Time Warner’s decision to add Al-Jazeera America to its news coverage offerings is to be commended. Alternative perspectives in the coverage of world events are of great importance to the American electorate in its understanding of and commitment to its strategic interests and resultant national policies.

That said, it is disheartening to learn of Time Warner’s decision to drop New England Cable News (“Loss of NECN angers Time Warner viewers,” Dec. 12).

As in world politics, up-to-date coverage of regional issues is also important to an informed Maine electorate.

This is especially apropos as regards the Maine electorate’s understanding of regional economic, social, educational and environmental issues related to the upcoming 2014 mid-term and 2016 presidential elections.

Boston and New England are irrefutably Maine’s closest and most important regional, cultural and economic centers. As such, our well-being in important measures is dependent upon their interests and successes.

The continued health of democracy in Maine is predicated on a fully informed and participatory electorate, one that exercises its franchise for the benefit of society as a whole.

It is imperative, therefore, that each and every member acting within, on behalf of or in similar circumstance to the Fourth Estate maximize its public duty to investigate, evaluate, inform and educate the voting public as regards local, state, regional, national and world issues of importance.

Frederic W. Coulon

Rockport

UNE’s ban on e-cigarettes signals premature judgment

This letter is in response to the article on electronic cigarettes (“No flame, plenty of fire over rise in e-cigarettes in Maine,” Nov. 17).

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to weigh in on this product, so it seems that no rash policies should be created in the meantime. However, these “vapor” cigarettes are being judged prematurely and are unfairly being banned from many public arenas.

Sadly, the University of New England is one of these public arenas. The college has announced that it will implement a new “tobacco-free” policy effective July 1, 2014.

The college currently does not allow smoking within 50 feet of any building. However, the new policy will make the college a “tobacco-free” and “smoke-free” institution. The college plans to ban the use of all tobacco and nicotine products, including electronic cigarettes.

I find this interesting, considering that electronic cigarettes contain neither “tobacco” nor “smoke,” yet people continue to justify banning such products based on improving health.

While I understand the health risks associated with tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke, there is no proof that the use of electronic cigarettes is any more dangerous than the vehicle emissions we are forced to inhale every day. These products produce a smokeless, odorless vapor and have been quite effective in helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

It would seem to me that UNE and many other institutions may not be truly focusing on the “health” of people at all. Let’s be honest here: From 50 feet away, cigarette smoke is annoying more than it is a significant health risk.

Similarly, the use of electronic cigarettes may be annoying to some people, but may actually be a way for many people to kick an extremely unhealthy habit. Let’s end the discriminatory policy-making and really work toward a fair, healthy environment instead!

Licia Byther

Lyman

Sen. Collins commended for backing energy investment

Kudos to Sen. Susan Collins for co-sponsoring the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act, a bill to allow private investment in clean energy technologies. Currently, those advantages are open only to fossil energy projects. Clean energy technologies such as solar, biomass and wind are not eligible.

The legislation would help bring parity among energy technologies and give investors more choices. By attracting a broader pool of private investors, master limited partnership access can help clean energy technologies borrow at lower costs and reduce prices for consumers.

The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act has bipartisan co-sponsors in both the U.S. House and Senate, and it is supported by hundreds of businesses, as well as labor, policy and environmental organizations across the country.

Sen. Collins is right to recognize the merits of this bill, and I hope that Congress passes it.

Bob Cleaves

president and CEO,

Biomass Power Association

Portland

Cruel bear-hunting tactics undermine sport’s integrity

We are the last state to allow trapping, baiting and hounding of bears (all three). Proponents of these methods argue that these practices are necessary to successfully hunt bear and to control the bear population, neither of which is true.

Sadly, it is the profitability of the bear hunting business in Maine that proponents wish to conserve. “Guides” profit handsomely by leading “hunters” to spots that have been strewn with meats, pastries, candy, etc., and set up with video cameras so that it is known exactly when the bear is in the predetermined killing site. One can hardly think of this as hunting at all.

This also increases their taste for human food sources. Feeding bears has always been strongly discouraged for this reason – except, apparently, if there is money to be made.

The use of GPS-collared dogs to track and exhaust bears is not only cruel to the hunted but also to the dogs, who suffer from mistreatment by humans and attacks by bears trying to defend themselves. Going out and shooting a terrified and exhausted bear (at known GPS coordinates) trying to save its own life up by climbing a tree can hardly be considered sport.

Bears do not live within property lines. One property owner I spoke with who has always allowed hunting is now considering posting the land, after he found that one of these baiting sites had been set up on his land.

Lastly, as a sport, hunting is meant to have the element of challenge. I would think hunters, especially, would be interested in maintaining the integrity of their sport.

I doubt basketball players would sit by if people were allowed to pay to have unobstructed shots or runners would support rules enabling people to pay to be driven to the finish line before the other, real runners.

Erica Heinrich

Cape Elizabeth