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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Amtrak service is a cut above

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta's April 4 letter to the Readers' Forum was full of misinformation and not to be taken at face value.

Mr. Mineta has often referred to "trains nobody rides." Well, I started traveling by Amtrak several years ago when I got fed up with airlines. I have consistently observed full or nearly full trains, courteous and skilled staff, and good food at reasonable prices. Last year 25 million passengers used Amtrak, many of them disabled. Sleepers are always sold out well ahead of time, and many more could be if there were enough capital to invest.

When I first saw current Amtrak equipment in a special open house at the Toledo station several years ago, I was impressed. Cars are well appointed and quiet, and seats are large, comfortable, and widely spaced. So when I was faced with going to Washington for a national meeting, Amtrak seemed like a good alternative. I got to D.C. after a pleasant trip, as a light snow began to fall. I went to my hotel with no problems, but later I heard horror stories of people who arrived at the airport at the same time, and didn't get downtown until 11 p.m. A couple of inches of snow had paralyzed the town. I felt a little smug.

For me now the only way to travel to Washington from Toledo is Amtrak. The travel through the mountains is wonderful, and you do not want a car when you get there. The Toledo station is the best in Ohio. The staff is friendly and helpful, and parking is safe and free.

And I certainly was glad to have an Amtrak ticket when I was in Colorado on 9/11.

Thomas Hern

Perrysburg

Why do Republican neoconservatives hate average Americans and America so very much? They will do anything any corporation wants or anything the wealthy 1 percent wants, but do little for the rest of us. They don't seem to care if they destroy us or our country's environment or our democratic principles or our economy with outrageous debt.

Why destroy Social Security to prop up Wall Street? Who do you think $2 trillion in transition costs would go to? The bill passed regarding bankruptcy doesn't apply to wealthy people, only the rest of us. Our infant mortality rate equals that of a developing nation. Twenty percent of our children live in poverty. Neocons want to stop overtime and the 40-hour workweek. Mercury, it's what's in our fish dinner. And, that's just part of it.

The neocons must hate American democracy. Why get rid of the filibuster, which has been a part of our legislative government for 200 years? The filibuster has always been the voice of the minority party. Do they really want a single-party government, which then defines our government as fascist?

Why get rid of due process and the right to a speedy trial? Why say that the Geneva Conventions no longer apply and then establish no "rule of law" to fit the situation? Why set it up so that the United States now tortures people and when we don't do it ourselves, we out-source it to other countries? Why distribute propaganda and fake news, which are against the law?

If the neocons really hate American democracy so much, I think it's time for them to follow their own, old adage: "America, love it or leave it." Our democracy and we would be a lot better off without them.

Jane Lynam

Greenhills Road

A recent NPR broadcast highlighted a study in Israel about the funding of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Later there was a small article in The Blade under the World News column mentioning the investigation.

I looked but found no more coverage on the sources I listen to or read. The Israeli action had to have a profound effect on the Palestinian people and the taking of their land.

Why no condemnation of Israel? Are we so afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism that we cannot speak out about the wrongs being done by Israel? I think it is time to look to a more balanced reporting of the news in this area of the world.

B. MURRAY

Sylvania

Every morning as I drive from the Oregon exit North on I-280 to my job at Northgate Apartments, motorists are passing me at 50 to 60 miles an hour, as if there were no speed limit through the construction zone. The speed limit is clearly posted 45 m.p.h. then as one nears the bridge construction it drops to 35 m.p.h.

I am a law-abiding citizen and am going 35 m.p.h. I get the finger or lights flashing behind me, as if to say "why are you driving so slow?"

My idea is if one breaks the law in one way, one will break it in another. I would like to see more authorized personnel patrolling this area early in the morning and stop this speeding before someone is killed.

ARMAND SMITH

Oregon

With reference to Rose Russell describing as "hogwash" the views of those who oppose the display of the Ten Commandments on public property, I don't completely disagree with her, but I do think that her choice of the word is inappropriate. The issue is not as clear as the discussion currently in the Supreme Court shows.

I grew up under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi to believe in all religions, and with his view that it is perilous to humanity to "worship without sacrifice."

That being so I would like to humbly ask Ms. Russell the following: Will she allow the display of the quotes from the Qur'an or the Gita or the Eightfold Path of the Buddha, and the essentials of all other religions, to be displayed alongside the Ten Commandments?

If her answer to this question is affirmative, then in my view she has taken our land to a new high in the progress of civilization. No tolerant person can have any objection to that view, as then it would not only be clear cut, but the only real and civilized answer to this never-ending controversy.

Her affirmative answer makes the state neutral with respect to all religion and satisfies all parties provided they are sufficiently broad-minded and tolerant of all religions, believing in the axiom that no one can possess a monopoly on truth. The bottom line of this struggle is we are not "liberal" enough to see beyond our noses and practice, not display, the tenets of wisdom revealed to us from all points of the compass.

V.N. KRISHNAN

Bowling Green

A remarkable thing occurred last month. Oscar Bunch was re-elected to his tenth consecutive three-year term as president of UAW Local 14. This is noteworthy for many reasons, not the least of which is that it has never happened before. In the history of the United Auto Workers no one, to my knowledge, has held the presidency of a local union for three consecutive decades. It is an incredible achievement not likely to be duplicated. What a great testament to Oscar's abilities as a leader.

I am acutely aware that a letter like this may be perceived by some as pandering given many people's perception of management and union relationships.

That's regrettable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

At General Motors Powertrain we are, fortunately, well beyond that. I openly admit that I have learned, and continue to learn, from Oscar lessons of integrity, veracity, fairness, honor, genuine concern for others, and the importance of effective joint leadership. For that I am grateful.

Congratulations, Mr. Bunch, on the continuation of a remarkable career.

Joe Farinella

Plant Personnel Director

General Motors Powertrain

Pope John Paul II is being remembered as the man who brought freedom and hope to the disenfranchised around the world. He did it without deception and without killing thousands with bombs and guns and ruining countless lives here and abroad.

What a contrast to our President, who uses religion for his political purposes. Which man's life reflects Jesus' teaching and inspires us to make this a better peaceful world? How will our President be remembered in history? What a contrast!

Virginia Bamonte

Delta, Ohio



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