The West has successfully completed negotiations with Iran under which that country will stop advancing its nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade, and will be subject to expanded inspections as well. As soon as that deal was announced, some in Congress threatened not to ratify it.

Thankfully, Sen. Angus King was not among those people. In contrast, Sen. Susan Collins said she has “many concerns about whether or not this plan is in America’s best interests.” And she is far from alone in that view.

Give me a break. Congress has not even been able to negotiate within itself to move the country forward, and now some want to tell our State Department how to negotiate. Absurd.

This is all happening at a time when many are reviewing the legacy of John Kennedy. He learned in the Cuban missile crisis that when negotiating with the enemy, we need always to leave your adversary a face-saving way to back down.

Iran is being given some economic benefits that will strengthen its economy. In so doing, we are strengthening the hand of those within Iran’s governmental system that favor compromise with the West rather than making bombs. We are favorably changing the political landscape in Tehran.

Kennedy avoided nuclear war with Russia through negotiation. President Nixon’s visit to China greatly improved our role in Asia. And President Reagan’s engagement with Gorbachev led to agreements to reduce nuclear arms.

Negotiating with the enemy has been proven to work in the past, and it can work now. Congress, keep your hands off the negotiating process with Iran.

Cushman D. Anthony

Falmouth

Many families need help through Obamacare maze

In response to the story “Officials: Worst tech bugs over for Healthcare.gov but clean bill of health still eludes website” (Dec. 2), it has been seen by the public that there are glitches in the government health care website. These glitches are not just an inconvenience but a hindrance to care.

There are many working and not-working families who need health care who have fallen through the cracks of the income guidelines for MaineCare and who are told to apply on the website. This is merely a Band-Aid instead of a solution.

Many single parents do not have time to complete the steps needed to merely set up an account, then review the health care options. These options do not offer a clear nor concise way to look at what it will cost on a weekly or monthly scale. These are the important issues: “What will it cost?” and “How can I afford it?” For many families, it is a constant battle over what is more important.

A solution to this problem is free employer seminars to educate employees on their choices not only from the company but also from the health care website. What’s needed is a person-driven seminar of education and options. It seems that in a world driven by technology that the most important issues should be discussed.

Kelly Harmon

Springvale

Climate Action Plan puts focus on power plants

Usually, whenever we think of an environmental issue, usually the first thing that comes to mind is global warming. Or Al Gore. Maybe even penguins and polar bears.

Regardless, there’s a reason for that. Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues the world faces today. Many seem to believe that just because they do not see the effects right here and right now that there aren’t any at all.

They want to live in the now instead of thinking about the future. You know, the one their kids will live in. Or, say, the one I and other young adults my age will be living in.

It’s a no-brainer that one of the largest contributors to climate change and carbon emissions is our power plants. Power plants alone account for more than 41 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. In Maine alone, power plants produce as much carbon as 500,000 cars.

The Environmental Protection Agency, as part of President Obama’s latest Climate Action Plan, has already taken a step to cut emissions from new power plants to prevent newer generations of dirty power plants from being built. That’s just one step to reducing our emissions as a country, though.

In order to ensure a cleaner and greener future for current and future generations, our senators and elected officials, as well as the general public, need to take a stand and support Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Nick Couture

South Portland

Lou Gehrig’s disease hits military veterans too often

The press has done a very good job of reporting about the challenges our veterans face. We all have read or seen stories about our wounded warriors.

About traumatic brain injury. About veterans suffering from depression and other serious mental health issues. About those who have lost limbs or endure other physical hardships.

These are serious issues that deserve our attention. What also deserves our attention, but which gets much less press, is the fact that military veterans are twice as likely to develop – and die from – Lou Gehrig’s disease as those who have not served in the military.

My husband and father of our three children happens to have been one of those unfortunate veterans. Sgt. Joshua A. Kennedy of the Army Reserve died April 27, 2012, after two years of fighting his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Yes, studies show that the disease that took the life of baseball legend Lou Gehrig is striking our military heroes at an alarming rate. It doesn’t matter when or where they served in the military; home or abroad, peace or war, from World War II to Afghanistan. Those who served are at greater risk.

ALS is horrific. Worse than your worst nightmare. It robs people of the ability to move, trapping them inside a body they no longer can control.

People describe it as being buried alive. There is no treatment. No cure. Only death in an average of two to five years.

I encourage your readers to visit the Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org. There, they will see the faces and read the stories of the military heroes who are fighting ALS and those who have been lost to the disease, including Joshua. Their stories of courage are worth your attention.

Ernesta P. Kennedy

New Gloucester