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Everybody's Column

>Central issues of case are still misunderstood

The ugly headline notwithstanding, ("Despite convictions, Rigases live in the lap of luxury," Dec. 3 News), I commend Jerry Zremski for providing a fair representation of the Rigas appeal and the power of its arguments. His article appropriately conveys the grave importance of the issues raised for not only my family, but for all American business executives who rely in good faith on accounting rules and the advice of outside professionals to guide their conduct.

I am disappointed, however, by Zremski's persistent misunderstanding about what constitutes the central issues of this case. He seems to accept uncritically the government's stratagem to deflect focus away from the complex accounting principles that should be the heart of the matter to a series of clever but unfounded allegations that were obviously designed to inflame public passions.

Zremski is correct to say that the appeals decision will reverberate far beyond Coudersport. But as long as he and others view this case falsely as about Christmas trees and $2.25 "luxury" slippers, the truth will continue to be obscured. And that would be a great tragedy.

Michael J. Rigas
Coudersport, Pa.

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>Ultrasound shouldn't be used as a tool of coercion

In Kathleen Parker's opinion piece on Dec. 2, she suggests that ultrasound technology be used as a tool to coerce women to carry out their pregnancies. Perhaps she is unaware that every woman who ultimately terminates her pregnancy undergoes an ultrasound as well as medically accurate options counseling that includes information about prenatal care and adoption. The ultrasound is used to confirm how far along the pregnancy has progressed.

Anti-abortion forces want the public to believe that somehow women take abortion lightly, that they aren't given the information they need to make this very serious decision. This is just wrong and misleading. Perhaps for Parker, life is simple; black and white. She is lucky. For most women, particularly those faced with an unintended pregnancy, life circumstances are often very complex and difficult.

At Planned Parenthood, we trust women and their doctors to make health care decisions within the context of sound medicine as well as their personal religious and moral beliefs. In this context, ultrasound is used to assist a woman and her doctor, not as a tool of coercion.

Laura Meyers
CEO, Planned Parenthood
of Western New York

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>Let's take care of Earth before focusing on Mars

I read The News article on the possibility of water on Mars. As the war in Iraq winds down, it looks like other agencies, i.e. NASA, are getting in line to fleece Americans for the next eight years with Mars and Moon exploration. According to the article, there may be water on Mars to support life. What about the water we already have and can't take care of, and the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming? There should be limited federal research dollars on any of these exploration projects until such time we get a handle on the issues that we have created here on Earth.

We also have a few cities that are dying on the vine -- New Orleans, Buffalo, etc., but no one is out front on that issue. Many of our schools need some extra dollars. We need to wake up and take our country back from all these special interests. The American people have been fleeced by this administration, and they need to wake up before they get fleeced in the next eight years -- whether it be by a Democrat or a Republican. Let's take our country back.

Patrick Lyons
Amherst

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>Middle-class voters need to take a stand

The Dec. 7 News article on the interview that CNN host Lou Dobbs did in Buffalo really gets down to the root cause of why this area and many like it are suffering in decline. He is so right when he says, "we need to put aside such issues as abortion, gun control and gay marriage in favor of jobs, education and health care."

The just completed elections showed that American voters are paying attention, and we have to keep that thought as we move toward the 2008 presidential election. It is long overdue that the remaining members of the middle class run to the polls and get rid of those who want to see our demise.

Voters should be motivated to act by the deplorable state of our health care system, corporate outsourcing that costs us good-paying jobs and destroys our tax base and the need to see our children have a chance at the American dream. It is within our grasp if we want it. We can make a difference.

Michael J. Rusinek
Depew

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>It may be time to switch to satellite television

I had Adelphia Cable for at least 20 years and never had a problem. Then Time Warner stepped in and took away the NFL Channel. Company officials recently stated in The News that they had "very few calls" complaining about it. Do they really want every football fan calling or e-mailing them? We can oblige!

Now they are threatening to take away the Fox Channel in January. I thought they were here to serve the people. They're doing a pretty crummy job so far. There are other options out there. Maybe it's time to start looking.

June Patterson
Buffalo

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>Diocese must not overlook value of Catholic schools

Early in the new year, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo will make its recommendations for church consolidations and closings, as well as plans for the diocesan schools. I certainly hope diocesan leaders will take special note of the Dec. 4 News article, "Tests show private schools pay dividends." It mentioned St. Mark's, a jewel of a school located in North Buffalo that could be in danger of consolidation or closing.

The article pointed out that the eighth-graders at St. Mark's scored third highest in the city last year in the state English and math tests, while the schools that may merge with St. Mark's under a diocesan consolidation plan did not perform nearly as well. I hope leaders will consider not only the hard work of students, teachers, parents and administrators at St. Mark's, but also the fragile nature of this type of academic success.

Aside from test scores, St. Mark's has much more to offer. The school and church community offer many events and activities for families and adults. It should be recognized as a strength of the Catholic community in Buffalo that should not be lightly disrupted.

Susan Stephens
Buffalo

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