Why no mention of Jesus in story about Christmas?

A Dec. 8 story in NeXt provided a valuable service to the non-Jewish community with an extensive explanation of the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah). The symbols, traditions and holidays of Judaism were given a brief and clear description. The origin of Hanukkah was detailed as the Maccabean revolt against an unjust tyrant with the subsequent rededication of the Jerusalem Temple, accompanied by the miraculous burning of the one-day supply of oil that lasted for eight days. The graphics included a depiction of a young boy in solemn prayer.

The same edition also had a Christmas article: "A teenager's holiday survival guide from A to Z." We were informed that "whether you are religious, spiritual or just grateful" we should "remember that the holidays are first and foremost a celebration of love." We learned about elves, the Griswolds, cookies and reindeer, but the non-Christian community read not a word about what Christmas truly is: the birthday of Jesus Christ. In fact, no mention of Jesus appeared. Unmentioned also were Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds or Magi. The graphics depicted an elf, ice skates and toy reindeer, but nothing of a religious nature.

How fortunate the non-Jewish community was to learn the details of the religious feast of Hanukkah. How unfortunate that the non-Christian community learned nothing about the religious background of Christmas. Also, how very odd.

The Rev. Paul Nogaro

Pastor, St. Stephen Church

Grand Island


Erie County will benefit from Tobe's appointment

It is great to see Rich Tobe back in public service as deputy county executive. People forget that it was Tobe who cleaned up the Buffalo Permits and Inspections Department after all of the unfavorable management of his predecessor. He was too honest for Buffalo city politics to last.

Bill Blakeslee



Crangle's actions smack of retribution

Although I am now a former resident of the Town of Tonawanda, I still spend a fair amount of time in that town, so I had some familiarity with the participants in the recent election. It struck me as somewhat odd that a News report emerged exactly one day after the election that exposed what was described as alleged overtime abuses, in addition to complaints by town employees of harassment and bullying going on in the Youth, Parks and Recreation Department.

Town Councilman Daniel J. Crangle is chairman of the Youth, Parks and Recreation Committee, and is entrusted with the oversight of this department. Crangle stated, "I have a responsibility to the taxpayers to watch the budget and how it's being used. I should be aware of the overtime being paid." Yes, I assume most taxpayers would agree that he should have been aware of this, but this is sort of like closing the barn door after the horse got out. How did he quash the reporting of this rather unflattering state of affairs until after his narrow re-election victory?

What finally prompted me to write was The News article announcing that the primarily Democratic Town Board voted to terminate a concessions contract held by a recent Republican political rival who ran against Crangle. In reading between the lines, it certainly smacks of retribution against this businessman and an attempt to settle a score. I don't think that an elected official who is supposed to be doing what is best for his constituents should be using that platform to persecute a former rival. As was evident in the recent county executive election results, using your political "muscle" to bully people just to suit your own agenda and/or seek revenge can eventually be a career-ending decision.

Richard Hambridge



Expensive treatments cause health premiums to soar

There are many reasons why the cost of health insurance is so high and premiums are soaring at twice the rate of inflation, but sometimes, the costs add up due to simple math and our desire to prolong life at virtually any cost.

The Dec. 8 edition of The News contained an article regarding a clinical study for two new breast cancer drugs. The more effective of the two drugs (pertuzumab) delayed progression of the disease by a median of six additional months in comparison to standard treatment (18 months versus 12 months). Neither medication is a cure, and if approved by the Food and Drug Administration, both drugs likely will cost $10,000 a month.

The results of this study indicate each woman treated with pertuzumab is expected to delay progression of -- not cure -- the disease for a median of six extra months at a cost of $180,000 in addition to the cost of the usual treatment. Now if just 1,000 women are treated with this new wonder drug, plus the usual treatment, for an average of 18 months each, the total is conservatively $200 million for roughly six more months of life.

I know we cannot put a price on anybody's time here on Earth, but unlike clinical medicine, which treats individual patients, public health looks at all aspects of health in a community. The development of ever more expensive treatments places a huge financial burden on society, and that is one reason why health insurance premiums are skyrocketing. The question all of us must ask is thus: "Is an extra six months of life really worth $200,000?" Because if an individual is unable to pay for it (medical expenses are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy) then society will -- nothing comes for free in medicine.

Peter McNeela, M.D., M.P.H.



Obama, Cuomo must stop trying to tax the wealthy

I've long known that our president is a misguided, hollow person, but I had hoped our governor was a smarter man.

On one hand, President Obama is rattling off in a speech how the federal government must take a larger role in our lives and, in order to preserve the middle class, wealthy citizens must pay more in taxes. On the other hand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent me an email the other day about how wealthy citizens must pay more in state taxes so the middle class can get a tax break. Additionally, extra dollars will fund some pie-in-the-sky job-training program.

These guys are true fools who somehow think whacking the rich will help the less rich and that more government intrusion into our lives is a good thing.

I'm a retired auto worker and I'll take care of myself, thank you very much. Both of these men should toss their crummy pseudo-improvement ideas in the trash heap where they belong and get out of our lives.

I'll bet I get no response from either of these "geniuses."

Charles Schwendler

Orchard Park