This summer, please make donating blood a priority on your “to do” list.

Our summer blood inventory levels can fall to critical levels, leaving patients without the blood products they so desperately need.

Talk to a blood recipient, and they will most likely share their stories of hope and appreciation about the “gift of life” provided by a volunteer blood donor.

As an employee of the American Red Cross, I am thankful for our dedicated donors who help maintain our New England blood and platelet inventory.

Recently, I was privileged to be assigned to a blood drive in honor of a little girl diagnosed with aplastic anemia. This child receives blood and platelets every week.

It was an emotional day with a great response from the community, and we successfully collected 88 units of blood. This little girl is an inspiration; yet unfortunately, she knows more about veins and blood products than any child should have to know.

Don’t wait until it hits home for you to donate. Make a difference today and make time to donate. For information, call 1-800-482-0743.

Cindy Frye

team supervisor, American Red Cross

South Portland

Unfair tolls part of reason turnpike should be free

Most of the USA has an excellent free superhighway system. Maine had to go to a toll system. At first, you paid by the mile and it was fair. It has turned into a very unfriendly, unfair system.

You can go on the Internet to see how unfair it is. If you drive from York to Portland, it will cost $2. When you come back to York, it will cost not $2, but $3, for a total of $5.

Go up the road to Wells (12 miles): The round trip is $2. You can pay as little as $0.023 and as much as $0.50 per mile.

You do get a very slight discount if you have a Maine E-ZPass. If a commuter travels 38 miles and exits through York, the quarterly rate is $127.50. He can travel 44 miles and exit at Wells for $58.50. Why?

A three-axle truck pays $6 north from York to Gray, but going south, it is $9. The millions of dollars that the trucks pay are passed on to the consumer. The many dollars the commuter pays are taken away from the local businesses.

You may never come within 50 miles of the turnpike, but if you work or shop in Maine, you are helping to pay the tolls.

It is past time that the tollbooths be removed and this be made a free highway operated by the Department of Transportation.

Curtis Chapman

Kittery

Americans should demand release of report on torture

The Maine Council of Churches has long been a leader in the faith community as an advocate for an end to torture.

Our members’ shared belief that God created humankind in God’s image leads us to the conviction that torture of another human being is a moral wrong. As citizens, we know that the health and integrity of our democracy require open and public investigations of misdeeds by our government, with truth and reconciliation as the goal.

We are grateful that in 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began an investigation into CIA interrogation practices during the period 2001 to 2008, including the use of torture.

Committee investigators reviewed millions of pages of documents in order to produce a comprehensive report on the specific interrogation practices of the CIA and the results of those practices.

The results of this investigation should be made public. The American people need and deserve to know what was done in our name.

Telling the truth to ourselves and others is a basic moral good. Future policymakers and citizens need to know the truth of our history in order to guide future decisions and keep our policies in line with American values and commitments to human rights.

The committee is expected to finalize its report this summer, after which it will vote on adopting the report and will decide whether or not to seek its release to the public after a declassification process.

The Maine Council of Churches, as part of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, advocates releasing the report to the public and encourages the public to do the same.

The Rev. Jill Saxby

executive director, Maine Council of Churches

Portland

Drug epidemic worsened by barriers to treatment

Your recently published stories on the dramatic increases in drug-related crimes point to the marked deficiency in all of the official efforts to respond to our prescription drug epidemic: None speak to the issue of the disease of addiction and the need for treatment.

The LePage administration is limiting the duration of and access to effective treatment of opiate addiction. Opiate addiction is a metastatic social and cultural cancer in our state. As in all cancers, after the disease develops, a focus on prevention is too late.

We need to remove, not create, barriers to treatment if we are to have a chance of protecting our communities from this spreading epidemic.

Mark Publicker, M.D.

president, Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine

Gorham

Art museum’s new logo presents lackluster image

The recent heat must have gotten to the staff of the Portland Museum. How else to explain its unveiling of a new logo that looks unmistakably like a bright-red-and-white beach ball?

The museum ditched a graceful, classic logo for one that doesn’t present any immediate sense of its identity as a cultural institution.

At first glance the new logo could denote anything — a basketball team, a hair gel, a pain reliever or an airline. Its graphic conventions and blare of color are strictly commercial.

In an apparent attempt to look hip, the museum succeeds only in looking silly, parading a design that looks dated and schlocky.

Let’s hope this inexplicable choice isn’t also a message about the museum’s future institutional direction.

Ellen D. Murphy

Portland