ANOTHER WAR STORY
I found the article on FaridFerdows ("War Stories," November 29) intriguing for its contrast to other immigrant stories.
Only two years ago, a Pakistani young man, about the same age as Ferdows, was deported from New York. Technically it was on a slight infraction of immigration law, but truthfully it was because he didn't have connections, at least not the same connections that Ferdows had.
AnsarMahmood had no US commander singing his praise. Mahmood did have members of his community in Hudson Valley, New York, and here in Rochester fighting to keep him here, but their voices didn't amount to much.
He was never offered 24-hour internet access, but instead was under 24-hour surveillance. He was not given the opportunity to attend college but was isolated in a remote INS prison cell in Batavia. There, he had no choice of courses to study --- the library was limited to either Stephen King or romance novels, nothing more. He did not get to dine with an American family but instead was fed pre-packaged micro-waved mess-hall food, which tastes like cardboard when eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I think it is fine to present these Cinderella-type, American-GI-Joe stories, as long as we are aware of the underlying realities that bring them about --- which happen to be a bit more complicated than chance acquaintance or occurrences.
When you have more pronounced Arab or Indian features --- like Mahmood had --- if you don't speak the language so well, and if you are not friends with military personnel, your fortune will be quite different.
Rajesh Barnabas, South Fitzhugh Street, Rochester
SAVING THE EARTH
According to a recent issue of Mother Jones, the World Health Organization estimates that global warming is now killing about 150,000 people a year (from water shortages, crop failures, floods, hurricanes, heat stroke, etc.). An article by Julia Whitty outlines a dozen environmental trends, all linked to global warming, that could effectively wipe out humanity and many other species (if not all life) if the root cause of these trends is not slowed or reversed.
We are currently spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a never-ending "war on terror," attempting to defeat an enemy that kills a few hundred people a year worldwide. We are not spending one dime on a single concrete action to derail this express train to global cataclysm that would make even the terrorist detonation of a nuclear device seem like a drive-by shooting by comparison.
This is alarming, and alarmists have an undeserved bad reputation, as if they were wrong about Vietnam, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, George Bush, etc. There were dire warnings about all these and more that went unheeded. This is the big one: the mother of all alarms. If you are skeptical, ask yourself: On what do you base your skepticism? The world's scientists are all worried about global warming. Who is telling you not to be afraid? What credentials do they have?
If you are alarmed and fear for your children's future, you must press our leaders to redirect our financial priorities toward meaningful action to keep our planet livable for our families and for our non-human neighbors, too.
Now that the worms have turned in Congress, it would seem like a good time to inform them about what's really important. And don't forget to take some personal responsibility toward reducing your demands on our planet's life-support systems.
There's still a chance to provide a future for our loved ones on this beautiful earth.
John Kastner, Rochester
WRITING TO CITY
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