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Letters to the Editor

Fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria needs strong U.S. support

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play a critical role in the body's immune response against invaders like bacteria and viruses. Colors were added by the source. On Thursday, March 6, 2019, researchers reported that monthly shots of HIV drugs worked as well as daily pills to control the virus that causes AIDS in two large international tests. (Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, Austin Athman/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH via AP) ORG XMIT: NY760

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play a critical role in the body's immune response against invaders like bacteria and viruses. Colors were added by the source. (Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, Austin Athman/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH via AP)

At the height of the AIDS crisis nearly two decades ago, the world came together to fight back, creating the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This international partnership has helped save 27 million lives since 2002.

This is stunning progress, but we cannot claim victory yet. HIV and TB treatments aren’t reaching everyone who needs them and progress on tackling malaria has stalled.

Since the beginning, the U.S. has played a leading role in the Global Fund, providing a full one-third of its financial resources. That must continue. I urge our members of Congress and President Donald Trump to continue strong support for the Global Fund by recommitting to provide at least one-third of the total $14 billion needed to step up the fight, save more lives, and move us closer to ending these diseases.

Russ Ziegler, Downers Grove

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Chicago needs elected school board

Families in Wheaton are not offered hybrid school boards. Families in Naperville are not offered hybrid school boards — nor are parents in River Forest or Evanston. So, why is it that families in Chicago are cautioned against the same democratic governance that is afforded to families in neighboring majority white surburban school districts?

Why are the families in districts in which the majority of public school students are black and Latinx, given excuses and lamentations of “being too political” when they seek to exercise their rights as taxpayers to elect the representatives that make decisions impacting their neighborhood schools?

Over 80 percent of the students who were most impacted by District 299’s reckless mass school closures were black (with the balance being Latinx students).

The appointed school board structure assigns the final decision making authority to the mayor, not the residents most impacted by system. Creating a hybrid system in which the majority of the seats are appointed by the mayor maintains the same decision making structure that awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to organizations connected to CPS board members and school leadership.

There are over 800 school districts in Illinois with the right to fully elect their entire school board. Denying access to full democracy based on race or income is discriminatory and unjust. If families who are white and affluent in neighboring districts are allowed to elect their entire school board, then families in District 299 must be given the same right with deliberate speed. Why is it that democracy becomes such a complicated concept when it comes to black and Latinx families having access to the same rights as other taxpayers? The time for a fully elected school board is now.

Jay Travis, Bronzeville

War Birds fan

Growing up a huge War Birds fan, my favorite was the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the twin boom, twin engine fighter. The versatile Lightning also served as a bomber and reconnaissance plane. Over 10,000 plied the skies over Germany and the South Pacific. The Luftwaffe called the deadly plane the ‘Fork Tail Devil’. To the Japanese they were “two planes, one pilot.”

In early 1944, civilian Charles Lindbergh was sent to the South Pacific to consult with Lightning pilots on improving their sadly lacking combat endurance. To them, Lindbergh was an over the hill aviation antique nearly twice their age who had nothing to offer. But he conned his way into illegally flying combat missions. The kids were amazed he could stay aloft 10 hours to their six. He showed them how to adjust the engine and fuel mixture to achieve a 67 percent flying time increase. They embraced his techniques and made him part of their patrols. He flew 35 missions and shot down one enemy plane, though it was wisely erased from their combat record.

Fast forward 75 years and Uncle Sam is having trouble with another fighter, the F-35. This plane which first flew in 2006, and still facing daunting operational problems 13 years later. It’s eight million lines of software code create endless bugs impacting operational efficiency. The ejection seats don’t work and the plane is 2,000 pounds overweight. The Pentagon’s chief weapons inspector has identified 90 separate problems reducing its usefulness. Touted as a global plane, Japan was seen as a model customer, ramping up it F35-A squadron April 1. Ten days later one of their F-35s disappeared in the Pacific on a training mission. The cost for this boondoggle that will likely never achieve even a semblance of success? $1.5 trillion.

If the Lone Eagle could come back for one day to assess the F-35, he’d just shake his head and say, “Dump it, boys, nothing can save this plane wreck.”

Oh yes, the F-35 is built by Lockheed. And its name: “Lightning II;” a sad coda to the legacy of the Fork Tail Devil.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn