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Wednesday, October 16, 2013: Shutdown drama, influenza and math competitions


Do the math

The Feb. 4 BDN article “ Maine students’ test scores remain flat” indicated that after the October 2013 administration of the NECAP, Maine and numerous other states would implement the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test. While we all eagerly wait the new tests at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, students could improve their chance to become scientists, engineers or mathematicians by joining the American Mathematics Competitions and improve themselves naturally through problem solving.

The American Mathematics Competitions 8 (AMC 8) will be offered for students age eight to 14.5 on Nov. 19 at USM in Portland, at the Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

The AMC 10 intended for high school sophomores and the AMC 12 for juniors and seniors will be offered on Feb. 4 at USM Portland, at the Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and at Bowdoin College. These locations are available to students whose school is not participating in the competitions. More and more middle schools and high schools are offering the AMC.

In this academic year, all schools and colleges offering the AMC nationwide offer the competition on Nov. 19 and on Feb. 4, 2014.

There is a wealth of information at www.maa.org, which has descriptions of the AMC tests, suggestions on preparing for the contests, and much more. For more information and to register contact Eva Szillery, the state director, at atevaszillerymmsets@gwi.net.

Eva J. Szillery

State Director, American Mathematics Competitions


Stepping up to shutdown

Kudos to Belfast-based AthenaHealth for stepping up to the plate and monitoring flu numbers and patterns in the face of the government shutdown. While the Lung Association encourages everyone over 6 months to be vaccinated against influenza as soon as the vaccine is available, medical professionals here in Maine and across the country rely on the data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collect so they can tell when and where influenza is spiking and advise and treat their patients accordingly. By sharing the information they have gathered, AthenaHealth is providing a valuable service that can be used to help soften the impact of influenza this season and thereby minimize the detrimental effect of the government shutdown on public health.

Despite what some may think, influenza is much more than a bad cold. It is a serious, contagious respiratory illness that can be life threatening. Each year, 36,000 Americans die from flu and its complications.

As we continue our efforts to educate the public about influenza and urge them to be vaccinated this season, it’s comforting to know that we have good corporate neighbors who are ready and willing to step in to fight influenza as well.

Those interested in learning more about influenza and where to find flu shot near them should visit the Lung Association’s website at LungNE.org.

Jeff Seyler

President & CEO

American Lung Association of the Northeast


Second the motion

I make a motion that the president, vice-president and the Congress of this great United States do not get paid their salary while they play with people’s lives like they have been doing. I think the founders of the U.S. would roll over in their graves if they could see how this country is being governed. Why can’t they sit down and work for the people that put them into office instead of making last minute agreements that will last for six months before they go through the same drama again?

There are many people that will not get paid due to the shutdown, and if they apply for unemployment benefits, they will be told that they do not qualify as they already have a job. What do they do for money then?

I am furious about the money that was raised on the campaigns for these people — in the millions — to have elected people that have no idea what it is to struggle to pay for food, heat, gas and food. Forget about health insurance, you’re too broke to carry any more on your plate. Please find common sense somewhere and get the country back on track instead of becoming the laughing stock of the world.

My husband and I are retired and worked hard all our life, saving and preparing for retirement, and we are not directly affected by this shutdown, but many people I know are. So I will second my motion. Care to vote?

Barbara A. Tilley


Shutdown drama

The United States government is shutting down. There are two causes for this calamity. One is easy to fix. The other is not. And perhaps it shouldn’t be.

The first cause is that the U.S. government is mired in sequester, debt-ceiling and continuing resolution muck because Congress has been unable to approve a budget. The fix is simple. It will take a constitutional amendment: If Congress can’t pass a budget by the set deadline, all members of that Congress — all House and Senate members, regardless of party — will be ineligible for re-election when their terms expire.

The second cause is that a sizable minority of the nation’s elected politicians believe that the Affordable Care Act will destroy freedom in America; that, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, the ACA “evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism.” Therefore, these politicians believe “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

They are following the example of Edward Snowden. Snowden believes that the National Security Agency surveillance programs are a threat to American freedom and so has exposed them, possibly jeopardizing the stability of the government and the security of the nation in the process.

Their actions, like Snowden’s, show they are willing to risk harm to the nation in order to preserve freedom.

There is no easy fix here. The drama of freedom in America must play out.

David Paul Henry


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