News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 15, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Sept. 15, 2013


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Now it’s time for Ritz to resign

I applaud the Tribune-Star for its coverage of the story of Tony Bennett’s vindication of any illegal actions in his position as the state superintendent of public instruction for the state of Indiana.

I am now waiting to see how the current superintendent, Glenda Ritz, explains why her office was engaged in a political and career assassination of Mr. Bennett. It appears that her office coached the Associated Press to request certain emails and such emails were given to the AP. These emails were taken out of context and meant to have a detrimental effect on the grading system of schools and also devastate the credibility and integrity of Mr. Bennett. This caused Mr. Bennett to resign his position in Florida and take up the process of clearing his good name.

The bipartisan investigation has cleared his name, but it has raised the question about the credibility of Glenda Ritz and her staff. I think if she has any class at all, she will publicly apologize to Mr. Bennett and then resign her position.

This was an outright attempt to negate all he has done to improve the education system in Indiana. If she had been able to do this, she would have increased her prestige and power. This attempt, however, has backfired and she has lost all credibility with the people of Indiana. She should resign immediately.

— Don Phillips

West Terre Haute

Dialing in for honesty

On Sept. 5, I spent some time in the children’s section at the main library in Terre Haute. We stopped for a restroom break before heading home for lunch.

In my hurry, I had set my iPhone down to help with hand-washing and walked out without it. We arrived home, fixed lunch and then realized I did not have my phone.

I went into full panic mode. I hurried back to the library, checked the bathroom and, of course, no phone. I went upstairs to ask if one had been turned in, but not getting my hopes up (and beating myself up mentally for being so careless).

But, to my great surprise, it had been turned in. What a huge relief. No name was given of the honest person, so there’s no way to personally thank her. You have restored my faith in people wanting and doing the right thing.

Thank you so very much for your act of kindness, and I truly believe that you reap what you sow, so I know you will be blessed with many good things.

— Debbi Guenzel

Terre Haute

Have we not learned from past actions in Mideast?

The 1925 Geneva Protocol forbids the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.  

In 1972, several nations in the Mideast banned offensive biological weapons development and possession. Furthermore, in 1993, chemical weapons development and possession were also prohibited by international law.   

Although many in the U.S. news media reported that no WMD were discovered in Iraq during Desert Shield—Desert Storm, i.e., the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, the complete truth revealed that there were no “nuclear” WMD discovered. However, Saddam Hussein did in fact test both chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

These tests were conducted on two separate villages in Iraq; one village reported over 5,000 innocent men, women and children were killed by biological agents, and in 1988 the application of chemical weapons destroyed a Kurdish village of approximately 5,000 villagers in northern Iraq. It is important to note that there are three separate types of weapons of mass destruction, e.g., chemical, biological and radiological or nuclear categories. These WMD stockpiles appear to have been destroyed prior to the 2003 invasion.

The current crisis in Syria involves four major forces; the Syrian Army, elements of Hezbollah, other Islamic jihadist splinter groups and the Free Syrian Army (Freedom Fighters). Each of these groups is vying for power and control of Syria. Keep in mind that the Syrian government has an extensive program producing a variety of agents. These include nerve agents such as sarin and VX, and blistering agents; these munitions may be delivered by short-range rockets, SCUD missiles, artillery and mortars.

Moreover, the Syrian Army has access to some of the most modern Russian built jet aircraft, tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers to include both Russian and Chinese rockets, missiles and surface to air anti-aircraft suppression systems. Should the U.S. launch rocket and missile attacks on Syrian stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, what will the “unintended consequences” be on the innocent civilian population in Syria?

Once these chemical and biological weapons are released into the atmosphere, these poisonous mixtures will be spread based on wind currents, temperature and humidity variances throughout the Syrian countryside, killing millions of innocent civilians.

U.S. intelligence organizations fully understand that the Syrian Army possesses overwhelming power and capacity to successfully defend itself. Since President Obama and both houses of Congress are now caught up in an extended chess match to determine which course or courses of action to pursue, these delays have presented Bashar al-Assad with more than ample time to prepare his forces for any possible contingency. We know that he continues to relocate and protect his units, equipment and stockpiles of supplies and munitions to shift the balance of power for any plausible combat contingency.

Of course, I am certain that he and his senior military leaders are affixed to CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, NBC and PBS on a daily basis.

In view of our past history in fighting these wars of attrition in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would appear that we have not learned much from these vivid experiences. Furthermore, I cannot understand why our president and Congress feel that this obvious United Nations mission falls solely on America’s shoulders.

I would also ask, where are the other Arab nations in coming to the aid of the Syrian people? There are over 16 Arabic-speaking nations of Muslim and Christian faiths in the Middle East; where is their “moral outrage” and where are their voices in these matters? It seems that the world remains silent on the crisis in Syria.  

For those U.S. policymakers who support neutralizing the alleged abhorrent behavior of President al-Assad, I am certain that the American military establishment can locate sufficient helmets, flak-jackets, protective masks and uniforms to accommodate those courageous politicians as they actively participate in the resolution of the current crisis in Syria.

— William Hanna

Terre Haute

Don’t be fooled by e-cigarettes

Mark Bennett recently wrote about the metaphorical time warp in which Hoosiers are living based on their per capita income and standard of living. His article dated Sept. 5 pointed out that Hoosiers in general have fallen behind with regard to economic prosperity and the pursuit of the American Dream.  

The article noted that, while there is no quick fix to what ails us, our community can begin laying the groundwork for a more promising future by investing heavily in early education and promoting the general health and well-being of our citizenry.

Terre Haute and Vigo County have taken courageous and progressive steps in recent years to do just that, particularly with regard to ensuring the availability of smoke-free air for the general populace and limiting the availability of tobacco in all forms to children and youth.  

The fact that Hoosiers have a higher adult smoking rate than the national average and a significantly higher-than-average rate of use among pregnant women undoubtedly contributes to some of the problems we face. Tobacco use in general is known to cause serious health issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer to the onset and trigger of asthma symptoms. These and other tobacco-related illnesses lower life expectancy, decrease quality of life, and cost Hoosiers more than $2 billion each year in medical expenses alone.

Now, tobacco companies have begun marketing alternative, equally harmful products such as e-cigarettes to Hoosiers in the hopes that they will accept this “Trojan Horse.” An article in the Sept. 5 edition of the Washington Post notes that middle and high school students are falling prey to such marketing at an alarming rate. While e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, they still introduce harmful chemicals and addictive nicotine, and they are associated with a greater likelihood to smoke conventional cigarettes.

I encourage our local leaders and everyone who wants to improve the quality of life in Terre Haute and Vigo County to remain steadfast in their commitment to keeping tobacco and alternative products like e-cigarettes out of the hands of our youth. It is the effort we make now to educate and equip our kids for living healthy lives that will pay dividends to us all in the long run.  

— Libby Ray, coordinator

Vigo County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation

Chances And Services for Youth

Pleading with Peabody Coal

Not far from the great arch that sits just across the mighty Mississippi River is a gleaming high rise building made of steel and glass. The glass is darkened so you can’t see in; it is as black as the coal that paid for it.

Just below that building is a small park where there is a struggle going on between right and wrong. This fight goes back as far as biblical times. You see, Moses was the first organizer of labor. When he saw the atrocities that were being committed against his people, he took his case right to the great pharaoh, you might say the CEO of Egypt. The people that worked for the pharaoh received very little in wages — a little grain, poor housing and the bad end of a whip.

Pharaoh didn’t give his workers health care or pensions but he never promised that they would have either one. Fast forward over 2,000 years and here we are having the same fight as back then but the coal miners are dealing with CEOs worse than Pharaoh. We have to plead our case in a federal court that is so biased against workers rights it’s ridiculous.

Peabody promised health care and pensions and they lied, they think it’s all right to ignore their responsibility. Well, it’s not. I can’t muster up any plagues. If I could, I would. All I can do is protest and hope that our do-nothing Congress hears our pleas.

I worked 24 years to have the best insurance you can have — just as good as the CEOs have. Peabody is the richest coal company in the world, hauling in $2.5 billion in profits in the last five years. I’m asking the Pharaohs of Peabody to look down on 5,000 human beings in that park and actually see people that you promised, then look in the mirror. Do the right thing.

— John A. Lynch

Terre Haute

Stand against gay marriage

I just recently was published in your paper in the Opinion section concerning an article on gays and God’s words, as it is an abomination in His eyes.

Right now, my home state of Illinois is getting ready in the House to vote pro or con on gay marriage within the state.

Please, Illinois, consider the consequences of passing this law. First, you’re breaking God’s law as well as opening up a hornet’s nest of legal battles that Illinois can ill afford. Second, is the divorce rate among gays, child support, child custody, alimony, schooling, housing issues, unemployment costs, insurance problems, etc. Vote “no” on this issue once and for all time. It’s common sense for God’s law as well as what’s best for mankind in general.

Let the gay community go elsewhere for marriage as well as honoring those gays that move to Illinois hoping the state will honor their ill-fated unions.

Just because they are gay does not or should not give them special consideration within our state of Illinois. Vote “no” and stand up for what you know in your heart and soul is right. Let them go elsewhere for their sinful unions and headaches. And I still love and will pray for you daily.

— Bill Bruce

Paris, Ill.

Paying the bill for health care

Item 1: In the Sept. 1 issue of this newspaper, Indiana’s AFL-CIO chief demands that Indiana expand health care to 400,000 low-income workers paid for by the Affordable Care Act.

Read that: “taxpayers.”

Item 2. I don’t understand all of the uproar over Obamacare.

Just recently, Joe Biden stated that we are just a step away from a single-payer plan.

That is what Obama said the really wanted when he first ran for office, so don’t worry about it. Our problems will soon be over.

Item 3. A few fast-food workers went on strike, demanding higher wages, with some signs demanding $15/hour pay.

Fine, but are you willing to pay $12 for a Whopper in order to bring this about?

Perhaps the time has come for Congress to enact the Whopper Affordability Act.

— Mark Burns

Terre Haute