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The Omaha City Council.

City must put forward a plan

The protesters in Omaha have spoken with a voice loud and clear. The time of reform of policing has arrived. My question for the mayor and City Council is simple: What’s the plan?

Michael Pirruccello, Omaha

Rule of law provides guidance

I write in response to the June 7 Public Pulse letter of Frances Mendenhall. I believe Don Kleine made the correct decision in not charging Gardner in the shooting death of Scurlock and in requesting a grand jury investigation. I would also respectfully suggest that Ms. Mendenhall read the Nebraska statutes covering murder and manslaughter. They are 28: 303-305 inclusive. She should also read the statute on using deadly force in self-defense: 28:1409.

Kleine based his decision on these laws. So will the grand jury, where Nebraska citizens will vote to return a true bill in essence directing Gardner to be charged or not charged with a crime, under 29:1406. Then, whoever is prosecuting Gardner will have to convince a jury that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That jury vote must be unanimous.

So, there will be justice for Scurlock according to the rule of law.

James McCarthy, Omaha

Child vaccinations vital

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our health care providers have expressed concern (World-Herald news article, May 18) about dramatic decreases in previously high vaccination rates for Nebraska’s infants, children and teens. Vaccination rates for pertussis (whooping cough) were down 20% in April 2020 compared to April 2019; measles vaccinations were down 40%.

Pertussis illness is reported annually across Nebraska, ranking 19th highest in the U.S. for 2019. If infected, young infants are at particular risk of severe illness and even death from whooping cough. Large U.S. measles outbreaks have occurred across the country in recent years. As travel increases again, high measles vaccination rates will be required to prevent outbreaks resulting from renewed travel across the U.S. and globally.

Unvaccinated children are at significant risk to contract and spread these and other vaccine preventable diseases. Our medical clinics and other care providers have developed evidence-based practices to protect children and caregivers from potential exposures to COVID-19-infected contacts. We do NOT want to place our children at risk for severe illness from infections that we can prevent through vaccination.

Furthermore, it is important that we all advocate with our state and federal elected officials to assure funding and infrastructure support for optimal immunization of all children in our communities and globally. This pandemic has surely shown us that infection anywhere in the world threatens us all!

Linda K. Ohri, Omaha

Immunization Task Force — Metro Omaha

Ethanol brings major benefits

Nebraska’s ethanol industry supports the Nebraska Environmental Trust’s (NET) recommendation to fully fund the Green Plains, Inc. and Nebraska Department. of Environment and Energy grant application aimed at incenting higher ethanol blender pumps at retail locations across Nebraska.

The environmental and health benefits of ethanol is undeniable. USDA has reported that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 39%. It also reduces CO2 by 35%, particulate matter by 41%, and ozone by 22%. Additionally, ethanol replaces cancer-causing aromatics in gasoline such as benzene, toluene and xylene. Simply put, an increase in ethanol at Nebraska gas pumps gives Nebraskans cleaner air to breathe.

The recent emergence of COVID-19 adds urgency to seizing opportunities to implement ethanol, as one study found that persons living in areas with higher air pollution are more likely to die from COVID-19. We can reduce air pollution that increases the risk of health complications through the widespread use of ethanol.

To clarify, only fuel retailers from across Nebraska will receive grant dollars, and they are required to match grant funds with their own financial investment in the installation of ethanol blender pumps.

It is unfortunate that this grant application has been thrust into what appears to be a larger issue regarding NET grant funding focus and processes. The fact remains that ethanol will help NET reach its goals for our environment, while improving the quality of life for all Nebraskans.

Troy Bredenkamp, Lincoln

executive director, Renewable Fuels Nebraska

A soldier’s bravery

The June 6 article, “Church Bells Will Ring …” by OWH reporter Steve Liewer retells the story of Pvt. John Steele on D-Day. Unfortunately, there is more to that celebrated story and the real hero who never gets mentioned.

Another paratrooper, 17 year old Pvt. Ken Russell, was also hanging from that church roof but lower than Steele. As Russell struggled to cut himself free, he watched as another trooper, Sgt. John Ray, landed on the ground immediately below. Ray had no sooner landed when he was shot by a German soldier. Thinking Ray was dead, the German turned to finish off the two suspended Americans. But, in a final act of life, Ray was able to pull out his 45 and kill the German with a bullet to the head, saving the lives of the two helpless troopers.

Last year I had the honor of standing by Sgt. Ray’s grave in the American Cemetery in Normandy as author and historian Ron Drez retold this story. It had been told to him by a grateful Ken Russell. In 2002 Ron escorted Russell and Sgt. Ray’s widow to her husband’s grave and heard her say, as she dropped to her knees, “Johnny, I’m finally here.”

Such was the overdue story of Johnny Ray; finally here, but still overshadowed by someone he saved.

Read more about it here.

Dick Netley, Omaha

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