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Don't let corporate greed ?ruin Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is a national holiday that every American should be able to enjoy with friends and loved ones. Don't fall into the Big Business coercion factor. Celebrate America, celebrate your fellow citizens. Allow the peace and solace that every one of us needs on our holidays. Don't give in to the corporate greed that forces employees to forsake their holiday in order to keep their jobs. Corporations will take, take, take until there is nothing left to give and then want some more.

Believe me, if the strength of voice were to speak out, along with the commitment of soul, we could pare the madness and get our holidays back from the greed that has invaded us so badly. Has the hurriedness of life taken away the time to reflect? Have we been influenced and inducted into a robotic mindset, forsaking our own pleasures and comforts just to play into the hands of retailers' insatiable appetite for the dollar? What if the masses that corporate greed has forged into Pavlovian slaves didn't show up?

What would happen? The answer is: We would regain control of a very small but essential element in this maddening rat race. The sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving would still be there, but at 6 a.m. on Friday morning, allowing us to regain our holiday.

I keep hearing the phrase, "Bring back the good old days." I lived the good old days and sacrificing your holiday or that of your neighbors to corporate-taught greed wasn't part of it. Give yourself and the ones around you the gift of a holiday. Don't shop on Thanksgiving.

Rex Murray

Williamsville

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Why was Rice involved? with reporting attack?

Since U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took the stage (five times) to explain the "Benghazi debacle," much has been made, even by the president, of her innocence. We are told that she was only relating what she knew from the CIA report. First, she really had no business making the statements when it should have been President Obama's most senior advisers, David Axelrod or Valerie Jarrett. Given the accusations of changes made to the report by the head of the CIA, removing any mention of al-Qaida's involvement, could it be that Axelrod or Jarrett were being shielded from making a statement of perjury?

Frank A. Gugino Sr.

West Seneca

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Climate change writer ?mixing apples, oranges

A recent letter pointed to the retreat of ice sheets and glaciers during the past 14,000 years as evidence that climate has been changing for a long time and without humans causing it. This fact is well-known to geoscientists and climate scientists and has been for at least a century. In fact, the science of climate change originated as enquiry into the causes and effects of natural variability in Earth's climate.

The author of that letter was mixing apples and oranges. There is no debate amongst the vast majority of earth scientists that climate varies naturally, but added to this now are the effects of human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists use a range of techniques and data sources to study climate. Rather than just pointing to one or two pieces of evidence, as the writer did, and those taken out of context, I urge interested people to try to look at a more complete picture. Most people will not be able to read the vast scientific literature on the topic, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has compiled and boiled down much of the science into digestible summaries that are posted online at www.ipcc.ch

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has dramatically increased in concert with our use of fossil fuels, and average global temperatures are rapidly increasing as well. These are facts, not speculation. Models, which do have uncertainties, are used to make predictions and most of these are being borne out as time progresses. One can criticize the cost of so-called "half-baked policies" aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, but an honest debate must also address the costs of not doing so, including mitigation of increased flooding of coastal areas and increasing weather extremes.

Greg Valentine

Williamsville

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We shouldn't denigrate ?school board members

A recent letter to the editor questioned the qualifications required to serve for school board. While the writer states the minimum requirements to run for school board, he ignores the fact that 75 percent of board members have a four-year college degree or more, and 88 percent have a two-year college degree or more, based on our 2011 statewide membership survey. The Buffalo Board of Education specifically has several members with advanced degrees and broad professional experience.
Regardless of one's education level, the fact is, school boards are one of the most open and democratic institutions in our society. Approximately 5,000 men and women are members of local school boards in New York, all serving as important trustees of the state's nearly 700 public education systems. To denigrate them by implying they don't have the wisdom, knowledge or experience to vet proposals brought before them by education professionals is unfair to them and the people who elected them.

Timothy Kremer

Executive Director, New York State School Boards Association

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All states should allow? citizens to vote by mail

Last week, The News called for election reform after the national embarrassment of voters waiting in long lines, as well as the many efforts that took place to deny Americans their right to vote. The most obvious answer, among other possibilities, is to dramatically expand voting by mail. Every voter in the nation should be able to obtain a ballot to vote via the U.S. Postal Service. Oregon and Washington have vote by mail and they routinely get an over 80 percent turnout and voters don't have to wait in long lines to cast their ballot. Many other states have various levels of early voting, often combined with voting by mail.

There is no corruption or voter fraud, because the ballots are handled by the most efficient Postal Service in the world, the federal agency that is the most trusted by the American people. The ballots are secure, accurate and recountable. New York State is among the most backward in the nation, with one of the lowest voter participation rates. The dirty little secret is that many politicians don't really want you to vote. They only want to fight over each side getting out its base supporters.

For years, while Sam Hoyt was an Assemblyman, he introduced legislation to expand absentee balloting through the Postal Service and the Republicans in the State Senate blocked it at every turn. If you want an absentee ballot, you have to prove you're sick or out of the state. It's time that the entire country, and particularly New York State, joins the 21st century and makes voter participation a priority in advancing the cause of our democracy.

Robert J. McLennan

Amherst