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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Americans have a right to know Roberts' views on critical issues

Judge John Roberts could be on the U.S. Supreme Court bench for a generation. New revelations about his opinions on issues important to women's health create grave concern about his nomination as chief justice. Surely a generation's worth of court decisions are worthy of raising critical issues and asking difficult questions.

This week's Senate hearing process will hopefully shed light on Roberts' position on the fundamental right to privacy that all Americans enjoy, particularly women, who are subject to a tangle of state laws attempting to regulate personal reproductive health care decisions.

As Roberts himself has said, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Therefore, Americans should expect to hear his real opinion on this ruling. The right to privacy is fundamental to the constitutional protection of a woman's right to choose -- whether choosing abortion, adoption or parenthood.

Confirming Roberts without understanding his positions could result in irreparable damage to the already fragile right to what should be personal private health care decisions.

Laura Meyers

Chief Executive Officer, Planned

Parenthood of Buffalo & Erie County

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Chertoff should be fired as Homeland Security chief

Why does Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, still have his job? His incompetence has caused the death of some of our fellow Americans. Our Southern states were in desperate need of help the first days after Hurricane Katrina, and they will be for some time to come. Actions speak louder than words. Chertoff has proven to me that he doesn't have the leadership needed for this important job. God help us if this is the best our government has to offer.

Rose Mary Spengler

West Seneca

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Government did a lousy job helping hurricane victims

I am embarrassed by our government. We are a proud family of Americans, serving our country and supporting the men and women who fight for our freedoms in the greatest country in the world. However, our country cannot help our own citizens in the Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina.

Officials are calling the victims refugees. They are citizens of the United States. They have all the rights that people not hit by the hurricane have. These people deserve the dignity and immediate help of our government. To add insult to injury, gas prices have soared and the Farmer's Almanac is predicting the worst roller coaster winter in many years. This is just another way President Bush has let the American people down while he continues to line his pockets with his oil money from the war in Iraq.

Janet McConnell

Hamburg

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'Culture of life' platform oddly absent after Katrina

Survivors of Hurricane Katrina are finally getting some help thanks to the media, private citizens, organizations such as the Red Cross and, finally, the government.

But where were national religious leaders such as Pat Robertson, Randall Terry and other so-called pro-life advocates such as Texas Congressman Tom DeLay? Did they not see fellow Americans dying or resorting to extreme measures to stay alive?

These people all jumped from "anti-abortion" to a general "culture of life" platform for Terri Schiavo, so why not now? They could have helped save lives by influencing their friends in Washington to act sooner and by mobilizing armies of followers into action, such as the leaders of Buffalo's True Bethel Baptist Church did. But instead they sat silently, just like the government.

To be fair, some national religious leaders are asking followers for financial assistance for Katrina's victims, and DeLay's Texas is taking in many refugees. But by not speaking up sooner, I think they have shown us that, like President Bush, they do not really believe in a culture of life where all life is sacred, regardless of race or social status. Instead, theirs is a culture of convenience, rooted in money and politics.

Ted Kusio

Buffalo

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While gluttons gorge themselves countless others are starving

"420-pounder is best at Wing Fest," was the headline of a Sept. 4 News article. We have behemoth SUVs, all-you-can-eat specials, 2 4/7 casinos and now "professional eaters." This really takes the cake.

Turning the page revealed photos of thousands of people in New Orleans going several days without food and water, due to the aftermath of a natural disaster. What kind of image of our country does this present to other nations, showing grown men and women scarfing down food for the fun of it while others in our back yard are starving to death?

This represents one of the most vile, obscene and almost sacrilegious forms of public behavior. With libraries closing, jobs being lost and government budgets eroding, how can this behavior be tolerated?

Ken Kuminski

Cheektowaga

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Perhaps higher gas prices are just what nation needs

Environmentalists rejoice! Higher gasoline prices will force people to manage their energy usage and contribute to a cleaner world. As a side benefit, lower energy usage will reduce our political dependence on the Middle East. Now, if we can only get responsible politicians to raise the gas tax, we can enjoy these benefits more quickly and retire the public debt at the same time.

Bob Anderson

Buffalo

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Watson column on unions was right on the money

Thanks to Rod Watson for his insightful Sept. 1 column, "Corporations have unions on defensive." That far too many private-sector workers are not well treated by the owners of the businesses that employ them is undoubtedly because they cannot or will not organize. At the same time, public unions are being pressured for give-backs.

It saddens me that private-sector workers express pleasure when this happens, since many public-sector managers use the same technique as their counterparts in the private sector: squeeze the workers. To divert attention from this tactic, managers resort to the oldest trick in the book: divide and conquer. If they can get workers to feel that one portion of their group is getting more than another, then chances are good that these same workers won't notice that the rights of all of them are being eroded.

Obtaining and maintaining worker rights is a noble effort, and all workers need to recognize and appreciate that fact.

Judith Geer

Holland

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Who will benefit from fees library is instituting?

One, let's face facts. The idea of sustaining 52 libraries for the benefit of less than a million people is absurd. Indeed, it is partly because of the county's declining population that we are in this fiscal crisis to begin with. The money is not there, and we should stop pretending it is.

Two, while the library system is finally closing and consolidating branches, it has also decided to add a new $1 surcharge to requests for DVD and videotape selections beginning Oct. 1. My question is, for what purpose? Who will benefit from this surcharge? The library system is not doing itself any favors by taking these obviously contradictory actions.

Matthew Mason

Buffalo

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