Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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Opening Our Arms To Cuba

George Foster - March 10th, 2008
After almost 50 years of rigid communist rule, change is finally, finally coming to Cuba.
An eruption of modernization is imminent in the isolated Caribbean island, but not because Fidel Castro finally made his resignation official. Handing over presidential power to brother Raul Castro only ensures that Fidel’s strong-armed rule will continue to suffocate the Cuban people if the Castro clan has its way.
Change in Cuba is looming because of a steady transformation here in the USA. This is the case despite a trade embargo of goods and services against Cuba instituted by President Kennedy in 1962 and continuing through the present. This counterproductive policy has hammered ordinary Cubans already struggling to put food on the table under Castro’s state-controlled economy.
The average Cuban today earns under $20 a month. As tourism has steadily increased from Europe and Canada, a predictable proliferation of prostitution and begging on the city streets of Havana, Santiago, and Varadero has resulted. Many panhandlers preface their need for money by claiming their lives were more dignified before the revolution or until the Soviets pulled the plug on economic aid to Cuba. Most Cubans are not allowed to travel off the island or even enter hotels frequented by tourists.
Though food is already in short supply, President Bush decided that Cubans weren’t suffering enough from the trade embargo and Castro’s policies. In 2004 he decided to limit Americans from visiting relatives on the island to once every three years and paying loved ones there no more than $100 a month.
What are we thinking - refusing to have diplomatic relations with Cuba, a puny country that is zero threat to us militarily? We trade freely with other communist countries like China and even Vietnam, where nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives. Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has called George W. Bush “the devil” in front of the United Nations, yet we buy gobs of oil from his country.
None of the three major candidates in the U.S. presidential race have advocated lifting the boycott against Cuba, but at least Barack Obama stated he would end limits on family visits and subsidies. The fact that Obama made such a statement in the Little Havana district of Miami is significant progress. Previously, our politicians have been loath to offend those Cuban-American voters whose only goal seems to be punishing Fidel Castro at the expense of the welfare of 11 million Cubans and the will of the our own people. Polls indicate that Americans overwhelmingly support reinstating diplomatic relations with Cuba.
A significant shift, though, is taking place in South Florida that threatens to turn the Cuban stalemate on its head. The three U.S. House of Representative districts in South Florida have been dominated for years by zealously anti-Castro Republicans of Cuban ancestry. Until recently, these three seats have seen little Democratic opposition and have influenced our nation’s policies well beyond what South Florida’s representation should dictate.
In the upcoming November election, three Democratic Cuban-Americans are running strongly in these districts, agreeing with Obama’s policy to end the restrictions on family travel and financial help to relatives in Cuba. Even the Latino population in South Florida is beginning to realize that the economic embargo of Cuba is never going to bring the Castro brothers to their knees. If any of the three Democrats win, there would be a prominent Cuban-American in Congress calling for the trade embargo to be eased for the first time in 50 years.
In the words of the late conservative icon, William F. Buckley, “The challenge for the United States is to ignore his (Castro) continued manhandling of freedom and to retaliate against it with the weapon he fears most, which is increased exposure to Western capitalism and Western practices.”
It is difficult to argue with that. It is time to end the failed trade embargo and help ease the suffering of the Cuban people.
 
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