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Letters to the Editor Policy

Dead Man Walking

It all started with a fleck of a heavy metal called uranium. Two chemists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann bombarded it with neutrons. Suddenly their instruments revealed a burst of energy far greater than could be explained by a chemical reaction. Later they realized that the impossible had happened, it was a nuclear reaction. The nucleus of an uranium atom had been split forming two smaller atoms and releasing energy magnitudes more than could be obtained by chemical means. In effect, it was the first atomic explosion, albeit on a microscopic scale. The year was 1939. It was the beginning.

Six years later, 1945, one B-29 dropped one bomb on one Japanese city, Hiroshima. That bomb released the explosive equivalent of 30 million pounds of TNT. A single B-29 in one sortie inflicted the devastation that previously would have required more than 4,550 full-loaded B-29s. No one knows how many were killed, the lethal effects of radiation extracts its deadly toll for decades after the initial blast. It was the end of the beginning.

Currently there are at least eight nations equipped with nuclear weapons: the United States, England, France, Russia, India, China, North Korea (a probable) and, despite her denial, Israel. In the mid-1950s Israel, in partnership with France began construction of a nuclear power plant. In 1964 that reactor became critical. It began producing electricity – and fissionable material for bombs. Current estimates are that Israel has between 100 to 200 nuclear warheads.

There is now a ninth nation about to join the A-bomb club, Iran, and she can't be stopped.

Iran learned from Iraq's experience in 1981 when Israel bombed her nascent nuclear facility. Her nuclear research and production centers are both secret and scattered. Additionally, these facilities are protected in deep tunnels and underground bunkers. For still more protection they are located just beyond the range of Israel jets. Disturbingly, there are reports that she already has A-bombs, twelve of them.

Iran may even have the missiles needed to put the bombs on target. Grigory Omelcchenko, former head of the antimafia committee in the Ukrainian parliament, claimed that twelve Soviet-era, cruise-type missiles were illegally exported from Russia between 1991 and 2001; six went to China and six were shipped to Iran.

Perhaps the best that can be hoped for between Israel and Iran is a Mexican standoff, a type of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war era. MAD was cold-war, white-knuckled brinkmanship, but it worked. Perhaps, only perhaps, it may work again.

But there is a wild card – President George W. Bush. He has not ruled out the intervention of the United States with tactical nuclear bombs. These bombs are so powerful and their attendant radiation so deadly that even admitting the feasibility of their preemptive – there's that word again – use is, in a strictly clinical use of the word, insane. But given the current climate of military adventurism, it is a possibility this has prompted Saudi Arabia to express clandestine interest in nuclear weaponry. Worse yet, both China and Russia are allied with Iran. Dropping an A-bomb(s) on this powder keg may trigger an even greater conflagration. One wonders: Is this the beginning of the end?

On death row there comes a time when every appeal has been exhausted, every hope gone, where only finality awaits. The condemned man knows that soon he will be led out of his cell on a walk from which there is no return. He passes other men awaiting the same fate. To them, he is a dead man walking.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Positive Thinking

I hope in the new year the writers that submit letters will write something positive besides lamenting about us “crybaby Christians,” as it was put in one letter. Well, why wouldn’t we cry when God, our maker is slowly being taken out of everything?

As for “Merry Christmas,” we have said it for years. Now, all of a sudden we are not supposed to?

It sure isn’t Santa Claus’, or Donald Duck’s birthday.

If it wasn’t for Christ’s birth, we wouldn’t be here to celebrate Christmas or have the choice to be with Him eternally.

And, why would the families that have lost loved ones in the war want to constantly see or read about soldiers that have been blown apart, captured and tortured, EID’s, RPG’s and numerous other topics? They are already having a hard time dealing with their loss.

My grandson has been in the Army 9 1/2 years. He spent one year in Iraq and received a Bronze Star for saving the lives of two Iraqi soldiers. He said he was no hero, he was just doing his job.

I have asked him his view on the war and his reply is no one made him go in the Army. He believes in defending his country. He’s just doing his job and if we pull our troops out it would be disastrous.

In February, he leaves for Afghanistan for 12-16 months.

I think before people judge, they should talk to the soldiers. I hate war also, but most of them (soldiers) feel like my grandson; they are doing what they believe in.

Positive letters lift your spirits and negative letters let you down. We have enough negativity in this world today.


JoAnn Shofkom

Susquehanna, PA

The Intelligence Is On One Side

Although I found Bob Scroggins' snide tone amusing, his attack on Evolution in the County Transcript of January 4 should not go unanswered.

It simply will not do to hide behind the notion of "free and open exchange of ideas" when protesting the exclusion of "Intelligent Design" from public school science classes. Would he, under this slogan, also insist on equal time for astrology in astronomy class? For alchemy in chemistry class? For magic in physics class? And should neuroscience make room for the presentation of phrenology?

The fact is, that ALL the physical evidence is on the side of Evolution. The newer science of genetics adds even more weight to the notion that the forms of life evolved over time, rather than being brought into existence, fully constituted, with the wave of a magic wand and the sprinkling of fairy dust. Scroggins seems wholly unfamiliar with science or he would not have characterized the case for Evolution being based primarily on faith.

If "Intelligent Design" really wants to be taken seriously as a scientific theory, it has to present some tangible evidence, and publish in peer-reviewed journals with rigorous scientific criteria. Until then, it will remain what the judge in the Dover case (a GW Bush appointee, by the way) deemed it to be: an inane cover for a religious agenda.

I am not opposed to the free and open exchange of ideas, but inasmuch as ID is not science, it does not belong in science class. I have too much respect for the scientific method, and dismay at the level of scientific illiteracy in America, to welcome it there. I would, however, support discussing it as a political controversy in government class, and am unafraid of the consequences there.

I must conclude by reiterating that the notion of separation of church and state is NOT "a recent fabrication" as Scroggins asserted. It can most definitely be inferred from the Non-Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A cursory study of American history (from other than slanted religious sources) makes it clear that such separation was intended by the Founders. Our very first Treaty, the Treaty of Tripoli negotiated during the Washington Administration, states that "The government of the United States is in no sense based on the Christian religion". Separation was declared by the Court in 1879, and ratified more frequently in the last 58 years as the diversity of America became better recognized. Those Christians who demand government favoritism for their faith have responded with a concerted campaign of denial that doesn't square with reality, and they show a lack of faith in their religion to survive in a free and open environment, without the heavy hand of government telling us what to believe.


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

The Support Was Tremendous

The Kiwanis Club of Montrose Area would like to thank you for your assistance to our club by publishing information pertaining to our annual Christmas Toy Drive in the Susquehanna County Transcript. As a result of the public response, the 2005 Toy Drive was a huge success.

The Kiwanis Club of Montrose Area is a member club of a worldwide service organization, Kiwanis International. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.

What better way to meet our mission than to participate in the annual Christmas Toy Drive to benefit the needy children throughout Susquehanna County! Thanks to the donations of many people, churches and organizations, we were able to make this Christmas a day filled with joy by providing at least three to five new and used toys per child.

The 2005 Toy Drive marks the 26th consecutive year that the Kiwanis Club has been involved in this important and worthwhile community service project. This year 430 families received food baskets and toys. A total of over 2600 toys (new and used) were given as Christmas gifts to 600 needy children.

This year’s toy distribution was coordinated by the Susquehanna County Christmas Bureau, a support outreach program of Interfaith Friends, located on Public Avenue in Montrose. The toys and food baskets were distributed on Thursday, December 15, at the Montrose Bible Conference on Lake Avenue in Montrose.

Thanks again for helping us share the spirit of the Christmas season. To see the smiles on the faces of the children who received the toys is the greatest gift any of us can imagine.


Ed DeWitt, Chairman

2005 Kiwanis Christmas Toy Drive

No Respect For Life

On January 22, we will observe the anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision in “Rove vs. Wade” that made abortion (the killing of babies in the womb) the law of the land.

Since that day, America has ceased to become the greatest nation on Earth but has become instead a culture of death, exploiting its own citizens through abortion and euthanasia, for any reason under the sun. With no respect for life left, should we be surprised that other rights guaranteed by our Constitution are continually being usurped also? The saying, “There are none so blind as those who will not see” is very apropos in our country today.

How long will it take Americans to wake up and realize the real disastrous effect that abortion is causing in our society? China, which has had mandatory abortion of female babies for many, many years is now “reaping the whirlwind” with a shortage of women in all the phases of life where women are needed, most especially perpetuating the human race.

We must all remember that we were once “fetuses” in our mothers’ wombs, made in the image and likeness of God with an eternal soul from the first moment of our conception. I urgently appeal to all mothers who are considering aborting their babies to truly consider what this means – pain, the death of a child, and a lifetime of guilt and regret.


Ann Pelicci

Susquehanna, PA

Starrucca Borough Hijacked

The annual organizational meeting of the Starrucca Borough Council opened with an interesting, although somewhat alarming session on Tuesday night, January 3. The first order of business was to swear in the new Council members. Mayor Andy Bennett administered the oath of office to Mr. Kirk Rhone, Mr. Fred Rhone (Kirk’s brother), Mr. Robert Buck (Kirk’s brother in law), Mr. Donald Haynes (son of current councilwoman Helen Haynes) and Mr. Andy Polonis. This arrangement provides the Starrucca Borough with a Council where five of the seven members are somehow related to one another.

Given this, the new Council proceeded to execute an agenda of undermining most of the work accomplished by the previous Council. Their agenda appeared on at least three sets of hand written notes that Mr. Kirk Rhone, Mr. Fred Rhone, and Mr. Robert Buck brought with them into the meeting. This was noted and questioned by a member of the media who happened to be covering the meeting. This sort of behavior calls into question as to whether or not the new Council is acting in accordance with the provisions of the Sunshine Act, in which all public business should be conducted in a meeting open to the public.

The new agenda opened with Mr. Fred Rhone making a motion to eliminate all pay and compensation to the Council members, and to reduce the amount paid to the auditors to only $50. It was argued that this measure was needed in order to save the Borough money (even though the Borough ended the previous year with a budget surplus). Then Mr. Kirk Rhone proposed to increase the local tax by an amount equal to the amount of money paid to the Thompson Hose Company for Fire Relief. His argument was that more money is needed by the fire department for their services. The problem with this argument was that the Borough was still going to pay the same amount to Thompson Hose, with the extra money generated by the tax increase just being added to the present surplus in the General Fund. Finally the Mayor, Mr. Andy Bennett, interjected into the debate and pointed out the poor logic of the argument, prompting the motion to be withdrawn.

As the meeting continued to unfold it became clear of what Mr. Kirk Rhone’s desire was with his effort to bolster the amount of money in the General Fund. He proposed to submit a Community Development Block Grant to the Wayne County Commissioners seeking funds for refurbishment of the Buck’s Falls Bridge. Since the Commissioners are more likely to approve requests where the local community can provide matching funds “in kind”, Mr. Rhone’s desire to increase the budget surplus became apparent. Although, both Mr. Kirk Rhone and Mr. Robert Buck are the primary land owners who would benefit from any work done to this bridge, they apparently see no issues with conflict of interest or any other ethical matters related to this proposal. This type of behavior by elected officials should be a cause for concern with the citizens of Starrucca.

Last year Mr. Kirk Rhone submitted a CDBG to the Wayne County Commissioners for the same project but it was rejected when County records indicated that the bridge was a County bridge. And since it is a County bridge there is no obligation for the Starrucca Borough tax payers to foot the bill for bridge repair. In the past this bridge has appeared on the State budget for replacement at a cost of about $800,000. It was subsequently dropped from the budget because the bridge serves a dead-end, dirt road and precludes justification for the costs. It is likely that the County Commissioners were approached to repair the bridge, but even they cannot justify the cost to the county voters, given the dozen or so useful County bridges in need of repair. As a last resort, Mr. Rhone and his family have hijacked the Starrucca Borough Council in an effort to push the Buck Bridge repairs onto the shoulders of the Borough residents. This is an unacceptable prospect for the citizens of Starrucca to bear. Your presence at the February meeting is needed in order to demonstrate your support for, or against the additional tax burden that may be required to fund a project of this nature.


Robert L. Weldy

Starrucca, PA

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