Within our lifetimes there may never be an issue as crucially deserving of bipartisan support as Senate ratification of the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons.

Many top diplomats and military leaders including former Secretary of Defense William Cohen and former Secretary of State Colin Powell strongly support this joint U.S.-Russian effort to pull the world back from the brink of catastrophic nuclear war.

Those individuals knowledgeable about the unthinkably grim subject of mass casualties that could result from even a small nuclear exchange are appropriately sobered and frightened by such a scenario.

For decades now highly respected climate scientists from around the world have recognized that a “nuclear winter” created by nuclear firestorms and soot and ash that entering the atmosphere could lead to mass starvation for much of the planet.

The disruption in Europe caused by even a relatively minor volcanic eruption in Iceland, or even the horrific damage from enormous eruptions within the span of human recorded history, would be insignificantly trivial by comparison.

Specious arguments about mistrusting the intentions and actions of the other side are negated by specific provisions in the treaty’s language creating a process of monitoring and verification by on-site inspections which satisfy even hawkish experts.

Both of our senators understand there is simply no justification for the cynical “opposition for the sake of opposition” that could prevent ratification of this treaty when a vote comes this month. Let them know you agree!

Jim Maier

Scarborough

Rehab programs and A.A. can be effective for many

I am certain there have been many comments on the Aug. 10 column headlined, “Why rehab doesn’t work.” by Bankole Johnson.

His perception is that not only do hospital-based rehabilitation programs not work, neither does Alcoholics Anonymous.

Having worked at Mercy Hospital’s Recovery Center for 20 years, I can attest that countless numbers of people who enter treatment begging for help get it. As well as receiving excellent medical attention, they are met with kindness and caring from the staff. They are not looked upon as statistics but as people in need.

Mr. Johnson discusses frustration around relapse and high costs of treatment. Dr. Stanley Evans, the previous medical director at Mercy’s treatment program, used to say the cost of treatment was cheaper than a funeral. While that may not be the case in today’s medical environment, the statement is sobering.

Mr. Johnson believes there is no need to remove alcoholics from the support of relatives and friends.

He neglects to mention by the time addicts seek treatment, many family members have turned away feeling hurt and angry with the addict, and the same holds true for friends, many of whom also struggle with addiction.

I agree with the author’s discussion about the importance of medical research. But does he really think the answers lie in developing a pill or might that be the result of being a paid consultant to pharmaceutical companies?

Sadly, many people who need help will read the article and feel relieved to read that treatment and A.A. don’t work and will continue to drink and drug for yet another day. We can hope they won’t get behind the wheel of a car intoxicated and either kill or be killed.

A.A. has helped millions of people over the years worldwide. The program offers a way out of the loneliness of the disease of addiction. Does A.A. work for everyone? Of course not. But for those it does help, its message of hope is one to embrace.

Now that is a pill worth taking.

Glenda MacLachlan

Scarborough

Civilian Afghan deaths rise with U.S. troop hikes

Recently the United Nations said that civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2010 rose 31 percent over the year before.

They were mostly women and children and were mostly caused by Taliban or other insurgents.

However, they occur simultaneously with the growth of the American forces. As the number of Americans increases, so does the number of civilian deaths. It is not a coincidence.

Gen. David Petraeus calls the course of our expensive invasion “fundamentally sound.”

Is proping up a weak and evidently corrupt government worth the lives of thousands of Aghani women, more lives of American soldiers and billions of dollars?

The general is “fundamentally” wrong.

Charles Brown

Bath

Motorcycles are dangerous, so why no helmet law here?

Recently my 9-year-old son and his dad were in a motorcycle accident.

Dad is a very experienced driver, has never had an accident before, wasn’t speeding and has well-above-average reflexes. A deer ran out in front of them. It could just as easily have been another inexperienced driver, someone on his cell phone, someone adjusting the radio, someone who had been drinking.

My son and his dad had their helmets on. My 9-year-old has road rash and is sore but otherwise physically fine. His dad has the same along with a pretty serious concussion. This 9-year-old saw his dad lying in the road unconscious. He was so scared.

If Dad had not had his helmet on, the outcome would have been very different. My son would have been completely traumatized by what he would have witnessed and he would grow up without a father.

I have no idea why Maine doesn’t have a helmet law. We are so safety-driven but have this huge unexplainable hole in our laws. Every day I see men and women without helmets on,

I often see young men with helmets attached to the back of their bikes or in the crook of their arms instead of on their heads. If it’s too hot to wear a helmet, it’s too hot to ride.

Please wear helmets. When you become a wife or husband, mother or father, you have an obligation to your loved ones not just yourself.

If you are a son or daughter, please respect your obligation to your parents to be safe.

You may be the best driver in the world but you can’t control other drivers or animals that cross the road.

Please wear a helmet always!

Kimberly Bridgham

Scarborough