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Monday, July 11, 2011: Nuclear weapons, national park

What Tutu said

“Eliminating nuclear weapons is the democratic wish of the world’s people. Yet no nuclear-armed country currently appears to be preparing for a future without these terrifying devices. In fact, all are squandering billions of dollars on modernization of their nuclear forces, making a mockery of United Nations disarmament pledges. If we allow this madness to continue, the eventual use of these instruments of terror seems all but inevitable.”

So wrote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and supporter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

He also wrote: “The [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] is not a license for the five original nuclear powers [including the U.S.] to cling to these weapons indefinitely. The International Court of Justice has affirmed that they are legally obliged to negotiate in good faith for the complete elimination of their nuclear forces.”

Nuclear disarmament is not an impossible dream. South Africa, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine all gave up their nuclear arsenals, and other countries have abandoned their nuclear-weapons programs, recognizing that such weapons make them less secure.

As Archbishop Tutu wrote: “Every dollar invested in bolstering a country’s nuclear arsenal is a diversion of resources from its schools, hospitals, and other social services, and a theft from the millions around the globe who go hungry or are denied access to basic medicines.”

I urge President Obama to follow up on the new START treaty with a push, not to augment our nuclear stockpile, but to eliminate it and to reallocate that $185 billion towards meeting human needs.

Andrew Cadot
Roque Bluffs

Park would be boon

I read, with disappointment, Patrick Strauch’s July 5 OpEd, “Maine woodlands better off without a park.” In my opinion, given his job in the forestry industry, this would be like asking an industry rep for a tobacco company to support laws to ban smoking in ever increasing places — it probably wouldn’t happen. In other words, I question Mr. Strauch’s short-sighted view.

Many people come to Maine to see nature. In fact, my family and I are heading to Baxter State Park next week. Much of our hard-earned money will be spent in the area. However, I will not spend a dime in a place that has the short-sightedness to not support the national park idea, especially a proposed park that would be donated by a far-sighted business women.

If the vocal locals win in not establishing a park, then that will be the short-sighted crime of the century. If that occurs, I hope that Ms. Quimby closes off all of her land to consumptive (hunting and forestry) uses including lands she said she would dedicate to those purposes if the park is created on 70,000 of her acres.

Meanwhile, I live on Cape Cod where property values have spiralled out of control because of beautiful places like Cape Cod National Seashore.

Jonathan Way
Osterville, MA

A welcoming church

Sharon Kiley Mack wrote a wonderful article about a home birth that took place in East Machias on the Fourth of July. It was a heartwarming story of a single mother, Anna, who made a decision to have a child, without having a husband, and to give birth at home.

In the article, Mack writes that Anna was asked to “leave” her church choir when she was pregnant with her first child and that she was made to publicly apologize to her church congregation.

There were many online comments about how sad this was, and many people recommended that Anna look for another faith community. Missing from that article was the fact that she has found another loving church family at Centre Street Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Machias. Anna and her daughter have been welcomed and supported since they began attending about a year ago.

I am a proud member of Centre Street and want everyone to know that there are alternatives to conservative, judgmental Christian churches. Centre Street is a Christian church that embraces Jesus’ message that “all are welcome.”

United Church of Christ churches are places where you will find amazing love and hospitality. The United Church of Christ tag line is, “No matter who you are or where you are in life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Come check us out some Sunday.

Ellen Farnsworth
Berry Township

Good Shepherd good partner

The BDN’s July 4 article “Food pantries upset over rising Good Shepherd Food-Bank fees” seems to over-emphasize food pantry complaints.

I have worked in the hunger relief field for over 10 years, often collaborating with GSFB. Have there been problems? Yes, but none so big that we could not solve them together. This is the nature of a partnership. GSFB staff, from CEO Rick Small to warehouse personnel, have consistently sat down with me, and the food pantry that I chair, to resolve issues.

All pantries are struggling due to our economy. Salaries do not reflect the increasing costs of living, including fuel. Because of this disparity, pantries face increasing clientele and increasing budget pressure. The same is true for GSFB — more demand from agencies, less salvage available and increased operating costs.

I have visited several out-of-state food banks; GSFB matches or exceeds comparable institutions in operation and performance. From their vegetable purchasing efforts (which support local farmers, keeps money in state and distributes healthier food to the hungry) to their exploration of food processing to utilize our agricultural bounty — GSFB is forward thinking.

As pantry operators, we must feed those facing hardship. This task would be much more challenging without GSFB. In the long term, we must follow the adage of “teaching one to fish” by giving clients the tools to be self-sufficient. Empowerment through education, enhancing food security within our community and supporting hunger relief efforts that address immediate needs- can improve the quality of life for all Mainers.

Bob Van Deventer

Pantry’s ‘sour grapes’

I am the director and meal coordinator for Table of Plenty; TOP serves between 300-400 free weekly meals in York, Berwick and Kittery. We have been in existence since 1994, and I am proud to say I’ve been in my position for the past 11 years. In that span of time, I have dealt with Good Shepherd Food Bank and have remained in compliance with their contract, which my board of directors and myself have found to be clear and fair.

It would be extremely unfortunate if the sour grapes of one organization not in compliance with that agreement were to adversely affect GSFB in any way. GSFB’s mission has always been to focus on those Maine citizens unable to sufficiently feed themselves — speaking for TOP, we would be lost without them. They have enabled us to serve better quality meals to any who enter our doors.

I would urge anyone who contributes regularly to GSFB or any of its partner agencies to continue to do so without reservation, remembering that there are always two sides to any situation.

Christine Stolpe

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