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Alcohol dependence needs to be addressed

I appreciated a May 14 letter to this column in response to The News coverage of alcohol-related accidents. The writer noted that the obvious link between alcohol and these tragedies is obscured by our culture's acceptance, if not encouragement, of overindulgence. I would add that not only is inappropriate alcohol use normalized, when its use is found to be a factor in tragedies such as those we have been hearing about, the character of the person comes under attack, which adds to the misconception that alcohol-related problems such as abuse and especially dependence are about mind over matter.

Alcohol dependence includes the feature loss of control over one's drinking due to development of tolerance that occurs over years of misuse. Not only is judgment impaired and impulse control diminished when intoxicated, these and other cognitive deficits worsen as a long-term consequence of the disorder and become part of the individual's character even when not intoxicated. I find it troubling that society continues to use denial about the effects of alcohol use and to seem only to consider it a problem for the individual who fits the stereotype of the "fall down drunk" who can't hold a job.

Many alcoholics appear to the world to be functioning just fine, but as the disorder advances this facade becomes difficult to maintain. Also, a person who does not appear to be drunk but still has a blood alcohol content level indicating intoxication, is most likely one who has developed so much tolerance that more is needed to get the desired effect. Denial of the problem leads to a continued propensity to either demonize the person who has an alcohol addiction or to enable behaviors which, if confronted, present some possible avenue for intervention.

Ann Caughill

Buffalo

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Divorce rates similar for Catholics, atheists

A letter to the editor in the May 14 News links the increase in the religiously unaffiliated population to a breakdown of traditional marriage, arguing that religion increases the stability of marital unions. Statistics show exactly the opposite: A 2008 survey of 5,017 adults by the faith-based research foundation the Barna Group measured divorce rates for various religious affiliations.

The survey found that among different Christian faiths, Catholics have the lowest divorce rate (28 percent) and Protestants have the highest (34 percent). By comparison, atheists have a divorce rate of 30 percent. The margin of error on the survey is plus or minus 1.6 percent, which means that the divorce rates for atheists and Catholics are statistically indistinguishable. Both are lower than for Christians as a whole. Among those claiming affiliation with a non-Christian faith, the divorce rate is 38 percent.

Will Kinney

Williamsville

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Right to bear arms is more vital than ever

Upon my retirement, I broke my philosophical rule about keeping up on current events in regard to people. Prior to that, I had the good sense to limit my scanning of the news to animals. Now that I've become victimized by human current events, I find myself even more regretful about breaking an old rule.

At least once a week, there are articles about law enforcement officers, politicians and extremely wealthy power brokers engaging in criminal activities. Hundreds of Mexicans were recently dismembered and assassinated by drug cartels attempting to keep the good ole USA supplied with drugs. Foreign energy seekers are destroying our shores.

Is it any wonder our forefathers ensured our constitutional right to maintain a militia? Never in this country's history has it been more important to have and maintain a strong militia to ensure the survival of life as we have known it in this onetime great land. So the next time some authority suggests surrendering your arms or passing laws designed to deprive you of same, take a minute and give some thought as to what is actually being accomplished. And more importantly, the direction in which we are heading.

Joseph Coia

West Seneca

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Rochester postmark is already showing up

I don't know why The News is happy about the supposed reprieve for the Buffalo postal sorting facility. The self-congratulatory noises from local politicians are similarly incomprehensible. It appears the Postal Service in fact is limiting use of the Buffalo facility and work has already been transferred to Rochester.

Within the last week, I received a mailed dental appointment reminder from my dentist in Orchard Park. It bore a Rochester postmark. Last Wednesday, I sent a package with delivery confirmation to an address in Virginia. I mailed it at the Orchard Park post office. The tracking information on the Internet shows the package leaving the Orchard Park post office and going directly to the Rochester postal sorting facility and from there on to Virginia.

The decision to close the Buffalo facility looks like it has been made and the supposed reprieve is just that -- a supposition.

Gordon Farquhar

Orchard Park

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Time for Buffalo to take control of outer harbor

I am concerned that there appears to be a rush within our community to transfer the ownership rights to Buffalo's outer harbor from one New York State authority to another. The city was pressured, in the 1940s and 1950s, to transfer direct control and ownership of the outer harbor to a newly created state authority to address the imminent economic consequences of the opening of the Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Further, the city was again pressured a decade ago to relinquish its reversionary rights in the outer harbor property because New York State promised to create a state park on the site, a promise that was again not kept.

Today, The News and Rep. Brian Higgins are advocating that the ownership and control of this vital piece of Buffalo property be transferred to yet another state authority with the promise, yet again, to create a new and vibrant waterfront. Unfortunately, the authority in question has done very little in furtherance of its mission to transform the much smaller inner harbor.

While there is little debate that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority should relinquish its control of the outer harbor, the land should be transferred back to the City of Buffalo. New York State has had control of the outer harbor for more than six decades and we have very little to show for its stewardship. Before we rush to hand over this prime property to yet another state authority, a governmental entity that is responsible to no one except the governor, we need to step back and re-evaluate whether the land should be controlled on a local level or in Albany. This may be Buffalo's last opportunity to control its own destiny on the waterfront.

Christine Campbell

Buffalo