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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Support our troops by opposing the war

I saw the videos of Saddam Hussein's hanging. I heard the chants of Muqtada! Muqtada! as the noose was put around his neck. I saw the solemn occasion of an execution turned into a triumphant taunting celebration of the triumph of a Shiite militia leader who hates America as well as Saddam.

This is not of small importance. An Iraq stable enough for American troops to leave without leaving chaos behind has to be an Iraq in which the Shiite majority and the Kurdish and Sunni minorities are reconciled and share oil wealth equally. The carrying out of the execution by partisans of a Shiite militia leader reveals that reconciliation, wealth and power sharing will not take place. It reveals that the government of Iraq is not a government of the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi people, but a government by the Shiites and for the Shiites.

This means that our gallant troops cannot go forward to victory. If we support our troops in Iraq, we should not leave them twisting in the cross winds of a bloody civil war. We should bring them home with all deliberate speed. President Bush's recent speech was an attempt to buy time with American blood. Support the troops. Oppose the war.

Maxwell Primack

Town of Tonawanda


Sending more soldiers will increase bloodshed

There is not an educational, business or civic organization that can propose a new plan without incorporating benchmarks, time-sensitive milestones by which progress toward the goal of the plan can be measured. Yet President Bush has proposed sending 20,000 more troops into the Iraq War and, in the same breath, stated that the bloodshed and killing will not decrease in the foreseeable future and that a formal surrender will never take place.

We have had four years of an attempted military solution in Iraq and more than 3,000 U.S. troops have died, 22,000 have been seriously injured and 600,000 Iraqis have lost their lives. The Americans are no longer considered liberators but are viewed as occupiers, which produces much of the daily violence.

It goes back to the question, "How many lives per gallon?" Only when we begin to decrease troop levels, give up our proprietary interest in Iraqi oil and institute serious alternative energy and conservation programs will the level of violence decrease. Then the Iraqis will believe that the United States has their best interests at heart and will cooperate in the rebuilding of their country for their own, not for our, benefit.

Lucille A. Gervase



President should try listening to the people

Since President Bush has appeared to have difficulty developing a strategy for the war in Iraq, I have found the solution, which is very simple. It also has the merit of being based on the truth -- a word not often used to describe what goes on in this administration. Bush must announce to the world that since he governs at the will of the American people, and since the majority of the people are opposed to continuing this war, then he must do the people's bidding and withdraw from the conflict. Now that would be a true lesson in democracy for all the world to see. I will not ask to take credit for this, and let it be our leader's declaration of a brilliant strategy.

I shall try to remain optimistic that Bush will see the reasonableness of such a course, and I am not even asking that he withdraw his irrational statements that our reason for occupying Iraq was based on terrorist attacks and 9/1 1. After all, no rational person can believe that lie.

Betty F. Robinson



Bush has let genie out of the bottle

As expected, President Bush has announced that the United States will be increasing military strength in Iraq by more than 20,000 troops. Is this to be accomplished by overextended military units and equipment in need of repair and replacement?

Bush was warned by people much smarter and experienced than him that invasion of Iraq would lead to a civil war, unleashing sectarian hatred that had been kept under control only by Saddam Hussein's brutal suppression. The genie is out the bottle and to say that the United States has a tiger by the tail is an understatement. Even top military personnel have doubts about this new troop increase.

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I remember Gen. William Westmoreland announcing that the United States was winning the war but more troops were needed. Bush had been telling us that we were winning the war, but more troops were needed. When the United States was over its head in Vietnam, the war strategy shifted to "Vietnamization," shifting the burden to the Vietnamese army. Now it's to shift war responsibility to the Iraqis. In Vietnam, we were to win the hearts and minds of the people. In Iraq, we were to bring democracy to the oppressed.

Bush's war has turned into a blunder of colossal proportions with no good way out.

Louis J. Brehm

Lake View


Wife of slain doctor has been an inspiration

Donn Esmonde's recent column eloquently put into words what so many of us have thought for so long. Lynne Slepian's courage and perseverance have enabled her to go forward, raise her four sons as a single mother and to honor their father's memory. She has been an inspiration to many of us who knew and worked with Dr. Barnett Slepian.

I continue to work at the clinic where Slepian provided abortion services, and deal with those who picket daily. It is sometimes frightening and never pleasant. The protesters who support James Kopp, holding signs glorifying this admitted murderer, disgust and sicken me. This incendiary display only continues to endanger the current providers and patients.

My colleagues and I will continue to do what we believe is right and just for women who make difficult choices and exercise their freedom. It is the least we can do, and our way of honoring Slepian's memory. It is very little compared to what the Slepian family has endured.

Susan Ward

Counseling Supervisor Buffalo Womenservices


Comparing Slepian to Kopp is insulting

A recent letter writer stated that he is "not in agreement with the widespread attitude regarding abortion," and then went on to qualify under which circumstances he deems it would be permissible for a woman to obtain an abortion, essentially declaring himself the Grand Poobah of morality. Clearly, this man is not aware that simply because he believes that a "person" is evident at conception does not make that statement a fact, it is merely his personal opinion. Scientists themselves cannot agree upon at what point "life" begins.

He then goes on to compare Dr. Barnett Slepian, an obstetrician who dedicated his life to providing safe and legal services for many women, to James Kopp, a convicted murderer. This comparison is not only irresponsible and unimaginable, it is an insult of magnificent proportions to Slepian's wife and children, not to mention countless other victims of murder.

Frankly, I am ashamed for the letter writer because it is quite apparent that he lacks the sense to be ashamed of himself.

Kelly C. Sorci



Kopp was only trying to prevent abortions

A Jan. 15 News article asked, "What is Kopp trying to prove in his self-defense?" The answer is his intent to protect unborn babies. While admitting guilt, he maintains his intent was not to kill Dr. Barnett Slepian, but to wound him, preventing him from doing further abortions. Even the threat of life in solitary confinement did not deter him from his defense.

The judge has ruled that Kopp may not bring the issue of abortion into his defense. But then how can jurors exercise their constitutional right and duty to judge not only the facts of the case but the law? U.S. v. Moylan in 1969 affirmed the right of jury nullification. Remember Dred Scott. Slavery was legal. The law in this case is the Roe v. Wade decision, which allows abortion throughout the duration of pregnancy.

Prosecution photos showing bullet-damaged cabinets do not show intent. But pictures showing the intentional murder of more than 46 million aborted babies, the result of laws gone mad, are forbidden.

Mary T. Flanagan



Stricter penalties needed for all who abuse animals

The News story of the emaciated thoroughbred horses removed from a Niagara County farm was horrific. As long as I live, or as many times as I hear these horror stories, I will never get over people's inhumanity.

As a thoroughbred horse owner, I'm associated with knowledgeable and caring horsemen who have stayed up many long nights working on rescued, neglected horses, and they tell me these horses usually come from well-meaning owners who were ignorant as to how to properly care for them.

There is simply no excuse to starve, neglect and abandon horses -- or any animal or child for that matter. Living conditions should never get deplorable. There are many good, caring people who will help with donations of feed, supplies and whatever is needed. Veterinarians will donate their time to treat these horses so they can survive and go on to good homes. There needs to be a push for prosecution of the guilty parties. They should be refused further licensing at any racetrack. We need to continue to lobby for stricter penalties for the perpetrators. When we stop caring, we stop trying.

Nick Costa



How could anyone let horses starve?

I applaud Donn Esmonde for his Jan. 12 column seeking justice for the abused horses in Niagara County. Any loving horse owner like myself knows that horsemen help each other out.

The wonderful people I've had the opportunity to work with would rather starve themselves than starve their animals. The farm owners in Niagara County displayed a gross form of neglect. They should be held responsible and pay the price for their abuse of these beautiful creatures.

There would have been any number of people who would have come forward with support if only the owners would have asked for help.

I was even more outraged to read that there was food just over the fence, yet these horses were forced to starve! These women had better hope they aren't afforded the same treatment they forced on these defenseless animals.

Ellie Fleetwood



Area needs real jobs, not Bass Pro, casino

Some months ago, I heard some rattling about the possibility of Advanced Micro Devices wanting to put a semi-conductor plant in this region. Wait a minute, were talking about Buffalo here. We would much rather pay someone to move here and install a bait shop, or a gambling casino.

With such inspired long-term thinking, it is hard to presume that these institutions wouldn't bring prosperity with them, at least for Barry Snyder and stockholders of Bass Pro. Sadly, a look around the Cattaraugus Reservation and Niagara Falls shows no evidence of the profitability these establishments promise. Offering $60 million in state and local monies for 400 jobs at a bait shop is dim-witted.

The basis of any real economy is taking a raw material and turning it into a tangible, durable and resalable product with some intrinsic value. Latex fishing lures from China? Casinos? What utter tosh. I am contemplating my third move away from here, and I suspect that once gone the only reason I will have to return will be for my own burial at a lovely pastoral spot in Elma. God knows Buffalo has buried itself already.

David K. McElroy



Light a candle for all who have lost their lives

As a Catholic, I have been asked to keep a lighted candle in the window on Monday in memory of all the unborn babies lost in abortion. I feel we should extend the one night to a week to remember all those who have also lost their lives at the hands of others.

We should remember all those innocent people who have been put to death because they simply could not afford a decent defense. We should remember the great number of innocent Iraqis and over 3,000 of our own lost in a war that has no justification.

We should remember all those who have died as a result of torture or brutal internment. We should remember all those who have died of cancers related to contaminated air and water. We should remember all those many poor people who die every day from starvation or exposure to the elements.

We are taught that all life is precious in the eyes of our Lord, born and unborn. So let's keep those candles lit.

Connie Rudes

East Amherst


Legalized abortion is not a 'blessing'

"Blessed" with abortion? That is what a writer declared in his Jan. 11 letter, "We must work to ensure abortion remains legal." All blessings come from God, the creator of life. Mankind has brought about destruction of life through abortion.

On Monday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Americans should hang their heads in shame at having denied more than 46 million preborn children the right to live. This is not a cause for celebration. This is not a blessing.

Barbara B. Pelosi


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