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Everybody's Column

Get the facts straight about life settlements

First of all, I don't sell life settlement policies. Michelle Singletary, finance columnist for the Washington Post, has to get her thoughts in order when she writes and clearly distinguish between a life settlement investor and a life settlement policy beneficiary.

Her Sept. 14 column in The News makes it appear as though they are the same when in fact one is an investment, which involves minimal risk, and the other is a cash pay-out to the insured, which is risk-free. As for fees and commissions, they are not charged to the customer in addition to the cost of the policy but are included in the actuarial assumption of the policy price.

I resent that she attempted to make the agents who sell these policies look like charlatans. The life settlement business is very sophisticated and specialized. I suggest that Singletary get educated on the subject instead of sensationalizing just to fill column space.

This example of her ignorance shows that she is too lazy to do the research, and it's a good reason why the public should be very careful heeding her advice.

Murry DeFranco

Niagara Falls

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Pitts reveals his own bigotry against Jews

In the Sept. 14 News, Leonard Pitts wrote a column titled "Bigotry in Buffalo." If he's looking for bigotry, he can find it in his own column. He wrote, "When Jews hate Muslims for their religion . . ."

What is his source for stating that "Jews hate Muslims for their religion"? Did he read or hear something I'm unaware of?

On the contrary, there are thousands of quotes where Muslims call Jews the descendants of dogs, pigs and monkeys and call for their destruction. Recently a Muslim cleric said on Al Aqsa TV: "Jews are headed for annihilation" and "Hatred for Mohammed and Islam is in their [Jews'] souls; they are naturally disposed to it."

There are numerous groups that make bigotry their main purpose and make speeches, stage demonstrations and issue written material in furtherance of their bigotry. Pitts could have cited them.

If his excuse was that Jews, because of their history, should not exhibit bigotry, he should have phrased the sentence, not "when" but "if the Jews were to hate Muslims because of their religion." If he is aware of statements to support what he said, he should have given examples.

Harvey Rogers

Williamsville

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Smokeless tobacco is safer than cigarettes
This note is in response to the Sept. 15 article by Dr. Rallie McAllister alleging that smokeless tobacco is as hazardous as cigarettes.

McAllister is dead wrong when asserting that chewing tobacco is no safer than smoking. She may have her chemistry right, but her public health implications are all wrong.

About 98 percent of the deaths from smoking cigarettes are due to direct inhalation of toxic products of combustion other than the chemicals referenced by McAllister. The carcinogens referenced account for less than 2 percent of the deaths from smoking cigarettes.

The possibility now exists to save the lives of 4 million of the 8 million adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a cigarette-related illness over the next 20 years. For those unwilling or otherwise unable to quit smoking, informing them that they could reduce their risk of tobacco-related illness or death by 99 percent by switching to snuff or electronic cigarettes would induce many to switch.

The evidence in support of these conclusions can be found in a series of papers on the Tobacco Issues page on our Web site: www.aaphp.org.

Joel L. Nitzkin, M.D.

Chairman, Tobacco Control Task Force

Kevin Sherin, M.D.

President, American Association of Public Health Physicians

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Wilson chose the wrong venue to voice opinion

What caught my eye was an Everybody's Column letter with the heading, "Wilson is right to protest Obama's health proposal." It's not what Rep. Joe Wilson said but the venue in which he chose to say it. It was arrogant and disrespectful. Everyone has the right to disagree with policy and voice his opinion, but Wilson chose to make a total idiot of himself for all viewing Americans to see.

The ideology that Wilson represents is fading fast and is not supported by the majority of thinking Americans. His political views and those that support him have nothing to do with patriotism or the Constitution but everything to do with tactics of fear and racism. They claim to want control of their country back. I believe with Obama as our president we are, at last, on the right path.

The majority of Americans want true health care reform. If the Republicans can't come to the table and work it out with the rest of Congress, then we need to go forward without them. To come up empty at this time would be a tragedy for all Americans.

Frank Lally

Amherst

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Kennedy had his share of hateful rhetoric, too

On its Sept. 18 editorial page, The News lays the blame for the nasty tone of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the feet of Newt Gingrich's political rhetoric in the 1990s.

As always, The News should have dug a little deeper. It has conveniently forgotten that within an hour of President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to an open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court on July 1, 1987, Ted Kennedy on the Senate floor slandered Bork in a nationally televised speech, declaring: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy."

What on earth did Gingrich ever say about any political opponent that approaches the hateful rhetoric that Kennedy aimed at Bork?

William McNamara

Orchard Park

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It's frightening to see girls idolizing Gosselin

Now that's really scary! Seeing the recent News photo of young girls at Fright World seeking autographs and idolizing Jon Gosselin puts fear in me. He has had three admitted affairs and the divorce hasn't even gone through yet. He's not a good role model, just frightening.

Joyce E. Young

Buffalo

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