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GAIL M. OTTESON

Sonoma

Merkel’s example

EDITOR: Perhaps the most important news of the past year is the article in Thursday’s paper about Angela Merkel forming a coalition government that, when instituted, will stabilize Germany and, in partnership with France, should lead the European Union away from austerity (“Merkel forges pact to govern with old allies”). It’s time Americans learned the lessons of compromise.

For 40 years, and notably from 2009 to 2017, Republicans have tried to demagogue every issue, which has culminated in our state ship being steered like a clown car. Governments work best when they are moderated by trade-offs. Everyone gives a little. Otherwise we devolve into chaos, as we saw in the 1960s, and as we are experiencing now. The cure isn’t pushing harder and electing people who have no experience at the highest levels of power and no understanding of tradition. Politics is a game that requires apprenticeship. It’s not a simple task for simple minds.

In November, try to remember, they aren’t all the same, and your vote does count. Vote, and get America back on a normal tack.

BOB MARKETOS

Petaluma

Xanax abuse

EDITOR: I’d like to add important information not mentioned anywhere in the article about teens abusing Xanax (“Xanax abuse rising in schools,” Feb. 7): Xanax and all other benzodiazepines, when taken daily for as little as four to five weeks, may become addictive.

Even when taken as prescribed by doctors, withdrawal can be difficult, even excruciating and prolonged. It is estimated that about one-third of the population is susceptible to “protracted withdrawal.”

Geriatric doctors don’t recommend that people over 65 stay on this class of drugs (commonly used for anxiety and sleep issues), as research is showing they are related to memory loss and other cognitive problems.

I’ve witnessed two people I love battle the effects of long-term use of “benzos.”

Sometimes a short-term prescription may be needed, but please be aware that it is possible for the central nervous system to become addicted to them. This is life-changing, and not for the better.

P. KAYLEE POWELL

Santa Rosa

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