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Everybody's Column

Senate must work to protect Endangered Species Act

The News correctly asserted in its March 19 editorial that Congress should not weaken this nation's strongest tool to protect and recover our valued endangered species, the Endangered Species Act. While the House recently passed a weakened rewrite of the law, aptly referred to as the Pombo Extinction Act, the Senate must now ensure that the current law remains intact.

The Pombo Extinction Act was widely opposed by conservationists, scientists and other supporters of the Endangered Species Act for attacking the principles that have made the current law so successful. Rewriting it will undermine more than 30 years of progress made in protecting species and habitat threatened with extinction.

The law is responsible for the resurgence of the American peregrine falcon, the American alligator and, perhaps most importantly, the symbol of our nation's courage and pride, the American bald eagle. As this important issue moves to the Senate, New Yorkers are counting on our senators to protect the integrity of this landmark legislation. Leave the Endangered Species Act as is.

Brian P. Smith

Western New York Program Coordinator Citizens Campaign for the Environment


Divestment is a tool to use against genocide

A recent letter writer expressed hopelessness over the genocide in Sudan, asking what we could do to stop it. The answer is simple: Call your state senators and Assembly members and demand passage of Assembly bill 6079A, which will force the comptroller to divest New York State employee benefit funds from corporations linked to the government of Sudan. Divestment is an important economic tool for pressuring abusive governments; it helped end the horror of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

Christopher M. Willett



Television is a sure-fire way to reach parents

This is in reference to the March 17 editorial, "Shame on absent parents." At a recent Common Council meeting to discuss parental involvement in city schools, only one parent appeared, a School Board member. While this poor showing and obvious parental indifference is appalling, it is not surprising.

Yes, ads about the meeting were placed in the newspaper and posted in community centers, but this was done on the assumption that the parents actually read the paper and attend the centers. It would be interesting if The News conducted a subscriber survey in differing neighborhoods, perhaps by ZIP code, to determine who reads the paper.

There is one common denominator where announcements regarding future parent involvement meetings will be noticed and that is television. While this may be a more costly alternative, it would surely be more effective. The children are worth it.

Helene R. Lee



Muslims remain mute on Christian murders

In the March 24 News article, "Clerics call for execution of convert in Afghanistan," senior Muslim clerics were quoted as saying, "Cut off his head" and "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there is nothing left."

Where are all the good and peaceful Muslims that we have been told exist? The murder of a Catholic priest in Pakistan while celebrating Mass; the brutal killing of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Sudan; and the rioting and killing in various Muslim-dominated countries over some cartoons are but a few recent examples of this so-called peaceful religion. Yet we hear of no outrage or see any meaningful action from its leaders.

When our State Department attempts to intervene and there is an international outcry in behalf of the Christian convert, we are told that this is a highly unusual intervention into the affairs of a sovereign nation. It seems that only the Muslim religion is accorded respect and defense, but when thousands upon thousands of Christians are killed all over the world, the silence is deafening.

Al Huntz



Single teen mother should not be jailed

Tracee Walker needs help, not jail. The 19-year-old single mom of two who abandoned her daughter at Sisters Hospital appears to be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenthood. She was 14 when she first became pregnant. Do our governor and the four Western New York assemblymen who voted against emergency contraception legislation see any connection here?

Teens need comprehensive sex education and birth control. The emergency contraception legislation is about protecting a woman's health and helping men and women avoid unintended pregnancy. Sexually active teens have babies and get sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, if they do not have access to medically accurate information and birth control.

Emergency contraception prevents conception, it does not terminate an established pregnancy. It is a safe and effective form of back-up birth control. It should not be confused with RU-486 (the abortion pill). Our elected officials should ask themselves: Where are we going with a pregnant 14-year-old?

Linda Ulrich-Hagner

East Aurora


RSVP offers over-55 set a wealth of activities

Thanks to Anne Neville for her March 19 article focusing on the positives about life after 50. I especially appreciated that she included volunteering as one of the many ways that retirees are staying active, healthy and doing what they love to do. One resource for people 55 and over who are interested in getting involved in community service is the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program.

RSVP matches a person's skills, interests and availability with volunteer opportunities that make a difference in the quality of life in our community. In Erie County, more than 1,100 RSVP volunteers are engaged in many challenging roles -- and using a lifetime of experience. Life doesn't end at retirement. Many volunteers find that that's when the fun just begins! They can choose what they want to do, and work it into their schedule. Anyone who wants to find out more can call RSVP of Erie County Senior Services.

Patricia Dowling

Erie County RSVP


Ridiculous policies extend to the suburbs

It seems that the new zero tolerance policy we have in the city is now catching on in the suburbs. I recently received a summons in Kenmore for having my trash cans out to the curb seven hours early. While I know that this is not a gateway crime like illegal parking, it is an ordinance nonetheless, and I, in spite of the fact that I supported the "incumbents," am not exempt from the law.

However, I am baffled by the fact that the Department of Public Works, which issued the summons, has been negligent in cleaning up in front of its own building on Elmwood Avenue in the village. Upon arrival there to protest my citation, I noticed a great deal of trash strewn about.

Furthermore, I wonder why village residents who elect not to shovel their sidewalks and driveways when it snows are exempt from the law.

It seems to me that aesthetics take priority over public safety. Guess I'll never have to worry about tripping over trash cans and recycling bins buried in the snow on unshoveled sidewalks.

John Lee


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