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Forum, Aug. 4: It’s time to add two stars to our flag


Saturday, August 03, 2019
It’s time to add two stars to our flag

Hats off to the people of Puerto Rico. They successfully pressured a crude chief executive to resign rather than face impeachment. What an example.

Let’s celebrate by offering our territory of Puerto Rico the option of full-fledged statehood. Our nation’s founders struggled to rise above tyrannical “taxation without representation.” Let us so honor Puerto Rico.

Come to think of it, Gen. George Washington was such a freedom-loving founder we named our nation’s capital after him. Isn’t this also the moment to offer statehood to the people of his Washington, D.C.?

That would bring us to 52 states — four times the number of stars on our first flag. A long-deferred milestone and a truly representative achievement for American democracy.

JIM HUGHES

West Fairlee

State-by-state efforts on gun safety

At Osher@Dartmouth’s recent presentation on gun rights, part of its summer series “Critical Thinking for the Preservation of Our Democracy,” gun violence was named as one of five major challenges to the survival of U.S. democracy. The debaters were constitutional lawyers — one who often defends National Rifle Association cases and one who did the merits briefing on District of Columbia vs. Heller, the case that upheld the individual’s right to possess a firearm.

Civility and rationality prevailed, welcome where inflamed rhetoric and irrationality are often raging.

However, we who cannot forget that deaths and injuries by firearms have risen to epidemic levels are left frustrated by their originialist constitutional focus. Where can we hope for change? While some politicians and advocates claim that the Second Amendment prohibits further gun regulation, we learned that hundreds of judicial decisions continue to define and limit gun rights. These decisions are taking place (unevenly, of course) at the state level across the country.

Where citizens work together for sensible regulation, it is happening. The path forward is here, through our states. Please support your state gun violence prevention organizations. In Vermont, GunSense Vermont (gunsensevt.org) continues to lead with common-sense legislation. In New Hampshire, you can sign the petition for three gun violence prevention bills at (act.everytown.org/sign/nh-gun-safety-package-senate-vte?) or call the governor’s office directly at 603-271-2121. State by state is the way to end the carnage.

KATHLEEN K. SHEPHERD

Norwich

When it rains these days, it pours

J. Barrie Sellers’ recent letter (“It’s not just liberal bias, it’s active censorship,” July 26), states that “incidences of severe weather show no increasing trend since records have been kept.” His letter complained that the Valley News declined to print that assertion as unproven. He attributed his information to the website Watts Up With That? and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He is mistaken. In fact, NOAA helped produce the 2009 report Climate Change Impacts in the United States from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. It reports that the amount of precipitation that came in extremely heavy downpours was up an average of 20 percent nationwide and 67 percent in the Northeast from 1958 to 2007. Another federal study (National Climate Assessment, 2014, fig. 2.18) extended the data to 2012 and put the Northeast’s increase at 71 percent. Such peer-reviewed studies are easily accessible on the internet.

Sellers deplores the Valley News for “liberal bias” and “active censorship.” I congratulate the Valley News for working to keep baseless claims out of the newspaper.

ROB TAYLOR

Hanover

NOAA graph worth a thousand words

This letter addresses J. Barrie Sellers’ assertion that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show “no increasing trend” toward incidences of severe weather “since records have been kept” (“It’s not just liberal bias, it’s active censorship,” July 26). He invites readers to verify this for themselves. So I did. At least I attempted to.

Following Sellers’ lead, I went to the NOAA page titled “U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI): Graph.” (Here’s the link: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/cei/graph/us/cei-tc/01-12.) There you can see the plotting of annual extremes of the kinds of data that have been recorded since 1910. The data used includes monthly maximum and minimum temperature, daily precipitation, a monthly drought severity index, and tropical storm and hurricane wind velocity.

Recognizing that there’s a difference between “extreme weather” and “climate extremes,” the picture presented is worth so many better words than I can summon here. Suffice it to say that the graph in question vividly shows a steep upward trajectory from about 1995 through the present.

So I don’t know what Sellers is talking about, except to say that Anthony Watts’ climate change denial blog, which Sellers cites as his source, is notorious for all that is omitted. What’s up with that?

PETER MALSIN

Hanover

Long overdue home improvement

I found myself greatly irritated by the photograph on Wednesday’s front page (“Chipping Away,” July 31).

William “Misha” Rosoff has owned the Route 10 property for 18 years. For at least the five years that I have lived in Hanover it has been an eyesore — unkempt, unloved and collapsing. Rosoff may choose to live in Bali for its beauty, just as many of us have chosen Hanover. May his new interest in his property prove to be an improvement for his “neighbors.”

JANE MASTERS

Hanover

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