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Everybody's Column

State makes a mockery of laws barring gambling

New York State's position on gambling is a paradox. State government officiates over numerous lottery games. Off-track and on-track betting are also permitted, along with bingo for churches and charitable organizations. Now, off reservation, tribal gambling operations are being promoted in our cities, when gambling is illegal in New York State.

Casino operations in Niagara Falls appear to be largely successful for the Senecas and for state coffers, but not for the local economy. The property on this prime location is tax exempt. Localities receive only a small cut of the proceeds. If anything, this complex draws business away from other local businesses, but at least targets some tourist dollars. Now politicians are actively pushing casino gambling in Buffalo, even though studies indicate this location would target local customers and draw business away from local establishments.

If the people of this state desire casino gambling, the state should make it legal. If not, the state should stop making a travesty of the law it is supposed to be enforcing. Acting as a gambling purveyor by endorsing clandestine operations is tantamount to bootlegging during Prohibition. Our region needs to secure the kind of support to obtain needed jobs for business and factory workers, not gambling and sex workers.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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Downtown needs stores, not another casino

We do not need another casino in this area. Seeing as there is not a Wal-Mart within the city limits of Buffalo, how about opening one on the proposed downtown property that is geared for a casino? People are moving into apartments and lofts in the area. There is accessible public transportation and vast land for parking. And property taxes can be assessed; not so with a Seneca casino.

I see it as a win-win opportunity for all. With a Wal-Mart superstore, there would be easy access to fresh meats and produce along with other retail merchandise that the people in the area can take advantage of without going all the way to the suburbs.

Dolores B. Vaught

Buffalo

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Amazon rain forest must be protected

Recently, The News has published two pieces concerning the detrimental events occurring in the Amazon. The first of these, David Ignatius' Jan. 21 column, highlighted the possibly irreversible changes in the Amazon's ecosystem. His op-ed detailed specifically how certain alterations in the biological diversity and climate of the Amazon may never be reversed -- declining rainfall, changes in the migration patterns of butterflies, etc.

As if these changes are not important enough to worry about by themselves, South American leaders have announced their plans to build a major gas pipeline through the Amazon rain forest. As the Jan. 26 piece noted, the rain forest contains a massive 30 percent of the world's animal and plant species. By putting a pipeline through the Amazon, waterways will be polluted, trees will be destroyed, more animals will be endangered and plants with unknown medical uses will most likely be destroyed before they are ever discovered and put into practical use.

Before these leaders decide to throw away this vital source of life, they should consider the devastating effects on the future of not only the Amazon, but the entire world.

Nicholas and Kathleen Weaver

West Seneca

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Murderer has a lot of nerve crying about 'excessive pain'

I read in the Jan. 26 News that Clarence Hill, a death-row inmate convicted of murdering a Pensacola, Fla., police officer in 1982, complained to the Supreme Court that the chemicals that will be used to execute him would cause "excessive pain."

Did Hill stop to think that killing the police officer might have caused him excessive pain? Hill did not give his victim any choice. The officer's family and friends will suffer pain for the rest of their lives. I would say the officer's constitutional rights were violated. I think Hill should be given a choice of one of the alternative means: hanging, gas, electrocution or shooting.

Joyce French

Elma

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Let's close small branches, focus on one great library

The current library situation in Erie County is the worst of both worlds. The system clings to as many branches as it can, slashing hours, services and, worst of all, new book purchases. If we can't afford to have a small library in each neighborhood anymore, why not jettison most, perhaps all, of the neighborhood libraries and concentrate on running a single excellent operation at the Central Library?

Rather than spend years maintaining a multibranch network at a condition just above flat-line -- and doing irreparable damage to the library's collection through years of negligible purchasing -- it makes more sense to centralize. The Central Library could have a single, growing collection, adequate staff, stimulating programs and a powerful Internet presence, but only if we shed the dying, old neighborhood network.

Tom Flynn

Buffalo

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Loving letters appreciated in any way, shape or form

In response to the Jan. 25 My View, my handwritten letters would indeed deliver a lasting gift -- a headache. Over the years, my penmanship has suffered, although my friendships have flourished.

I'm a breast cancer survivor and throughout my chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the e-mails I received daily from my friends and family nourished my soul and brought a smile to my face. These e-mails were sent with caring, devotion, love, humor and connection. I don't judge communication by the form it takes. I judge it by its content.

Instead of my attic filled with hundreds of letters, my heart is filled with lasting memories of caring and reaching out. Impersonal? Quite the contrary. I don't need tangible evidence of love and friendship. The memory of those e-mails continues to cheer me. If I sent a handwritten letter to someone, I am certain that an e-mail would follow, pleading that I return to my computer.

Shelley W. Malinowski

Williamsville

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President uses fear to get what he wants

I spent my day reflecting on President Bush's policy to use outlawed phosphorous ordnance to melt terrorists in Fallujah. That innocent men, women and children were also killed there is of no consequence, but here it started a war. Add this nightmare to the litany of what Americans are willing to stomach to "keep" our freedoms.

Because Bush realizes that fear is a great motivator, we line up like lemmings to abdicate our freedoms in exchange for "security." Using a guise of moral upper-handedness, the neocons figured out a way to couple their justified assault on terrorism to an unjustified assault on the middle class and the poor in this country. Policy incompetence on Iraq, Gaza, Katrina, health care, energy costs, tax breaks for the rich, benefit cuts to the poor, outsourcing manufacturing jobs, torture overseas via rendition, unfettered corruption in the Republican-controlled House and Senate and outing CIA agents come to mind.

This has placed us on track to becoming like Third World countries where "elected" leaders use these same strategies to prey on their own populations for economic benefit.

One has to wonder how much money Bush's oil holdings are amassing as he develops rhetoric for strategies to become oil independent.

Steve Saracino

Buffalo

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