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Friday, Nov. 27, 2015: Fear of refugees, Collins and King right on clean power


Don’t let fear defeat reason

If you have ever been to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., you probably are aware of the story of the SS St. Louis. The ship was packed with 908 European Jews searching for safe haven in Cuba. When Cuba turned them away, the ship remained off the coast of Florida from May into June 1939 as the Jewish refugees begged the United States for asylum. Because of our strict immigration laws and significant anti-Semitic biases at the time, we turned them away. About 288 passengers were lucky enough to find asylum in the United Kingdom. Of the more than 600 who were returned to the European continent, 254 were killed in the Holocaust.

We stand on the precipice to determine if history repeats itself. Despite the fact that the Paris attacks were committed by European Union citizens and that among the millions of Syrian refugees there is not a single solid example of one committing a terrorist attack, we are still allowing fear and anti-Muslim bias to overrule reason.

Syrian refugees have struggled and drowned trying to escape the very people that claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks. Muslims are the primary victims of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Don’t let fear defeat reason. Let’s learn from history, so that we do not make the same horrible mistake again.

Ryan Asalone


Collins, King stand by clean power

I write to commend our senators, Angus King and Susan Collins, for their votes last Tuesday against a pair of Senate resolutions aimed at blocking the Clean Power Plan. Unfortunately, the Senate passed these misguided measures, by a narrow margin.

The Clean Power Plan implements the first federal standards on carbon pollution from power plants.

As a physician, and the parent of young children who will face a far different planet, I note with dismay that we already face public health impacts because of climate change. This includes, for example, the spread of insect-borne diseases to newly warming areas, such as the dramatic progression of Lyme disease in northern New England over the last decade (well documented on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website).

All additional carbon pollution will worsen global warming. Other airborne pollutants affect respiratory illness. Maine has some of the highest rates of asthma in the country. The Senate resolutions strike at our ability to reduce these public health threats — that is, if President Barack Obama hadn’t already promised a swift and uncertain veto.

These votes were yet another case of the Senate siding with big polluters and climate deniers instead of our kids’ health and a safer climate. Rather than take us backwards, we need politicians to propel us forward on the course of renewable energy charted by the Clean Power Plan. While the final vote tally was unconscionable, I was delighted by the fact that both King and Collins voted for action.

Bill Wood, M.D.


Senior exercise works

Michael Noonan’s Nov. 20 Bangor Daily News column about removing the physical barriers to exercise moved me to write this letter. I recently told nurse “Molly” I am so stiff I can’t easily put my socks on. I’m 80. She signed me up for a senior strength exercise at an Eastern Area Agency On Aging program at the Airport Mall.

I’m so glad I entered this program. After I finished the first hour, I went out and played nine holes of golf better than ever.

Now, I also entered into a class called chair yoga. No floor work.

I now say “look, I can tie my shoes!” Men, the women are way ahead of us. I am not embarrassed to be the only man in both classes. I’m there for the right reason — my health. I can feel the difference after only four to five weeks. The Eastern Area Agency On Aging is a great organization working hard to help men and women over the age of 50.

I joined because I am too tight, lack necessary strength and need help with my balance. Choose what you need from nine to 10 classes and help yourself out of chairs.

Chuck Knowlen



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