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Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015: Balloon pollution, don’t celebrate McCarthyism, truck safety distortions

McCarthyism shouldn’t be celebrated

A Dec. 16 BDN letter to the editor made reference to a McCarthy-era vote by Congress to enact a piece of legislation by overriding a veto from President Harry Truman in 1952. According to the letter writer, Howard Cutler of Dixmont, this override permitted the executive branch to discriminate against whole groups of people in the interest of national security. This was held up by Cutler as a positive, precedent-setting justification for discrimination today against any whole group of individuals the executive branch of our government deems a threat.

In 1952, at the age of 8, I watched as my mother anxiously tuned in to watch Sen. Joseph McCarthy on television and joined the nervous crowd that McCarthy played as a political keyboard. The “red scare” mob was ready to lynch any individual or group they felt was threatening. This activity by Congress in the early 1950s ruined the lives of many upstanding Americans. These red scare activities fueled by McCarthyism stand forever as a well-acknowledged low point in America’s history.

Maine Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith’s ” Declaration of Conscience” in June 1950 slowly awakened the conscience of many more responsible representatives. On Dec. 2, 1954, McCarthy was censured by his fellow senators.

The U.S. Constitution protects more than guns. It protects individuals, their beliefs, their religions and their families from the fears of the mob. That is what makes our country exceptional. Guns can’t do it all. Freedom and safety required responsible citizenship.

Doug Pike

Exeter

Truck safety distortions

Mark Rosenker distorted the facts about the safety of double 33s in a Dec. 8 BDN letter to the editor. The former National Transportation Safety Board chairman is now an adviser to the Coalition for Efficient and Reliable Trucking, a group that consists of large corporations that stand to make massive profits if these longer, less safe trucks are allowed on our roads.

Rosenker avoids noting that data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study showed that lengthening double tractor-trailers from 28-feet to 33-feet will result in a six-foot wider turning radius and 22-foot longer stopping distance.

He also ignores the fact that double 33s would replace many of the existing single 53-foot trailers. According to the Truckload Carriers Association, there would be significant diversion within trucking as, in the past, shippers will not support equipment that does not meet the maximum size allowed.

Moreover, pushing for these longer trucks would exacerbate what the trucking industry’s claims is a major problem — insufficient parking for trucks. Adding a minimum of 10 extra feet will actually reduce the amount of useable parking spaces.

In referencing “years of testing” in Alberta, Canada, on double 33s, Rosenker, again, fails to paint a full picture. John Woodrooffe, referenced by Rosenker, attributed much of the good safety performance of longer trucks to the fact that Alberta has among the strictest driver, carrier and vehicle regulations.

Overall, it is disheartening that Rosenker, once the head of a safety agency, has become a peddler of privately-funded pseudoscience.

Daphne Izer

Founder

Parents Against Tired Truckers

Lisbon

Balloon dangers

The Dec. 11 BDN article about “Letters to Heaven” describes a sweet sentiment and a simple plan to send messages to deceased loved ones skyward via helium balloon. Unfortunately, the act of releasing balloons has consequences that went unmentioned.

For the five minutes of beauty as the balloons rise into the air, there will be months of visible trash wrapped in high tree limbs. At best, the balloons will sink back to the ground where they can be collected. The worst case scenario involves wildlife being strangled or choked.

I truly hope that the “Letters to Heaven” event does not become an annual occurrence. We need to find more productive ways to honor our loved ones than by creating litter for others to clean up.

Elissa Koskela

Belfast

 


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