Going to war with Syria would be wrong, legally and practically
Even if the U.S. Congress authorizes President Obama to attack Syria, the war would be a violation of the U.N. Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, and thus, illegal. Launching yet another war without Security Council approval would recertify the U.S. government’s disrespect for the rule of law.
Because the U.S. government lied 10 years ago about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction as a justification for the second war on Iraq, the world is skeptical of any U.S. claims of chemical weapons violations in Syria. The United States has not come close to proving the [ Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime used chemical weapons. The burden of proof must be beyond any doubt whatsoever.
The United States has often used chemical weapons and even worse weapons since World War II. The United States used napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, laid down millions of land mines and cluster bombs in Laos, used depleted uranium munitions and white phosphorous in Iraq, and probably killed millions of people with fallout from hundreds of above ground nuclear weapons “tests” conducted between 1946 and 1963. The whole world is asking why is it OK for the United States to use weapons of mass destruction but not other nations.
Another reason to oppose a U.S. attack on Syria is because it could quickly spiral into a large regional or even a world war. Syria may strike back if attacked. Hezbollah, Israel, Iran, and Russia could soon be embroiled in the war that might quickly spread far beyond the eastern Mediterranean. What if Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, or Russia destroy U.S. warships?
President Obama acts like the only United States options are to bomb or do nothing. If the United States can prove to the world the Syrian government used chemical weapons, the United States and its allies should refer the matter to International Criminal Court.
If the United States is serious about helping the people of Syria, it could increase efforts to assist the millions of Syrian refugees, work strenuously for a cease-fire and a complete ban on weapons imports into Syria. The United States should also cease flooding the world and especially the Middle East with weapons.
Head Start service cuts should be a last resort
In the Sept. 6 Daily Gazette article I noted that Schenectady’s Head Start program is facing cutbacks.
Head Start programs are funded through federal grants provided to local organizations. These local groups are charged with administering the program. While some of these organizations are making reductions and attributing them to sequestration, I believe that local grantees are making arbitrary and discretionary decisions as to where cuts will occur. It appears that most reductions are for services, with very few, if any, cuts being non-service related.
In Albany County, for example, three Head Start program sites are being closed. Yet, the executive director of the Albany Community Action Partnership, the nonprofit that oversees Head Start, just applied for and received a 5 percent retroactive raise. She now makes almost $110,000 annually. How can this be?
If cutbacks are truly needed, areas such as reducing administrative salaries, consolidating program sites, and recruiting and using rent-free facilities should be the first things considered. Reducing and eliminating services should be the last alternative.
My efforts to obtain a written federal sequestration directive and cutback guidelines for Head Start have been unsuccessful. I have written to Rep. Paul Tonko, as well as Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to request their input, and this too has been in vain.
I close with this thought. If the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services, which provides funding for Head Start, is incapable of overseeing and advising local Head Start providers, how can it possibly oversee and account for the more than $870 billion of taxpayer monies it spends annually?
The writer is the minority leader of the Albany County Legislature.
Selective enforcement by DEC with ‘Ring of Fire’
In a recent story, I read how the American Bass Angler Tournament has been pulled from Sacandaga Lake due to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. For the sake of a few dollars in fees, the DEC has succeeded in the loss of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for local business.
Now the DEC is at it again. The traditional Labor Day (since 1988) “Ring of Fire” has been marred by their overzealous behavior [Sept. 4 Gazette]. Minutes before Sunset Bay Vacation Resort was to light its annual fire, along with numerous others around the lake, the DEC stepped in and stopped it. They gave no other reason other than to say no fire could be larger than three feet by four feet.
When the manager pressed for answers, he was informed that if he lit the fire, there would be a $500 fine and him being led away in handcuffs. We all thought the tradition was over. Then we realized that every other fire along the lake was allowed to continue on as usual. Many of them, much larger than Sunset Bay’s.
Selective enforcement? Numerous calls to the DEC, by residents looking for answers, remain unanswered. We simply would like to know why we were singled out, or is this the beginning of the end for yet another financially successful tourist attraction for the area?
Mr. Cuomo, is New York really open for business, or will your DEC manage to chase more money out of the area?
John E. Gamache
Blame lawmakers for excessive pensions
Regarding your Sept. 1 [“Uniform officers retire to big raises”] piece that described the large pensions received by some Schenectady police and firefighters — with a tone that cast those individuals in a negative light as taking too much from the taxpayers — I have an important point to make.
While I am quite unhappy with the status of public pensions in New York state and throughout the country, you should assign the blame for these excessive pensions where it belongs — with the lawmakers who wrote the bills and made the rules.
Nowhere in your article did you indicate that any of these public employees had done anything outside of the rules set by our Legislatures.
Until we as voters start turning people from office for playing fast and loose with our money, we will continue to get the same behavior. The thinking is always too short term on both sides of the polling place.
Cost of school supplies unreasonable in Sch’dy
My daughter has three children in elementary school in Schenectady. She received a list from each teacher for items to be brought in.
Combined she needed to provide five boxes of pencils, six erasers, 14 glue sticks, 15 two-pocket folders, seven boxes of tissues, four rolls of paper towel. I could go on, but you get the picture. She spent over $100 for these items.
Considering the amount of school taxes we pay in Schenectady, this is outrageous. For some families, they would have to choose between food for the week or school supplies.
Shame on you, Schenectady city schools!
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