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U.S. should leave Afghanistan now

"Stay the course," the opinion piece by Sens. John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham in the April 1 News, was a one-sided, misguided view of our involvement in Afghanistan. The senators claim that leaving would be disastrous, but it's our military operation that's been disastrous for all -- except our military-congressional-industrial complex.

We have never declared war on Afghanistan. We invaded to search for Osama bin Laden, now gone. Al-Qaida members there were estimated at a mere 50 to 100 in 2010 by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta. Protecting women is another reason given for our presence, but most Afghan women belong to the clear majority who want us out.

Hear that for yourself during Global Days of Listening, a conference call streaming online on April 21 hosted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Converse with Afghans, or just listen (globaldaysoflistening.org). A teen from PeaceJam Afghanistan, a youth group involved in the project, said, "Tell others we do not want U.S. and NATO forces, bombs and violence to kill the children We want to tell the people of the world: We love you. No to war." See their website:ourjourneytosmile.org. You will be inspired by their courage and love.

Could our occupation relate to an oil pipeline proposed to cross Afghanistan? Our very presence, a violation of Afghan sovereignty, causes more violence than we could ever prevent. Afghans want U.S. troops to leave and especially want to be free from the menace and assassinations of the drones. What part of people's resistance to occupation by troops and drones don't we understand?

"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." (A.J. Muste). Let's support nonviolence and sustainability in Afghanistan.

Victoria Ross

Peaceful Conflict Resolution

Consultant, Interfaith Peace Network

Western New York Peace Center

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We are surrounded by illogical thinking

We write laws prohibiting cellphone use while driving, meanwhile automakers are installing dashboard computer screens. Cash-strapped airlines now charge for checked luggage while installing larger overhead bins for carry-on luggage.

School budgets are in crisis, yet some people propose spending a half-billion dollars to convert the Kensington into a tunnel. Downtown Buffalo became deserted when "beat cop" patrols were cut. Wouldn't reinstating the patrols be quicker, cheaper and more effective than reopening one block of Main Street to vehicle traffic?

Companies utilize overtime to avoid hiring additional employees. Doesn't this shift the cost of business to taxpayers? U.S. companies outsource jobs, then utilize unenforced trade laws to import their products back to U.S. markets. Wall Street prospers, Main Street suffers.

We went to Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden. We got him. Why are we still there? We've waged two wars while lowering taxes primarily for the 1 percent and multinational corporations. The debt increased and more jobs were exported. Solution: further lower taxes for the 1 percent and corporations.

Oil companies are keeping some refineries off line. Could the drop in production be related to soaring gas prices? If the solution to higher gas prices is "drill, baby, drill," why do U.S. oil companies export oil? If we eliminate oil company subsidies, could we then afford the mass transportation systems the rest of the world enjoys? Millions of tax dollars have been spent busing University at Buffalo students between campuses. Could these funds have been better spent extending the subway to Amherst and UB's North Campus as originally planned?

Fundamentalists are anti-abortion and also anti-birth control. How does that work? Some publicly protest birth control but not pedophile clergy?

Ray Volpe

Amherst

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Community hospital served many people

As we approach a new chapter in Western New York's health care, Kaleida continues to expand the new medical campus as the old chapter closes. For many of the staff members at Gates Circle, we now venture into new positions and new facilities. The other evening, we all gathered for one last hurrah and goodbye to a facility that was our "second home" for so many years.

The final realization of the closing of Millard Fillmore Hospital happened when Buffalo's finest, Engine 37 and Truck 1, pulled into the parking lot to share in the spirit of this hospital. At that time, many of the staff members remembered that this closing wasn't only affecting the staff, but also the community it served. Seeing our firefighters brought back many memories of the hospital, but also the community support that we relied on so many times.

Millard Fillmore was a community hospital that served many people across the city, the county and, up until recently, the span of the northwest region. The community resources, such as our firefighters, emergency medical crews, police officers and so many others, helped make our hospital what is was. Kudos to them for being there with us during all those years.

Anne Marie V. Bantle, R.N., B.S.

Blasdell

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Local IDAs merit a seat at the table

For 25-plus years, local industrial development agencies have been encouraging investment and creating jobs in Western New York. They are now under attack by Assemblyman Sean Ryan, with support from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. If their efforts are successful, we as taxpayers of this community need to understand what we have to lose.

Local IDAs support the redevelopment of downtown business districts. For example, anyone who has driven through the Village of Hamburg can see the success of our local IDA's policies. Under the proposed legislation, the Erie County IDA would be the only organization to determine who qualifies for assistance. It currently refuses to offer assistance to small businesses and, as a result, the vibrant business district in the Village of Hamburg could have looked like the 500 block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo.

Do we want the future of our community to be put in the hands of the Erie County IDA, which does not have our best interests in mind? Collaboration to determine policy is OK, but to deny local IDAs a place at the table is not the proper direction for us to head. To allow Ryan and Poloncarz to determine the future of our communities is not in our best interest. I encourage all citizens concerned about their communities to contact their county and state legislators to let them know that they are in support of the efforts of their local IDAs.

Joe Sacco

Lake View