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Moved by Pickering OpEd

I was moved and quite pleased that the subject of brain disorders was brought to light again to the state of Maine. Thank you to Joe Pickering for his Feb. 3 OpEd. I have been a crusader for people with brain disorders (mental health and substance use) to be treated like anyone with a physical diagnosis. The brain is part of the body.

I was a volunteer and an advocate for NAMI for many years. I have worked as an intensive case manager for people with profound mental illness and substance use. I am now a Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselor. In my work, I have found that most substance users have undiagnosed mental health and traumatic experiences in their lives before they started drinking or using drugs.

To quote Pickering, “Mainers, let’s be the first state in the nation to demand the end of health care stigma. Those with brain disorders and addictions and their families would love you for it!”

Mary Ann Combs


Where’s the bipartisanship?

I find it very interesting that for the last four years Democrats like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have called for bipartisanship from the Republicans. They repeatedly said that the Republicans wouldn’t hear or act on their concerns.

Now, less than a month since the Democrats took control of Congress and the White House, Sen. Susan Collins presented what I consider to be a reasonable plan for COVID-19 relief to the Democratic majority. But instead of bipartisanship, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and most other Democrats basically gave her and the Republican Party the answer, “my way or the highway.” So much for Democratic bipartisanship.

Merle Cousins

Southwest Harbor

Make 2021 a year of climate action

One of Joe Biden’s first acts as president was to rejoin the Paris Agreement. As someone who works in Arctic climate policy, I was excited how quickly America was welcomed back into the on-going international discussions on mitigating ecological disaster. Our re-found seat, however, comes with huge responsibility: despite decades of science and calls for action, the climate is worsening.

In mid-January, a 908-foot Russian tanker passed through an ice-free Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, several others followed last week. Note that in 2010 the same Arctic waterway was completely frozen November through June. Last year the U.S. alone experienced $95 billion in damages directly linked to anthropogenic climate change, yet former President Donald Trump continued rolling back more than 100 environmental policies. Today we have been thrust into a scenario beyond what my fellow climate scientists predicted as worst-case as recently as 2015.

The Maine Climate Council is currently planning its work for 2021, and it is imperative we push beyond our borders. Maine may only emit 0.3 percent of U.S. emissions, but we can be a part of the larger solution. As the only state to have both our senators in the Bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, we need to hold Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins to the heat. “Maine Won’t Wait,” but neither can the world. Without consequential national legislation by the U.S., the Paris Agreement will not be worth the paper on which it’s written. 2021 needs to be the year in which America steps up, and it starts with ME.

Susana Hancock