Secretary of State Powell recently went to Darfur in Sudan and saw the genocide going on there. Then he told the world that it was terrible, but not really genocide. Why the waffling? Because in 1948 the United States and 130 other countries signed a treaty that obligates us to prevent or stop genocide wherever it may happen.
This is no time to turn our backs on our brothers and sisters in Darfur. Violent armed militia on horseback have chased over a million people from their homes, leaving them in refugee camps that they have cut off from aid workers. Over 1,000 people a day are dying, and as starvation and disease take hold, that number will only go up.
President Bush needs to make sure that we live up to our moral and legal duties and to stop the genocide in Darfur, even if that means supporting an armed international force to get the aid through. Anything less would be a tragedy.
Howard Eagle, River Ferry Way, Rochester
The title of Jennifer Weiss's June 9 piece, "Democracy... Later," is an all-too-telling comment on WXXI's reluctance to carry Democracy Now!, the outstanding, daily, one-hour, in-depth news-interview program hosted by award-winning journalist Amy Goodman. I fully concur with previous letters calling WXXI to task for not bring DN! to our local airwaves.
I speak from the personal experience of regularly hearing DN! on WEOS Geneva from my residence on a farm high on a hill near Naples.
For many in Rochester not familiar with the program, I recommend driving toward Geneva with your radio tuned to WEOS (FM 89.7) between 9 and 10 a.m. any weekday. Once you pick up DN!, pull over, have a cup of coffee, and listen --- and if so moved (as I wager you will be), contact WXXI on return and insist that they start carrying Democracy Now! now --- not later!
Bill Barker, Naples
Late one night recently, I flipped on the cable and found a scary movie: Conspiracy (2001), with Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci. Based on a real-life meeting, it portrays leaders of the Nazi party developing the plan for the mass extermination of the Jews and others.
The movie was horrible in that it showed the brutal indifference of a government killing its own citizens. But in one scene, the Nazis debate marriage: who could get married and who could live --- even children, depending on various marriage rules.
I am for gay-marriage rights, but being a heterosexual living in the blue-collar town of Gates, it was never a big, emotional issue for me. Seeing that movie moved me to write.
All those who support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage --- especially small-government conservatives --- should see this movie.
Rocco Mastrangioli, Gates
Jennifer Weiss's story ("Give and Take," June 30) about the "razor-thin" line that the library budget and staff are on is frightening. In a city that prides itself with appreciation of culture, why should we have budget cuts and staff layoffs?
The National Endowment for the Arts just published the results of a survey (Reading at Risk: a Survey of Literary Reading in America) that states that reading has dropped by up to 28 percent in the youngest age group, with an overall loss of 20,000,000 potential readers.
The survey points out a fascinating correlation between readers and activities in other areas. "Literary readers," says the report, "are much more likely to be involved in cultural, sports, and volunteer activities than are non-readers."
Even if Rochester wants to be self-serving about making sure we are a community of readers, no one loses if we maintain book budgets and staff levels.
Peggy Fleming, Chili Avenue, Scottsville
Now that the Intelligence Committee report is out, the usual sniping and blame-gaming has ensued. Let's all try to keep the report in proper perspective.
Given the 9/11 horror and a worldwide intelligence failure, America and her allies invaded Iraq in self-defense. Because of an eviscerated post-Cold War CIA and the resulting absence of on-the-ground human intelligence, both Congress ---including the bipartisan Intelligence Committee --- and the Bush administration were reasonably convinced of Iraq's WMD threat to our security. Thus the entire government may properly share the blame for this intelligence failure.
There is not a shred of credible evidence to suggest that the president or Congress deliberately manufactured a case for war --- and who in their right mind could have bought into that fantasy, anyway? But many on the far Left will continue to blame the president and his administration for the intelligence failure and for waging an unjust war. Why? Political expediency. For too many on the Leftist fringe of the Democratic Party, ejecting President Bush from the White House takes precedence over common sense, decency, objectivity, fair play and, sadly, integrity itself.
Finally --- and we've heard this important question many times now --- isn't the world better off without Saddam? Of course it is.
And has our war in Iraq increased the terrorist threat in the world, as some on the Left have claimed? That pronouncement makes for a nice sound bite, but the statement is both spectacularly specious and wholly inane. In truth, although terrorism remains a clear and present danger to us all, it has been severely weakened. Why? Because America has taken the war to them, right in the heart of "madrasahland." And enormous changes for the better are already beginning to take shape.
So buck up, America. Patiently, relentlessly, and with unshakeable resolve, let's continue to successfully prosecute this war on terrorism in its spawning grounds and wherever else terrorists may be hiding and plotting against us and our allies. Never let them rest.
Jim Delaney, Images Way, Greece
Everyday it's something new --- as if the old stuff weren't bad enough. It started with the questionable validity of the 2000 Florida election and continued with lies about weapons of mass destruction. The Patriot Act was opportunistic legislation coasting into law on fear of terrorist attacks. And Bush's desire to have an anti-gay marriage amendment is nothing but pure hate.
Now two news stories are circulating that should pretty much seal the lid on the 2004 election. First, the Department of Homeland Security has been consulting with the Department of Justice to figure out how to legally postpone the election if terrorists strike on or before election day. If this administration gets the power to postpone the election, our democracy will cease to exist --- if only momentarily.
The Bush administration is flip-flopping. Bush himself has reminded the American people not to let the fear of terrorism change our lives. If we give in to fear, he says, the terrorists win. Now his administration wants to give into fear for political gain.
If there is a terrorist attack on or shortly before the November election, Bush's premise that the world is a safer place crumbles, and there would be no way he could win. Instead of making contingency plans to postpone the election, the Bush administration should round up the resources that would allow the election to go on as scheduled.
The second news story circulating is a proposed change in logging rule. Bush is not a friend to our environment, though he claims to be. Bush wants to lift the ban on logging in remote areas of national forests. If you looked at his environmental record, you would think he set out to destroy this country.
Where is the outrage? How can polls show a close race between Kerry and Bush? How can 48 percent of the population approve of his job performance? Do 48 percent of Americans appreciate his lies and hatred?
In November, think about those trees that may fall prey to Bush's new logging rules. I say, let's be fair. If trees are going to be cut down, cut down the Bushes as well.
Thomas R. Janowski, Hazelhurst Drive, Gates
Several months ago, a Democrat and Chronicle article reported on the abandoned RG&E Beebee Power Station on the majestic cliffs of the GeneseeRiver gorge in the HighFalls area downtown.
I was amazed to learn about this hidden-in-plain-site giant and was fascinated by the enormous, cavern-like spaces. At the time, I thought there was an incredible opportunity to create something out of this obsolete space and not let another Rochester resource go unused and be torn down later. I thought there must be a group working on preserving and using this fantastic building complex in such an unusual setting.
Perhaps a multipurpose complex would fit the bill, with high-end retail shopping, four-star restaurants, and half-million-dollar condominiums, or maybe a luxury hotel with great views of our 96-foot-high waterfalls and beautiful fall foliage.
Then I thought the old power station could become home to a totally new concept, "The Kodak Museum and International Film Institute of Rochester."
What if those cavernous spaces were turned into Hollywood-size sound stages for motion-picture productions crafted with Kodak's state-of-the-art technology? Film and video producers and cinematographers would be drawn here from all over the world to teach their craft and give seminars. It could eclipse every other film school and studio space in the country.
On July 5, all those ideas came back to me after reading about the difficulties of some businesses in the HighFalls area.
Now there is talk of putting a gambling casino in the old Sibley's Building downtown. But why not use the Beebee Power Station site as the New High Falls Casino and Hotel District?
The new ferry crossing to and from Toronto brings new energy to link all the pieces and solve problems for the casino, the HighFalls, and Rochester.
If the Beebee facility were in Toronto, architects and designers would have had a plan to use it for some fantastic purpose the day RG&E shut the door.
I hope that in Rochester, we will take full advantage of its unique factors.
Richard C. Adams, ArnoldPark, Rochester
Earlier this month, the Blue Angels terrorized Rochester. These supersonic planes were virtually buzzing the rooftops of city homes, setting off alarms, shaking windows, and scaring the heck out of people. It really made me angry to have been subjected to this "attack."
I alienated one of my new neighbors when I arrived at my apartment and he was on his porch. He enthusiastically said to me, "Hey! Did you see the planes?" Since one just seared our neighborhood seconds before, I would have to be dead to have not noticed.
I just shook my head and said, "Don't those guys have women and children in Iraq to bomb?" Yes, it was harsh, but I was angry.
A little while later, while I was walking to an appointment near City Hall, more planes flew by. I could feel my fists clench each time a plane shook the ground. Then it hit me. This is nothing compared to what innocent people in Iraq have been dealing with for more than 10 years. But their terror has been longer, with actual bombs being dropped. (The military under Clinton continued bombing runs through out his administration.)
At that point, my anger did not subside, but it was redirected. It is too bad this country does not have a political party that does not believe in killing as foreign policy. Oh, wait: it does. The Greens.
Dave Atias, Rowley Street, Rochester (Atias is a Green Party candidate for the Rochester School Board.)
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