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Didn't GOP candidates learn anything in Iraq?

The George W. Bush administration's unjustified, illegal and unpaid-for 2003 invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq has thus far (as of Jan. 31) killed nearly 4,500 Americans, seriously wounded more than 32,000 more and caused countless numbers of our troops to suffer varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder. The final bloody price tag for this, the only war in U.S. history to be "divinely sanctioned" -- i.e., Bush claimed that God gave him the green light to launch the attack -- is conservatively estimated to exceed $1 trillion when all indirect war-related costs that will be incurred over the next five decades are tabulated.

This egregious debacle notwithstanding, three of the four Republican candidates vying for their party's 2012 presidential nomination are advocating pre-emptive military action against Iran. More needless deaths, destruction, suffering, waste of taxpayer dollars, despicable profiteering for greedy war-related industries and another major economic setback for America's 99 percenters.

Despite the inevitable dire consequences, it's a virtual certainty that tens of millions of Americans will still risk compromising their own meager standard of living, economic safety nets and health care coverage by voting for a Republican president and complete GOP control of Congress. Attempting to rationalize this absurd behavior is maddening.

Robert Galganski

West Seneca

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NPR's great programming has been gutted by WNED

Up until two weeks ago, I sang the praises of NPR in Buffalo. How lucky we were to have three stations from which to select. No more. What's worse, the weekend educational programs I came to love and appreciate -- "Right, Left and Center," "Living on Earth," "The Health Show" and "Tech Nation" -- are all gone. Now it's "Car Talk" twice on Saturday and once on Sunday, "This American Life" twice and, most jarring of all, jazz from 7 til midnight on Saturday and Sunday. For heaven's sake, I'm trying to relax at that time of the evening.

WNED may have purchased WBFO for $4 million but WBFO has taken over, leaving those of us longing for in-depth, thought-provoking and informative programming to seek out other sources. BBC on short-wave radio, here I come.

I wonder if other WNED fans are as angry as am I. How many will demand their donated dollars back, especially money given in the recent fund-raising drive? As I see it, NPR radio in Buffalo has just suffered a frontal lobotomy.

Suzanne Toomey Spinks

Buffalo

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Don't exclude teachers from decision-making

Donn Esmonde's column, "Parents need to be accountable," was right on the mark. As a parent whose children attended five different Buffalo schools, I rarely encountered a teacher who wasn't a dedicated and concerned professional. Recognizing the need for accountability in work and life, I am perplexed by the state's insistence that teachers are responsible for something they have no control over.

The current educational crisis raises profound issues. Parents need to question the source and legitimacy of the assumptions that are driving educational policy today. Currently, the schools are being held hostage by the State Education Department unless they are willing to accept policy that is not fair or reasonable. State and national education policy today is largely dictated by politicians and business people who think they know what's best for America's children. Practitioners who work with our children in the classroom on a daily basis are frequently denigrated by those policymakers as the problem and totally excluded from the process of defining policy. As a result of such exclusion, teachers are forced to focus on superficial measures of student performance so comparisons can be made from student to student, teacher to teacher, and school to school. Teachers, instead of instructing based on experience and what works, are forced to compromise their professional understanding to teach to the test, and in the process the curriculum loses its diversity and richness.

Educational policy today will remain off course until parents start challenging the foundation and implementation of that policy, and insist that those who care about our children and know how to teach them are given prominence in the decision-making process.

Michael E. Parks, Ed.D.

Buffalo

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Let Buffalo Fire Museum lead the way at Aud site

The Buffalo Fire Museum tells the "story of Buffalo." The museum, with its thousands of artifacts, tells the history of Buffalo from the War of 1812 and the burning of Buffalo, through the Erie Canal era to the present and will continue on into the future, as seen through the eyes of Buffalo firefighters.

Wouldn't it be great if all three museums that have applied to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. could be located at the Aud site? Years ago, I said Buffalo should have museum after museum all along the waterfront, so visitors could enjoy a stimulating educational experience. With people visiting from all over the country, restaurants, gift shops, hotels and department stores would flourish. It is a proven fact that museums throughout the United States bring in billions of dollars.

Before I heard of other museums applying, I said: Let the Buffalo Fire Museum lead the way, so that we can bring Buffalo into prominence just like Chicago does with museums on its waterfront. Museums bring life to a community with hands-on activities, while people meet one another in a fun-filled environment. It's an opportunity for the family to get together and enjoy the day.

Carl J. Hoepfinger

President

Buffalo Fire Historical Society

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Long-range forecasts prove to be unreliable

Now that our unusually mild winter is over, I wish to point out a front-page article from the Oct. 10, 2011, News titled "Forecasters throw cold blanket on sunshine." The article featured a meteorologist who confidently predicted a cold, harsh winter with at least 110 to 120 inches of snow for the Buffalo area. He said, "There's no doubt about it. This is not going to be a gentle winter."

As of March 14, the Buffalo Airport has received a mere 35 inches of snow. Temperatures have been well above average. My point is that long-range weather forecasts are inherently unreliable. It is not scientifically possible to accurately predict weather beyond a seven- to 10-day time frame. Weather patterns are simply too changeable.

In the future, I hope that more discretion will be used in the presentation of long-range forecasts. Any such predictions should be made with some acknowledgment of uncertainty. While we can laugh about it now, I'm sure many readers became anxious last October over the certainty of a harsh winter.

Robert A. Krohn

Amherst