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May 15, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Saddest part of story

A friend of mine recently died in a car accident on I-95. He was only 24 years old, a recent graduate from the University of Maine with the prime of his life ahead. In his short life, he touched the lives of many, as evidenced by the hundreds who turned out for a celebration of his life. Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that, according to state police spokesman Stephen McCausland, “If he had been seat belted, he would likely have survived the crash.”

Motor vehicle safety is one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century. Manufacturers of vehicles have made safer cars, and people have been doing their part to stay safe. For instance, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports seat belt use in Maine has risen from less than 35 percent in the mid-1980s to 83 percent in 2008.

But 83 percent is not good enough. There is no excuse for not buckling up. Wearing a seat belt is such a simple thing to do, it is the law, and it might just save your life.

Joshua Bridges

University of Maine senior nursing student


Feeling of good health

I would like to compliment Dr. Erik Steele for his May 5 column on the swine flu epidemic. He points out so well that we are much more likely to lose our health from bad choices and bad decisions than from the swine flu.

I am in my 70th year, hike 4.5 miles every morning with my dog Turbo, a 2-year-old Brittany pointer, to Martin’s General Store to get the BDN. I am in good health and I feel great. I enjoy this morning hike through the woods more than anything else that I do.

Over the past 40 years I have treated many sick and injured people as a general surgeon. I can tell you there are many people who can’t enjoy good health through no fault of their own. They just weren’t dealt the cards. However, there are many more people who lose their good health because of poor choices and poor decisions, as Dr. Steele points out in his article. And that happens far more often than getting the swine flu.

There is no amount of money or fame that can replace that great feeling of good health. And it is sad when people squander it and take it for granted.

William Babson Jr.


Israel lobby powerful

What a world we live in! Everywhere, front-page headlines reported the United Nations’ condemnation of the slaughter Israel perpetrated in Gaza a couple of months ago — everywhere but here that is. About 1,400 were killed, including 350 children, using American high-tech weapons and white phosphorus, which is more devastating than napalm — it burns down to the bone.

Here, the story appears only on an inside page of The New York Times, the nation’s self-styled “newspaper of record.” Meanwhile, the American Israeli Political Action Committee, or AIPAC, holds its annual convention in Washington, where it’s reported that half the U.S. Congress was in attendance. Are they there to pay respects to their board of directors? The participants loudly boo when the name of Jimmy Carter — America’s humanitarian president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate — is mentioned.

Wonder why? Ever hear of campaign contributions? Two AIPAC operatives were caught spying for Israel in our nation’s capital, but can’t be prosecuted because “they know American secrets.” Go figure, and come back in about 50 years to see how high the trash heap of American laws and values has grown.

Stanley Harrison


Switching off drugs

This letter is in response to the article in the April 28 BDN addressing the Switch program (Success With the Court’s Help) in Portland. I believe that offering a program such as this is important when addressing problems of alcohol or drug use.

Many people feel that having the extrinsic consequences of jail time would deter most people from using again. However, today’s research of alcohol and drug use shows that there is usually an underlying issue that causes a person to use a certain substance. Known as the law of effect, a person does not use a substance or do a certain behavior if it does not offer some type of benefit.

I think that the Switch program helps offenders come to terms with the underlying reasons for their use, and offers mechanisms to help them develop intrinsic motivation in order to change their behaviors. A person has to want to change before they can successfully find ways to do so. By requiring offenders to write essays on personal responsibility and creating lists of activities to enjoy without using substances, offenders will find ways to stop using.

The biggest critique I have of this program is the need to show that people will stay abstinent in order to prove it works. Pure abstinence may not work for some users. Falling off the wagon is part of the process when trying to change. This should be remembered when evaluating the success of the program in the future.

Amanda Welch


Where are the moose?

It was with great sadness that I read in the BDN recently that Maine has approved a summer moose kill in eastern Aroostook County, issuing 100 permits to land owners and guides to slaughter one of the only draws left in this poverty-stricken area. Our beautiful wildlife that once was abundant and seen daily now eludes us. Where have our herds of big bucks gone? Where are the moose?

We have been spending May, October and November here for the past 10 years. We have a cabin on a 45-acre lot on Mount Chase and a home in Patten. We travel daily to and from the mountain and into the Baxter State Park area. I can count the moose we have seen on one hand. Hardly enough to consider them a menace or to justify another slaughter so someone can hang a dead head on their wall.

What will northern Maine have to draw families and tourists with after they have totally annihilated all of the wildlife? What is left here for anyone to want to see or experience? What is wrong with state government that it does not protect the one natural resource left in the northern part of the state?

Filena Singer


Clean up space

The mantra for people hiking and camping is to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” Should not the same standard apply to countries sending satellites into space? Shouldn’t there be an obligation to recover what is launched into space when the usefulness of that object has passed? Is there a plan to bring the hulk of Hubble home? Weather satellites? Dish network satellites?

Ed Hoovler


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