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Planned Parenthood provides essential care

As a board member and lifelong supporter of Planned Parenthood of Western New York, I am truly grateful that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has decided to maintain its funding of breast cancer exams at Planned Parenthood health centers. Political agendas have no place in women's health care. Most importantly, the continuation of their support means that women across the country, especially those in rural and underserved communities, will still have access to lifesaving clinical breast exams available through Planned Parenthood.

Locally and nationwide, Planned Parenthood is a trusted and valuable leader in breast cancer prevention services for women, performing nearly 750,000 breast cancer screenings last year, helping women to detect breast cancer and empowering them to take control of their health. The quality, accessibility and affordability of these services are key components to identifying breast cancer early, when there is the best chance of successful treatment.

The recent outpouring of public support for Planned Parenthood has shown just how important access to affordable health care is to so many Americans. The truth is, our community depends on Planned Parenthood for vital health care services, and in these tough economic times, more women than ever need access to affordable services like lifesaving breast cancer screenings.

Carima El-Behairy

Board Chairwoman, Planned Parenthood of Western New York

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Prisoners gobbling up the taxpayers' money

I am totally against illegal drugs and drug dealers and fully support our brave police officers, but the Wellsville meth lab bust on Feb. 10 had a very disturbing statement by the Allegany County district attorney. He said the six people arrested face up to 80 years in prison.

At a conservative amount of $30,000 per year for incarceration, this could add up to $14.4 million that we taxpayers must shell out. While I do not condone illegal activities, I do not think most Americans want to be overtaxed and then see the tax money get spent on these undeserving people. That money should go to more deserving, law-abiding Americans.

Our state and federal legal and prison systems need to be overhauled. Let's make long-term prisoners serve state and federally run work programs to improve our country and not bankrupt it.

Chip Mondo

Lackawanna

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View of racism was vastly oversimplified

The Feb. 8 letter, "Pitts is wrong to call conservatives 'racists,' " is a classic oversimplification. The writer uses her own non-racist belief and conservative affiliation to assert that the whole conservative movement must be anti-racist. I'm a soccer fan; that doesn't mean I riot. It also doesn't mean riots related to soccer don't happen. Unfortunately, this type of fallacious reasoning seems to be a prerequisite to call oneself a conservative in our times. Did the "Southern Strategy" never happen? Has the conservative movement not spent 40 years courting white evangelical suburban and rural voters? When you meet someone who doesn't pretend to hide his racism, can you reasonably deduce which way his politics lean?

The conservative message that hard work and determination alone will grant social ascendency is true. True, so long as your employer/supervisor is not racist, sexist, class-conscious, nepotistic, greedy, manipulative, corrupt, incompetent or deeply involved in the derivatives market. It might also help if your appearance, humor, politics, morals and mannerisms do not offend him in any way. Other than that, your work and determination alone should make your "dreams" of food, shelter and access to medicine come true. The so-called meritocracy becomes a little more complex when you remember it is run by people, not platitudes.

To point at a race of people and say that their problems result from their failure to accept in totality an oversimplified understanding of their reality does not make one a racist. It makes one ego-centric. When a political movement composed primarily of another race, which has demonstrably sought to exploit and expand racial bias for political power by creating a culture that leads people to believe their ego-centrism and fallacious reasoning are somehow virtuous in order to court their vote, then that movement smells a bit racist.

Jeff Woodhead

Olean

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Despite the lack of ice, event was a big success

Who would have ever thought that Mother Nature would keep Western New York's waterways ice-free into the month of February? Despite that unanticipated reality, the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament was a big hit for the 60-plus teams and their loyal fans who opted to participate in a reorganized street hockey event.

Although too late to provide ice, Buffalo's usual wintry wonderland blew in mightily Friday night and escalated into Saturday and Sunday, testing the mettle of even the most ardent cold-weather enthusiasts. The hearty souls who braved Buffalo's usually frigid elements were treated to a well-organized, competitive and enjoyable experience on the waterfront.

The city's Public Works Department, entertainers, volunteers and the Labatt's team should be very proud of the extraordinary event that took place last weekend under extreme circumstances. Hats off to Labatt for its wholehearted commitment for making the annual hockey tourney a first-class event in the face of the surprising weather-related obstacles.

Nick Bonifacio

Interim Executive Director

Police Athletic League

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Will is wrong to equate money with free speech

Bravo to George Will for exposing the ways that various states and municipalities attempt to impede the free speech of their citizens. Such pettifogging laws and regulations should be struck down wherever they exist.

But, even when Will is right, he just can't see the difference between speech (influencing someone by speaking) and money (influencing someone by giving them cash). How much he must love money, to grant it the human capacity to speak. Of course, we all know what we mean when we say that "money talks."

The problem with equating money with speech is that it undermines the democratic concept of "one man, one vote." Sadly, today's candidates must have money, and lots of it, to succeed; so the donor who gives them (or their super PAC) the most money exerts the most influence. Given the amounts of money that the super PACs appear able to raise, we may well see them exert more influence on candidates than the political parties themselves in the future.

Does anyone really believe that this is what the founders meant when they wrote that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech"?

Joseph R. Riggie

Kenmore