The Opinion Shop

Read bonus Letters to the Editor that didn't run in print

These letters were not published in the print edition but deserve a look.


Summer heat gets much attention, but the winter extreme kills pets, too. Some pets aren’t considered family members as much as they are alarm systems that bark or pest-killers that pounce. Those pets need to be kept safe and warm, too!

I and fellow veterinarians agree we should bring pets indoors if the temperature is below 40 degrees. If we can’t do that, we can help pets stay comfortable: Keep pets groomed. Pets can’t retain body heat with a thick, matted coat. If a groomer isn’t budgeted, shave mats ourselves.

Supply a shelter with three solid sides, roof and a floor elevated off the ground, plus bedding such as straw or hay. Ideas include an igloo with an outdoor heating pad underneath or a dog house with a heat lamp. Flaps on the door will keep wind and rain out and body heat in. Provide constant access to water that isn’t frozen.

Many cats trying to keep warm beneath car hoods die horrible deaths when cars are started. If a car is kept outdoors or in a garage cats can access, be sure to pound on the hood, beep the horn or look under the hood prior to starting it.

Sara Lash



I propose a unifying solution to the discussion of the Muslim call-to-prayer chant from the Duke University chapel.

Christians used to have a similar tradition ringing church bells on Sunday mornings. The protest of nonreligious sleepers did away with this custom.

My proposal is that we should allow a chant from all steeples once a week, once a day: Fridays it would be the Muslim adhan, Saturdays a Jewish cantor and Sundays a Christian singer, all of a prescribed length and loudness and sung alternately by women and men.

The adhan already has a “melody.” Jewish cantors have theirs. Please, Christian musicians compose a lovely chant and priests/pastors should give us a few inspiring words to celebrate the greatness of our God. And sleepers: Awake!

Inge Simonsen



It’s so saddening to learn of the number of gun deaths in the U.S., including police officers killed by civilians and vice versa. One such shooting is too many.

Unfortunately, the gun lobby will not cotton any reduction in access to handguns, and to voice sorrow for either police officer or civilian shooting victims instantly raises the ire of another group.

Police officers surely expose themselves to great risk. It’s important to recognize, however, that police work is far from the most dangerous occupation in the U.S. More dangerous occupations by far include those of timber workers, fishermen and fishery workers and roofers as measured by deaths per 100,000 workers.

And the civilian homicide death rate by guns in cities virtually matches the overall such rate for officers.

As bad as it is to have even one officer shot, such shootings of police officers have been declining. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, officer deaths by shootings generally have been falling for over 100 years. 2014 stands out only because 2013 was unusually low. So please don’t malign folks, such as I, who mourn deaths on both sides of the badge.

Steve Barsby



This week alone there will be over 20,000 people unemployed due to layoffs. While N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger wastes his time fighting a bill that affects probably 20 magistrates so they won’t quit based on religion, he could be focused on saving the jobs of thousands of people who have no religious beliefs keeping them from working.

If this law passes, then people can pick any belief they have to refuse to do their duties. Doctors and nurses can decide not to treat patients because they are offended by their political beliefs.

Berger’s campaign is a waste of time, money and resources for such a small population of people. Magistrates have a right to have their beliefs. However, they took a sworn oath of duty. If they can’t do that, then they need to leave. There are plenty who will fill those positions. It is not like we will go without a magistrate.

Berger needs to practice what he preaches and separate church from state. Who is helping us while he is crusading religious beliefs?

Kimberly Calhoun



As I was swallowing a mouthful of bitterness after Duke lost yet another close football bowl game, I had an epiphany: How the heck did Duke football (football!) rise to the level of competing in back-to-back-to-back bowl games?

My parents graduated from Duke University in 1980, and my college sports allegiance was set before my birth in 1984. Of course, the only sport I really followed was men’s basketball. Through the Laettner shot, back-to-back championships and countless victories over UNC and Maryland (my college roommate was a huge Maryland fan), I have always loved being a Duke fan.

Football, on the other hand, is a much different story. My memories consist of two images: throwing pizza on the opposing team’s mascot as a young child and rushing the field to tear down the goal posts after Duke’s victory over Army in 1997. As for the rest, losses and disappointment, basically ignoring football in lieu of basketball.

Though Duke lost this recent game, it has cemented its place in my heart – a program to be proud of. I hope all fans remember how far they have come and how far they will go in the future.

Christopher Melling

New Bern


Your Jan. 26 coverage of Coach K was over the top and insulting to people who subscribe to your paper in the hopes of reading news. Your editors seem to have forgotten that the role of the news media is to provide information that is needed by residents to assure a well-functioning democracy.

Coach K did not discover the cure to cancer, nor did he make progress toward world peace. While his career milestone of winning 1,000 games is certainly newsworthy, dedicating three section front pages to him gives one the impression that Raleigh-Durham is an insular, self-absorbed community. I’ve lived here eight years and do not find it to be so.

I suppose the Monday editions have become so thin that the editors felt providing additional basketball coverage would be seen as a positive. Unfortunately, it only underscored how much I still depend on my hometown newspaper for real news.

Kimberly Jones



After reading in the Dec. 17 news article “ payouts to McCrory questioned” that our governor took a $100,000 payout from that has an inappropriate appearance at best, I read about government retirees’ big pensions (“ For some retirees, a big pension – and then some,” Jan. 4 news article).

These big pensions are ridiculous. Then to learn they are able to greatly increase them through supplemental funds only makes them more unbelievable. I’m sure there are a large number of qualified candidates who would not only fill these positions for lower wages but would take smaller pensions happily.

After experiencing the cut in unemployment benefits and low-wage job market , I continue to be amazed at how our government wastes money when so much of the population struggles to survive.

I’m all for reducing the top pay at government, putting term limits into effect and putting our money into more effective programs than six-figure pensions . How do we start? By becoming informed, voting incumbents from office and letting those in office know we will no longer tolerate the greed and dishonesty that have become so prolific in our government institutions.

Bob Loughlin



“I’m not a scientist either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists! And they’re all telling us that our activities are changing the climate!” President Barack Obama said.

After listening to the president’s State of the Union address, this idea popped into my head: A man in his mid-30s who is 40 pounds overweight and smokes three packs of cigarettes a day visits his primary physician who warns him, “Based on your family history and your current habits, if you don’t quit smoking and lose weight, you will in all likelihood face dire consequences as you get older.”

Puzzled, the patient seeks other opinions from his ENT doctor, chiropractor, PT and other specialists. They all concur with his primary physician.

Driving home he listens to Rush Limbaugh’s claims of a vast conspiracy by the weight-loss industry and creators of smoking cessation devices “manipulating data to make money off of people who are harmlessly enjoying themselves with the pleasures of tobacco and hardy eating.” Upon arriving at home, he turns on Fox News where numerous pundits repeat Limbaugh’s assertions.

During a commercial, he devours an entire chocolate cake, lights a cigarette and says to his wife, “Gee, honey, I am so glad the news I get is fair and balanced.”

Alan C. Smith



Regarding the Dec. 25 Point of View “ Tolerance and the holiday spirit in Islam”: Seidu Malik paints Islam as tolerant toward Christianity and wants the same treatment back.

Tolerance is a great virtue and is to be encouraged for everyone’s benefit, but Malik’s Point of View piece and my experience suggest Islam has a long way to go to actually be tolerant.

Of course, the Muslim community would want Christians to be tolerant of Muslims (as do I) because Christians are in the majority here and in position to make life much easier or harder for them. But Malik mentions only Christians, leaving unspoken Islam’s relation with Jews and atheists.

We know of the unfortunate antagonism toward Jews written into the Quran, and I have experienced a different Muslim spokesman telling a crowd of, presumably, largely Christians that they should tolerate Muslims because “like you, we are not atheists.”

I like to think many individual Muslims, like many Christians and many Jews, are tolerant of everyone, but Islam as a religion and many Islamic spokespeople have a long way to go to be considered tolerant.

Neil Stahl

Chapel Hill