April 24, 2013

Letters to the editor: Canada pushing Portland on tar sands

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Chris Jones of Albian Sands Energy describes the company's Fort McMurray, Alberta, oil-sands project in 2005. Canada's government, greatly invested in tar sands' success, is pressing for the transmission of tar-sands oil from Montreal to Portland, a reader says.

2005 File Photo/The Associated Press

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and heartily thank each and every person who shoveled snow for all the elderly folks, ages 65 and over, all over the city of Portland in the winter of 2012-13.

This was a particularly bad winter for storms of all sorts. And all the shovelers deserve a great deal of appreciation for the jobs well done.

The seniors really appreciate this service, and it makes their lives so much safer!

I would also like to thank the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office for their shoveling support. I couldn't run this project without the whole department's help.

To date, about 150 addresses are being shoveled -- free. My sincere thanks, again, to all of you!

Joan Sheedy

founder-director, Senior Snow Shoveling Project


Story failed to differentiate between groups, terrorists

Tom Bell's April 20 article ("Maine's Russians: Don't lump us with terrorists") describes the fear locals from central Russian have that they will be viewed as belonging to the same Chechen ethnic group as the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

I understand why people like Lilia Zhdanov do not want to be mistaken as members of an ethnic group not their own. No one deserves to have important aspects of their identity and history misunderstood.

However, there is a major difference between mistaking individuals as coming from particular ethnic or religious groups and mistaking them for terrorists.

I am afraid the article does not acknowledge that difference, leaving dangerous room for readers to interpret that we should be worried about particular ethnic and religious groups -- not violence and terrorism itself.

The article goes to great lengths to establish the "huge difference" between Chechens, like the Islamic militants behind the 2004 violence in Beslan, and Maine residents from Kazakhstan, who are mostly Baptist Christians.

In the absence of more context and perspective on the history of Chechnya, I hope the comments that Chechens have a "culture of vengeance" and "blood for blood" do not lead readers to assume every ethnic Chechen in the United States is violent. Likewise, journalists need to be very careful to not insinuate that violence can be equated with Islam.

Most of the almost 2 billion Muslims in the world are nonviolent, and many live here in Maine and make wonderful contributions to our community.

Let us try to remember some of the mistakes of stereotyping and fear that our society has made in the decade-plus since 9/11.

In times like these, we must come together to celebrate diversity of all kinds -- as well as to condemn violence, wherever it originates.

Emily Thielmann


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