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Everybody's Column / Letters from Our Readers

We should be wary of FBI surveillance

Kudos to The News for having the courage to put the story about FBI surveillance of the Thomas Merton Center on the March 15 front page. Too often the mainstream media do not keep us informed about what is happening to our rights and freedoms. Reading about FBI informants being placed in peace groups sends chills down my aging spine.

What organizations are next? Is it unpatriotic to question any policy of the government? Is photographing of anti-war protesters by the FBI meant to instill fear into the populace and deter dissent?

There is no question that we need to respond to legitimate terrorist concerns. However, the ever-increasing domestic wiretaps and computerized record-keeping programs, all in the name of national security, lend themselves to abuse and may well be used to target those who disagree with a government policy or political official.

Are we, as a nation, too busy or tired or complacent to notice the erosion of the rights we take for granted as Americans? When we wake up, will it be too late?

Peg Price
Grand Island


>Congress won't protect us from abuse of power

In the March 9 editorial, "Don't end Patriot Act debates," The News stated that "it remains the duty of Congress to ensure these powers aren't abused."

If it is the responsibility of Congress to make sure these powers are not abused, then why pass the bill in the first place? The news reports portray to the public that the Patriot Act has been changed so that the government can defend our nation and ensure our civil liberties. In reality, the government can still invade our privacy and obtain classified information without our knowledge.

The purpose of a law is to create a standard of justice by which everyone is bound. If a law is knowingly created with loopholes, and Americans are relying on these same congressmen to protect them, the public is relying on a flawed system.

Debbie Sickels
West Falls


>Children shouldn't wear name tags in public places

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Buffalo Museum of Science with my daughter. On that day, there were many school groups on field trips. It was wonderful to see so many children exploring the museum. It was extremely troubling, however, to see how many schools are still using the unsafe practice of having children wear name tags. Children should never display their names on their clothing or belongings. It can bring unwelcome attention from inappropriate people, who can use the child's name to start a conversation and gain access to a child.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends never letting children wear their names on their clothing or belongings. Studies have shown that children are more inclined to willingly go with a stranger who knows them by name.

If children must wear identification tags, a much safer option is to list only the name and phone number of the school, or a cell phone number of a group leader. I urge all schools to consider adopting this method as part of their field trip policies.

Kelli Simpson


>America can do little to end horror in Sudan

According to a March 19 editorial, bad things are going on in Sudan. When did The News discover that? Bad things have been going on in Sudan for years, decades, centuries and probably millennia. Sudan is a huge country. Our adventure in Iraq is neither very successful nor popular. What does The News propose for Sudan?

Rod Merkert


>Tolls are a burden, not a petty issue

On March 17, a letter writer stated that too much attention was put on small issues such as the 75-cent tolls on the Niagara Thruway. No, 75 cents is not a vast amount of money, but for someone who has to travel this route to work every day, the dollars quickly add up.

Visitors to the region should be welcomed with an outstretched hand, not a toll. The toll barriers are just that, a barrier. They are no welcome mat. They scare outsiders away. That 75-cent toll compounds with having to pay for parking, high sales taxes, high property taxes and fees for everything. Too many people like the writer think a 75-cent toll is OK. Nickel and diming everyone who visits or lives in the region does not foster the environment we need to spur growth in this region. In fact, it prohibits it.

The worst part of this whole argument is that the tolls should have been taken down decades ago, but the New York State political machine could not exercise restraint. The tolls are not petty, they are a burden that too many Western New Yorkers have to bear.

John Lauer
West Seneca


>Patronizing Broadway Market helps preserve local history

Last month, a Viewpoints article listed the Broadway Market as an endangered historical landmark. I would remind everyone that the market does not need millions of state tax dollars to maintain this valuable asset of Buffalo's past. All those who wish to preserve our heritage need only to come down and patronize the market.

The market is open year-round six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Just think, your purchase at the market not only provides you with great food or services, but you can help save a piece of Buffalo history at the same time.

David Dale
Broadway Market Management Corp.


>Big companies should help pay for workers' health care

I don't agree with the March 13 editorial about the Fair Share for Health Care Act. The News claims the need for "real health care reform that reduces costs." The Fair Share for Health Care Act will do just that. While the CEO of Wal-Mart is raking in $17 million a year, the average New Yorker is laboring for $40,000. The average taxpayer actually funds the wealth of these corporate investors and owners.

The legislation would reduce costs for the average taxpayer. The idea that this will frighten business away from New York is without justification. This actually levels the playing field for businesses that are not being subsidized by the government, and will increase competition, not diminish it.

We recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the minimum wage increase. Opponents argued that it would deter businesses. But there has yet to be business mutiny over a minimum wage increase. The Fair Share for Health Care Act lays out the groundwork for single payer health care, and it should be celebrated as an effective way to shift the burden of health care from individuals to corporate employers.

Micaela Shapiro-Shellaby


>Why do Americans continue to purchase foreign cars?

Kia and Toyota, two Asian automakers, will invade the American market with 400,000 new vehicles. This translates into finding 400,000 Americans to help a foreign government chip away at our American financial base and help with the destruction of our manufacturing base. And most likely we will comply. My question: What is the matter with us Americans?

Chester Rozek
West Seneca

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