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Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011: Voting, free trade and breast cancer bracelets

Little problems

Normally when I hear that potential problems are being fixed before they become real problems, I’m all for it. But in the Maine election “problem” identified by Charlie Summers, I’m not so sure.

Yes, our municipal clerks work hard on Election Day. No, Maine does not have a modern voting system. But yes, it works.

I can see it now… modernizing Maine’s voting system. Machines — that can be rigged? That are confusing? That make errors? Every time I’ve read of voting issues in other states, it has made me proud of our “antiquated” Maine system.

We do have real problems in Maine that need attention. Let go of the little ones.

Mary Offutt

Deer Isle

Forbidden to care?

I thought at my advanced age I had seen most of the absurdities this country dishes out, but I was wrong: A new and thoroughly unbelievable one was in the Bangor Daily News article “Breast cancer bracelets cause stir” (Sept. 23).

The upshot is that students from Medomak Valley High School were suspended for wearing bracelets that said, “I [heart] boobies.” I am a retired 32-year high school English teacher, the sister of a breast cancer survivor and the grandmother of a 15-year-old girl who proudly wears this same bracelet to school every day.

As a teacher, I’ve witnessed students make the news for all the wrong reasons; I cannot do anything but cheer when they get involved in a positive way. As the sister of a breast cancer survivor, I buy the pink-looped address labels, support the Susan Komen Race for the Cure and express my support for eradicating this terrible problem.

As the grandmother of a 15-year-old girl, I applaud her for wearing this bracelet and drawing attention to this heartbreaking issue. But when I read the quote from the principal, stating “They’re disruptive to the education process,” it left me puzzled.

Don’t we send kids to school to educate and encourage them to become involved in their world? What’s wrong with our educational system or, for that matter, our society, when it forbids our young people to care?

Rosemary Canney

Old Town

Oppose unfair trade deals

The connection between trade deficits and Maine jobs was made clear on Sept. 21 by Rep. Mike Michaud when he highlighted a report from the Economic Policy Institute. As reported in the BDN (“Report: Trade deficit with China cost Maine 9,545 jobs”), the EPI study found our trade deficit with China is responsible for 2.8 million American jobs lost since China entered the World Trade Organization 10 years ago.

Yet President Obama and many in Congress continue to push failed trade policies that will only make our trade deficits worse and lead to the loss of even more jobs in Maine. A proposed free trade agreement with Korea will make our overall trade deficit increase, according to a 2007 study from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The proposed NAFTA-style Korea Free Trade Agreement contains a provision that would allow Korean goods to include up to 65 percent of a product’s value that originates in China, Vietnam or other low-wage countries. This will help make Korea a gateway for more cheap Chinese goods to pour into our country while more Maine jobs are lost to unfair trade deals.

Another proposed trade agreement with Colombia threatens Maine jobs while rewarding a country with a horrendous record on human and labor rights.

Sen. Olympia Snowe has joined Rep. Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree in opposing both of these proposed agreements because they will be bad for Maine and our country.

We need Sen. Susan Collins to join the rest of the Maine delegation and take a stand against these unfair trade deals now.

Stephan Donnell


Calling out the NRA

In a Sept. 19 editorial “Missing Dexter Element,” the BDN raises questions about why the National Rifle Association would oppose a law that — had it passed — would add protection for families from domestic assault.

LD 386 would permit law officers to seize weapons from a person who has committed domestic assault, thereby hampering those criminals from subsequent access to weapons when and if they break conditions of their bail (which is what happened when Steven Lake returned to kill his family).

Thank you for calling out the NRA on their indefensible opposition to the bill. It seems reasonable to infer from their lobbying that this organization cares more about guns and their owners than families and their safety. If you know that more spouses and children might die when guns remain in the hands of abusers, and if you then oppose a bill that could save some of those lives, just how do you defend that twisted logic?

Thank you also for putting our state’s legislators on the spot for voting down this law. It is a shame and a missed opportunity; perhaps they have some explaining to do.

Seems like a good time to remember to read our moral compass now and then.

Craig Kesselheim

Southwest Harbor

New mission for ‘Boobie Patrol’

I have had two children graduate from Medomak Valley High School, and currently have my two youngest children attending the school. I read the BDN’s article regarding the “I [heart] Boobies” bracelets and was disappointed to see the school pick such a ridiculous hill to climb.

The bracelets are worn by most students as a sign to support breast cancer awareness. As a woman, I do not find them to be disrespectful, just silly. My mother has lost both breasts to this horrible disease and she was not offended by the bracelet, she was amused by it.

If the school had not started requesting the small group of students that wear these bracelets to remove them and then suspended the ones who didn’t, it would not have turned into such a problem or distraction. There are so many other issues in that building that should be addressed by the administration in order to make the school a safe and healthy learning environment.

I would rather see the school administration concentrate on eliminating the drugs from the building and perhaps focus on educating my children and the other students. Perhaps the “Boobie Patrol” could use some of its energy to help the senior class prepare for graduation and college and careers. As a parent, I would appreciate that far more than picking on a group of kids that started out trying support a good cause.

Catherine E. Trueman


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