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Dec. 15 Letters to the Editor

Stay alert to scams

Despite my best efforts to update spam filters on my e-mail, several unwanted e-mails still manage to find their way into my inbox. Every week I find notices telling me I need to verify my bank account information, asking me to click to confirm my “recent order” or provide personal information to the IRS.

In a recent scam that looks like it comes from the IRS, people receive forms from an irs.gov e-mail address. The forms, on IRS “letterhead,” state that their “records indicate that you are a non-resident alien” and then you are instructed to provide your bank account information or other personal information.

Don’t be fooled. Like the other e-mails of this type, this is a scam. People all over the state have fallen victim to these and other e-mail and mail scams, and it is important to be on your guard when sorting through your mail and e-mail.

In general, government agencies and most businesses will not initiate contact through e-mail or ask that you e-mail them sensitive information. When in doubt it is always best to pick up the phone and give a call to double check. The same goes for suspicious phone calls — you’re better off calling the agency back through a listed number.

The Maine Attorney General’s Web site has a link that gives information about recent scams, how to report a suspected scam and what to do if you think you inadvertently have fallen victim to a scam (maine.gov/ag/consumer/scams.shtml).

Stay alert and protect both your bank account and your identity.

Rep. Ben Pratt



Love not always tolerant

In response to recent letters to the editor: I agree that God is love. That is his very nature. Does that mean, however that love is “tolerant” of everything?

The God of the Bible calls his followers his children, so let’s consider that for a moment. As parents, we love and protect our children with our lives. If our children directly disobey us (or sin) or do something that would injure or kill them, would we simply “tolerate” their behavior and hope it does not lead to their destruction? Absolutely not.

Like God, we are the creator of the child, therefore we get to make the rules. We call parents who ignore their children’s bad behavior hateful, not loving. The Bible I read, from a loving but righteous God, is full of warnings about any multitude of sins and the consequences that will result. I believe God made rules for his chil-dren for their good because he loves them. The only place a loving God tolerant of any sin exists is in one’s head to fit his or her desires. God’s son died so we could be forgiven of our sins, not so they could be “tolerated.”

Matt Lassell



Holiday self-censoring

As we move closer to colder weather, we also are getting closer to Christmas. That’s right, I said Christmas. I’m tired of walking on eggshells, skating on thin ice, this whole political correctness. Americans are so afraid of saying anything offensive, we constantly censor ourselves. We aren’t allowed to mention Christmas, be-cause someone might be offended. I respect other people’s opinions, but I was raised celebrating the winter solstice, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Instead of pretending these holidays don’t exist, why not embrace all faiths and celebrate everything?

My mother works with preschool-age children and they are not allowed to learn about Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving or all the other important days. Being so PC is costing us the chance to learn about other traditions.

In all honesty, will people who don’t celebrate Christmas be offended by people saying “Merry Christmas?” If so, I apologize, but still. My co-workers and I no longer can do “Secret Santa.” Instead, it’s “Secret Snowflake” or “Yankee swap.”

Remember the ridiculous time when we no longer could use the word “French” because of the Iraq war conflict? Instead, everything became “freedom fries” or “freedom horn.” It’s not quite the same thing, but let’s not get to that point. Let’s not start renaming all the holiday traditions. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So let’s go out there and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa or Hanukkah. Why not learn about one another’s way of life? That way, we all can have a happy holidays.

Laila Sholtz-Ames



Vet grateful for VA

A Merry Christmas wish and praise for the Veteran’s Administration here in Maine. I have dealt personally with the Bangor Clinic and the Togus VA Hospital for the past 26 years or so since being discharged from the U.S. Army. I have seen a lot of changes, all positive over the years and have received the best of care from them both.

The doctors, nurses and staff all have been very helpful and understanding during our times of need, and I couldn’t get any better care anywhere else, in my opinion. When I have appointments, they are on time or close, just like any other professional’s office. If I need assistance 24 hours a day, they are there; granted, maybe they are 90 miles away, but that is not their choice, that is mine.

I am not saying they have a flawless system, because they don’t, but I am tired of hearing all the negative reports and bad publicity about the VA system. Veterans need to stand up for these people and thank them as I am doing. Yes, we served our country and deserve good medical care, but these people deserve respect and praise for what they are doing for us veterans. If it weren’t for the VA system today and over the past 26 years, a lot of us veterans would not be here today.

I am proud and appreciative of our VA health care system here in Maine and wish them all a very safe and happy holiday season.

Martin Johnson



Upward and Onward

It is hard to disagree with the assertions of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and John Fitzsimmons (“College Gateway,” BDN editorial, Dec. 11) that getting a college degree by age 26 is highly desirable. It is also often far easier. College students under age 26 typically have fewer life demands, such as family responsi-bilities and mortgages, that can distract them from their studies.

The U.S. Census reports that the 2007 median income for a family headed by a person with a baccalaureate degree is 84 percent higher than one headed by a person with only a high school diploma ($110,587 vs. $59,904). As of 2007, however, only 27 percent of adults in Maine have earned a 4-year degree (Postsecondary Education Opportunity research newsletter).

Fortunately for Maine citizens over age 26, the University of Maine has the Onward program, which helps up to 50 adults per year, most of whom are first-generation college students, to enter and begin earning a baccalaureate degree. The Onward Program, part of the Division of Lifelong Learning, provides developmental courses for those who need them, fosters a close connection between students, faculty and staff, and creates a community of learners with peers, making the transition into college manageable. Onward students are highly motivated and successful, in spite of the daily barriers they face in their pursuit of a degree.

We applaud the Gates Foundation’s efforts to help students under age 26 to get a college degree. But Mainers who haven’t done so should not despair. The Onward Program and other programs in the University of Maine’s Division of Lifelong Learning are ready to help Mainers achieve a college education.

Alan Parks

Bar Harbor

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