THE 411 ON 911

Congratulations to Sharon Lerner on her excellent article "Ambulance Wars" [July 3]. Lerner's incisive analysis shows how private ambulances in the Emergency Medical Service system not only are ripping off New Yorkers financially but are putting them at significant risk healthwise. The level of training of the men and women who operate private ambulances is inferior to that in the public sector. The high quality and frequent training programs formerly provided by the Health and Hospitals Corporation is history.

Comptroller Alan Hevesi's recently released study "Where Do 911 System Ambulances Take Their Patients?" clearly indicates that the placement of the EMS in the Fire Department is unsatisfactory. All New Yorkers have been well served by this important study.

What we now need to do is reverse the increasing "privatization" of the EMS and return its jurisdiction to the HHC.

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Bernie Diamond

The writer is chairman of the Community Advisory Board at Queens Hospital Center.


John G. Morris's "Bonjour Bourget" [July 3] really spoke to me. The overselling of the missile shield at the Paris Air Show—"the sales convention for today's 'Merchants of Death' "—is truly frightening.

I was a research physicist for a major aerospace company and I also ran a laboratory working on the anti-ICBM problem. Since President Reagan made Star Wars a national objective, $40 billion has been wasted, with only a handful of failed tests to show for it. I'm convinced its true purpose is to keep large military suppliers in business so that senior military officers who are supposed to be overseeing this hoax will have well-paying vice presidencies when they retire.

The so-called missile shield is a cruel joke because it won't work. Perhaps in 20 or 30 years—after spending countless billions—we might develop the ability to destroy an incoming ICBM. But even when we do, how will we be able to find the warhead in a cloud of identical dirt-cheap decoys?

Milton Dank
Wyncote, Pennsylvania


In "Animal Rights Goes Legit" [Higher Ed, June 26], Norah Vincent writes that the owner of her local vegetarian restaurant told her she now eats meat because, after suffering from prolonged fatigue, she was told by her doctor that "she didn't have any protein in her blood." Vincent adds: "The doc told her that some people's bodies can't synthesize a complete protein out of vegetable aminos. They need direct animal protein. So he urged her to start eating red meat. Much to her chagrin, she did, and felt better almost instantly. She's been eating burgers ever since."

If the restaurateur "didn't have any protein in her blood," she'd have been long dead. The amino acids in proteins are essentially the same wherever they come from. Yes, there are occasional differences in modifications on some amino-acid side chains, but there is no evidence that anyone cannot synthesize a complete protein out of amino acids from vegetable sources. If the restaurateur was a lacto or lacto-ovo vegetarian, the "doc" 's advice was totally absurd, since there's plenty of animal protein (in fact, too much) in dairy and eggs. Frankly, this anecdote sounds like an urban legend.

Emanuel Goldman
Professor of Microbiology
New Jersey Medical School
Newark, New Jersey


In "Animal Rights Goes Legit," Norah Vincent suggests that there is a "rank hypocrisy" involved in being both vegan and pro-choice. In fact, if one holds that rights depend upon a capacity to suffer, which in turn depends upon a creature's awareness of itself existing over time (which mature animals have and human fetuses arguably do not have), then it is perfectly consistent to advocate a boycott of meat and dairy while also affirming a woman's right to choose.

Secondly, in regard to Vincent's views that "humans . . . alone have souls" and "our souls . . . make us accountable for our actions": The idea that a soul is the prerequisite for moral responsibility is a pre-Enlightenment relic. It certainly need not enter into the question of the morality of meat and dairy consumption.

Matthew Lear


As a multiracial grassroots network of lesbian women organizing internationally on the economics of sexual choice since 1975, we were glad to see Amber Hollibaugh's "Queers Without Money" [June 26].

Many lesbian women are poor because we are lesbian: We don't have access to a man's wage and therefore survive on low women's wages—which are even lower if we are black or Latina or on welfare or disability benefits. Our income is further reduced by legalized discrimination that denies us medical insurance and other spousal benefits. Many of us are also caring for and supporting children and elderly parents.

Many women are forced into heterosexual marriage whether they are lesbian or not. Without money, it's difficult to leave home or escape financial dependence on a man; in third-world countries, it's even harder to consider the possibility of being lesbian.

Many gay men—and now some lesbian women—who have access to higher wages ignore the issues confronting those living in poverty. They have instead embraced respectable professionalism and welcomed the rampant corporatization of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender movement, in contrast to the grassroots rebellion of black, Latino, and other drag queens and working-class dykes who led the movement that began at Stonewall.

We can't afford sentiments like this year's New York Pride StageFest, which said, "No politics, please!" As Dykes on Strike, we're part of the Global Women's Strike because our lives depend on coming together with other movements to "stop the world and change it."

Mary Kalyna
International Wages Due Lesbians
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Anyone who, like Michael Musto, refers to Manhattan as "the mainland" [La Dolce Musto, July 3] really needs to get out (of the borough) more often.

Scott Isler


• In John G. Morris's article "Bonjour Bourget" (July 3), it was stated that Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget airfield in Paris after a flight from Brooklyn. Lindbergh flew to Paris from Roosevelt Field on Long Island.

• In Cynthia Cotts's Press Clips (July 3), it was reported that Philip Nobile's journalism on Don Imus has "been confined to venues such as TomPaine.com." Nobile has written about Imus in the New York Press, Newsday, and The Columbia Journalism Review.

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