May 25, 2018
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Feb. 7 Letters to the Editor


Blueberries are better

I feel that blueberry pie is more representative of our great state than the whoopie pie.
Our low-bush wild blueberry truly is a gift from Mother Nature. The great Labrador ice cap that slowly covered our areas eons ago gouged and plowed Maine’s rich topsoil down as far as New Jersey. (The Garden State never has returned it!) From that acidic, sandy soil emerged blueberry bushes and pine trees.
Blueberries were a staple of the early Native American’s diet. They called them star flowers.
Blueberries have been and continue to be a vital economic resource. Researchers have found that blueberries contain great health benefits, such as antioxidants, nature’s super vitamin pill.
Nancy Willey
• • •

Reform Patriot Act

The federal government has been rightly criticized for its sneak-and-peek searches and warrantless wiretapping of law-abiding Americans under the auspices of the 2001 USA Patriot Act. These practices violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, our supreme law of the land. That’s why presidential candidate Barack Obama reasonably pledged in 2008 to reform the Patriot Act once in office.
But in office, he has done the opposite, pushing against reform bills in 2009 and working to further expand his surveillance authorities in 2010.
The Congress has done no better. Democratic leadership in the House and Senate pledged to write and pass Patriot Act reform bills when the act was renewed in February 2010, but they failed even to hold a hearing on the subject last year.
In the new Congress, a movement is afoot to reauthorize the Patriot Act without any significant debate and without reforms to protect Americans’ freedoms. I urge Maine’s congressional delegation to resist the push for Patriot Act renewal and to insist on full debate with the introduction of civil liberties reforms.
James Cook
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LePage agenda wrong

Gov. Paul LePage has proposed 36 changes to Maine’s environmental laws, including “making Maine’s environmental laws conform to less stringent federal standards” and “relaxing air emissions removal standards.”
These changes could seriously damage Maine’s environment and seriously affect the lives of many Mainers. Even worse, he’s proposing to reverse a law that safeguards Maine’s children.
Gov. LePage’s campaign slogan admirably reads, “People before Politics.” Ironically, at least one of his proposals would endanger Maine’s most vulnerable people, children. Currently, Maine is phasing out the use in children’s products of bisphenol A, or BPA, a known carcinogen.
Gov. LePage wishes to reverse this decision and instead have Maine follow more lenient federal standards. Studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that “93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.” BPA has been linked to cancer, learning disabilities and even obe-sity. Allowing its use to continue endangers the well-being of Maine’s children, but that is what Gov. LePage proposes to do.
Clearly, Gov. LePage is putting politics before people. He is looking to further his own narrow political agenda at the expense of Maine residents. Because of the state’s tough environmental laws, Mainers work, fish, hunt and play in one of the most pristine environments in the country. LePage’s 36 proposed changes threaten to degrade that environment. Worse, by reversing the law that would phase out BPA, Gov. LePage demonstrates a total disregard for Maine’s most important resource: its children.
Margaret Payne
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Vernal pool defense

I worry that the new state government does not understand the value of a healthy environment and its importance in maintaining clean water, clean air, our own health and the living resources that are a part of that environment.
We live in boxes and do not experience our natural surroundings as we used to, and our science education is meager. Many of our residents, especially developers, have experienced frustration at not being able to fill wetlands, as long has been the custom and do not see the value of areas that slowly absorb groundwater instead of speeding it off into the surface waters.
The small temporary pools, vernal pools, are part of our water system and help protect us from drought.
Nor do they see that there are limits to our dream of perpetual growth. We should be, at this point, because of rising oil prices and rising carbon in the atmosphere, trying to build close to population centers (and refurbish existing buildings), instead of always building out into agricultural and forest land, i.e., practicing “smart growth.”
This is in addition to the biological importance of the vernal pools that speckle our forests; these delicate nurseries of amphibians are an important part of the healthy forest biome. May we respect them.
Beedy Parker
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Foster care spin

I am writing to comment on the January 29-30 article, “5-year-old’s death catalyst for foster care improvements.” Mark Twain once said, “There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.” Some members of the DHHS leadership utilize misleading statistics to create the perception that the foster care system has im-proved. The ironic reality is that in the past 10 years, the state has decimated a very effective continuum of services for children and adolescents at risk.
They use terms such as “congregate care” to create the perception of group homes as abusive orphanages. “Please sir, may I have some more?” This is not what therapeutic group care is. The reduction of these programs has created a significant gap in services for the most challenged adolescents.
This has overwhelmed community-based services and increased reliance on hospitals and the juvenile justice system.
The statistics in this article show that fewer children and adolescents are in care today as if they are being protected from the abuse of service providers. Does anybody really believe there are fewer children and adolescents at risk today?
With diminishing resources, the state faces the difficult task of protecting children. DHHS leadership should call it what it is and not pretend that the tragic loss of a little girl in care was a catalyst to improvements in a system that once was comprehensive and effective.
Bill Branca

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