Israel responsible for violence in Gaza
It is sad but hardly surprising to see President Obama, Sen. Charles Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo defending the latest Israeli rampage in Palestine by asserting that Israel has the right to defend itself (with U.S.-supplied weapons) without also saying Palestinians have the same right.
What does "the only democracy in the Middle East" offer the Palestinians? Apartheid in Israel. Eviction from Jerusalem. Martial law, Jews-only colonies and targeted assassinations in the West Bank. Siege, malnutrition and periodic massacres in Gaza. Permanent exile for millions of Palestinian refugees. Demonization of Hamas as a "terrorist organization" despite Israel being far more violent.
Increasingly hateful speech and actions by civilian Israeli Jews. Contempt for international law and world public opinion. A refusal to allow Palestinians to select their own leaders. Never-ending theft of Palestinian property. Wave after wave of ethnic cleansing.
What does the United States offer Palestinians? Occasional faint hope followed by "unshakable support" for Israel, no matter how vicious Israeli policies are. Billions of dollars a year in weapons gifts to Israel. Vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions that would sanction Israel.
How can any one expect all the Palestinians to remain non-violent when Israel constantly provokes them? The rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is partly a result of the United States and Israel offering the Palestinians no hope.
Twenty years of on-again-off-again "Peace Process" negotiations have achieved no permanent concessions from Israel. Palestinians have recognized Israel as a nation, relinquished their claim to 78 percent of Palestine, and hinted they are flexible on refugees.
If there is one thing the Palestinians have learned since the rebirth of Israel 66 years ago, it is that it is impossible to reason with Israeli leaders who are adamant about continuing to enlarge their nation on Palestinian land.
Police, others help in catching vandals
I would like to thank the Schenectady Police Department for their quick action in arresting two minors and one adult who went on a vandalism spree, spray-painting multiple garages on Center Alley, on July 16.
Having just completed a 12-hour day of painting my garage, it was most satisfying to see them under arrest. I would also like to thank my neighbors, Nate Getz and George Ferro, for keeping them under surveillance by car and bicycle until the police arrived, and to the other neighbors who took time out of their evenings to go to the Police Department to file complaints and give witness statements for the vandals' "victimless" crime.
It gives me hope that decent Schenectadians can "take back the streets" and criminals can be prosecuted for something short of murder. Now I am waiting to see how well the court system and the judges do their jobs.
Social Security fund observation right on
Congratulations on Mr. Raymond Franklin's July 16 letter ["Stop raids on Social Security trust fund"] regarding the government's handling of the Social Security Trust Fund.
The last time I read a letter of this kind in The Daily Gazette, it led to responses from uninformed readers who implied that the "trust fund" was an actual account of funds held by the U.S. Treasury that could be used in time of need by the Social Security Administration.
As Mr. Franklin points out, there are no funds in the trust fund. All that is there are IOUs issued by the U.S. Treasury. The funds have been spent by Congress, which, coincidently, also writes the legislation that enables such activity.
An examination of U.S. budget numbers over the years reveals that Social Security taxes usually exceed the actual Social Security expenditures for most years. The excess taxation is turned over to the Treasury, which issues an IOU (a special Treasury bond) to the trust fund.
Congress is then free to spend the excess taxation any way it chooses. Who would imagine that Congress has spent $3.87 trillion in this charade? What might happen if the Treasury's IOUs were really needed to pay Social Security obligations? Would the government borrow the funds or, perhaps, merely print what was needed?
It will be interesting to see what responses Mr. Franklin's letter generates.
Flood issues concern at site of new casino
The July 12 article, "Casino vision unveiled," featured images of the Galesi Group's proposed Mohawk Marina near the river off Erie Boulevard.
The rendering depicts a complex that would be built up above flood levels and that does not take into account the excellent April 20 Gazette article by Union College professor of geology John Garver. The article deserves a full reading.
These are some of his comments: "Development on the flood plain hinders the flow and movement of flood water and the availability of the flood plain during high water events. If the flood plain is occupied, covered and built up, it means that all that water needs to go elsewhere.
The water will get backed up and upriver areas will see higher levels in flood events. This would then have an impact on the Stockade, a historic and charming section of Schenectady that is already dealing with chronic flooding issues."
Professor Garver does not preclude development at this site. He continues: "In moving this project forward, let's move the development (the structures) back, away from the banks of the river." He suggests "an intervening riverbank green space."
As a homeowner on one of the five streets off Front Street leading to the river, my concern is that the "vision " as now proposed puts the Stockade Historic District at increased risk of damages from periodic flooding.
The Army Corps of Engineers is investigating the proposed development and expects to complete its assessment this fall.
Jean B. Zegger
Ukraine plane crash belonged on Page 1
Given the events of the previous day, it's sad that The Daily Gazette chose to cover the front page of the July 18 edition to showcase opening day at the Saratoga flat track. I feel that a more appropriate placement would have been in the local or sports sections.
Albeit steeped in local tradition and horse racing history, in my opinion, it certainly does not trump the tragic loss of 298 innocent lives, allegedly at the hands of pro-Russian rebels who obviously have no regard for human life, nor do they care about the pain and anguish they've inflicted on the hundreds of loved ones who are left behind to mourn their losses.
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