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Letters to the Editor Policy

What About The Third Party

I have written many letters to the editors before on similar issues, from saving the small farm to elevating dam levels for increasing the ground water table. And every time they seem to be directed toward the two political parties.

I address most of my opinions to the bigwigs in Washington, who make headlines or stir up controversy. I think it is time that all of you understand that every ounce of my thinking is aimed at helping us and our culture survive. Maybe culture is not the right word but, everyone of us who care need to get together on "Oil from above the ground."

I know many, many people who are third party and have practically given up hope on changing anything politically. Many who think a lot like I think, but never give up. I am proud to say that I know what the third party stands for. The green party and it is not a dirty word. I read issue after issue between the three parties and have to chuckle at the outcome.

I have a feeling the time is now to stop the chuckling. I think we as Americans better forget our petty bickering on this one. We need to address the issue, I know another issue, of growing our own renewable resources. Many of the dairy farms right here in our little corner of the northeast have the know-how to grow enough extra corn or soybeans or other grasses to not only produce milk but also ethanol to add to diesel fuel or gasoline, heating oil, also methane gas from the manure the animals leave behind. The ratio agriculture puts into the economy is seven times that of any other industry. Let's not lose another renewable asset, “our American farmers,” or any farmer around the world.

It seems to me that these words are not being heard by the editors; I mean did you ever see a letter to the editor make news?

I am sure that you read through the letters and print the ones you can, sort of a check and balance but in my twelve years of writing letters on different issues that caught my eye or made me mad only one editor was ever offended.

Headlines of all papers pick the biggest story to attract the attention of us, the thinkers.

The true big stories sometimes come from the smallest print on the back page of the smallest towns across America. Many things get hashed out in “letters to the editor” and get talked about sometimes but if oil is needed in America and around our world, damn (that’s French), it needs to be said, on the front page of every newspaper in the world.

We elect people who listen to us until after the election, then our words seem to fall on deaf ears. The editors listen to us everyday and we probably keep them awake some nights too.

I know one thing and that is we need to stand together no matter what party you support. We have to solve the big issue of being over the barrel "addicted to oil" and in need of some other form of oil, other than from small areas of our planet underground. The surface of our earth is enormous and can produce natural renewable resources from wind to water to corn; just about anything green will produce fuel from the carbon in it. It worked before and it will work again if the word could only get out.

I am not sure of how polluting a fighter jet is, or if an ethanol plant could produce its fuel, but at least the oil it will produce won't be blood red!

I do know why no one wants to make headlines about oil unless it has a red tinge to it. Flashy pictures of an oil well pumping oil deep from the ground sells papers. It is time to scream! I know that one picture speaks louder than words, but now is the time to let the words create the pictures.

Everyone knows someone! America needs new sources of oil. Let's grow some while we still can.

Editors; we need your help!


Peter A. Seman,

Thompson, PA

Blood On The Sand

March marked the end of the third year of war and occupation in saving Iraq from Iraq. When the U.S. first stormed into that nation in 1991 it was on the verge of developing into a first-class nation. Iraq was far-and-away the most advanced and westernized nation in the Middle East: public education was free and compulsory, higher education was open to all regardless of religion or sex (more women than men were enrolled), public services were dependable, and the economy was growing despite the eight-year war with Iran. Iraq was a stable and safe country with a secular president who was at odds with bin Laden and Islamic fundamentalism. Then we gave them a helping hand.

Now is a good time to look in the rear-view mirror and ask, What are our accomplishments? Many to be sure, but only ten are listed; five in Iraq and five at home. First, Iraq.

1) An estimated 38,000 civilians have been killed since March 2003. (In Afghanistan 3,485 civilians were killed.) The Lancet (England's equivalent to the Journal of the American Medical Association) estimated that between 1991 and 2004 there were 100,000 civilian deaths.

The number of Iraqi civilians who were war injured is unknown. But applying the ratio of the number of American troops killed to wounded – about 1:7 – to Iraqi dead, gives 266,000 wounded civilians. ( In Afghanistan it is estimated that 6,273 civilians were seriously injured.) The damage to infrastructure and private property is not precisely known but is in the range of tens of billions of dollars. And waves of violence continue to wash over the land.

2) Unemployment is somewhere between 50% and 70%, housing is in short supply, and services such as health care – if it exists – is overburdened and ill equipped; potable water – limited, trash pickup – poor, sewage disposal – spotty, education – erratic.

3) In Baghdad the average number of hours that houses have electricity is 5.2, and Baghdad is Iraq's showcase.

4) After two elections and a referendum on the its constitution, the Iraqi government is an elusive and ill-formed entity.

5) Iraqi security forces are composed of three separate Islamic sects: Shiite, Sunni, and Kurds (a mostly Sunni, but ethnically separate minority). Each torture and kill detainees of opposing sects tearing the nation into warring factions. The security forces have not contained violence, they have increased it pushing the nation ever closer to civil war. And if such a war were to develop, the security forces will form the militias in a three-way fratricidal war.

The occupation has had its effects at home.

1) The number of Americans KIA is 2,310. (Add to this 255 killed in Afghanistan.) A loss keenly felt by mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters that is too great to quantify.

2) Seventeen thousand have been wounded. (And in Afghanistan an additional 765 were wounded.) Of the total number of American military personnel who have served in Iraq – 690,000 – one-third were awarded disability compensation. This statistic includes amputees (one Marine lost three limbs), paraplegics, quadriplegics, the terribly disfigured, scarred, and blinded.

The seriously maimed servicemen are treated at facilities in the United States and in Europe sealed off from the public – sealed off because if the horrific nature of battle injuries were known, what's left of the public's support for the occupation – about 28% – would quickly vanish.

After this occupation is over and forgotten – as are Korea and Vietnam – for these men in their broken bodies the war will forever be a recent memory haunted with what ifs. And like the veterans of Korea and Vietnam long after this occupation has dropped down a memory hole and they are in their thirties, a question will echo in their minds: Was it worth it? Was it really worth it?

3) The final cost of the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is staggering. A Nobel Prize-winning economist who included the cost of future care for wounded soldiers estimated the total cost will be between $1 and $2 trillion. The true appreciation of this sum is best understood in terms of what might have been provided to the flood victims in New Orleans, to the nation in domestic services, and in tax cuts and jobs which would have revitalized the U.S. economy.

4) Recruitment is way down endangering the very existence of an all-volunteer army. Alongside of this is a plunging morale. A Zogby International poll reported that 75% of the troops in Iraqi are in favor of withdrawal, and 29% feel it should be immediate.

5) Ominous legislation such as the Patriot Act was enacted which ironically promises to protect what it has in measure taken away: freedom.

The fourth year promises yet more "accomplishments." The U.S. in Iraq has been reduced to a bystander. Cautious eyes peer out from the Green Zone, watching as the entire Middle East becomes inflamed. The Iraq election has moved that country closer to becoming joined at the hip with Iran. Syria is encamped with the extremists. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan are but a mass demonstration or two away from becoming fundamental Islamic states – and Pakistan has the bomb.

Marking this momentous anniversary, President Bush is on a nationwide, speech-making tour trying to convince the public – and himself – that we are all so much better off now that Hussein is gone. In these my-fellow-American speeches he will remind us that while we have done much in Iraq, there remains yet more to be accomplished.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Some Important Dates

Primary season is upon us and the League of Women Voters wishes to remind Susquehanna County voters about some important dates: March 27 - First day to apply for civilian absentee ballot; April 17 - Last day to register to vote and last day to change party enrollment; May 9 - Last day to apply for absentee ballot; May 12 - All absentee ballots to Board of Election by 5 p.m.; May 16 - Primary day.

The LWV wishes to announce our donation of a Campaign School video and manual to the Susquehanna County Library. This material will help someone new to the campaign trail organize; raise funds; adhere to the law and learn how to win!

We also wish to include all candidates in our Voters’ Guide and candidate’s debates, whether of a major or minor party. We request minor party candidates submit evidence of an organized campaign to our Voters’ Service Chair, Diane Beyea at 967-2687.

A person planning a write-in candidate may do the same. We are looking for a commitment such as campaign literature and appearances; a campaign committee and fundraising; and a sign of voter interest and support. The deadline is March 31. Thank you for your cooperation.


Susan Newhart, President

Diane Beyea, Voters’ Service Chair

Chris Davis Day

On March 22, 2003 Susquehanna Boro declared “Chris Davis Day” to honor her for all she contributes to our community.

Chris has always been the person to turn to, whatever the problem. When something needs to be done, she doesn’t just ask, “What can I do?”, she does it. Whether it be finding a home for a stray animal, organizing benefits, helping someone find an apartment, offering a shoulder to cry on, or a pat on the back when it is deserved, Chris has always been there, not just for her friends but for anyone.

In the last two weeks alone, Chris put everything aside to help out families facing the loss of a loved one by offering her sympathy, her support and organizing funeral dinners.

Chris will undoubtedly be annoyed with us for calling attention to her, because she never asks for anything in return, but those of us who are honored to be your friends want you to know how much we appreciate you, Chris.

Every day should be “Chris Davis Day.”


Her Friends

The Most Parking Lots

How many of your readers attended Oakland High School or Oakland Elementary School? More than one realizes, I would imagine. Voices must be heard to avoid what seems to be a forgone conclusion. While I will admit the school building holds sentimental value for me and many others, I disagree that it does not have historical value or, for that matter it does not have a value that makes it worth saving. How many are aware that the bricks constructing that building are handmade from this area? And, if one knew where to look, you would find signatures of some of those who created them. Two who come to mind are the late Howard Heller and George Snyder, Sr. How about the graduates of Oakland High School who continued on to academic excellence and outstanding careers? I wish we could boast that Dr. B.F. Skinner graced those hallowed halls! But many individuals did whose names invoke memories and appreciation for the teachings which helped to make us who we are today. Among them are Prof. Stuart C. Button, Mary Keyes, Michael Martin, Sandra Schell, Doris Watkins, Kathleen Reddon, Ina Keyes, Martha Carl and Bernice Burdick. One only has to close your eyes to tour the building that used to be. Sure, I realize it has deteriorated over the years, but can’t more emphasis be put on reconstruction rather than destruction? I implore the members of the Susquehanna County HRA to put as much time and effort into helping find grant funding for repairs and upgrading as they have offered to help obtain grant funding to cover the costs to tear the building down.

Why not look toward funding to open the school to entrepreneurial ventures for residents and non-residents? Perhaps a crafters haven? Quilters, potters, etc. could display and sell their wares and perhaps hold classes and pull tourists into the area. What about some soul who wants to list and sell items on EBay for people? Would it be possible to reopen the machine shop in the basement of the building and create badly needed jobs in this area? Another thought, what about an auction center? Red Rock Auctions was successful for many years. How about another center for the Literacy Program as well as meeting rooms for Boy and Girl Scouts? The building already has a dance studio as a tenant, why not encourage more? The rentals would help with upkeep and heating. Perhaps the streets leading to the building and the parking area are not ideal for commercial traffic but they are perfectly fine for students and customers alike. Residents of Oakland, please stop and think; if this building comes down and another is put in its place, what will the effect be on your taxes? Moreover, do you want a modernized building and garage in the midst of the older neighborhoods that define Oakland? Do you want more low-income housing units in this area?

A survey is a splendid idea but shouldn’t be limited to the destruction of the building and housing needs. Common sense tells you that more time is needed than the interim between council meetings to come to a decision of this magnitude. I would like to encourage the council not to be hasty, to look this situation over again, not with a resident’s eye or a councilperson’s eye, but with the eye of promise. I also challenge Oakland Borough residents to create and use the resources that they possess, for once this is gone, it’s gone, with what in its place? A new “tin” building? Hasn’t this area lost enough?

Lastly, think about the rescue of a building that is on the National Register of Historic Sites at the present, the Starrucca House, and those who pleaded for its preservation. Our claim to fame and an enticement for revenue is tourism, encompassing not just railroad history but all varieties. Let us continue in that vein rather than be noted for the section of Susquehanna County with the most parking lots.


Nancy (Glasgow) Narma

Oakland Twp., PA

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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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