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Jan. 5, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Air passengers ‘spoiled’

In response to the “Delegation eyes probe on airline surcharges” in the Dec. 30 BDN, I wonder if Maine’s congressional delegation really believes the airlines are suddenly in the black.

There were more than a dozen airlines that went out of business last summer because of the highest fuel prices in history. Ten years ago a ticket from Boston to Denver was $600; today one can still travel there for an average price of $400.

Air transport is still the safest and today still the cheapest way to travel. Prices have not in the least paralleled in any comparable ratio with inflation for years. The public has been spoiled.

The government has bigger problems to worry about, and should not be involved if the airlines choose to charge for baggage.

It would be prudent for Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Mike Michaud to work on air travel problems here in Maine before worrying about nationwide $15-per-bag surcharges.

Right now in Bangor, one of the largest cities in this state, there are two flights a day to Boston — that’s it! In Portland, there are no flights at all to Boston. In 1994 there were two flights every hour from Bangor to Boston and Portland had hourly service to Boston as well, and these flights from both cities were full. Air travel in this state is the worst; let’s try to work on regular service to major cities before dictating to the airlines how to set their rates.

David Godin


• • •

‘Creeping genocide’

On MPBN, a so-called Middle East expert — a Mr. Goldman — pointed out that President-elect Obama, while visiting one of the illegal settlements in Israel, commented that he wouldn’t like to have rockets menacing his children (who would?). Mr. Goldman then said the president-elect would be held to that commitment. Earlier in the fall, the father of one of Mr. Obama’s principal advisors — Rahm Emanuel — claimed in an Israeli newspaper that his son would be telling the new president what to do in regard to Israel. The young Emanuel holds dual American-Israeli citizenship and spent his adolescent summer years in Israeli training camps.

Israel’s decades-long creeping genocide against the Palestinians continues with the usual shelling of civilian infrastructure — mosques, schools, hospitals — with 355 Palestinians already killed as I write. Among other atrocities, the deceptively named Israel Defense Force bombed the home of a Palestinian family, killing five sisters, ages 5 to 17, as they slept in their bedroom. Terrorists? Hopefully, the new president will have read that news.

World opinion rightly condemns Israel’s state-supported terrorism. We Americans send $6 billion each year to support it, recession or no recession. The EU, China, Russia, India, and of course the U.N. have all denounced the slaughter, and they all have to be our essential allies in combating the other kinds of terrorism. Once again, the United Nations, the world’s greatest fighter for human rights, is under attack by Israel and the Bush government for speaking the truth. Many American Jews even turn their backs on their long heritage of fighting oppression and support Israel’s murderous contempt for its innocent victims.

Stanley Harrison


• • •

Giving and taking

The irony is overwhelming. For weeks, we’ve been hearing about MPBN, “now, more than ever.” Except for those of us in eastern and northern Maine, where it will be “soon, not at all.”

Then, yesterday, I received my January 2009 issue of MPBN Experience, glossy as a waxed apple and chock-a-block with write-ups on programs we won’t in fact get to experience. And there, on page 14, the crown of thorns: the donor profile on Jean Wilhelm of Eastport, who says of MPBN, “echoing the sentiments of many of her fellow supporters,” “I simply don’t know what I would do without it.” Well, Jean, we’ll just have to learn, won’t we?

As the executive director of a small nonprofit organization for more than 20 years, I can sympathize with the need for tough budget decisions.

But I’ve also learned a few things about how to treat members, donors and the general public. Asking for their money while cutting them off is not a great strategy.

Good luck, MPBN, in serving the rest of Maine. And oh, by the way: if you do start broadcasting again down this way in six months or so, could you tell us what we’ve missed?

Alan Brooks


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