Stand up to gun lobby
The fact that the dialogue around gun control in this country is now centered around whether to continue to restrict access to silencers and ban “ bump stocks” is simply madness. The fact that anyone could actually imagine that banning or not banning these accessories would do anything to reduce gun violence in this country is mere idiocy.
According to the nonpartisan fact-checking website Politifact, more Americans have died from gun violence since 1968 than have died in all the wars fought in American history. More than World War II, more than the Great War, more than Vietnam. More than all of them all combined.
Do we not have a right in this country, a right far greater than the Second Amendment, to be able to attend a musical concert, teach a class, drop our kids off at school or shop in the grocery store without fear of being slain by one another?
How many more moments of silence must we have before someone stands up for the teacher, the parent, the concertgoer instead of for the gun collector or lobbyist? It is beyond time for our elected officials to stop being cowed by the gun lobby, and to stand up for the citizens of this great country.
Children’s health care at risk
Nine million children in the United States are in danger of losing health insurance. On Sept. 30, Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire, even though this has bipartisan support. The program was created in 1997 to allow increased affordable health insurance for working families that don’t qualify for Medicaid. In Maine, more than 23,000 children are at risk of losing coverage.
Unless Congress moves to reinstate funding in a timely manner, there will be real consequences. Several states estimate they will run out of funds before the end of the year and will be compelled to drop coverage. The administrative burden and the incredible anxiety for families — especially those with children with chronic conditions needing frequent care — created by congressional feet dragging should not be discounted and requires urgent action.
The Maine chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages our congressional delegation to push for an urgent resolution of this matter. Our children’s lives are at stake.
Deborah Hagler, M.D.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Farewell to Olmstead
With sadness we read on Oct. 6 the last column by Kathryn Olmstead. We thank her for the many wonderful columns about Aroostook County that she has written over the last seven years.
We have subscribed to the BDN for more than 30 years and appreciate the good coverage of world, national and Maine news. Home delivery is very much appreciated as well. Every morning we look forward to this paper and on Wednesdays to the Houlton Pioneer Times. Both are read “cover to cover.”
Marilyn and Harrison Roper
Paradis for Belfast mayor
Belfast has made great progress in recent years, but there are still challenges that need to be met and new opportunities that need to be seized. Housing, energy, the needs of our aging population and other issues need to be addressed by leadership that looks forward to the future, while respecting the past. The times call for creativity, energy and fresh ideas.
I will be voting for Samantha Paradis for mayor on Nov. 7. I believe she will provide strong leadership and serve as an exemplary representative and spokesperson for our entire community.
Retired racing horses
With regard to Question 1, An Act to Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County, that will appear on the November ballot, there is no provision in the ordinance to fund retirement homes for harness-racing horses at the end of their careers. Horses can live up to 30 years, but most harness-racing horses stop making money for their owners at about 10 years of age, if not sooner, because of injuries, arthritis, lameness and chronic pain incurred during years of harness racing.
Despite the stereotype of pampered retired horses frolicking in green pastures on family farms, horses used in harness racing and thoroughbred racing horses often wind up on the auction block where they are sold to pull carriages in Amish villages or to be served as a delicacy in restaurants abroad.
According to a July 13 BDN article, the future of harness racing in Bangor is uncertain because of declining revenues. Harness racing and horse racing are dying industries, which are kept alive by taxpayer subsidies from the proceeds of slot machines and casinos. Vote no on Question 1 until provisions are made for the retirement of harness-racing horses in Maine.
Protect Arctic refuge
I’m deeply disturbed by proposals for the 2018 fiscal budget, which include opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. This zeal to drill overlooks the tremendous cultural and natural value of the refuge, the dismal track record of the oil industry, and the broad public support for safeguarding this place.
The budget is a reminder, too, that much like public lands in Maine, the Arctic refuge is facing the greatest threats in decades. This is yet another attempt to hand over our valuable public lands to corporate polluters. It’s obvious that President Donald Trump and congressional leadership care more about filling the pockets of the oil industry than the interests of Alaska Native communities, including the Gwich’in Nation, who depend on the refuge for survival, or of the public at large who want to see the refuge continue to exist unspoiled.
I urge Sen. Susan Collins to just say no to drilling in the refuge. The people of Maine are looking to her to protect the Arctic refuge and all the places closer to home it represents.