Letter: A Plan for Ukraine

Let the People of Ukraine Decide

To the Editor:

As I was growing up in the 1950s, there was an accepted premise that the president had more information than we did with respect to foreign policy, and that we should trust the government to do the right thing. That was a time before 24-hour news, before social media and the Internet, before Skype, instant communication and fiber-optic cable. Still basking in our post-World War II status as the world’s greatest superpower, and in the midst of strong economic growth, we saw our government as all-powerful, a positive force acting in our best interests. With 50 years of hindsight, we can look back on the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Iran-contra, Granada, El Salvador, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, “enhanced interrogation” and perhaps conclude, “Boy, were we wrong!”

With the current international crisis focused on the borders of Ukraine, it’s apparent that none of our experts want to address the manner in which borders should be established. They talk about 21st-century norms and post-cold-war structures while for thousands of years borders have been determined by force of arms.

I have a novel suggestion that might avoid bloodshed. Let the people decide. If eastern Ukraine really has an affinity for Russia, then let it become a part of Russia. Let the United Nations oversee an internationally supervised referendum, and let all nations agree on the outcome. Other than power, what does the unelected government in Kiev seek to gain by forcing its will on a people who want no part of it and who would probably have a more peaceful and prosperous existence as part of a country where they apparently have strong cultural ties?

If, in the future, a reformatted Ukraine met NATO and/or EU requirements and wished to join those associations, fine. In that event, the EU and its allies would be not only justified but obligated to guarantee, by military action if needed, their right to such an association. Perhaps even the neo-cons could agree to such a plan.

R. Lauren Johnson


Clark for Newport Selectboard

To the Editor:

I am writing to endorse the candidacy of Mike Clark for the Newport Selectboard on election day May 13. But first I’d like to speak briefly about municipal solid waste. There was an excellent program presented on the topic of recycling and composting on April 23. Vanessa Keith of Unity and Bob Spencer of the Windham Vermont Solid Waste District presented slideshows on how municipalities can more smartly and economically manage solid waste.

Unfortunately, waste management has not been handled exceedingly well in Newport. Sadly, no representatives from our current Selectboard attended this informative and dynamic presentation. Besides public safety, sewer, water and roads, waste management should be a chief concern of our local government. I am supporting Mike Clark for Selectboard because I have learned from our many discussions over the years that he thinks about problems proactively and brings the sensibilities of his engineering training and general curiosity to the job. He is a man who will do his homework on any issue before the board.

I know the three other candidates in the race: Bill Wilmot, David Hoyt and Steve Dube. They have all served and will continue to serve our community well. Happily there are several good candidates from which to choose. One of my two votes will be for Mike Clark.

Lawrence Schissel


Turning Out for Turning Points

To the Editor:

Six months of planning for the Steppin’ Up to End Violence Walk (and Fun Run!) and it rains! But that did not deter the 476 people who showed up on April 26 to walk the 5K event in Claremont as a show of community solidarity to end domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse and stalking.

Thanks to about 60 volunteers, and sponsors and donors led by honorary chairs Kathy and Guenter Hubert of Hubert’s Family Outfitters, the eighth Walk for Turning Points Network in Claremont and Newport raised more than $57,800 in support of its safe homes and the prevention programs the agency brings each year to Sullivan County schools, K-12. “We walk because others have to run (to flee domestic violence)” said one supporter. The young woman who spoke at the pre-event rally shared that a year ago she was in an abusive situation, and that now, having been the recipient of TPN services, she is about to graduate from college and begin a new life.

Domestic violence is an issue that no one wants to talk about, but it’s present in every neighborhood and at every socio-economic level. For 37 years, Turning Points Network has provided counseling and advocacy services, a 24-hour task force and the above-mentioned programs to assist those affected by domestic violence in Sullivan County — more than 800 women, children and men last year. The Steppin’ Up to End Violence Walk and Fun Run brings together a community of support that raises awareness, raises funds and raises the spirits of all who are affected by domestic violence. Turning Points Network is here for you, and we can help.

Pat Whitney

Board Member, Turning Points Network