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Friday, Sept. 23, 2011: Israel, Collins Center for the Arts and binge drinking

Palestinian aid helps Israel

As an American who is pro-Israel and pro-peace, I oppose the calls to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority.

J Street does not support the Palestinians’ UN membership application to the Security Council at this time because we feel that a Palestinian state can only be established in the context of a two-state agreement. Nevertheless, punishing the Palestinians for a legal and nonviolent act is counterproductive.

Numerous American and Israeli security experts have highlighted the direct link between U.S. assistance to the PA and Israel’s security. For example, these funds have allowed the U.S. military to train Palestinian Authority security forces which, in the estimation of Israel’s own government, helped make last year Israel’s most terror-free year in its history.

Cutting U.S. aid and cooperation would also undermine the moderate government of the PA, and as the New York Times recently noted, “shift the political balance dangerously toward Hamas.”

A viable and stable Palestinian government is essential to achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel, so Congress must continue funding programs which strengthen institution and state-building efforts in the West Bank, grow the Palestinian economy, meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people and reduce the risk of terror aimed at Israel.

Those who agree should call Rep. Mike Michaud or Rep. Chelline Pingree and urge them to sign the Price-Welch letter which opposes funding cuts to the PA circulating in the House this week.

Todd Miller


Co-Chair, J Street Eastern Maine

RSU 20 input

In November the people of the nine towns RSU 20 will have the opportunity to participate in a straw poll vote. The school board is asking for this vote to provide direction for reorganization.

Before you vote on this very important issue, please become informed.

There will be meetings throughout the district. Attend meetings and listen to the ideas and concerns of fellow residents. The students, who have no vote, depend on you.

You can find the list of meeting dates and times at www.rsu20.org/reorganization. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing your thoughts at a future meeting.

Sharon Fields


Poor, not poor

We’re not poor. I lost my job working with people with disabilities late last year. We weren’t poor enough. My husband’s job was phased out due to decreased demand. We still weren’t poor.

We raise one grandchild who is not considered a dependent since we can’t win custody from the parents who will let us do everything in name only. We gladly give. But we still aren’t poor.

We’ve gone from $85,000 a year to $34,500 a year ($17,000 is needed just for the mortgage and heating oil). Fuel assistance got cut this year — we may not not be poor enough to qualify for help.

Wait, I have poor health. But I don’t want to be poor in any fashion. It feels awful. There’s always a reason to be turned down. I guess that’s an excuse. Maybe it’s a poor excuse.

Mary McCue


More on Collins Center

Congratulations to Emily Burnham and the BDN for the excellent article on the 25th anniversary of the Maine Center for the Arts (i.e., Collins Center). I felt the need to add information about the center since I was privileged to be a vice president at the university at that time and was responsible for overseeing the concluding construction and operation of the center.

The facility was initially conceived by then-President Howard Neville in the 1970s as part of a fundraising initiative to give the university a hockey arena and a performing arts center. The arena came quickly, while fundraising for the center continued under several presidents until the doors opened in the fall of 1986 just as Dale Lick arrived as president.

Ms. Burnham beautifully described the spectacular nature of that opening night featuring the Bangor Symphony under Maestro Werner Torkanowsky and guest artists Issac Stern and Yo Yo Ma.

We should acknowledge others, in addition to those mentioned in the article, who played important roles in making the center a reality: philanthropist Betty Noyce, Presidents Ken Allen, Paul Silverman and Arthur Johnson, Development VP Bob Holmes and Facilities Director Tom Cole.

We also should recognize that the university has a long record of raising funds from alumni, foundations and other private sources for facilities, educational programs and research to supplement government sources and tuition and fee income. The Collins Center for the Arts is but one example of this effective and continuing effort to bring high-quality education, service and first-rate arts entertainment to the people of Maine.

Thomas D. Aceto

Roque Bluffs

Targeting younger drinkers

Dartmouth College President Jim Young Kim’s essay, “Targeting campus drinking” (BDN, Sept. 20) has important news about a nationwide college initiative to curb binge drinking on college campuses. While his collaborative is focused on intervention of college-age students, another similar group is working on prevention of alcohol abuse by children in grade 5 and up. Both groups are associated with a program at the University of Washington.

George Chappell


Israel’s bad faith

I keep hearing our government will veto the Palestinian bid for statehood, saying that Palestinians should instead go back to peace talks with the Israelis.

The problem with this is that Israel has yet to negotiate in good faith. It keeps stalling and building settlements in the areas in question and hold the Palestinians captive very much like the Warsaw ghettos during World War II.

Roger Tatro


A test of progress

These are scary times for older Americans, with their coveted safety net, including Social Security and Medicare, on the chopping block. Republican presidential wannabes vie to show how tough they can be on seniors, the poor and the unemployed, while fiercely protecting the rich and the military budget.

Leading the pack is frontrunner Texas governor Rick Perry, who characterizes Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” Perry, like so many of his party, is blessed with that astonishingly twisted tea party-GOP logic that sees the absurd as being credible.

Unfortunately, massive propaganda campaigns, largely funded by big business and the rich, such as the billionaire Koch brothers, have induced many uninformed Americans to buy into this sort of nonsense.

Americans would do well to reject this right-wing claptrap and take a more compassionate view toward the millions who suffer through these hard times. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Gene Clifford

Soutwest Harbor

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