Iceland freeze out
New Iceland, eh? (“Old, White Maine,” BDN editorial May, 19.) Now just how exactly are these Icelandic descendants of Vikings and Celts going to make Maine less white? And younger? The median age in Iceland is only about five years less than Maine’s, whereas a country like Mexico’s median age is 15 years younger. And the chances of highly educated and urbanized Icelanders (most Icelanders are highly educated, English-speaking and live in Reykjavik) coming to rural Washington County to do unskilled work are not that great.
Most Icelanders would expect a serious music and language program in their children’s schools. Most Icelanders would be appalled by a health care system rationed by income and class. Most Icelanders would expect to find roads and bridges safe and repaired. Most Icelanders would be astonished to be in a small town without a public swimming pool.
Finally, your editorial assertion to the contrary notwithstanding, Icelanders living in Reykjavik (and two-thirds of them do live there) enjoy a climate considerably milder than Washington County’s.
So, yes, to agree with you, New Iceland is a far-fetched idea.
The true cost of war
Memorial Day is an occasion for mourning the loss of those killed in war, and as such we are reminded of the true cost of war. It is our responsibility to count each loss, to make sure it does not go unrecorded and is not forgotten.
On May 23 in Blue Hill, 20 people gathered to create the War Memorial Field on Main Street with 4,300 small white flags set in place, each representing a U.S. soldier who has been killed in Iraq, with an additional 686 flags for the soldiers killed in Afghanistan. There is a sign in the field that reads, “In this place we remember those lives lost in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — 4,986 U.S. soldiers, more than 1.3 million civilians.”
In this way we mourn the loss of civilian life in these communities continuing to suffer bombing, violence and displacement. There are 139,000 U.S. troops still deployed in Iraq, 32,000 in Afghanistan, with an additional 21,000 being deployed to Afghanistan. According to an April report by Oxfam and other agencies titled “Caught in the Conflict,” civilians are likely to be disproportionately affected by the planned military escalation in the area.
The memorial is now in its fifth year and will be cared for throughout the summer and fall. It has been created by Peninsula Peace and Justice (celebrating its 10th year in Blue Hill) and supported by Island Peace and Justice and other community organizations.
I am very concerned by the manner in which our president is depicted in the BDN’s May 27 political cartoon. It is an obvious racist stereotype of an African-American, drawn with overly-exaggerated full lips, while the world can plainly see that President Obama’s facial characteristics, specifically, his lips, do not resemble those depicted in the cartoon.
I think the cartoonist owes the president and the many readers of the BDN an apology for such a poorly presented caricature.
Kenneth R. Whitley
Excuses or action?
Thank you for printing Bill McKibben’s “Politics slows as warming speeds up” (BDN OpEd, May 26). McKibben is a respected activist whose message is simple: We have to make changes now to protect our planet. This is why he founded 350.org, the sponsor of International Day of Climate Action on Oct. 24. Reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million is a formidable but achievable goal.
Several recent letters to the BDN denounce anthropogenic climate change. I recommend reading the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report, available at www.ipcc.ch. The IPCC, a U.N.-sponsored panel of thousands of scientists, has declared unequivocally that climate change is real and largely caused by human beings. Natural phenomena, such as solar irradiance, do not account for the level of warming our climate exhibits. Human beings are making their contribution.
Beyond the climate change debate, it is inarguable that human behavior degrades ecosystems and the quality of life for those who manufacture goods and receive waste. We must consider the consumption chain and modify our behavior to avoid harming people and the planet.
Climate change is a human rights issue, too. As more intense storms wash away impoverished, low-lying communities and melting Arctic ice threatens the Inuit way of life, those of us who most contribute to environmental degradation need to look beyond ourselves and worry about people, not politics.
We must decide whether we are going to change our behavior or look for excuses to deny our responsibility.
Save home care
I am a home care nurse from Rockland, and I just returned from a trip to Capitol Hill where I, representing Maine, joined nurses from every state in America. We were there on behalf of our patients to help preserve access to home care and hospice services amid $13 billion in suggested cuts to the $16 billion home health benefit in the Obama administration’s proposed 2010 budget. I support expanded access to health care, but not at the expense of my patients who rely on home care and hospice each and every day.
These cuts are being proposed despite research that shows home care and hospice are more cost effective than institutional care. The average home care visit costs Medicare $150; the average hospital day costs $1,500.
Anyone can do this simple math.
But equally important is the fact that nine out of 10 senior citizens say they would prefer to receive health care in the comfort and familiar surroundings of home rather than in an institution. These proposed cuts will jeopardize the ability of Americans — including 78 million baby boomers who are entering retirement age — to choose home care or hospice.
Virtually every American knows or loves someone who is ill, in declining health or living with a chronic medical condition who wants to stay in their own home while they receive treatment. Please contact your representatives in Congress or visit helpuschoosehome.com to learn what you can do to preserve the Medicare home health benefit in Washington.
Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice