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David Galton, the dairy professor at Cornell University sums up many of the United States’ problems today with agriculture when he asks, “Why larger dairies? Well, why Wegmans? Target and Circuit City and Home Depot and Lowe’s?” People have demanded cheap goods and foods for so long that we have lost sight of the bigger picture and our future. It is a fact that if I grew a tomato and tended it from seed in late winter until summer harvest, most people would not even want to pay me a dollar for that tomato that I cared for six months. Yet people have no problem buying a chemically enhanced, greenhouse-grown tomato, trucked all the way from California, for 50 cents.
I would also like to point out that like most government agencies gone astray, the United States Department of Agriculture is no friend of farming. In fact, I believe that the USDA does more to hinder quality food from being produced. I would like to recommend that anyone interested in the plight of our food and the small family farm to read Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin, Night Came To The Farms Of The Great Plains by Raymond D. North, Small Farms Are Real Farms by John Ikerd and Unforgiven by Charles Walters.
I enjoyed “Diamond Dave,” the Syracuse New Times’ May 14 cover story on Dave Frisina and Syracuse radio back in the days of real in-studio deejays. For that ongoing series about the “Old Guard of Syracuse Radio,” it’s a shame Jimmy “O.B.” O’Brien isn’t with us to share the colorful stories of his era while working at radio station WNDR-AM 1260 in Syracuse. Jim was a local gentleman, raised on the south side of Syracuse in the 1950s and 1960s, and was well respected by his many loyal fans and radio listeners.
She never lost her composure when the motor pushing the stage turntable frequently broke down and we were all forced to sit like idiots, reciting lines for the wrong scene while director Joe Lotito cursed the electrical wiring of the aging center. Thank you, Barbara.
—Leonard Hersher Syracuse
According to a recent Associated Press article, an average of 18 U.S. military veterans kill themselves each day. That’s far more than get killed in Iraq each day. Eighteen deaths a day equals 6,570 a year—more U.S. soldiers than have been killed in all five years of the war. The tally doesn’t even include the “civilian contractors.” Their suicides may never be counted.
Each of those 6,570-plus embodies the enormous waste and brutality of this war. Each is a tragedy, not only for that soldier but that soldier’s loved ones. (Further, linked to some of these tragedies are numerous other tragedies. Let’s not forget that Iraqis are being killed on an even vaster scale.)
What happened to these soldiers in Iraq—physically or morally—that has made their own death preferable to life? What leads to such disillusion, to such despair? Young people are enticed by the recruiter’s siren song. Can they imagine how harrowing it is in Iraq? Can they imagine what killing other human beings does to one’s soul or psyche?
One day, this war will end and U.S. troops and mercenaries will leave Iraq. But when will the suicides stop?
Can you guess how much of the federal budget for fiscal year 2009 goes for war and war-related expenses? According to the War Resisters League, it is a whopping 54 percent. Current military spending is estimated at 36 percent while past military spending is estimated at 18 percent. Past military spending includes veterans’ benefits and 80 percent of the interest on the national debt, which is largely a result of military spending. (Details at www.warresisters.org.)
Can you think of better ways to spend our taxes than war without end and military bases all over the world? How about spending some of it on our decaying infrastructure so people don’t get killed driving over bridges? How about spending some on sections of Syracuse that desperately need restoration of beautiful, old houses so that they are safe and healthy to live in? How about providing additional funds for a more thorough cleanup of Onondaga Lake? We need better priorities when spending federal money.
—Linda A. DeStefano
It is so disheartening contemplating why Americans decide whom to vote for in presidential elections. They fail to see through the silliness, the sound bites and video clips pundits use to characterize candidates. This election is not about whose minister is more patriotic or who wears a flag pin or who can bowl. Don’t let media distract you from what’s important. It is bad enough we have candidates fully funded by the defense, health and insurance industries, to name just a few of the major contributors to both parties.
Pick the candidate who best answers these and other questions: Who is going to bring the troops home now? Who is going to change the way we conduct foreign policy by forsaking saber rattling? Who is going to be an honest broker in the Middle East? Who is going to demand that Congress pass legislation guaranteeing health care for all Americans? Who is going to reform campaign financing? Who is going to trim the enormous defense budget? Who is going to restore equity in the tax structure and reintroduce a progressive income tax? Who is going to insure the separation of church and state? Who is going to work for equity funding in education for all schools? Who is going to stop the draconian appointments to the Supreme Court? Who has a plan to begin changing the way we pollute the planet? Who is going to start the process of eliminating nuclear weapons before they destroy us?
Don’t listen to any radio and TV blabbermouths who are beholden to the corporations and media moguls who want to tell you how to vote in order to maintain their own fortunes. We can change America through the ballot box by electing men and women of integrity, a commodity not found in the White House and in the halls of Congress.
Over the past couple of decades, I’ve felt that Americans have become so complacent or apathetic about the serious problems that many people choose to tune out rather than deal with. I seem to see more irate letters to the editor crying to the high heavens for the firing of coaches because their team lost or because some local “neocons” are angry with the so-called “liberal press” bias against their own personal views.
It’s time that these people had a reality check. Sure it’s embarrassing to have your home team lose, but guess what? It’s only sports! The last time I read any sports story, no one was killed by an IED. Where is the proper outrage for the total incompetence of the leaders who brought us into war with Iraq? Bush and his cronies are even now rattling their sabers for a possible war with Iran while throwing up more smoke screens to befuddle us all into believing their tired conservative dogma.
If indeed the media is liberal, then they’ve done a dismal job of questioning the Bush administration on numerous issues ranging from the willful ignoring of intelligence leading up to 9/11, to the lies that led us into Iraq. Climate change? This administration is in a state of denial concerning the environment. The list just goes on and on.
I find it more than disturbing when we allow George Bush to ask for billions of dollars to continue his misguided and disastrous foreign policy. Yet we allow this man to veto health insurance for our most needy children, then veto another bill which was to provide better health care for our veterans.
And this is the “man” who demands so much sacrifice on the part of our servicemen and women yet seems to hold what they have done in so little esteem by denying them the care and benefits they so much deserve. Where are the flag-waving conservative voices expressing their indignation about these matters? Where is the moral outrage? It’s strangely missing.
Several months ago I had some business to attend to in North Syracuse and on the way home while stopped at a red light, an elderly “gentleman” pulled up in his car on my right, rolled down his window and loudly harangued me about my being unpatriotic, and that I should do some sundry uncomfortable things concerning my body parts. He ended this rather bellicose display by suggesting that I leave this country. The reason behind his anger was because of the “Impeach Bush” sticker on my car! Guess he didn’t see my “Vietnam Veteran” sticker.
Has your child recently been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety or as being bipolar? Has school personnel suggested that your child be evaluated for one of these “disorders”? What do these labels really mean? If you are like most parents, you have been misled, misinformed or simply not given enough information to make an informed decision regarding your child’s treatment.
I have to write to share with you my unhappiness with the “All or Nun” title of Ed Griffin-Nolan’s April 2 Syracuse New Times cover story. Although our schools are changing, as is mostly everything in our community, the families who attend Catholic schools and the administrators who serve in them do not feel our schools are in crisis. I also have received a number of calls from sisters in religious communities who were not happy with the headline’s play on words.
When Ed interviewed Mike Colabufo, superintendent of schools, he thought it was a retrospective piece (which in essence it is), but the cover certainly sets a judgmental tone. No one in the article used the word crisis; they all acknowledged change. The diocese and parishioners are trying to make them viable but we are also being realistic that the days of yesterday—a school for every parish—is no longer a reality for many reasons.
There are also many inaccuracies but frankly most of them are stated from our own Church reps so that is not the fault of Ed. For instance, St. Anthony of Padua, of which I am a member of the alumni, did not close because the diocese would not support it. The fact is that the diocese had been supporting it for years. Enrollment was very low, many if not most were unable to pay tuition. Also, the school building has not been owned by St. Anthony’s for 10 years. It is the property of the Syracuse City School District.
I think you know how much I appreciate The New Times but I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you my unhappiness with the subjective headline.
Assistant Chancellor/Director of Communications
For the Diocese of Syracuse
April 4 marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Although often harshly criticized for his nonviolent resistance to racism, economic injustice and war during his life, Dr. King is now rightly lifted up as a national hero. I wonder what Dr. King would have done when April 15, the deadline for filing income taxes, came around.
After all, he was a strong advocate of the power of the individual conscience, and of siding with conscience over law when that was necessary. Would Dr. King have joined me in saying that the Iraq War is so wrong, that our nation’s spending priorities are so skewed that individual citizens should take the step of redirecting our tax money away from war and to meeting human needs?
I can’t know the answer to this question, but I can draw inspiration from Dr. King to reinforce my clarity that I must continue saying no to war. No, I won’t fight in wars, and no, I won’t pay for them.