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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Death of 3,000 troops is a terrible milestone

As the new year commences, I ponder what 2007 will bring for me personally. However, as I was looking at the headlines of the last days of 2006, I found great sadness upon seeing such an ignominious milestone. Not the execution of tin-horn dictator Saddam Hussein, but the death of our 3,000th serviceman/woman. December was a truly awful month for casualties, ranking as the third-deadliest since we entered Iraq.

The other sad fact is that President Bush seems in no hurry to make a decision for our future in regard to Iraq, while he spent far less time strategizing about going into Iraq in the first place. He has ignored the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, experienced diplomats, generals and foreign policy advisers. Most important, he has ignored the vast majority of Americans who voted for representatives who want a real strategy for getting out of the Iraq War.

Bush speaks of more hardships and sacrifices in Iraq. Does he know who will endure those hardships and make those sacrifices? I regret to say that these men and women are dying in vain -- it's the vanity of Bush. No one should have to die in a war so his leader can save face. The only strategy Bush should consider is extrication.

Onofrio Perzia

Le Roy

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Provide a safe haven for peaceful Iraqis

We know of the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Is there a fourth group of Iraqis, from all ethnic backgrounds, that desires a safe, peaceful, democratic country? Media reports of thousands of refugees living in Jordan to escape the violence suggest that perhaps there are many more Iraqis seeking an alternative to the endless strife.

One suggestion for our caretaker efforts could be to provide a safe haven land area within Iraq for these people, and at the same time create a buffer zone between both Syria, Jordan and the violence. This fourth group, seeking a peaceful existence, would grow in popularity and size as more Iraqis tire of the killing.

This buffer zone would also provide a safer environment for our troops, as they disengage from the warring factions. Each of these factions has its own militias to protect its people. Our strong presence nearby, and threatened intervention, would ensure that Iran's and Syria's ambitions are kept in check, and the violence does not escalate beyond our interests.

Stephen Palmisano

West Seneca

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Withdrawing U.S. troops will embolden terrorists

To the people who think that Iraq was a mistake, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that the war is unwinnable and that more troops will just anger those folks over there, I cannot help you.

A recent Associated Press article outlined that more lives were risked in Iraq than perished in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the field in Shanksville, Pa., in a weak attempt to justify its anti-war position, that the war plan must be rethought or that we must retreat, or leave the purview to the "intrepidity" of the diplomats.

To modify the axiom, "Never argue or negotiate with a fool, people won't know the difference." In Iraq, fear still rules; the terrorists rule with blood and guns. Islam teaches that the believer must destroy the infidels, and that's why there continues to be a cycle of violence there. Islam imposes law, while Christianity expects its believers to honor and respect others, while remaining steadfast in the faith.

Those "journalists" who side with the Democrats' push to surrender have learned nothing from Vietnam, where we cut and ran without victory. Shed the cameras and microphones and pick up a gun to fight the enemy --Islamic terrorists.

Kenneth M. Boser II

Allegany

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Stop wasting lives and money in Iraq

Recent figures discussed in both newspapers and television broadcasts indicate the Pentagon has requested nearly $170 billion for 2007 for the war. This is without the possible request to send an additional 20,000 to 30,000 troops into Iraq. How can any reasonable person continue to support this travesty when the original cost was estimated at $50 billion for the entire mission?

I do not support any impeachment efforts of President Bush, since it will never happen and will be a waste of even more time and money. But our commander-in-chief must realize the total failure of this almost four-year battle against a country which, by all accounts, did not play a major role in 9/1 1.

Just think of the good we could accomplish with these funds in other areas: improving education, correcting our spiraling health care crisis, helping to stop the many conflicts in Africa and establishing health care programs in Third World countries.

Please, Mr. Bush, stop having our brave men and women give their lives so far away in an effort that is not making us any safer. Set a timetable, adhere to it and let the Iraqi people establish a form of government that they desire and can manage. Bring our men and women home before this disaster becomes worse by involving Iran or Syria.

Mark A. Muchowski

Orchard Park

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Now it's Bush's turn to be held accountable

Hashim al-Shibli, minister of justice in Iraq, has completed the trial, conviction and execution of Saddam Hussein. Bravo! Justice reigns in the Republic of Iraq.

Al-Shibli can now show the world that Iraq is not a puppet of the United States. Now is the time for him to put President Bush on trial for his crimes against humanity. We've lost 3,000 of our country men and women, and Iraq has lost 52,000 to 57,000 people due to Bush. Iraq did not pose a threat to our country, but Bush declared war anyway with no pre-emptive strike.

He needs to be made accountable for his reckless disregard of the human rights of the Iraqi citizens. Our country will do nothing to make him pay for his crimes against humanity. Justice does reign in Iraq. Al-Shibli needs to subpoena Bush.

Georgia L. Schlager

Lancaster

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Presidents' mistakes swept under the rug

It never ceases to amaze me how all flaws and/or crimes against humanity are erased upon death. When President Ronald Reagan died, we promptly forgot his involvement in the Iran Contra Scandal and his trickle-down economic attack on the poor. Now that President Gerald Ford has died, we conveniently forget his and Henry Kissinger's connection to the East Timor massacre.

In 1975, Ford and Kissinger gave permission to Indonesia to attack East Timor. This permission was in the form of assuring Indonesia that the United States would supply the Indonesians with the necessary arms and for them to expect no negative repercussions for their unprovoked aggression on the tiny nation of East Timor. The virtual genocide which then ensued resulted in the deaths of one-third of the population of East Timor. An estimated 100,000 Timorese were killed in the first year alone.

This is not to say that Ford was a bad president. He was our last decent Republican president. But we should weigh the good and the bad. We should be even-handed, and leave the "whitewashing" to Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

George J. Cotroneo

Buffalo

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Ford would not have taken nation to war

The Republicans lost greatly in the recent federal elections because they have ignored the common sense of their more talented spokesmen. Gerald Ford, with an unblemished record in the White House, vice presidency and House of Representatives, would never, as president, have gotten us into this stupid situation in Iraq. He had so stated this. He also had four years overseas in the war zone in World War II. Our present leadership, however, impatiently promotes American casualties, while having always avoided danger to themselves.

General and President Dwight David Eisenhower stated that if he were confronted by those wanting to start a pre-emptive war, his response would be, "Go ahead. You do the fighting." He also warned of the greatest danger to U.S. security in the future: "the industrial-military complex."

Come on, Republicans. Aren't the above worthy of your respect?

Jack Eaton

Snyder

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Let Wheatfield board evaluate housing plan

I find it most unfortunate that all the residents of the Town of Wheatfield are being unfairly maligned due to the opinions and comments of a few. I live in Amherst but am very familiar with Wheatfield. I have the highest regard for the officials who work hard for the best interest of the town. The majority of residents are hard-working, family-oriented, community-minded people.

In my opinion, the core problem is that Wheatfield is a very desirable place to live, and though growth is good, many residents are increasingly becoming opposed to large developments, and are worried about real concerns regarding schools, traffic, sprawl and the loss of the rural charm Wheatfield possesses. There are others who feel there is still room for growth.

I am confident that the Town Board, which has full knowledge of both sides of the issue and the future implications, will make a good decision that is beneficial and fair to all parties involved.

Individuals who equate good character with income level are living with their heads in the sand. One needs only to review court records to find that the same social ills affect all communities across the board. Good and bad character is found in all socioeconomic groups. There is no we and them -- there is only us.

Laura Wright

Amherst

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Money does not make a good or bad neighbor

I am sick and tired of people in suburban areas who think they have the right to say who may or may not live in their neighborhood. As a "not rich" resident of the city, I have the right to live anywhere I want, and I would love to see someone in Wheatfield tell me differently.

Some people don't want a housing development for low-income residents in their affluent area. Well, too bad! Money does not make a good or bad neighbor; it has nothing to do with it. The people who started this protest should take a long, hard look at themselves. These snobs are no different than someone on public assistance. People are equal in this world, and it's high time they realized it. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else does.

Low-income people no longer use outhouses; we actually have indoor plumbing. And we no longer use our sleeves to wipe our faces after a meal. Do we qualify for your precious neighborhood now? Being poor is not contagious; but being prejudiced is.

Sandra Hender

Buffalo

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Art gallery is alienating many of its supporters

There have been people who have written very elegantly, pro and con, on the subject of the 200 artworks to be sold by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The first time I was taken to theAlbright-Knox, I was 7 years old. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. In the last 70 years, I have spent numerous days in the gallery. I took my parents, my wife and our three children often. I also took the children there on Sunday when Charlotte Johnson gave her lectures; building bridges between old and new art. That is what the Albright-Knox should be doing today -- teaching, not selling off art.

To sell art for any amount just to buy paint swatches is a travesty. If Director Louis Grachos sells what he thinks is his, I will never set foot in the gallery again, nor will I bring anyone there just to see his idea of art.

Arthur John Doster

Tonawanda

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Board can be replaced, rare antiquities cannot

Before resigning from membership of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, I would like to protest the actions of the gallery's board of directors and Director Louis Grachos. In trying to establish their "mark" on the art gallery, they conveniently disregard previous mission statements. When Grachos and his board are gone, they can easily be replaced. The sold antiquities, however, will be lost to the people forever.

Florence Myers

Grand Island

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Complaints about salaries for judges are ludicrous

When I first read the Associated Press article in The News about pay for federal judges being so inadequate that it threatens to undermine judiciary independence, as stated by Chief Justice John Roberts, my heart went out to them. Of course, they should be paid more than the $165,200 to $200,212 they now receive.

After all, we common folk cannot expect to be judged by people who might have a common financial link with us. Rather, we should be judged by human beings on a much higher level, like the aristocracy of old, who, because of divine right and riches, could make judicial pronouncements and rulings on their subjects.

Apparently, that divine right parallels today to the compensation our federal judges receive, and the higher this compensation, the less chance of a constitutional crisis. Not only should our judges have this right, but they should also have the right, as they do, to accept or not to accept their judgeships, striving instead to double their paychecks by becoming deans and senior law professors at top schools. Please, give me a break!

Norman Machynski

Cheektowaga

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