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Celebrate firefighters, police, who risk their lives for us

I empathize with the couple who suddenly suffered damages as a result of a smoldering fire due to fireworks. I'm still recovering from an early December fire. I returned home from church to find firemen throwing my charred furnishings from a second-story window.

The suffering is more than the physical destruction to the structure, and thankfully no lives were lost. The first devastating impact occurs when you observe up close the effects of intense heat and smoke. Paint melts off the woodwork, the smoke is choking and greasy and permeates every crack. Emergency crews are called to turn off all power, board up windows and secure the burned building. Meanwhile you scramble for lodging when all you have are the clothes on your back.

All lifelong treasures have disappeared under rubble. In my case hand crafted furniture and hand-made rugs by my late German in-laws. My wedding rings were never found.

A fire is a trauma greatly overshadowed by the courage, stamina and experience of the firefighters who risk their souls to save you and your home. They should be lauded and admired. The most common causes of fire are candles, misuse of extension cords, poorly vented or lint-full dryers and now fireworks.

Most of what wasn't destroyed is in my barn waiting for me to pick through, restore or toss. I wish I shared the courage of the firefighters. This loss has exposed my weaknesses and paranoia. Yet I feel that a day to commemorate the valor and sacrifice of firefighters and police officers who assist would not be out of order. It's about time we put it on the calendar.

Janice Schlau

Williamsville

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Circus does not treat its animals very well

Another animal circus has come to Buffalo and as usual, local media trips all over itself in adoration.

Checking out this event in the University at Buffalo parking lot, I saw elephants tethered, swaying back and forth, as they do when under extreme stress.

I witnessed the magnificent tigers imprisoned in small cages. A house cat has more freedom than these wild animals.

I couldn't help but think about what these animals have gone through, taken from their mothers when very young and beaten into submission in order to perform tricks so antithetical to their true nature.

It's unfortunate local media fawns over the animal circus when it comes to town and doesn't report what really happens under the big top.

Maureen Schiener

Amherst

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Restaurants deserve an award for tiny taste

One of our favorite Buffalo events each year is the Taste of Buffalo. An opportunity to sample many food items that we would likely never have the chance to eat; certainly not all in one day. Ah, I remember the "old days" (just a few years ago folks) when most items were four tickets ($2) and a few "big ticket" items were six tickets ($3). Alas, all good things come to an end and of course prices only go up, but come on Laughlin's!

We had to try the Chef's award-winning hog wings. Eight tickets. I'm not sure I can stuff another generous portion of food so my son-in-law and I decided we'd share it. Well surprise, surprise because for the price of eight tickets or $4 we got 1 whole wing. Sorry son-in-law, you lose. My daughter decided to try an order of their grilled cajun shrimp for six tickets or $3. One shrimp. Really, Laughlin's? This is supposed to be about generating buzz and good public relations to get people into your restaurant.

Bill McCarthy

West Seneca

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Comparing CEO pay falls short of reality

A recent letter has suggested we "quit whining about high CEO pay." Let's look at this issue from another perspective.

According to a recent New York Times study, "Among America's top executives today the average annual salary is about $10 million and rising some 12 percent a year. At the same time, the rest of the tribe of the United States of America struggles with miserably high unemployment, stagnant wages and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

And the Washington Post reports that the top 0.1 percent of the wealthiest in the United States earn more than 10 percent of all personal income in this country, and that income for top business executives has grown 400 percent since the 1970s. And corporations want still more tax cuts, this time on foreign profits.

How much has your paycheck grown since then? Does your job come with any benefits? I'm assuming that you're employed, of course. Umair Haque, director of the Havas Media Lab and author of the New Capitalist Manifesto: "Building a Disruptively Better Business," said in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, "The good news is we're still creating jobs. But the bad news isn't just that we're not creating enough of them to go around -- but that we're mostly creating McJobs." It's a fact that two-thirds of all U.S. corporations do not pay any income taxes at all. So where are all the decent jobs?

Of course, Hollywood celebrities make obscene amounts of money, but when demand for their talent ebbs, so does their paycheck, unlike incompetent CEOs, who get golden parachutes and top-paying positions at other companies. Steven Seagal still makes movies, they just have much lower budgets than his early ones.

Capitalism should have a degree of fairness to it, not entitlement.

David Group

Buffalo

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This Taste of Buffalo showed the city's best

Whoever put "The Taste Of Buffalo" (a.k.a. "The Waist of Buffalo") together this year did a wonderful job. The areas were clean, the garbage cans were red in color and easy to find. There was even a free tour to the top of City Hall and an unsurpassed view of the Queen City of the Great Lakes.

People who came into the area either by bus, Metro Rail or personal vehicles were neatly dressed. There were no hand bill hucksters, no hobos or food vultures, even the birds stayed away. There were no blaring ambulances and with the heat, humidity and a little lake breeze, everything was copacetic in the canyons of tall buildings.

When I was there on Saturday, Sen. Chuck Schumer and a small entourage showed up and some woman from the crowd welcomed him to the festival and gave him her beads to make up for the tie he wasn't wearing because of the humidity.

It was a pleasant experience, it was the community at its best. Western New York, with all its venues, is probably one of the best "staycation" areas in the country.

Philip James Jarosz

Buffalo