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July 26, 2013

2008 File Photo/The Associated Press

A woman prays Aug. 9, 2008, in front of the Statue of Peace, hours ahead of a ceremony to mark the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Maine voters must contact congressional delegation members about heeding President Obama’s recent call for further nuclear stockpile cuts, a reader says.

Letters to the editor: Step up effort toward nuclear reduction

8:15 a.m., Aug. 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan: Children are on their way to school. Women are making beds, clearing away the morning dishes. An all-clear sounds after the 7 a.m. air raid warning. And then, the U.S. plane dropped the world's first atomic weapon.

There followed a blinding flash in the sky and a great rush of air, as a loud rumble of noise extended for many miles around the city. Buildings fell, fires raged and a great cloud of dust and smoke cast a pall of darkness over the city.

Estimates tell us that 140,000 people were incinerated on that day. Many more died later from radiation sickness.

7:50 a.m., Aug. 9, 1945, Nagasaki, Japan: An all-clear signal sounds at 8:30 a.m.

At 11:02 a.m., the U.S. plane dropped the world's second atomic weapon. Fires raged through the industrial city of Nagasaki.

Estimates tell us that 70,000 people were incinerated on that day. As in Hiroshima, many more died in later years from radiation sickness.

June 3, 2013, Brandenburg Gate. Berlin: U.S. President Obama pledges to:

Pursue further reductions of deployed strategic nuclear warheads by up to one-third below the New START Treaty levels.

Build support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which would ban all nuclear testing.

Call for a treaty to end production of fissile materials used to build nuclear weapons

August 2013: It is now our obligation to work with Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to ensure these goals are met.

Sally Breen

Windham

City should save, not spend, extra state education funds

So, here we go again. The state is giving Portland almost $2 million ("Portland seeks quick vote on spending extra state funds," July 23), and what's the first thing on councilors' and school board members' minds? "How do we spend the money?"!

The most ludicrous idea yet is from school board members -- "Oh, let's hire back some people we laid off or add new positions to the education system."

Are you school board members for real? Seriously, so you hire them back and then what happens next year? Duh! You either lay them off again or -- oh wait, you can just ask the taxpayers to give you more! Why not? You do every year, and the best part is you don't ask, we just take it.

Hint: Why doesn't the city put it aside for emergency use, or to lower or better yet, for once in your term, keep the tax rate the same instead of bleeding taxpayers dry?

We all know that the money to be spent has to be voted on, but why bother? The same "yuppies, nontaxpayers, apartment dwellers" well outnumber the people who actually pay taxes in this city. So find a way around wasting another $15,000 for a special election.

This city is going downhill every year, with tax rates rising, new laws and regulations adopted by our mayor and councilors. The new slogan should have been "Welcome to Portland, we rubber-stamp everything, and make you pay till you can't afford to live here anymore."

The only thing to look forward to every spring is the city elections. What a circus. We listen to each candidate tell us the same story over and over again about lowering taxes, then we vote for the one who doesn't mention it because that person is telling the truth.

Frank Teras

Portland

Hydroelectric dams' removal could hurt our environment

Regarding the removal of the Veazie dam, I grew up in Winterport, a town on the Penobscot below Bangor, and am somewhat familiar with the river.

It is interesting to note that in the 1980s, at a time when salmon fishing was thriving, all the dams were in place and the pollution load on the river was much higher than today.

We need to apply an objective standard when such action as the removal of working hydroelectric dams is being considered. How many megawatts of much-needed power have been lost to dam removal, and how much oil or coal is burned to replace that power, contributing to global climate change?

I hope the cost to our state and economy is justified, and we do not discover later that other factors such as unregulated fishing on the high seas are the major contributors to the destruction of the salmon fishery.

Michael Cuddy

Falmouth

Planned Parenthood clinic protests major safety issue

I have been greeting patients for several months on a volunteer basis at Planned Parenthood on Congress Street.

In that time, I have seen young women intimidated, harassed and badgered with abusive language at terrifying volumes as they have passed through the throngs of protesters who claim the sidewalk in front of the clinic every Friday and Saturday morning.

Sometimes the patients scream back at them to mind their own business. More often, they roll their eyes and pass them off as crazy. Occasionally, they cry. That's the worst.

In addition to feeling sorry for patients who may already be vulnerable and facing extremely difficult decisions, I fear for the safety of our volunteers and innocent bystanders.

The photographs on the protesters' signs upset parents, which has many times led to heated arguments about the signs not being fit for children's eyes. Some parents have even threatened violence if the signs aren't gone when they pass by the next time.

Other pedestrians tell the protesters that they should be ashamed and that they have no right to judge anyone else for their own private health care decisions. Some stick around for lengthy debates, which clogs the sidewalk and blocks pedestrian traffic.

Simply put, having protesters so close to the front door of the clinic is a disaster waiting to happen.

That's why Planned Parenthood needs a sidewalk buffer zone. The volatility that I witness every week presents a safety issue for many of Portland's residents and visitors. I sincerely hope that I'm never exposed to violence outside the clinic. Creating a buffer zone would be excellent insurance against that horrible fate.

Marian Starkey

South Portland





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