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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

>Let's try diplomacy rather than threats

With world opinion of us at an all-time low and our military stretched beyond capacity, we now, inconceivably, threaten Iran. Exaggeration of Iran's capability echoes the Bush administration's spread of misinformation regarding Iraq's mythical WMDs.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inflamed tension by expressing doubt about the holocaust and aggression toward Israel. But we provided Iran with nuclear technology initially. Furthermore, Nobel Peace Prize winner and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei states that he finds no hard evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Yet the drumbeat continues, with U.S. plans for bombing up to 2,500 identified targets.

Are threats of annihilation our only diplomatic tool? How many more people must die? Mutuality, acknowledged interdependence, open dialogue, recognizing others' needs and providing international assistance where most beneficial would be more effective. Let us take the high, and more effective, road.

Ahmadinejad and Bush will be in power for only so long, but the resultant damage may afflict generations.

Victoria Ross
Member, Peace Action Task Force
Western New York Peace Center

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>More money for war, but not vital research

Just weeks ago, President Bush proclaimed November National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and called on the nation to "renew our commitment to finding a cure to this devastating disease." Not to my surprise, the president recently vetoed a bill that included $30 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which would bring a $16 million increase for Alzheimer's research that may lead to a cure for the disease.

Supporting additional funding for medical research is a fiscally sound investment that has the potential to save $61 billion in Medicare and Medicaid costs in less than 10 years.

The best part of all this is that the same day Bush vetoed this bill, he signed a $459 billion fiscal year 2008 defense appropriations bill. It is disheartening to see that our president values our need to win a war more than the future of American citizens.

Providing such funding for Alzheimer's research could be the difference between finding a cure or not, which is critical considering that the disease is expected to grow by 300 percent by 2050.

Jennifer Gorski
Orchard Park

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>Vote for a candidate who will end the war

I am a confessed environmental nut and tax-and-spend liberal. With the political conventions coming up soon, we are holding on to the desperate hope that Al Gore will join the race. If not, it will be like Donald Rumsfeld told the soldier looking for armor plating for his vehicle in Iraq: "you run what you brung." Our boys are being kept over there so long that they are going to come home feeling betrayed and angry.

I am a Vietnam era vet. In those days, our government got a loud message from the college campuses and elsewhere -- bring the boys home. I have never been an activist, but with the conventions coming soon, I've been calling vets and friends and telling them to vote the ticket that gives our boys the quickest ride home. Let the candidates go to Minneapolis and Denver with the public's requests before their parties. Time is wasting and the air does not resemble 1968, but things have to start somewhere.

Servius T. Smith
Franklinville

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>Senecas are giving us big piece of the puzzle

A recent letter tried to paint the pitfalls of a stand-alone casino in Buffalo. Excuse me, but isn't it our fault if the Seneca casino in downtown stands alone? The Seneca Nation is building a project in an area of the city that has seen very few building projects at all, much less $333 million projects with no public-financing strings attached.

Is it not incumbent upon our elected leaders and our economic development gurus to build on the momentum the casino will create in terms of investment, jobs and critical mass? I did not think it was the Seneca Nation's job to redevelop all of Buffalo, although, if it were, they probably would have had it done by now.

Instead of continuing to sit back and wait for other people to lead us out of the past -- look where that approach has gotten us -- let's finally seize the opportunity to rebuild ourselves. The Senecas are giving us a pretty big piece of the puzzle. I hope we don't let them stand alone.

Tim Maloney
Buffalo

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>It's good to see Collins supporting casino plans

Now that the elections are over, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to know that our next county executive has it right on the casino issue.

Chris Collins has publicly said that he supports the Seneca Nation's plans for a $333 million project downtown and he sees the proposed casino and hotel as a key element in Buffalo's future economic growth.

Thankfully, Collins understands that private investment, new jobs and an attraction for outside visitors will be a good thing for downtown Buffalo.

The attempts to stop progress in this community need to end. Come January, the people of Erie County will finally have someone in office who is light years ahead of the current administration in understanding how economic development works and the important role it needs to play in our future.

Dave Isbrandt
Cheektowaga

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>Many would welcome more films like 'Bella'

"Bella" is a dynamic movie reminding us of the values so evidently forgotten in today's society. How heartwarming to witness the depiction of family life where love and respect dominate.

Unfortunately, when reading the review in The News, one easily detects the biased view of the McClatchy reviewer. Sadly, she calls the story an exercise in pandering and propaganda. Strong words, I believe, triggered by one who felt threatened by the film's message and the reality of its truth.

"Bella" won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. What tremendous good could be achieved if more movies of this caliber were produced, reawakening us to a time when we adhered to higher moral standards, self-respect and fidelity to our loving God.

Rose Hoelscher
Williamsville

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>'Bella' shows people rising above crisis

After seeing the movie "Bella," I have to question Connie Ogle's review in the Nov. 16 Gusto. The McClatchy reviewer begins by calling the movie "preachy." The movie's female lead, Nina, is in a crisis pregnancy and Jose, the male lead asks, "Do you want to talk?" and then he listens with care. He never condemns. He never tries to talk her out of anything. He looks at her and listens. The movie is worth seeing, if only to watch what a difference compassionate listening makes and to see how it's done. No preaching here.

At one point, Jose turns to Nina and asks if she ever considered adoption. After she gives all of her objections, he asks if it would make a difference if she knew the adopting person. Then the subject is dropped. What was actually in the movie was a far cry from the reference to "give your baby up for adoption, you selfish pig!"

Ogle ends by calling the movie "forgettable," but I find myself thinking about it again and again. "Bella" shows us people rising above crisis and sorrow and trying to bring good out of it. Just the kind of thing it would be good to remember. Since it won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, it seems that the people disagree with the critics.

Mary Roaldi
Kenmore

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>Clinton has helped Bethlehem's workers

The author of the letter, "Clinton has betrayed trust of constituents," wrote regarding her concerns that Sen. Hillary Clinton has made empty promises to the nuclear workers from Bethlehem Steel Corp. As founder of the Bethlehem Steel Action Group, I have had the pleasure of working with Clinton, and have seen firsthand her dedication to this issue that has affected so many of us in Western New York.

Clinton has been an engaged and outspoken advocate for our cause since our first meeting with her in Hamburg in 2003. Since then she has not only continued to meet with Bethlehem's nuclear workers, she has introduced legislation to reform the compensation program, and has fought to extend benefits to people who worked at contaminated sites after weapons productions had stopped.

This summer, she pushed the President's Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health to approve our petition for a Special Exposure Cohort so that we would be able to received compensation. I am confident that people like myself who were exposed to radiation while working at Bethlehem and other facilities have a tireless and effective advocate in Clinton.

Ed Walker
Hamburg

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>Nothing will change at Water Authority

Talk of bringing the Erie County Water Authority under county control this election season has caused a knee-jerk reaction by the politicos. A full-page ad in The News provided us with a litany of accomplishments which, in my opinion, is exactly what should be expected from a public authority.

Primarily, it reduced employment by 22 percent while maintaining a 70 percent competitive civil service rate of the staff remaining. Fine! What makes up the remaining noncompetitive 30 percent? Could it be that it contains retired politicians and their supporters? Could it be that their positions are at the high end of the wage scale?

How much longer will we "ratepayers" put up with the arrogance of the "good ol' boys and gals" political machine? Looking at the election results, we deserve what we get. The Water Authority will continue to be a requiem for politicos. Alas!

James R. Dressler
Depew

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