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Everybody's Column

Teenagers displayed incredible heroism

You may not recognize all these names, but they belong to American heroes. Though not trained for battle, heroes come in all sizes. When faced with an armed madman, these girls, mere children, were incredibly brave.

To many people this was just another tragedy in the news. I see people who triumphed over evil. Emily Keyes, in a situation that would have made even thinking an impossible task, text-messaged her family "I love you guys" before an unsuccessful escape from her Colorado school.

Marian Fisher, whether it was her faith or a maturity beyond her years, asked to be shot first, in the hope of saving some of the other children in their Amish schoolhouse. Incredible as that was, her younger sister, Barbie, who survived, asked to be shot second.

We are all different, as are the problems we face, but rarely would they be as severe as that which these girls encountered. Hopefully, their courage will make us stronger and better. Today's children are tomorrow's leaders.

David Spencer

Delevan

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State needs to reduce poverty and hunger

Recent census data documents that poverty remains a significant problem in our state. The official poverty rate statewide increased to 14.7 percent. More than half the residents of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo had incomes below 200 percent of the poverty threshold. And more than 10 percent of the residents of these cities and Albany are classified as extremely poor -- with incomes less than half the poverty threshold.

For 16 years, our state lawmakers have refused to raise the basic welfare grant for poor children and their families. Welfare benefits have declined in value to only half of the federal poverty level. Even though welfare participants are required to do work activities as a condition of eligibility, we fail to provide them with enough to pay for housing or other basic necessities.

The changes to the federal welfare program in 1996 actually provided the state with a funding source to help raise benefits. Yet billions of federal welfare dollars have been diverted to resolve the annual state budget games rather than being used to raise welfare participants out of poverty.

The election of a new governor in November provides an opportunity for our state government to recommit itself to reducing poverty, hunger and homelessness.

Mark A. Dunlea

Associate Director, Hunger Action Network of New York State

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Abortion isn't solution to our social problems

Professor Edward Cuddy's Viewpoints article, "Healing the Catholic-Democratic rift," was interesting and thought-provoking. Three points come immediately to mind. First, the rift was initiated by the Democratic Party, which aligned itself with groups that wanted unlimited abortion. These groups saw unlimited abortion as a solution to many of our social problems. The Catholic Church's social justice teachings propose correcting injustices with love and action, not the killing of the innocent unborn.

Secondly, the author quotes a leader who states that pro-choice war is worse than pro-choice abortion. Catholic social justice teaches that all human life, born or unborn, is to be respected equally. The Democratic Party, while preaching social justice, overlooks this basic teaching.

Thirdly, I agree with the author that if only the Catholic Church would teach the Gospel of Life in its entirety and the politicians and people would listen, we would respect all human life, born and unborn. Then, perhaps, true social justice could be attained.

John H. Eberle

Amherst

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Allow every candidate to participate in debate

The gubernatorial debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Oct. 12 at the WNED studio was billed as a debate between the "major candidates," apparently to somehow explain why every candidate on the ballot for governor would not be allowed to participate.

Malachy McCourt is an official candidate on the Green Party line due to a petition containing the signatures of more than 30,000 registered voters in New York State and, arguably, due to the will of the people to have more choices on the ballot and more voices in the debates.

When supposedly impartial news media outlets actively promote some candidates and exclude or minimize coverage of others -- as The News did with its lopsided coverage of the mayoral candidates last year -- they do a disservice to the already ailing state of democracy in this nation and, as such, they do a disservice to the people they claim to serve.

Gregory Horn

Chairman

Green Party of Erie County

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Hunters must use extreme caution

It's that time of year again, as hunters are getting ready to go deer hunting. I'm begging them to please be careful and make sure they know what they're shooting at before they pull that trigger. Every year, some poor soul gets killed.

This year, I should be celebrating my son, Larry's, 50th birthday. Instead, I'm remembering that he was killed in a hunting accident 10 years ago in Wellsville on Nov. 30. Please be careful!

Patricia Derouche

Lackawanna

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All citizens deserve quality health care

The American taxpaying citizens should be receiving the same health care as our senators and congressmen. After all, we are paying for their hospitalization and medical bills, and the last I heard, this is not a Third World country.

We should be receiving the very same benefits package, or they should be made to pay for this out of their own pockets without being allowed to give themselves a pay raise. If this where to happen, I can almost guarantee that all Americans would have the very best health insurance that money could buy in a very short period of time.

Orliff L. Speers

North Tonawanda

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Existing gun laws should be enforced

A terse and elegant letter to this column advocated gun control as an answer to those awful school shootings. The author has missed the target, pun intended.

If guns are easy to get, it isn't for lack of legal regulation of the gun business. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," said the old bumper sticker. We need to enforce the already existing laws. In other words, throw the book at these culprits. They ought to face the consequences for breaking the law. We need to enforce the laws already on the books.

Gabriel Krafft

East Amherst

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