Letters to the editor, April 30

Missing Honoré's column in Tidings

I've missed Chris Honoré's trenchant commentaries of late, and a Web check reveals that his column hasn't appeared in The Daily Tidings since April 6. To my knowledge, there's been no notice of his column being discontinued. I hope this is a temporary absence.

Chris Honoré's intelligent analyses of controversial issues lent substance to a newspaper often drowning in trivia. Sans Honoré, serious readers will have even less to look forward to when they open the Tidings.

Isaac Walker


Help prevent disease by replacing animal products in diet

The World Health Organization has just ratcheted up the threat alert for the swine flu epidemic to phase 5 (out of 6). Along with the avian flu of a decade ago, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, and the Asian flu of 1957, swine flu has been traced to animal waste in a factory farm. Its H1N1 type virus is nearly identical to that of the Spanish flu, which killed more than 50 million people in 1918-19.

Today's factory farms constantly expose sick, crowded, highly stressed animals to contaminated feces, urine and other secretions. They provide ideal breeding grounds for the replication and mutation of viruses and bacteria into more lethal forms.

In fact, Wikipedia lists more than 70 human diseases that are developed in and transmitted by animals, frequently through confinement and crowding. Among these are such infamous killers as AIDS, bubonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, Ebola and dengue fever, measles, SARS, smallpox, West Nile virus, and yellow fever (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoonotic_diseases).

Every one of us can help prevent the development and spread of these killer diseases by replacing animal products in our diet with healthful vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains. These foods don't carry deadly microbes (unless contaminated by animal waste), are touted by every major health advocacy organization, and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden.

Ted Cantfield


Cutting fire dept. and CERT is unwise

I'm glad our capable city administrator has recommended retaining our current firefigher/paramedics along with the CERT coordinator (CERT's only job paid by the city). Emergency response and disaster preparedness should be among our top priorities.

Friday's budget story ("Saving city jobs will cost," April 24) frames the issue as raising taxes to preserve specifically the CERT coordinator and two firefighter/paramedics (plus half a police job). These are just three of our city's employees (out of hundreds), why pick on them? Really this increase, if it happens, is for the whole budget. For the fire department, having already borne the brunt of previous city budget cuts, this is what it took to achieve this year's percentage target. But having already cut a firefighter and two leadership positions, it's unfair and unwise to cut this department further. With fewer staff, could we end up spending more on overtime?

Budget committee, please look further than cutting our already pared-down fire department. Even if cuts have to come from payroll, perhaps hours reductions in several positions around the city could produce similar savings.

David Churchman's Friday commentary on the value of CERT to Ashland couldn't have come at a better time — check it out ("CERT provides a valuable service for Ashland," April 24). Let's definitely keep all our firefighter/paramedics at least, and if at all possible keep CERT intact as well. Even if you charge the $2.87 a month more solely to keep these 3.5 people, it's a small price to pay for our health and safety.

Paul Collins


Disappointed in Obama's actions

So now he's been in office 100 days, and President Obama has important accomplishments to his credit.

However, the president has sided with the former administration in ways I find shocking and disappointing. The outrageous "state secrets" expansion, use of "evidence" obtained through torture, and illegal spying — all seem to meet his approval.

President Obama is refusing to investigate criminal acts of the Bush administration in the interest of moving forward; yet he is retaining the right to continue some of its most egregious acts. Didn't the president swear to defend the Constitution? It is his responsibility to prosecute lawbreaking of this magnitude, the only means to block its carryover into his own administration and to erase it as precedent for the future.

Observing this and his handling of the financial bailout, I am greatly saddened to conclude that President Obama does not, in fact, believe in equal justice under the law. He upholds privileged treatment for the political and banking elite, versus much harsher terms for ordinary people.

Otherwise, we would be seeing the appointment of special prosecutors for the Bush crimes and for the financial crisis. If the president wants to move forward, this will be his course.

Frances Dunham


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