purer than ever; in fact, children have an easier time purchasing illegal drugs than beer. Unlike liquor retailers, drug dealers don't ID for age.

The drug war is a colossal failure by any measure. Those who claim otherwise either do so out of ignorance or a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo.

Robert Sharpe Washington

Race relations in the South

The tone of the July 28 article "New racial climate in suburban South" is, as you say, that "Middle-class migrants from the Northeast and Midwest help heal centuries-old rifts." Unfortunately, that is only partially the case. Many migrants have brought a new kind of segregation to the South: surface acceptance with deep-down mistrust.

In fact, the mistrust seems to be more hardened and deep than with native Southerners in our area.

Many Southerners, black and white, somehow have developed a stronger goodwill and respect for one another, perhaps because they've been thrown together in daily situations for so long.

Many parts of the article are quite accurate. Perhaps he most important statement to think about is that of Gary Brace, moving from "lily white" Scranton, Pa., saying, "... I didn't want to be a minority."

We must get rid of the term "minority" in referring to persons who differ from us individually. Each of us is a minority, so why not treat each other with mutual respect for our inherent and inalienable rights.

Charles H. Smith Jr. Charlottesville, Va.

Who to blame for air travel delays

Regarding Robert I. Rotberg's July 24 opinion piece, "One way to civilize the unfriendly skies": How do you reduce potential conflict when you're frustrated with major airline delays? First you blame the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an outdated computer system. Then you blame the air traffic controllers (ATCs) for following protocol designed to protect the safety (not the personal calendars) of passengers. Then you resolve the potential air-passenger rage by proposing that the FAA, through its ATCs, broadcast weather and air-traffic information at airports and in aircraft cabins.

Mr. Rotberg would rather blame government, and then propose more bureaucracy. However, peace and conflict resolution are most effective at the individual level.

Philip A. Griswold Ashland, Ohio

In his July 27 letter, William L. Starr attributes the delays at our nation's airports "in part to the shortsightedness of the US Congress, which ... has continued to pour billions of dollars into the airline industry."

However, the revenues used by airports and airlines are self-generated through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund established as part of the Airway Development Act of 1970. Revenues for this fund are created by aviation-user taxes including air fares, air freight, and aviation gasoline. Plainly put, the more business airlines and airports generate, the more money they make to improve systems, which in the end will reduce delays.

Matt J. Russ II San Diego

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