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Nov. 27-28 Letters to the Editor

ALS and war

Combat Operations are over in Iraq, President Obama declared earlier this year. Our troops are returning home. But what the American public doesn’t know is that for some veterans, the war has just begun.

That’s because they are returning home only to be diagnosed with and die from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease strikes veterans at twice the rate as the general public. It has no treatment, no cure, only death in two to five years. And it doesn’t matter if vets served in World War II, Iraq or never even left the United States. They are at greater risk of ALS.

Is it head trauma, which recent headlines also suggest is the reason why more and more NFL players seem to be developing ALS? Is it physical activity, exposure to chemicals? We just don’t know. But the government is doing something about it.

The Centers for Disease Control launched a national registry of ALS patients, www.cdc.gov/ALS. The registry is the first comprehensive, nationwide effort to identify not only who gets ALS but why. Indeed, the registry may help us learn why our veterans are developing ALS. It may tell us why NFL players are developing the disease and why your neighbor has ALS. And it will help us find a treatment.

But not enough people know about the registry. I hope the media will remember that our veterans and thousands of others are fighting against ALS. And that the ALS Registry is there to help them fight back.

Paula Webster

Verona Island


To end poverty

During the holiday season, a lot of people give for food baskets for people and families who are low income and under- or unemployed.

Unfortunately, while the food does help temporarily, the problem of poverty continues.

It is clear to people across the political spectrum that poverty won’t end with Band-Aid donations and services. Poverty will end when everyone can participate in our economy and earn a livable wage. The director of a conservative think tank said, “The best way to get out of poverty is a good paying job.” Other progressive groups support a minimum wage that’s equal to a living wage (what a person actually needs to live on) and economic human rights (the right to food, health care, permanent housing, a job, etc.) as a solution to poverty.

I hope those who give to provide food or other gifts during the holiday season will donate at least as much or more to help end poverty. Two groups that are working for this goal are Food AND Medicine, 20 Ivers St., Brewer, ME 04412, and the Maine Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Coalition, P.O. Box 105, Fairfield, ME 04937.

Larry Dansinger



Tip of the iceberg

The current issue regarding the reduction in salary for Sheriff John Goggin of Piscataquis County is only the tip of the iceberg regarding problems with the chairman of the county commissioners, Tom Lizotte.

This presumptuous lowering of Sheriff Goggin’s salary was very clearly vindictive, since Sheriff Goggin has stood up for his department by disagreeing with Chairman Lizotte on issues critical for the department, such as the need for new cruisers for the department as well as staffing needs. Not liking to be disagreed with, Lizotte apparently blindsided Sheriff Goggin with the salary reduction in retribution for stating his opinions.

At the public hearing on the proposed budget Nov. 22, Lizotte’s arrogance was clearly demonstrated by his disregard for the opinions of the citizens of Piscataquis County. He actually laughed at some input and played juvenile word games with others expressing an opinion different from his.

His condescension demonstrates his inability to listen to opinions other than his own.

He also seems to have the other commissioners cowed by his overly aggressive management style. Perhaps it’s time for his resignation or a recall vote to make county government once again responsive and respectful of the citizens of Piscataquis County.

Neal A. Williams



Get the junk out

Many of us will count our blessings as we sit with our families and enjoy the good food on our holiday tables. If we are lucky, children and parents alike can choose dishes ranging from nutritious to decadent.

During the rest of the year, kids get 40 percent of their calories at school — including too much junk food and too few fresh fruits and vegetables. No wonder more than 33,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Maine are overweight or obese, and one in four young Americans is too overweight to join the military.

Congress can help get the junk food out of schools, promote nutrition education and increase access to quality nutrition programs. That’s why 100 retired generals and admirals are calling on Rep. Michaud and his colleagues to support final passage of a child nutrition bill as a matter of national security. Congress should move immediately when it returns after Thanksgiving.

Rob Carmichael

Brigadier General (U.S. Army, ret.)


Roy Martin

Brigadier General (U.S. Air Force, ret.)



Unfriendly to business

The U.S. deserves shame for its proceedings against Conrad Smith and his Sullivan Granite Co. (BDN, Nov. 17).

Here is a young man of meager resources who has managed, with ragtag equipment, to earn a living cutting stone from his property. He works even in the coldest days of winter because he cannot afford not to, essentially a one-man operation.

In time, with continued success, he may be able to bring his operation to federal standards and do some hiring. However, from the article, it is clear the Department of Labor will not give him that chance, having ticketed him for $5,500 and now a lawsuit.

At a time when honest work is at a premium, why does the U.S. do its best to drive gallant startups out of business?

Rick Beckjord



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