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Forum, July 22: The Decline of NPR News; Visiting Prison; Waste in the Landfill

National Picayune Radio

To the Editor:

In modern nations, political leaders meet the educated public’s demand for the public financing of discerning radio and television services. These media, such as the BBC, provide critical information and analysis to people who care about the duties of citizenship.

In contrast, our country’s leaders generally discourage critical and insightful media in favor of cheaply entertaining diversion. For this reason, our leaders deny adequate funding to public broadcasting networks.

Despite its consequent need to beg listeners for funds, National Public Radio has the wherewithal to counteract the malevolence of our political leadership. But, in wide swaths of its news operations, the network appears to be failing.

One example must serve: NPR news recently led a broadcast with the sensationally irrelevant fact that a basketball player had deigned to rejoin the Cleveland team he had once abandoned. But with genuinely meaningful events taking place around the globe — in Israel and Palestine, for instance — NPR News should choose higher priorities than the overpaid dribblings of a professional athlete.

Perhaps the time has come to replace NPR with a more responsible source of news. To simplify the process, we could pay the BBC to expand its services on our shores. Huddled around radios exuding serious news, we could ignore NPR as it lurches toward an audience that prefers trivia to thought.

H. Dean Brown

West Lebanon

This Time, Kenyon Is Right

To the Editor:

I am not always in accord with the issues columnist Jim Kenyon chooses to stir up, but wanted to affirm what he is saying about prison visitation in Vermont (“Turned Away From Prison,” July 16). I have corresponded with a Vermont inmate for over 25 years. I have come to respect his opinions, and I do not consider him a complainer. When he returned to Vermont, after several years in an out-of-state prison, I made the effort to visit him in Springfield, with exactly the same experience as the one described by Mr. Kenyon. I, too, have been in touch with Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito, but do not see the situation changing.

I was concerned that the gentleman I was visiting knew I was coming and thought he had it arranged, and that he would wonder why I didn’t show up. Those with whom I was in touch after this experience bent over backward to apologize to me, personally, but did not seem to understand that what I was concerned about was not my own drive to Springfield from Randolph on a lovely day, but the disappointment for my friend, and the reality that many who make such trips cannot easily afford the gas and may travel far more distance than I.

After that, at a hearing in Montpelier, I heard testimony about a man who took his 6-year-old to visit his mother who was incarcerated, and the child was not allowed to give her a picture he’d drawn. It would have been OK to send it by mail, but not to hand it over directly. I am apt to write, as a return address on letters, “Edson, 05060.” If I do this, my letters are not delivered, and I am told that this is because, were I to send in contraband, they would need to know where to find me. I feel this would not keep someone with criminal intent from writing a complete but false address.

I presume there originally were good reasons why such seemingly ridiculous regulations are in place, but I agree that there are some policies that need to be revisited by someone with healthy common sense. I am also concerned that my friend, who was away from Vermont for several years, as I have indicated, feels there is a much more negative attitude pervasive in the Vermont system, than was true when he was here before.

Betty Edson


Less Waste in the Landfill

To the Editor:

In response to the Forum letter on waste (“Waste in Vermont,” July 16): You might be surprised to find out that food and organic waste comprise over 30 percent of what goes into landfills. That is a lot of waste, considering all of that doesn’t need to go there, and could be composted and returned to the soil as soil amendments. Try it for your garden or shrubs — your plants will like it.

Composting is easy, especially with a backyard composter from your solid waste district or elsewhere. Vermont is down to one landfill, so space is going to become increasingly limited and more valuable all the time, especially since no one really wants to live near a new landfill ... would you?

The Vermont Legislature has proactively addressed this problem by passing Act 148 (Vermont’s Universal Recycling law), which bans all food waste from landfills by July 1, 2020, and all recyclables (such as metal, glass, plastics #1 and #2, and paper/cardboard) beginning July 1, 2015. This is good for all; we really need to become less wasteful for the future.

Peter Crawford


Care Packages for Troops

To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the management of West Lebanon Wal-Mart and their unsung hero customers who donated to the Lebanon American Legion Junior Auxiliary, when on May 17 we provided shoppers with a list of much-needed items.

Many donated items, which we shipped in care packages to our local deployed troops serving in harm’s way. The generosity of people was truly amazing. We met our goals in minutes instead of hours. Enclosed in the six large packages we were able to send to Afghanistan were letters that told of the generosity of the customers and Wal-Mart’s patriotic willingness to grant us the opportunity to provide this service for our troops. We thank you sincerely.

Lois Wilson

For Lebanon American Legion Junior Auxiliary Unit 22