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.
Common Council Member, First Ward
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
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.
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
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
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.
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