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Letters to the editor

On child abuse and the court, the Air Force's $35 billion tanker, Massachusetts healthcare, and the Berlin Wall.

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While I acknowledge that not everyone's experience will be identical to mine, the horror stories presented by Hsieh in his article don't sound like mine at all.

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I know of nobody who has waited even close to a year for a physical or received insufficient care, and group physicals sound about as fictitious as Sarah Palin's "death panels."

Furthermore, my current employer-provided health insurance does not cover several of the basic services covered by Commonwealth Care (my eyeglasses, for one), so his suggestion that all insurance plans must match the state plan's coverage is misleading.

On one point we agree:

The plan is well over its budget right now, and we have raised some taxes to compensate. I don't mind paying a little more in taxes if it means that my friends, neighbors, and I will always have access to affordable medical care, regardless of unforeseeable hardships or changes in employment status.

Pamela Fontes-May

Northampton, Mass.

The Berlin Wall came down, but remnants linger

In response to the Oct. 8 opinion piece "The Berlin Wall: what really made it fall" by Elizabeth Pond, about how the Berlin Wall came down with hardly a thud, 20 years ago in 1989: On this anniversary of the event that symbolized the end of the Soviet Empire we should look back with gratitude to the brave citizens of Leipzig who prayed and brought candles into the streets – and the East German soldiers who refused to fire on their own people.

It may be hard for young people today to comprehend how much fear and oppression dominated the lives of those caught under Soviet rule. Even in the United States some people built home bomb shelters during the cold war, with the hope of surviving a feared atom bomb attack.

My husband's family, because his father fought for freedom for Belarus, had to flee their home in Vilnia when it was occupied by Soviet troops during World War II. The alternative was the Gulag, or worse. We think of that era as past. Yet remnants of those oppressive regimes remain. In Belarus, for instance, the media is controlled, an elected Parliament was disbanded, official election results were announced before the close of balloting, people are jailed by the KGB for peaceful protests, and friends of ours are among the "disappeared." Smear campaigns are even targeted against those in the United States who are effective in opposing that regime.

People in countries like Belarus still need to break oppression's chains in order to live freer lives under a democratic government. Support and prayers can be powerful forces to bring about change.

Joanne Ivy Stankievich

Monmouth Beach, N.J.

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