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Saturday/Sunday, Dec. 17-18, 2011: Nuclear Iran, veterans remains and wreath thieves

Campaign law and Iran

The implication in a recent BDN letter to the editor that U.S. senators solicit or accept campaign funds from foreigners, including Israeli citizens, ignores the fact that federal law explicitly prohibits federal, state or local officials from soliciting foreign contributions. Federal law also prohibits foreign nationals from making campaign contributions. Sen. Susan Collins has never raised campaign funds in Israel.

To be sure, the threat to Israel is particularly grave, as Iran’s president has made clear in calling for its annihilation. But the prospect of a nuclear Iran is a direct threat to many other U.S. allies in the Middle East. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, other countries in the region would likely seek out nuclear weapons to guarantee their own security. A nuclear-armed Iran could thereby multiply many times over the number of nuclear weapons in the region and significantly heighten tensions in that part of the world.

The 100-0 Senate vote to sanction the Central Bank of Iran demonstrates that senators are unanimously concerned with the threat from Iran, and that they are willing to pursue every peaceful effort to address this concern.

Mary Dietrich

Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Susan Collins

Washington, D.C.

Why no outrage?

A while ago, the BDN published a small article about a situation at Dover Air Force Base concerning a thousand or so unidentified, cremated remains of servicemen that were dumped into a landfill.

I have a pretty strong stomach, but this got me sick. What made things worse was that nobody responded to this article.

Are we going back to the 1970s when Vietnam veterans were spit on and viewed as drug-crazed baby killers? Are the recent articles in the BDN concerning a former Ranger with PTSD having a confrontation with law enforcement an accurate representation of a combat vet? There are a lot of combat vets in Maine, and most have made a fairly good adjustment given their sacrifice. Let us not demean them.

The Bangor Troop Greeters have done a splendid job, as have the veterans organizations. What distresses me is the lack of concern among our citizens after hearing that our heroes were relegated to a landfill. That is totally unacceptable and immoral.

Alexander Allmayer-Beck

Chaplain, Combat Vets Motorcycle Association


Wrong direction

Eastern Maine Medical Center’s latest decision to provide free bath salts emergency care to addicts from the Rockland and Camden area hospital PenBay is just another example of EMMC further distancing original themselves from their mission of providing quality and timely medical care to the greater Bangor community.

EMMC voted by a very narrow margin seven years ago to discontinue local control of the hospital by the incorporators. As a former director for many years of EMMC and for-profit parent Eastern Maine Healthcare, I doubt if the current board was aware of this and even had the opportunity to approve this new policy.

Recently I experienced a lengthy five-hour wait for simple treatment of a fracture for a family member. When questioned on the reason for the delay, a staff member informed me that the emergency room is overwhelmed every night with local bath salts cases, which amount to over 30 percent of the nightly emergencies.

Over the years our hospital has accumulated an endowment and contributions for building projects and equipment in the millions and millions of dollars from local citizens to provide services to our community. I am sure these benefactors over the years, such as Sylvia Ross and many others, would turn over in their graves with the direction current directors and trustees have taken and continue to do so to provide services such as this with no remuneration at the expense of service to the greater Bangor area.

William C. Bullock


Shameless disrespect

On Sunday, Dec. 4, Holden citizens, veterans, Boy Scouts and countless emergency services personnel gathered at the Holden Veteran’s Memorial to celebrate the Wreaths Across America convoy that is currently headed to our nation’s capital to place wreaths on veterans’ headstones located in Arlington National Cemetery.

Despite the rigorous schedule these men and women must meet, they found it in the spirit of the holidays to take 25 minutes from their schedule to stop and dedicate not only a wreath at the memorial site, but donated approximately 35 wreaths, seven to be placed at each cemetery in Holden. For each of the five cemeteries, a citizen made five wooden stands that were used to display seven of these wreaths on each, symbolizing the seven branches of the armed forces.

Monday morning, it was discovered that at two of the five cemeteries, the wreaths on the wooden stand and the stands themselves were stolen. As a recently retired veteran, and a volunteer for this project, I am appalled that someone stole these wreaths. Thanks to outstanding police work, however, by Monday evening the culprits of this crime were identified.

I cannot imagine what these people were thinking when they decided to steal these wreaths from the veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for not only our country, but for the person who stole these wreaths. One day these people will have to stand tall and face those veterans and explain why they stole “their” wreaths.

Scott Baillargeon


Advent’s lessons

We are immersed in the season of Advent. In the Christian world, Advent is a special time, a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus. We await his birth with anticipation and hope. In spite of the commercial hubbub, there is a sense of harmony and peace.

And yet there is also a great dissonance. I hear it and see it all around. Have you noticed it too?

As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus’ teaching. He taught by example that we feed and shelter the poor and hungry, care for the sick, make friends of your enemies, do unto others … his message is quite clear. And yet, there is the dissonance.

As we prepare for the Prince of Peace, we are simultaneously preparing to deny 65,000 Maine people health care coverage, to reduce access to General Assistance — a housing safety net — to eliminate HeadStart and residential programs for our elders and disabled people.

On the national scene, there is an outright refusal to tax the wealthiest Americans and our nation continues to fund wars to the tune of $1.26 trillion dollars over the last 10 years.

How is it possible for the Christian conscience to reconcile Jesus’ teaching with such disparate ideas and actions? How can we deny the duplicity? What will bring about a conversion, a disarming of the heart? Something to ponder this Christmas.

Mary Ellen Quinn


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