Who we are

In the wake of disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency used torture on captured al-Qaeda leaders, a common mantra is emerging from the president and members of Congress: “It’s not who we are.” Well, who, in fact, are we? And who is the “we” referred to?

I am confident that the American people are basically kindhearted, generous and loyal to our country. Are we somehow different from, or better than, citizens of other countries?

It seems to me that this mantra really refers to our government and it begs the question: “Are we better than any other government?” The record of American government is not stainless. It supported slavery, displaced and massacred Native Americans and tolerated segregation in the name of economics, expansion, and cultural tradition. Andone needs only to read of the horrors of Andersonville Prison during the Civil War to find proof of man’s inhumanity to man.

To say it’s not who we (the government) are is akin to a murderer’s plea of innocence by reason of insanity. Americans have a right to expect better from their government. Abraham Lincoln articulated the character of a humane nation: “The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Hal Wheeler

Bangor

FairPoint failures

As a FairPoint customer, I’m disappointed with the lack of courage and commitment to Maine citizens demonstrated by our government during the ongoing strike. Over the eight-week long strike, it has become clear the people supporting the strikers are FairPoint’s customers.

It is time the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and state legislators hear their constituents and pressure FairPoint to reach a fair agreement with its workers. Yet FairPoint continues to be promoted as a sponsor of government conferences and gatherings.

FairPoint doesn’t live here; its customers (with and without service) and the striking workers do. But still, there is no organized support from legislators who could band together much like the customers and striking workers to protect our access to reliable telecommunications infrastructure and good jobs in Maine.

I have been to a picket line. The strikers want to go back to work and restore service to the customers in their communities. FairPoint’s top executives are in North Carolina and have proven they don’t care about the weather here or how long people are out of service. Let’s be clear: The union offered $208 million in concessions, yet FairPoint is holding out for a staggering $700 million and the right to bring in subcontractors.

Our government should stop accepting sponsorship dollars from FairPoint and tell them to put their money to better use by investing it Maine’s skilled workers.

Tammy McLaughlin

Mount Vernon

Park not the answer

Environmental groups seem to think they have the answer to the poor economic conditions in northern Maine. Since the ‘60s and ‘70s, they have worked feverishly to destroy the forest products industry so they could take over northern Maine for their own selfish interest — a national park.

When Great Northern Paper wanted to build a dam on the Penobscot River, the environmental zealots along with Restore, The Nature Conservancy, The Appalachian Mountain Club and a host of other enviro organizations, opposed the project. In the end, GNP could have built the dam if they had been able to jump through the 23 hoops set up to kill the project. The outcome: GNP is gone. Water is a resource we have in abundance and hydro dams are not only one of the most inexpensive ways to generate electricity, they also create some very real recreational opportunities.

Tourism will never replace the forest products industry with good-paying year-round jobs with benefits. Tourism is simply a seasonal bonus in this part of the state.

A national park is not now and never will be the answer to northern Maine’s poor economic conditions.

Stu Kallgren

West Enfield

Fire alarm help

The Dec. 7 BDN OpEd from a Maine fire marshal and Red Cross CEO provides excellent information about why we need smoke alarms to prevent fire deaths. Now let’s go a step further and tell folks how to get help installing and maintaining smoke alarms. Many people have lists of excuses or reasons why they pulled batteries from alarms where they live.

Too many people disarm alarms, often by taking out batteries, because of nuisance alarms. The technology is improving, but we must help people with what they have now. Rather than insist on “code” placement, let’s help people look at best options.

For example, in a mobile home or small apartment where the alarm sounds too often during cooking, the resident could place an alarm inside a bedroom where they can close the door against scorched toast or other cooking. We can figure out ways to avoid having the alarm go off every time you cook.

Renters: If your landlord won’t replace worn out detectors, report the problem to the town office or city hall. In your own house, just do it now.

Local fire departments welcome calls to ask for fire safety help. Most departments will provide batteries and help folks who cannot or don’t know how to install them. Firefighters want people to get out in time and will do whatever they can to save lives.

If you cannot afford batteries, cannot reach the detector, don’t have a ladder long enough, please call a tall friend or your fire department for help.

Sharon Bray

Member

Orland Fire Department

Orland

Wind project tower collapse

Regarding the Dec. 9 BDN article about equipment damage on Pigsah Mountain, the investigating trooper said the meteorological tower had fallen, but “there’s no evidence at this time that any crime was committed … We don’t know if [the bolts] just gave way or somebody actually loosened them.”

But Paul Fuller, the tower’s co-owner, believes the slender 196-foot tall metal structure was downed as an act of vandalism. He suspects: “The nuts and bolts from one [support] cable had been removed on one side.”

The trooper said (just) one of a dozen wires gave way, and there’s no evidence of foul play, but Fuller is still convinced that it had to be vandalism. He must believe that after five years of operation, there hasn’t been enough wind at the top of the mountain to have caused the tower to fall. Curious site choice for wind turbines.

Jack Gagnon

Lakeville