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Letters: Denying visa to father of slain girl was shameful

Shameful denial

On Saturday, Dec. 8, 13-year-old Hania Aguilar was laid to rest after being murdered. Her killer was a horrible heartless person void of any compassion for human life.

While Hania’s assault and murder was an awful event, the U.S. State Department committed something also void of compassion. The State Department denied Hania’s father the opportunity to attend his daughter’s funeral by denying him an expedited visa needed for his travel to the U.S. In my opinion this is just cruel and inhumane beyond words.

According to the news reports I read, this man owns business in Guatemala and has resided there since 2005. The report stated that the State Department used the fact that he had a low bank balance in the business as a reason for denial.

Noe’ Aguilar has no immigration history and lived in the U.S. when his daughter was born but returned to Guatemala in 2005. I find it hard to understand how a father can be denied attendance at his daughter’s funeral. I can think of only a few horrific reasons to deny him and there was nothing in the report to even hint at such things.

I am generally of the opinion that we should have strong protected borders and only vetted people should enter; however this case is an insult to humanity. Shame on the individual who made this decision!

Kent Fletcher


Join Duke Alzheimer’s study

I’ve been an Alzheimer’s researcher for almost 50 years, but I’m also a son who recently lost his mother to this dreadful disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and affects 5.7 million Americans – including 170,000 in North Carolina. It’s also our nation’s costliest disease at an estimated $277 billion annually. By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is likely to triple and costs could rise to $1.1 trillion per year.

This is a crisis, but there is something each of us can do. The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, or ADNI, is the largest and longest-running Alzheimer’s clinical trial, and it’s taking place at Duke University. It’s funded by the National Institutes of Health and is focused on the detection of early Alzheimer’s disease and tracking its progression over time.

We are looking for healthy volunteers, ages 55 to 90, who have mild memory problems, as well as those who have been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease. There is no medication involved.

Anyone who has witnessed someone battle this disease knows how devastating it is. Alzheimer’s robs people of both their future and their past. We need volunteers to better understand what happens in the aging brain, so that we can better diagnose, treat and – one day – cure Alzheimer’s disease. Please call 1-888-223-6495 or visit for more information or to join us.

Dr. Michael Weiner

University of California

San Francisco

Light rail: What’s the benefit?

Regarding the proposed closure of Blackwell Street, the light rail project is a bad idea that keeps getting worse. Yet, this project continues chugging forward, ignoring all practical difficulties, budget overruns, and lack of community support.

About a year ago, I rode on a similar project in Norfolk, Virginia: The tram took longer than driving, cost more than parking, and was less convenient. There was only one other passenger at 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Along the rail corridor, pedestrian access were blocked and major roads were disrupted.

Light rail is effective in cities with population density high enough to cause traffic gridlock and high parking costs. Durham and Chapel Hill are easily commutable and have relatively low parking costs. The rail project will not have enough riders to pay operating costs, much less service the extraordinary capital debt incurred, and the stations and track will make downtown areas less pedestrian-friendly and more of a traffic problem, rather than improving access.

These conclusions are further supported by Friday’s front page article that the bus route connecting Duke to downtown is being dropped due to budgetary constraints and decreasing ridership. If Durham can’t support and doesn’t need buses, light rail should be off the table. If this project isn’t stopped in its tracks, we will all be paying very high taxes to support a rail project that produces no net benefit for the community.

John Blatz


The Holden legacy

On Sunday, December 16, a program will be held at the Orange County Public Library in Hillsborough to commemorate the bicentennial of Gov. William Woods Holden’s birth in 1818.

Holden was born near Hillsborough and served as North Carolina’s governor at the end of the Civil War and during the early stages of the Reconstruction Era. As the public historian for the City of Durham, I am coordinating Sunday’s program.

Most of Durham was a part of Orange County until 1881. This program will discuss the evolution of the Holden Legacy over a 200-year period.. Because of his steadfast action to keep the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups from denying the rights of North Carolina’s newly-emancipated population of African-Americans, Gov. Holden became the first governor of a state to be impeached, convicted, and removed from office.”

In 2011, the N.C. Senate officially pardoned Gov. Holden. The NC House has not yet taken the same action to pardon this strong Orange County native. The program will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m.. The library is at 137 W. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough. The program is free and open to the public.

Eddie Davis


Impeachment lurch

The latest impeachment lurch is not about Russians because there are none, but instead turns out to be about payments to a porn star. and Playboy model.

The idea is that Trump’s payment to keep women quiet amounts to an illegal campaign contribution under McCain/Feingold laws. It’s as if John McCain reached out from the grave and grabbed Trump by the ankle.

But as I understand it, the courts ruled in the case of our own Sen. John Edwards that paying money to a woman to keep her quiet is not a campaign contribution and is not illegal under McCain/Feingold.

Anyway, a man can spend any amount of his own money on his own campaign.

Alan Culton

Chapel Hill

Running out of time

The vast majority of scientists around the world are telling us that we are running out of time to reverse climate catastrophe, What are our senators doing about it?

I hope they are not backing the administration’s embarrassing performance at the Climate Summit in Poland. To focus on burning coal and turning back the Clean Air Act is the worst thing we could do for our children, grandchildren, and the planet. The U.S. will be left behind (if we don’t destroy the planet first) when other countries develop and manufacture the renewable energy sources we will all have to use in the future.

Even If Sens. Burr and Tillis only care about money, it is still the smartest move: Leave fossil fuels behind and embrace the technology of the future (or China will beat us there)

Cheryl Mitchell-Olds


Environmental legacy

As the country mourns the passing of George H. W. Bush, many are currently reflecting with fondness on aspects of his presidency. I keep thinking about his work on environmental issues.

His administration signed into law the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which curtailed acid rain and improved air quality, as well as the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which stipulated a formal impact assessment of climate change on the United States every four years.

To him, threats to the environment were not partisan matters, but American ones that should concern us all. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a recently introduced bill written by Republican and Democratic representatives, is just what he would have in mind. If passed; it would drive down carbon pollution over 10 years while being revenue neutral and creating 2.1 million jobs.

The best way to honor Bush’s legacy is by continuing his work. Let’s do this by passing the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

Matt Halvorsen


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