Reset button

World attention is focused on Sochi and the winter Olympics. But politics usually run on a different track. President Barack Obama’s intent to interact with Russia as the U.S. does with other European countries failed. The “reset button” just did not work. Russian government prefers to follow a political pattern practiced by the Soviet Union. The Kremlin exploits or instigates issues in the world politics, steering the agenda to its benefit.

While politics are based on such maneuvers, the “flavor” of the Kremlin’s involvement is distinctly different. Such activities by the Kremlin can be detected in Palestine, Iran, Georgia and Syria and now in Ukraine.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked as to how we would react to his political decisions, he dismissed the question because he felt there was nothing we could do. Well, there is something we can do, but is Obama up to it? Ukraine citizens have been on capital Kiev’s barricades for about two months now, despite the subzero weather. They are trying to change the corrupt government of President Viktor Yanukovych, which is catering to Putin.

So what is Obama doing? He wished Ukrainians well in his State of the Union address. He also indicated that Americans fought very hard to gain freedom while Secretary of State John Kerry is searching for words to express U.S. concern. Several individuals stated that Russia without Ukraine is a great country, but with Ukraine it is an empire.

Will Obama leave the next administration to face Russia as a great country or as an empire?

Bohdan Slabyj


Theater warmth

Particularly during the cold winters, people from Maine tend to hunker down and bond in important ways. Town meeting season is coming in another month, and before that the rituals of tourney season take place.

I was so excited to see the world premiere of ” One Blue Tarp,” written by Travis Baker, which is opening this week at Penobscot Theatre. As Robin Clifford Wood commented, “Travis Baker may be from away, but he has made diligent efforts to understand the essence of his new home state.” I believe he has been successful.

His marvelous script and the talents of the entire company of the Penobscot Theatre have presented a picture of Maine life with which the audience could easily identify. Small inside jokes and references that people “from away” may not catch were met with applause and laughs of recognition from the enthusiastic audience when I saw the show.

I hope that our local audiences will all get a chance to enjoy this show and bond in this way, too. Thanks to Baker and Penobscot Theatre for livening up a dull, cold winter.

Patricia Clark


Customer convenience

The solution to the gender problem concerning bathrooms could be solved by providing a single separate bathroom, for anyone to use in private. Some people are uneasy in a communal facility. Many businesses use this arrangement for customer convenience.

James Leach


MaineCare expansion

The Maine Psychological Association is a membership organization representing psychologists in Maine. Our mission is to advance psychology as a science, profession and means of promoting health and human welfare.

Because we believe strongly in this mission, we support the expansion of MaineCare, which would provide needed medical and mental health care to nearly 70,000 Maine residents who currently do not have it.

We acknowledge that the increase in people covered will translate into more individuals seeking services, but the MaineCare reimbursement rate, with few exceptions, has always been less (sometimes significantly so) than private pay rates or private insurance rates. Thus, for many psychologists, taking on MaineCare clients is not a financially lucrative move but rather an acknowledgement that serving low-income and disabled individuals makes good, long-term economic sense not only for the clients but also for our state.

Providing early and preventive treatment can go a long way in avoiding acute and chronic hospital stays and is far more cost-effective.

Maine has always been at the forefront of the nation in providing quality care for its mentally ill residents. Our decision-makers have always understood that if you curtail access to services in the mental health arena, you will likely pay later in other sectors of society, such as Maine’s jails and prisons and in the educational system. We urge our legislators to continue this proud and sensible tradition and pass the MaineCare expansion.

Diane A. Tennies

President, Maine Psychological Association


Living in fear

With the legislative session well underway, we need to address the continuing discussion about expanding health care coverage to thousands of struggling Mainers. Many of these people are between the ages of 50 and 64 who have lost their jobs. Some may be working but still struggling without adequate coverage. The state needs to take action. If we can help hard-working Mainers get the health care coverage they need to get through tough times, then that is what the state should do.

Expanding health care coverage will give people without insurance access to preventive care that can save lives. Expanding health care coverage will help thousands of 50- to 64-year-old Mainers, not yet eligible for Medicare, who have fallen into a coverage gap because they do not have access to subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care Act health exchanges.

Before the passage of the ACA, a loss of employer coverage was devastating for many 50-64-year-olds. On average, people over 50 have at least one chronic condition. Because of their age and health status, older adults often have trouble finding a plan that they can afford and one that meets their needs, especially with a pre-existing condition. The expanded health coverage will provide access to both primary and preventive care such as medical screenings and treatment for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

It’s time to make a difference for Mainers who live in fear of getting sick because they cannot afford health care coverage. I strongly urge our elected leaders to work together to make the right decision in 2014 and accept the federal dollars already set aside for Maine.

Gail Maynard

AARP Maine Volunteer