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Linking TV and Substance Abuse

News reports such as your Dec. 19 Page 1 article, "Ratings Content of TV Programs: View From Hollywood Studio 41," accompanied by dire statistics revealing increased use of drugs and alcohol by American teenagers, make me wonder: Am I the only one making a connection here?

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I have been impressed by The Christian Science Monitor's reviews of movies in a parental guide format that includes information about drug and alcohol use. I would like to see television programs rated with a content based system that includes a category about substance abuse. I consider a program unsuitable for children even if it contains little violence or sex, but presents substance abuse as a solution to a problem - such as people getting drunk together to become friends, or smoking to impress someone, etc. Maybe if parents had the information in advance, they could better control some of the strong messages reaching our children glorifying drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Alexis Howell-Kubler

San Diego

Illegal immigration

I read with interest the thoughtful Dec. 19 Page 1 article about the increase in illegal immigration from Mexico, "Beefier Border Patrol Hasn't Weakened Allure of a US job." If the disparity between the Mexican and American economies is, indeed, the underlying cause, I would like to see some estimates of the cost of investment in Mexico to develop additional jobs there compared with the cost of the apparently futile attempt to close the border.

Perhaps it is time we addressed the disease and stop trying to treat the symptoms.

Barbara M. Tobias

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Plano, Texas

The futility of protests in Serbia

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "Deference, Apathy Keep Many in Serbia Away From the Protests": It should not be surprising that many Serbs are staying away from the student protests in Serbia given that many Serbs view Slobodan Milosevic as a US puppet who acquiesced to the ethnic cleansing of over 1 million Serbians (my relatives included) from their centuries-old homes in the largest acts of ethnic cleansing seen in Europe since the end of World War II with scarcely a whimper. If any new leaders emerge in Serbia, they will want to renegotiate a more fair solution to the Yugoslav civil war that will finally acknowledge the right of self-determination for the 2.5 million Serbians who lived West of the Drina river (i.e., outside of the artificially truncated Titoist borders of Serbia) - as was granted to the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian peoples. Milosevic, for his part, knows that if the opposition does indeed take political control of many of Serbia's major cities as the election results seem to indicate, then he can't control the ballot boxes during the next election and will be finished. So, what's the use in demonstrating when there's little chance that Milosevic will step down peacefully?

If we are really interested in allowing democracy to flourish in Serbia, then more serious efforts need to be made to educate the Serbian public about their leader's dictatorial fraud. If any sanctions are to be reimposed on Serbia, they should target the wealthy mafias that have flourished there and who have corrupted this small, but proud and historically significant, nation.

Michael Pravica

Cambridge, Mass.

The forgotten bowl

The Dec. 20 package on college football bowl games, "Bowled Over," contains an error. The author fails to provide a description for the Carquest Bowl, being played on Dec. 27 between the University of Miami Hurricanes and the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

Descriptions of all other bowl games taking place on this date, with the exception of this contest, are previewed.

Brian Roberts

Fairfax, Va.

*Editor's note: The Hurricanes defeated the Cavaliers 31-21.

Letters must include your mailing address. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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