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What is the value of this war's human cost?

The photo of the body of a soldier returning from Afghanistan on the PG's Oct. 28 front page was heart-wrenching but necessary. It brought home the reality of the sacrifices of the current war. We read the news daily with a special pain as we lost our nephew Corey Kowall just a month ago.

The families of all those who give their lives or suffer grave injuries understand the war experience in a most personal and painful way. Our Corey was a bright, talented and courageous 20-year-old. He was killed while on a mission to rescue his comrades whose vehicle had been hit by an I.E.D. My brother lost his only son and there are grieving sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and many, many friends. Life will never be the same for us, and the same must be true for the families of every young person killed in this war.

We want these sacrifices to have some meaning, but Corey lost his life defending an outpost surrounded by Taliban where there were no Afghanis to protect. It was an effort simply to take land in a country we will never be able to control. We want our government and our allies to have a coherent strategy to bring this to an end.

Thank you for focusing attention on the most important cost of this war. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we want more than words of comfort and hope. We want peace now and a foreign policy that avoids deadly conflicts at all cost. Money must be spent for peace and not money and precious lives for wars.

Although Corey willingly joined the military, he wanted to return home to more humanitarian pursuits. Like the soldier in your photo, he will never have that chance.


Poor leadership

Could someone give some really reputable reasons to elect Luke Ravenstahl as mayor of Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, other than his being the "poster boy" of the Democratic Party in this city? Although I am not a city resident, I work, shop, eat and regularly attend political and cultural events in the city.

It's maddening to think that after the disastrous events around the G-20, people would feel he is still worthy of running the city. During the run-up to the G-20, established peace and social justice groups were denied permits to hold peaceful events, which led to civil lawyers taking the city to federal court to uphold First Amendment rights. The city spent millions on police and national guard units allowing the Downtown area to be turned into a deserted police state, and business owners lost revenue because people were afraid to come Downtown.

In Lawrenceville and on the Pitt campus, police in riot gear unlawfully arrested, beat and tear-gassed people. Especially intimidating was the city's new LRAD vehicles, which sent out warning-to-disperse messages at ear-piercing levels. Many brutalized were unable to seek emergency medical treatment, because the city failed to have backup EMS units set up.

Now Pittsburgh will long be remembered as an unfriendly place whose elected officials sat by passively and watched people's First Amendment rights being trampled on. If I could cast a vote in the city's mayoral race Tuesday, it would not be for Luke Ravenstahl.

I think he should be made to do community service, like so many arrested under his watch, for his lack of good leadership, for poor decision making and for inviting the capitalist criminals of the G-20 to our city in the first place.

The writer is the coordinator of Codepink Pittsburgh Women for Peace.

A team member

I read David Templeton's story "With Luck, a New Kidney" (Oct. 21 Health) while serving as chair of the World Diabetes Congress in Montreal. More than 12,000 attendees from 150 countries including researchers, doctors, nurses, health ministers, people with diabetes and many others are gathered in an attempt to improve diabetes care in their respective homes.

It was timely that a Pittsburgh colleague forwarded to me Mr. Templeton's personal story on living with diabetes. His touching article reaffirmed my belief that diabetes requires a team, with the person affected by diabetes at the center. As Mr. Templeton points out, diabetes, unlike many other diseases, is a self-management disease that requires daily decisions to be made regarding eating, exercise, monitoring and taking medications. Added on is the ever-looming threat of complications.

This means that people with diabetes need support from doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and many other specialists since diabetes also affects their eyes, kidneys and heart.

Mr. Templeton is part of the Pittsburgh diabetes team. People with diabetes rely on their family, friends and community. Mr. Templeton's candid message and ongoing coverage of diabetes in the Post-Gazette is greatly appreciated by the diabetes community at large.

Executive Director
University of Pittsburgh
Diabetes Institute

A changing church

Regarding "Vatican Reaching Out to Anglicans" (Oct. 21): It has even created a new church structure to receive disaffected Anglicans -- read, those who cannot tolerate their church's ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

That the Vatican is bending "sacred rules" to welcome these bigots is more evidence of the stubborn ignorance of church leaders.

The good news is that change is happening regardless of a hierarchy that is too rigid, too divisive and too contentious.

Eighty percent of the laity, who largely ignore papal dictates, have come to understand that they are the church.

In a speech delivered by the deeply humane Pope John XXIII which opened the Second Vatican Council, he offered hope: "Today, rather, Providence is guiding us toward a new order of human relationships, which, thanks to human effort and yet far surpassing human hopes, will bring us to the realization of still higher and undreamed of expectations."


Squirrel Hill

An unholy alliance

In what marks a new low in ecumenism and the direction of my church, Pope Benedict XVI has signaled the world like the Statue of Liberty ("Vatican Reaching Out to Anglicans," Oct. 21). Only this time, the inscription reads, "Give me your chauvinists, misogynists and homophobes, your huddled masses longing for yesteryear; those who just can't stand the sight of a woman or a gay priest anymore; send these bigots to me; I lift my satiny laced robes to welcome them."

This move will even allow disaffected married Anglican priests to become Roman Catholic priests. The dirty secret here is that Rome has been giving special dispensations for ordaining these reactionary-minded anti-woman anti-gay married men of the Anglican and Protestant cloth for years.

We have bishops and cardinals still enjoying the fruits of their clericalism after subjecting children to the sins of pedophiles over and over again. We have a church hierarchy investigating the saintly female religious in our country when they should be investigating themselves. The hierarchy is losing its teaching authority almost daily because it can't get over its fetish with two joined cells to forcefully support the poverty-ridden child without health care in Cleveland.

Thank God for the women religious of this country or else more of us would probably be ex-Catholics. Thank God for Pope John XXIII, who declared health care as a human right. Thank God for Pope John Paul II who said, "No to war!" Alas, we have gone from prophetic to pathetic.

To all you Anglicans, the grass isn't greener. To the hierarchy of my church, I say what any dog owner would understand: "Let's clean up our own yard before inviting others over to play."

Mt. Lebanon

How can such a large home be truly green?

Regarding the "Extreme Green Makeover" of 1117 S. Negley Ave (Homes, Oct. 24), I am astounded that the property can be considered for LEED certification and be touted in the article as meeting "the highest standards for energy usage and environmental design." It does not matter what kind of windows, insulation, energy-saving heating or appliances are used: 8,678 square feet for just two occupants is simply not, by any meaningful measure, energy efficient.

While it is great to showcase eco-friendly homes and lifestyles, especially green renovations in walkable older neighborhoods, the message should not be that we can all live like kings as long as we purchase the right technology. In this time of concern over climate change and dwindling fossil fuel reserves, we need a more realistic vision of how we can live sustainably, within our ecological means.

Squirrel Hill


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