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Republicans undermining environmental protections

Most of us have watched Congress fail consistently to meet its responsibilities to our nation. Approval ratings have plummeted below 10 percent. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has been extremely diligent in its efforts to eliminate health and environmentally protective rules and cripple the agencies that develop and enforce them.

A recent report by ranking members on the committees of Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs paints a stark picture. As of Dec. 15, this year the House voted 191 times to undermine these fundamental protections. Out of a total of 770 roll call votes, 22 percent were designed to undermine health and environmental protections. The tally of votes shows that 94 percent of the Republican members voted an anti-environmental position while 86 percent of the Democratic members voted for the pro-environmental position.

Republicans have turned their backs on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act, products of the Nixon and first Bush administrations. Under bogus claims that environmental protection kills jobs, there were 27 votes to block badly needed climate change legislation, 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections and 28 votes against Clean Water protections. This is only a partial list.

Evidence-based scientific analyses by a Nobel Prize-winning international committee correctly point to climate change as an impending health and environmental disaster in the making. Similar analyses by the EPA show that by 2020, an uninhibited Clean Air Act will save Americans almost $2 trillion per year in reduced health costs at a cost of $65 billion per year.

During this holiday season, it is important to reflect on this record. Tell members of the House we deserve and demand more responsible representation.

Alan H. Lockwood, M.D.



'Xmas' isn't derogatory, it's sanctioned by church

A reader recently wrote about the use of the word Xmas as taking the "Christ out of Christmas." Webster's Dictionary cites the origin of the word Xmas to the year 1551. It is a derivative of the Greek letter "Chi" or X from "Christos" meaning Christ. When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440, it was tedious and expensive to print letters so the church itself sanctioned the use of Xmas as an abbreviation. It is pronounced Christmas, not X-mas. It is not a defamatory term, although people unaware of the origin of the word mistakenly believe that its use is somehow derogatory when in fact, the term is a historic reference derived from church sources.

Tom Basinski



Viewers need relief from barrage of ads

Finally, the Federal Communications Commission is dropping the bomb on loud advertising. It's too bad the TV stations ignored the general public's request to do it voluntarily, now they will be forced to do it by federal law. Some, I understand, have already complied.

Now we have to battle the next annoying advertising blunder that's becoming more and more prevalent with TV stations -- advertising pop-ups during regular programming. It's bad enough the programs are running on just about equal time with the ads. Just as we get settled in with watching the program, some pop-up distraction appears in one of the corners advertising what's coming on in the next hour or next week. What makes the TV stations think it's a good idea? I see absolutely nothing wrong with having pop-ups during the advertising. Just leave the regular programming alone. Give us some relief from the constant barrage of ads.

Ken Zuchlewski



We should consolidate all of our police forces

Reading the Dec. 16 story, "What price for subway safety?" I am reminded how we waste so many tax dollars so each public entity can maintain its little fiefdoms, this one being police. Every day I see transit police, Buffalo police, university police, suburban town police and Erie County sheriffs. I even see hospital police. What a mad menagerie of security forces.

Think how much less costly it would be to have one large countywide police force that would assign forces to the most needed locations and times. In this age of high-quality police radios, 24-hour personal communication, the 911 call system and instant location ability (GPS), there is no reason security personnel with good basic training and any needed short-term special training couldn't be assigned to many different scenarios without the disconnect of a plethora of individual police forces. This is the era of cutting cost using obvious common-sense tactics. Let's just do it.

David F. Baker



Government is doing many things very well

After listening to the endless Republican debates, I have looked out my window to view this government that so many of those candidates so viciously attack, yet long to join.

This government bailed out the company that manufactured my van, a vehicle that has carried me through 200,000 miles of trouble-free service. That company has paid back the government in full. I can see a police patrol car gliding down my street keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood. A school bus is about to pick up kids going to a clean, warm school. The volunteer firehouse is ready for emergencies with some well-funded fire trucks. Nearby hospitals are staffed with university-trained doctors able to provide first-class care.

This morning I took a shower with clean water provided by our county water authority. I am writing this letter with the assistance of electricity from a local power authority. Some of the people who provide these services belong to state, local and federal unions. They are from a variety of ethnic, racial and religious groups. Some are progressives, liberals, Democrats and Republicans. I am thankful for the union and non-union police, fire, sanitation, school, utility and highway workers who really are the backbone of my neighborhood, state and nation.

It would be wise for those quarrelsome Republicans to spend their time and hundreds of millions of dollars not on ego-soothing debates but on the real needs of our country: universal health care, affordable higher education, the promotion of large and small businesses, protection of water, air and land resources, just wages for all workers, a welcoming stance to immigrants from a nation of immigrants, and a respect for animal, plant and human life.

I have got to go now, the mail has just arrived on time from the U.S. Postal Service. Happy holidays.

Joseph M. Yonder


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