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Tuesday, April 24, 2012: News media, agriculture and the Maine Public Utilities Commission

Prostitutes in media

It is no wonder that Americans are so ignorant of world affairs and so unaware of the perspectives of those around the world. We are kept ignorant by our news media.

Last week a major conference of the leaders of most of this hemisphere’s nations took place in Columbia. A number of important issues were discussed, among them the consideration of decriminalizing the personal use of marijuana throughout the hemisphere in an effort to curtail the staggering political and economic power of the drug cartels. A number of presidents refused to attend the meeting due to the blocking by the U.S. of attendance by representatives of Cuba — several more presidents announced that they would refuse to attend any further meetings of the Organization of American States if the U.S. does not allow the inclusion of Cuba.

These are issues of vital importance to our neighbors in the region, and yet we have heard nothing in our media about anything other than prostitutes.

Stephen Blythe


Environmentally sustainable food

Just in time for Sunday’s Earth Day observance, a study published recently in Environmental Research Letters warns that animal manure and fertilizers used in growing feed for animals emit large amounts of nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.

A recent OpEd in The New York Times warns that the devastating environmental impacts of a meat-based diet are actually magnified when raising animals on the range, because this involves much more land and more greenhouse gas emissions ( www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/opinion/the-myth-of-sustainable-meat.html).

These conclusions are in keeping with an extensive United Nations Environment Program’s report ( www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet), which drew on dozens of smaller studies. The highly respected report concluded that agricultural production accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater use, 38 percent of land use and 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products must be replaced by vegetables, fruits and grains, just as fossil fuels must be replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources. As the world’s most conspicuous consumers, we have a special obligation to lead in pursuing an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Our next trip to the supermarket is a great starting point.

Terry Donnellan


Praise for Burnham

As I was reading this morning’s newspaper I was once again grateful for the coverage which your multitalented reporter Emily Burnham has given to our theater company. I do however wish to correct the statement that Maskers were “forced out of the building by expansion of the waterfront.” We were forced out of the building because of the dilapidated condition of the building and the inability to continue to get insurance coverage for same.

Maskers, like nearly everyone else in the city, is proud of and delighted by the expansion and beautification which is coming to our lovely waterfront area and are totally in support of a working waterfront.

As a subscriber I always look forward to Emily’s articles.

Aynne Ames

Artistic director, Belfast Maskers


PUC made wrong call

Maine government must not support PUC big wind-power investments.

The Public Utilities Commission said yes to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new investment in an industry that is falsely claimed to be clean. This is no cause for celebration. People have been told that there are two major complaints about wind power and that they can be overcome.

The first is that industrial turbines are an eyesore on pristine rural ridge tops. The second is that they produce power that is more expensive than other sources of power. These two arguments can be easily overcome by not installing industrial turbines at all, however there are many more reasons for not investing in industrial wind turbines, e.g. devastation of tourism; millions of birds and bats slaughtered each year; dealing with “bird taking” permits, their oversight and monitoring; strife in communities and in meeting a community’s needs; unbridled corruption in industry, state politics (PUC) and town politics; corruption among financial, Audubon and other institutions; devastation of wilderness, mountains and wildlife; personal economics ruined, destroyed property values; foreign control of our resources; exporting electricity when we already have more than we need; higher taxes and electricity rates; remote wilderness and mountaintop fire danger; management, oversight and decommissioning; noise, flicker, lights and their effects on health, human and otherwise.

Maine should continue to seek a balanced energy policy that includes conservation and a variety of sources.

Bob Baker


The Passamaquoddy people

In response to “Passamaquoddy get $11.4M in asset mismanagement case” (BDN, April 3), since the Settlement Act of 1980, the Passamaquoddy Tribal Governments still operate as if Passamaquoddy tribal funds belong to them as elected officials. As tribal governor in the early 1970s, I reluctantly signed the original complaint, Passamaquoddy v. Morton, on behalf of our people because I had many unanswered questions regarding the management of our funds in case a settlement was ever reached. After the 1980 settlement act, Viola Dana Brown, Phyllis Newell Saunders and myself organized a tribal petition to freeze $12.5 million and set up a permanent trust for our people so that the generated interest could be disbursed to our people on the tribal role.

If my memory serves me right, $1 million also was set aside for our elders to supplement their meager incomes. Other than reporting to the tribal officials, the Passamaquoddy people have had no reporting on the usage or status of these funds. I do know that in the first quarter of 2012, each elder received a disbursement of $37.36. Considering all of the funds and income that flows through tribal governments, $37.36 is an embarrassment.

I have written my concerns consistently for the past 30 years and have been a major force since the settlement act requesting information and accountability of the Passamaquoddy funds that belong to our people, to our children and to our grandchildren, not to mention our natural resources and the profits they have generated.

Allen Socabasin


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