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Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013: Walking with monks, Koch brothers, memorial tree


Why I walked

I recently walked for 10 days throughout the state of Maine from Limestone to Augusta, alongside Buddhist monks and nuns from the Nipponsan Myohoji order, who walk all over the world for peace. The walk’s purpose was to bring the issue of drone surveillance at home and drone killing abroad to the public’s attention.

Presque Isle has been considered as a possible site for development of a “weaponized drone test center.” As a social worker, I am faced with explaining to my clients that there are fewer programs to meet their needs. President Dwight Eisenhower stated, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

According to a Business Weekly article, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare and safety. In her meeting with the president, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Malala Yousafzai, stated that the drone attacks on her country of Pakistan “are fueling terrorism.” She asked to refocus efforts on education.

Although some are calling the proposed drone test center an economic driver for Maine. I think Maine can do better in job creation than reliance on additional weaponry. I will continue to stand, walk and march for peace, remaining hopeful that the United States can find ways to lead the world that will benefit humanity rather than destroy it.

Starr C. Gilmartin


Well done

It couldn’t be more clear that many Republican leaders in Congress and the tea party extremists they answer to are fully invested in the failure of the United States — not simply that of President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Not only do they truly believe that our nation is bound for failure, but recent events prove that they want it to fail and intend to force the American experiment put in motion by our ancestors to fail unless the American people submit and the United States government surrenders to conform unconditionally to their twisted corporatist, oligarchical concept of capitalism.

It’s strange that the Republicans who demonized communism for so long have adopted so completely the Soviet model as their ideal. The Soviet Union was effectively the creature of corporate bosses such as Joseph Stalin hiding behind a facade of democratic collectivism. Those who fund the tea party are not unaware of this. The Koch brothers owe their fortunes directly to Stalin and his corporate brand of communism.

Their father was Stalin’s acknowledged, well-paid collaborator for 25 years until Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s threat of investigation inspired him to suddenly denounce communism, found the John Birch Society and promote Ayn Rand and her “objectivist” philosophy.

That objectivism preached by Rand and espoused by the tea party is nothing more than a thinly veiled tribute to the absolutism of the Soviet system which, while abandoning the word “communism,” seeks to undermine the U.S. by using the strength of our capitalist principles against us.

Well done, Republicans.

Mark Humphrey


Homecoming salute

On behalf of “Fill the Steins” ( fillthesteins.com) and our hundreds of loyal followers I would like to offer a salute to University of Maine President Paul Ferguson for supporting a fan-focused Homecoming Weekend. A 2001 graduate of the school and a life-long attendee of Homecoming, I can say that the atmosphere and excitement surrounding the weekend has taken on new meaning in recent years.

Since Ferguson rolled out his “Blue Sky Plan,” attendance at both pre-game and post-game gatherings has increased and has been more positively received. Even with the torrential rains and flooding in 2012, the fans came out in masses to battle the elements and support their beloved Black Bears.

This year we were impressed to see nearly all of the tailgating lots and stadium seats full for Saturday’s football game; Mother Nature providing a near perfect day didn’t hurt either. And while there are still some unnecessary limitations on tailgating and pre-game events, we are encouraged by Ferguson and his administration’s effort to grow the game day experience.

We look forward to working with the president to further improve the weekend and to provide a uniquely Orono experience in the years to come. Congratulations to all of the teams in action this past weekend, and we look forward to seeing everyone back at “the college of our hearts always” for Homecoming Weekend 2014.

Adam Henckler


Tree homecoming

As the letters to the editor decrying the actions regarding the perpetually lit memorial tree continue to appear, I’d like to provide a peek at the door that opened when the one in Bar Harbor shut.

I had to leave home Down East for a meeting in Augusta well before sunrise one day last week, and while I usually pay particular attention to the possible presence of deer, etc., on the road, my eyes were drawn to some unfamiliar lights.

It took a second or two before I realized that it was the Wreaths Across America tree on the hillside, and I thought that the location and experience was probably more powerful than it ever could have been “in town.”

For those who feel they have been insulted or slighted by the tree’s removal, I’d suggest a day trip or a visit to the Columbia Fall/Machias area, a very early day trip, or a night’s stay at one of the motels and B&Bs in the area. Then take a drive on Route 1. If you are lucky, as I was, you’ll be the only vehicle on the stretch of road and you’ll see … well, I won’t spoil it for you.

Thanks to the Worcesters and the Wreaths Across America. Regardless of which “side” you are on, it felt as though the tree came home.

Bonnie Fortini

Roque Bluffs


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