Once again we find ourselves having to defend the source of our drinking water. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 10 percent of all Americans and support millions of jobs in our country. Understandably, these resources need protection and care, a truth made plainly clear by the two prominent toxic spills into Lake Michigan this past year. The support we need comes from a widely popular program known as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an international effort to improve the health of the lakes for residents and wildlife alike.

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The GLRI enjoys bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress, it coordinates the activities of 10 federal agencies, and it has been authorized to receive $300 million per year through September 2021. However, the White House has shown their polluter-friendly hand again this week: The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019 released on Monday again attempts to cut the GLRI by a crippling 90 percent.

Last March, when the White House made the same proposal, we made our voices heard, and senators and members of Congress collectively ensured Great Lakes funding remained. This past October, 13 senators on the Great Lakes Task Force, both Democrats and Republicans, formally requested that the White House fund the GLRI at $300 million in the coming fiscal year, yet that request was plainly ignored.

So now, we need to speak up again. We are calling on elected leaders from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, everyone from senators to small-town mayors, to demand the full support of the federal government for the Great Lakes. We’ve succeeded in this arena before, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.

These proposed cuts and crippling changes will require bipartisan support to pass, which is where Illinois’ elected officials have influence. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Sen. Dick Durbin have been exemplary advocates of the Great Lakes, and the rest of the Illinois congressional delegation should follow their example. Our delegation in Congress is key to advocating for the natural resources and open spaces of the Chicago metropolitan area, but they need to hear from you. Now is the time to get in touch with our leaders — the Great Lakes cannot wait.

Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO, Openlands

Tears of woe

Lady Liberty, standing tall in New York harbor holding a torch of liberty, must be crying tears of woe.
For over a century, the lady has welcomed the tired, the poor, and the wretched from the far corners of the world. Today, she must be hiding her face in shame as she witnesses a country in conflict and losing its way. She is seeing the pillars of democracy assaulted from within.

No longer are the wretched from other shores welcome. There are elements in our country who instead want to put in place laws that would selectively choose who would enter. In addition, the door would not be open for the wretched from certain countries.

The present welcoming message on the base of the statue will have to be removed and replaced with, “ We welcome all who are well read, well bred and light in color.” What a shame.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park

Just plain ludicrous

Jesse Jackson is correct when he criticizes the Trump administration’s posture toward North Korea.

While President Donald Trump and others in his administration have been extremely bellicose toward the North Koreans, they should be reminded that the last time the United States went to war in Korea over 36,000 Americans died in the war zone and hundreds of thousands of Koreans died on both sides of the 38th Parallel. Major cities throughout Korea were pummeled to such an extent that they resembled Dresden and Hiroshima.

Lately, there has been much discussion concerning missile defense, but that represents nothing more than a technological Maginot Line that would prove to be no more effective than that World War II fortification proved to be.

Talk of missile defense, preemptive attacks, conventional war or nuclear war is just plain ludicrous since it could lead to a cataclysm that would prove to be much worse than the destruction that took place more than 60 years ago.

Consequently, despite American chagrin, it is encouraging that the North and South Korean adversaries are engaged in a relaxation of tensions because even during heated exchanges, words as weapons are preferable to weapons of war.

Larry Vigon, Jefferson Park