Soda ban complicated

In response to the March 27 article, “Legislature to debate food stamp soda ban,” the following should be considered:

The bill would still permit purchase of thousands of other high-calorie food items that contain more harmful ingredients than sugar and little nutrition value. Saturated fats, trans fats and sodium are dietary components that have a more direct connection to heart disease, the leading cause of death and disability. Soft drinks contain no saturated or trans fats and little sodium.

The bill would permit purchase of beverages that contain 11 percent real fruit juice. That translates to less than 1 ounce of juice in an 8-ounce serving of sugar water. One-hundred percent real unsweetened apple and grape juice contain far more sugar and calories than most soft drinks, yet unless artificially added, they contain few nutrients. Stores that accidentally sell a fruit drink, punch or juice cocktail that contains less than 11 percent fruit juice may be banned from accepting food stamp and WIC payments.

The bill would have no effect on the amount of federal tax money that’s spent on the food stamp program. State tax money would be spent on applying for waivers and policing the difficult-to-interpret rules. This bill would have little impact other than diversion of scarce state resources away from more meaningful endeavors and an increased burden for Maine stores.

The real answer is consumer education coupled with economic policies that decrease the need for food assistance.

Alan Majka



High cost of ‘cheap’

The “Everyday Cheapskate” has done a dangerous disservice to BDN readers who put her instructions into action — as well as to all those who live in, or downstream of, their homes.

Mary Hunt’s “green” cleaner recipes (March 30) contain ingredients that are highly toxic. Both ammonia and chlorine bleach can be deadly if ingested by children, pets, or unknowing adults. Both give off poisonous fumes that can cause respiratory and other illnesses in humans and pets. Both are components of the toxic soup that contaminates our nation’s waterways.

Cheap they may be, but promoting them as green is dishonest and potentially deadly.

Mary D. Bird



English only, please

Today as I was preparing some microwave food, I noticed instructions were in Spanish. What’s next — Arabic?

When people move to this country, they need to learn the English language. We should not have to accommodate other cultures, which ultimately increases the cost of manufacture, thereby increasing the cost to us.

Here in Maine we have a large Franco-American population and we don’t accommodate them by printing directions in French.

Harold Davis



Faults cartoonist

George Danby’s cartoon on the elephants at the bar has finally showed he’s gone off the deep end. I’ve known many Georges in my day; Uncle George, George W., George Roof, George Murdock, but I’ve never met one who seems to need a name change like Mr. Danby.

How about Keith, as in Olbermann? His lunacy in deflecting this country’s economic woes belong to the Republican Party as much as Nancy Pelosi needs another jet. The Democratic Party is having its day in court and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

I suggest Danby opens his eyes, sharpens his pencil and draws something of truth for a change. With the amount of money the Democrats are spending in Congress, I suggest you replace those elephants with donkeys, as the only way they’ll pay for the spending is through the poor.

Ray Bryant



Sderot in context

Anav Silverman’s OpEd “In Israel, effects of terror shatter glass, peace of mind” (BDN, March 30), poignantly recounts the trauma resulting from rockets from Gaza hitting Sderot but fails to mention the causal context. Gaza, less than a mile from Sderot, is the prison of 1.5 million Palestinians.

For two years, they have endured Israeli embargoes on electricity, clean water, sewage disposal, food, medicine and building supplies and Israeli control of all entry and exit, including humanitarian aid.

Ms. Silverman also ignores the recent three-week Israeli assault on Gaza during which 1,400 Palestinians were killed, the majority women, children and noncombatants. Another 5,400 were injured; 14,000 homes, plus schools and factories were demolished. During this period, 14 Israelis died — three civilians and 11 soldiers.

Clearly, Sderot residents will not gain security militarily. The only Middle East country with nuclear weapons, Israel has the largest, best-equipped military, thanks to the endless flow of U.S. weapons and munitions, including the recently employed white phosphorus bombs and “dense inert metal explosives” approved by Congress in 2008.

Yet, Israel cannot stop the rocket fire from Gaza for one simple reason: One does not have to approve the use of rockets to understand that people subjected to untenable conditions will find ways to strike back at their oppressors.

Military might cannot destroy Palestinians’ desire to live in freedom and dignity. Only an end to the 41-year illegal occupation of the West Bank and the imprisonment of Gaza can produce a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Maurine and Bob Tobin



Fear of gay success

Opponents of the same-sex marriage bill keep predicting that legalizing such marriages would threaten traditional marriages. Given the current failure rate of the latter, some shaking up — threatening, even — might in fact be helpful.

And given the success of homosexuals in so many fields — art, music, professional health care., etc. — their successes in marriage may well prove to be similarly exemplary. Is that what the opponents of the bill really fear, down deep, that they will be outdone?

Fern Stearns