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Aw, Shucks!

To the Editor:

Thank you for naming me “Best Public Servant” in the Best of the Capital Region 2009 issue of Metroland [July 16].

Many other public servants could have received this recognition, so I am doubly appreciative that I was chosen for this honor. It makes one feel good that the time and effort put into making Albany a better city does not go unnoticed.

Dominick Calsolaro

Common Council Member, First Ward

Albany

To the Editor:

On behalf of Community Advocates for Safe Emissions (CASE), we would like to thank you for honoring us in Metroland’s Best of the Capital Region 2009 as the Best Community Advocates. We are very appreciative of the awareness you have raised concerning the toxic emissions of the Lafarge Cement Plant in Ravena, and their potential public health impacts on our communities. As you know, CASE is dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of our children, families and communities by considering the impact and risks posed by industrial pollution.

Although Lafarge boasts its compliance with all state and federal regulations, no regulations currently exist for dangerous emissions like mercury and hydrochloric acid, nor has a comprehensive study of the environmental and public health emissions ever been conducted. We support the new emission standards the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed for cement plants and are fully aware of the important role economics plays in such a situation. In fact, the EPA estimates these standards will provide benefits of $4.4 billion to $11 billion annually, thus far exceeding the costs to implement these standards.

We hope your readers will join us in supporting this critical proposal. For more information on Lafarge’s emissions and CASE’s activities, please visit case-ny.org.

Elyse Kunz

CASE

Ravena

Voice of Experience

To the Editor:

I would like to start by saying that I am not a fan of George Bush, nor am I a fan of war. As an O.E.F veteran of that spent a year in southern Afghanistan training local police, I would like to raise some objections to Ted Rall’s editorial [“Obama, Lost in the Fog,” Opinion, July 23].

We are in a situation created by President Reagan’s handling of the power vacuum and reconstruction efforts after the Russian withdrawal 30 years ago. American inaction then allowed for a brutal 10-year civil war, a refugee crisis and, eventually, a ruthless totalitarian regime. Afghanistan’s natural resources were plundered, its education system shut down and its people exploited.

Afghanistan is not Vietnam, and comparisons as such must stop. In Vietnam we fought a unified enemy with a common goal. Vietnam was seeking real independence after years of colonial rule. This is not the case in Afghanistan. It is the fourth poorest country in the world. Draw comparisons to nations like Somali and Haiti. The countryside is populated with armed bandits, private armies belonging to druglords, the henchmen of rich landowners, corrupt police and, yes, some actual Afghan anti-government forces. Basically men with guns.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has struck a deal with our government that only allows unmanned drones to cross the border and attack targets. The alternative of placing “live soldiers and pilots in harm’s way” is not only not a real option, and also at odds with deescalation. Pakistan is also party to its own unrest. For years members of Pakistan’s ISI have aided the Taliban. During the clash with India over Kashmir, thousands of Pashtuns were trained, then used as a proxy army. These are the same men that fight in areas like the Swat Valley. One needs only to look at the Mumbai Attack to realize that Pakistan has a real problem with militancy that has more regional implications.

I do agree with Rall when he says “colonialism is dead,” but what of tyranny, poverty, illiteracy, brutality, and inequity? When will they die? We inherited this situation, it is ugly, complicated and difficult. However, what we do with it is up to all of us. Goals need to be achieved in Afghanistan before any talk of troop withdrawal. I implore us all to concentrate on that conversation, otherwise thousands of lives will be lost in the chaos following our pull-out. That is something I cannot call “success.” Sorry Mr. Rall.

Ed McCormick

Albany

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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Letters, Metroland

419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210

e-mail: metroland@metroland.net

fax: 463-3726


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