Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of March 29, 2010

Readers write in about Maine's clean election law and seahorses in trouble.

Maine's an example

I agree with your March 8 editorial "Look to the states," that Washington should look to the states to find solutions to political problems. You described many in the accompanying article, "While Congress dickers, states govern."

An important initiative escaped your survey. Here in Maine we enacted a clean elections law, which allows political candidates to choose publicly funded campaigns for office instead of getting mired down with fundraising and the sense of indebtedness to special interests that often follows from that. Our system has worked extremely well and has bipartisan support. A substantial majority of Maine's Legislature now uses clean elections funding, and accepts the spending limits that are part of the system. In a recent poll, 74 percent of Maine's population stated their belief that the candidates for governor should choose that means for funding their campaigns.

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Congress has before it the Fair Elections Now Act, S. 752, introduced by Senators Durbin and Specter, which would apply that system to congressional elections.

A companion bill is pending in the House, H.R. 1285. That approach is needed more than ever now, following the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the McCain-Feingold law restricting corporate spending on elections.

Cushman D. Anthony
Former state representative
North Yarmouth, Maine

Sea horses are in trouble

Regarding the photograph on page 24 of the March 8 issue of the speared, deep-fried sea horses taken in Beijing: If you are unaware of what is happening to sea horses, then I could forgive the fact that this photo wasn't accompanied with information.

These are some facts you need to know about sea horses and their fate: Their habitat is under siege from climate change and destruction by trawlnet fishing.

They are the only fish or mammal where the male has a true pregnancy. Pregnant males are captured, dried, and ground up for their perceived value to health. Thousands are harvested to satisfy the perceived need to keep them in home or office or restaurant aquariums. Thousands are harvested, dried, and sold to shell shops; 1.2 million are harvested yearly to satisfy the market for sea horses in traditional Chinese medicine.

But sea horses are endangered and do not belong on a skewer as a little snack anywhere.

If you want to learn more about sea horses, do a search for Project Seahorse or the Monterey Bay Aquarium or traditional Chinese medicine. Better yet, read "Poseidon's Steed" by the marine biologist Helen Scales.

I was sickened by the photo. Perhaps others will be galvanized as I am to work to stop, or at the very least slow, the harvest of this magical being.

Carolyn Hopper
Bozeman, Mont.

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