Letters

Letters 11-17-2014

by Dr. Buono in the November 10 Northern Express. While I applaud your enthusiasm embracing a market solution for global climate change and believe that this is a vital piece of the overall approach, it is almost laughable and at least naive to believe that your Representative Mr.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Letters 5/18/09

Letters Troopers in trouble
I am writing as a very concerned citizen and also a wife of a Michigan State Trooper. This is the second time that my husband, a trooper now of nearly five years, has been on the layoff list. Again I find myself scrambling to get information out to the public and try to save not only my husband’s job, but also the jobs of 100 State Troopers who are desperately needed in this state.
I know people are aware of the layoffs, but I wonder if they really know the reasons why. The State just paid $8 million to run a recruit school to beef up the Michigan State Police patrolling troopers. That precious tax money was spent on highly skilled and trained recruits who will now be forced to look for jobs, most likely outside of the state.
The State of Michigan is not only losing potential income through police work, ticketing and protection, but also losing a priceless number of mature, experienced and elite senior troopers. Furthermore, laying off 100 troopers for the rest of the year is only set to save the state $1.7 million.
Heavily publicized is the closure of the Detroit crime lab, which was closed after an audit showed that weapons ballistics tests were erroneous in 10 percent of 200 criminal cases. Put simply, the Detroit crime lab was closed due to incompetence. In reaction, the case loads were given to the Michigan State Police crime lab. This has cost the State Police an estimated $7 million, none of which has been reimbursed. This has directly placed a strain on an already tight budget and further endangered positions of much-needed patrolling officers.
All over Michigan, local communities are struggling with their own budgets. Police at the local level are on the chopping block. The State Police do not routinely patrol areas that are already contracted by local departments. That story changes when communities no longer have the money to fund local police. When this happens, the state police are asked to step in and start patrolling to keep communities safe.
Recently, state troopers have been asked to beef up patrols in cities like Pontiac, Flint, Muskegon, and Benton Harbor. If the state government is also cutting their support, local police departments are losing their back-up plan. That puts a strain on not just the State Police, but the whole police force in Michigan.
By cutting members of the State Police, Michigan‘s government is sending a direct message to taxpayers that: “We can no longer afford to guarantee your safety.”
On the flip side, Michigan has already let a total of 3,000 felons free and has closed prisons. This is a huge contradiction. The state government is saying it can no longer afford to house criminals, no longer afford to catch criminals, but still public safety is at the top of its concerns.
I do not envy the Governor’s position to try to balance the budget. I proudly live in the state of Michigan and have directly felt the squeeze this recession has put on everyone.
I work in a veterinary hospital. Every day I see people who cannot afford to treat their animals’ illness opt for euthanasia because it’s all they can afford. The last thing the people of Michigan need right now is a slap in the face by taking away police protection that they have paid for. The people of Michigan need some inspiration: that even though the economy is tight and morale is down, the Michigan government still cares enough to keep them safe.
Jessica Vandercook via email
A new direction
Your article about candidate Rick Snyder taking the GOP in a new direction is long overdue for the Republicans.
I left ship completely after 9/11‘s follow-up of war, secrecy, lies, fear-mongering, and complete moral hypocrisy. Republicans claim to be moral; however, their actions speak louder than words with the easily-justified taking of human life while claiming to have strong abortion controls. Their sweetheart deals benefit themselves only with contempt to those in need, completely ignoring laws when they go against their against agenda.
The new GOP -- if there ever is one -- should have real morals and convictions, not just organizing under false claims, quibbling, and opposite actions to their opponents. If they can only be real again and not hypocrites of the past -- a good example of this being Rush Limbaugh.
I can’t stand the sellout, hypocritical, lying, secretive, thieving, corrupt, warmongering, immoral Republicans of the Bush era leading us anymore in the future, but will listen to those who stand by their convictions and have plans to help like Ron Paul. The rest of the party can close up shop; I can’t listen anymore to their bullshit that doesn’t serve anyone but them and the big money which pays them off.

Bradford Krull • via email

Staying informed
Thank you for your article on Bay Harbor. I live in Charlevoix and grew up in Petoskey, so I am very worried about the contamination at Bay Harbor. Thank you for keeping us informed on what is going on, I just wish our local papers did the same.
I read and look forward to your paper every week, just keep up the good job.

Gary Goke • via email

Sweet music for Detroit
I have always been a faithful Northern Express reader, and wanted to let you know I LOVED your idea about making Detroit a world-class music district (re: Random Thoughts, 5/11).
I forwarded it to Mitch Albom at WJR. With his efforts to move Detroit forward, he may just be the person to pitch such an idea! It could be a reality, and would be wonderful to restore Detroit to the city I remember and loved as a child of the ‘60s!

Lynne Maher • Ann Arbor

Cultural racism
In response to your recently printed piece from Chuck Shepherd’s News of the Weird lead story with (your?) headline, “Goblins of Iceland,“ I urge you to print the following link from New York Magazine in rebuttal of his sources which he further grossly took out-of-context, for the benefit of your readers in obtaining the actual facts:
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2009/03/reality_check_vanity_fairs_fis.html
The kind of exploitive reporting in Mr. Shepherd’s piece under the guise of journalism does nothing more than further fuel cultural racism, and as we all know, racism and overall stereotyping is never justified.
Thank you for your help setting the record straight.

Janese Horton • TC

(Well if it‘s true that Icelanders don‘t really believe in goblins, the next thing you know, New York Magazine will claim that the Irish don‘t really believe in leprechauns and the English don‘t believe in fairies. -- ed.)



 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Letters 5/11/09

Letters Tests show clean bill
of health at Bay Harbor
I read the recent story concerning claims of historical waste dumping at the former Penn Dixie Cement Plant site that has been reclaimed and turned into the Bay Harbor resort and two public parks.
Below is another perspective on the claims made in the article and the facts as we know them.
It does appear that a meeting and follow up interviews were conducted with local individuals by the U.S. Coast Guard. CMS Land was not invited to the meeting and any information gathered from the meeting and interviews was not shared with CMS.
CMS Land has however, seen parts of the report that was obtained by the Friends of the Jordan River Watershed Council. Despite the numerous claims made in the article of barrels of waste being buried at the site, the sections of the Coast Guard report that we were able to view concluded, “No additional investigative action to be pursued in this matter. This preliminary investigation is closed.”
The cement plant and quarry that once occupied the site were in operation for more than 100 years. CMS Land simply does not know all actions that may have been taken on this site over the past 100 plus years.
What we know for sure is that CMS Land has taken more than 1,300 soil, groundwater and surface water samples, has installed 340 groundwater monitoring wells, and completed an extensive geophysical investigation of the site. Despite this extensive scientific study, barrels containing toxic waste have not been discovered.
Another fact is that despite tests conducted over the course of several years that never demonstrated any contamination from cement dust in Bay Harbor Lake, several organizations, including individuals critical of the remediation project, conducted another test of the lake in 2006.
The test included water samples and EPA divers surveying the lake below the water surface. The lake once again was given a clean bill of health.
The story stated that CMS Land has blocked the efforts of plaintiffs in a lawsuit to take samples from the site. Regulatory agencies and judges presiding over the disposal well lawsuit have heard numerous legal pleadings, requests and desires and have determined what is appropriate and established specific requirements concerning the lawsuit. CMS is fully honoring those requirements and expects others to do the same. In fact, plaintiffs in that suit have been on site to take water samples within the past month.
Environmental and reclamation plans were developed, reviewed and approved by state regulators and the Bay Harbor development and two public parks were reclaimed from an abandoned brownfield site that had been described as a “moonscape.” Today, this once unproductive land – where contamination was open to the elements and escaped unabated – has been transformed into a world class resort that draws visitors from around the world and is an important economic contributor to Northwest Michigan.
We believe there is much to be proud of at the project. In addition to the important economic impact of the site, the original development significantly improved the environment and CMS Land is now improving upon that protection. CMS Land has worked for more than three years and spent more than $80 million addressing environmental issues at the site.
CMS remains committed to completing remediation work and achieving results that safeguard the public and environment.

Timothy Petrosky • Area Manager • CMS Land Company

Dog responsibility
In response to Michele Lonoconus’ letter regarding Obama’s choice to obtain a dog from a breeder as opposed to adopting, I agree we should be looking in our own backyard and focusing on adopting dogs. However, we need to eliminate the reasons many dogs are in need of rescue in the first place!
If everyone bought from a responsible breeder, or adopted a dog (whose temperament matched the prospective owner), there wouldn’t be thousands of dogs in shelters.
Unfortunately, we have many “backyard breeders” and accidental breedings. The problems with obtaining dogs from these kinds of situations are: 1. Lack of genetic screening; 2. Sellers don’t take back the puppy/dog if the owner can’t keep it; 3. Buyers are not screened or advised on responsible dog care; 4. Sellers don’t require spaying/neutering.
Improper breeding often leads to hyper, hard-to-train, and possibly genetically-unsound dogs. Only knowledgeable, experienced people should be breeders to prevent over-population and unwanted litters of puppies.
I cannot stress enough the importance of prospective buyers understanding that acquiring a dog is a lifetime commitment. It is critical that the buyer understands the temperament of the breed to ensure that it matches the owner’s lifestyle. A sedentary type person shouldn’t have an active breed, or someone with small children shouldn’t have a feisty terrier.
Owners need to understand the importance of early socialization and training (critical periods are prior to age 16 weeks). However, training at any age is important to ensure a well-behaved dog.
Reputable breeders understand these critical points and guide prospective owners. They CARE about the well being of the puppy... they ask YOU questions. They specify the type of care needed and will take the puppy back at any time if the buyer cannot keep it.

Diane Russell • via email
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

Letters 5/4/09

Letters Outsourcing local jobs
As a resident of Traverse City, and a proponent for supporting our great state of Michigan, I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the fact that local government boards are allowing the outsourcing of jobs that belong in Michigan.
Recently, the company where my daughter is employed lost a long-standing contract to a large business in Atlanta, Georgia for the processing of the light and power bills from the City of Traverse City. Her business had been producing these for many years without ever an increase in cost for the city.
Now, by accident, she has found out that they will no longer be doing these mailings – they are going to be sent to Georgia.
In Governor Jennifer M. Granholm’s State of the State Address on February 3, she issued an order creating a preference for Michigan firms and will be requiring other units of government in Michigan, including cities, townships, counties and school districts to adopt a “Buy Michigan First” policy. She said, “Support Michigan. Select Michigan. Buy Michigan. Everything from Ford to Faygo... our first love is businesses that have long called Michigan home.”
When will our government practice what they preach? I am a father who would not be a good father if I didn’t follow through on my words. But I am a good father, and am worried about not only my child’s employment but of the rest of Michigan, the rest of America.
I believe in supporting Michigan, selecting Michigan, buying Michigan and think it is time that everyone who lives and works here, including our local government bodies believes and act it too.

Vince Rice • TC

Clueless Camp
Congressman Camp sent an e-mail recently stating that “Americans are feeling the pinch in their own budgets,“ and the President and Congress are spending “your tax dollars in unprecedented amounts.“
Absurdly, Congressman Camp doesn’t mention the trillions President Bush spent on a trumped-up Iraq War. Nor does he hint that the mortgage debacle resulted from a laissez-faire Bush Administration that looked the other way when big banks played blackjack with investors’ dollars, that taxed the middle class unfairly while the upper half-percent paid little, and that broke the back of our economy.
Now he’s worried the government’s spending too much? Please. Congressman Camp consistently supported President Bush, and the Republican Congress that got us into this mess. Let’s give President Obama credit. His Recovery Act has created or saved more than 109,000 Michigan jobs. Michigan workers have received $3,726,000 under the Making Work Pay Tax Credit. And the American Opportunity Tax Credit has aided more than 121,000 Michigan students.
It took eight years to dig Bush’s money pit. President Obama has been in office less than four months. Let’s think about how we vote in the future and put an able person in Congress. Leave Dave Camp where he’s been all along -- in Congruous.

Mary Eliowitz • Maple City


GM vs. foreign car makers
As Michigan’s unemployment numbers go up and our economy sinks farther and farther, it’s important to look at some hard facts that are contributing to it. The Level Field Institute (levelfieldinstitute.org) compares the U.S. auto industry with foreign manufacturers and has come up with the following facts and figures.
• Direct employment: GM: 92,000 employees vs. foreign automakers: 95,000. Each one of these jobs supports more than nine other jobs in the surrounding community.
• U.S. Assembly plants: GM: 19 vs. foreign automakers: 17. Each plant employs about 2,000 workers, requires $1 billion or more in capital investment, and encourages suppliers to build their factories nearby. Question: how many foreign auto plants are there in Michigan? Answer-none!
• Model year domestic Content: GM: 75 percent. Foreign automakers: 33 percent. Auto parts suppliers are the largest employer in five states, and the top five employers in 11 other states.
• Buying one GM vehicle supports 78 jobs per car, including U.S. supplier based jobs, vs. 34 jobs per car that are supported by foreign car makers.
The above numbers, sobering as they are, don’t even take into account the 660,000 vehicles South Korea is allowed to export to the U.S. These vehicles offer not one manufacturing job or dollar to our economy, and in fact, cost the U.S. roughly 55,000 jobs.
So, the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle, consider this: would you rather purchase a home-grown company’s vehicle which directly supports Michigan? Or a foreign vehicle -- even one built in the U.S. -- that supports a foreign country, and/or a southern state?

Ben Lillie, GM retiree • Cheboygan

Religious scam
Turning on TV, I chanced to click on Franklin Graham’s broadcast. He is the son of Billy Graham and now CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
I was shocked to see on the screen in huge print the words “Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready?” Then Franklin said ‘This year’s theme for the broadcast is ‘Jesus is coming soon.‘” He continued, of course, to emphasize that he must have financial support so he can preach to the whole world, save souls and prepare his listeners to be ready to meet
Jesus in the air at the Rapture.
Does Franklin really believe this myth? I suppose so; millions of Christians do.
Nevertheless, he and other TV evangelists use it to create fear of going to hell, and giving false hope of going to heaven. They are taking full advantage of their listeners’ trust, to rake in the money for their religious show, and support for their own luxurious life style.
It all smacks of a scam.
What a pity that congregations are not taught to separate myth from historical facts in the Bible. How tragic that educated clergy do not make clear the difference, and help them to understand the value of symbols.
As a Christian liberal, I am not required to believe that the Bible is literally true in every word and sentence. I don’t have to teach such fundamentalist nonsense.

Rev. Harold R. Hodgson • Cadillac


 
Monday, April 27, 2009

Letters 4/27/09

Letters Organized crime in
the financial industry
Organized crime is nothing new but where it comes from is. This crime gang affects us all.
I am referring to the financial industry, lobbyists, and our own Congress in the fleecing of the citizens of this country. Not only have they gathered together to make rules and laws for their own benefit, they are also discriminating against the working class and poor of this country.
Their weapon is our credit scores and hidden fees. Once you fall into their trap they do their best to keep you there, stopping you from purchasing items that you need or would like, such as new or used cars. Or, if they grant you a loan, they punish you with an interest rate that keeps you down, which is discriminating as the value of your purchase is the same for someone with better credit.
Congress approved an interest ceiling last year of 30 percent, which is a crime in itself. If nothing is done by Congress to correct these travesties our only choice, other than an armed uprising, is to vote in third party candidates to break up the frat clubs in the next election.

James C. Williams • Kalkaska

Green gimmick
I read with interest the feature in Gear Box on eco-packaging. I love the idea of the carry strap on the shoe boxes.
The use of cloth bags at grocery stores? Great! At least that’s how I felt before I read the little sewn-in label on my “green“ bags: “Made In China.“
Now my bags are not so green anymore. The cost to the environment to manufacture and ship is not worth it. Why can’t they be made locally? Now that would be “green.”

Debra Tootla • TC

We need single payer
Universal single payer health care is the best way to get out of this devastating economic crisis. It would relieve the burden faced by big business, small business owners, self-employed, unemployed and under-employed individuals, families, children, and seniors.
We should cut costs and errors with electronic health records, cover pre-existing conditions, lower the cost of drugs, and bring down health care costs by encouraging wellness and prevention programs.
I believe Canada has the best model. Opponents talk about waiting lines, rationing, and the government making health decisions. U.S. insurance companies already ration health care based on how much you pay in premiums. They refuse treatment. They make you use their doctors. If you can‘t afford to pay, you die, plain and simple.
That is not health care, that is insurance company care. Universal health care opponents say the cost is too high. I don’t see anyone returning their Social Security checks or turning in their Medicare cards. Those programs work for the millions of Americans. I would rather pay higher taxes for the neighbor to be treated for that brain tumor, than spend the same amount to bomb innocent women and children in some far-away country creating generations of American enemies.
My biggest fear is private insurance companies will be subsidized for their already inadequate and overpriced policies, which would be an even bigger disaster. We need a government plan to provide affordable, high-quality health care for everyone!

Beverly Christensen
• Cedar

 
Monday, April 20, 2009

Letters 4/20/09

Letters Crisis management
If you have some extra money, it may be time to sidle up to the table and get yourself some assets. President Obama and others have said that the “profit ratios are now such that it may be time to invest.”
Hmmm! Back down that road again?
There are millions of properties that are now owned by banks, the government, and other lenders that can be snatched up at bargain basement prices. Stock values of financially sound companies are available at half the price of two years ago! Lay down the cash and walk away with some great homes, companies, and stocks. Or, if you can leverage one of your hedged futures, please do so. Now! You may not have to part with any of your cash or other assets and still pick up a whale of a deal on a foreclosed home or two!
Hmmmm! Have we so quickly forgotten where that road will lead us?
The sparkle can be seen in the eyes of those who will weather this “downturn” with excess cash left in their wallets or sufficient assets remaining to leverage credit. They know the game and are waiting patiently just outside the circle of light as the foreclosures, lost retirement funds, and folding small businesses burn down to ashes. If allowed to, the cyclical dynamo that propels additional wealth into the coffers of those who are already the most well-to-do, will work its magic once again, and again, and again.
Here is an outline that can help us to “make the best of this crisis” while at the same time heading down a road that may help us avoid such crises in the future:
• Create a single-payer universal health care system.
• Get rid of the health insurance industry.
• Re-employ insurance workers in a publicly run health care administration.
• Determine the present cost of health care without the insurance industry profits.
• Project the cost of health care for all people who live in the US of A.
• Re-work the pay structure for health care workers including doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., with negotiations resulting in a more equitable distribution of pay.
• Focus on achieving a healthy population through preventative care and education.
• Fund universal health care with a graduated monthly fee structure based roughly upon the asset ownership of individuals.
• Place banking services under public ownership.
• No longer charge interest on home mortgages or small business loans. Rather, add a fee to the loan principal at closing.
• No longer charge interest on credit card debt. Rather, add a surcharge to the principal at the time of each purchase.
Of course, there are many more ways that we could reduce the greed-driven functions of our economy while increasing the uplifting aspects of our “post crisis” existence. The way that we handle transportation, utilities, communications, energy, and natural resources are all areas that need re-evaluation along similar lines.

Dale S. Scott • Harbor Springs

All quiet on the left in TC
With a week in time passing since the serving of papers to the mayor of Traverse City and select commissioners, the local left has been very quiet on the subject.
I just checked out some of the local lefties haunts online and there was not one mention (excluding the Record-Eagle) of the lawsuit. Could it be the T.C. lefties don’t dare come out against George Galic at this point? Maybe because they know something? Or at the least have good reason to suspect he’s correct?
What if George Galic prevails and it is shown without a doubt that government business was conducted in the backroom? Would they defend conducting business behind the scene as the right way to operate government? No, they’ll remain quiet on this one. For now anyway. But that’s okay because “no (leftie) news is good news” as an indicator of George Galic‘s chances of prevailing.

Alex Peterson • TC
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

Letters 4/20/09

Letters Crisis management
If you have some extra money, it may be time to sidle up to the table and get yourself some assets. President Obama and others have said that the “profit ratios are now such that it may be time to invest.”
Hmmm! Back down that road again?
There are millions of properties that are now owned by banks, the government, and other lenders that can be snatched up at bargain basement prices. Stock values of financially sound companies are available at half the price of two years ago! Lay down the cash and walk away with some great homes, companies, and stocks. Or, if you can leverage one of your hedged futures, please do so. Now! You may not have to part with any of your cash or other assets and still pick up a whale of a deal on a foreclosed home or two!
Hmmmm! Have we so quickly forgotten where that road will lead us?
The sparkle can be seen in the eyes of those who will weather this “downturn” with excess cash left in their wallets or sufficient assets remaining to leverage credit. They know the game and are waiting patiently just outside the circle of light as the foreclosures, lost retirement funds, and folding small businesses burn down to ashes. If allowed to, the cyclical dynamo that propels additional wealth into the coffers of those who are already the most well-to-do, will work its magic once again, and again, and again.
Here is an outline that can help us to “make the best of this crisis” while at the same time heading down a road that may help us avoid such crises in the future:
• Create a single-payer universal health care system.
• Get rid of the health insurance industry.
• Re-employ insurance workers in a publicly run health care administration.
• Determine the present cost of health care without the insurance industry profits.
• Project the cost of health care for all people who live in the US of A.
• Re-work the pay structure for health care workers including doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., with negotiations resulting in a more equitable distribution of pay.
• Focus on achieving a healthy population through preventative care and education.
• Fund universal health care with a graduated monthly fee structure based roughly upon the asset ownership of individuals.
• Place banking services under public ownership.
• No longer charge interest on home mortgages or small business loans. Rather, add a fee to the loan principal at closing.
• No longer charge interest on credit card debt. Rather, add a surcharge to the principal at the time of each purchase.
Of course, there are many more ways that we could reduce the greed-driven functions of our economy while increasing the uplifting aspects of our “post crisis” existence. The way that we handle transportation, utilities, communications, energy, and natural resources are all areas that need re-evaluation along similar lines.

Dale S. Scott • Harbor Springs

All quiet on the left in TC
With a week in time passing since the serving of papers to the mayor of Traverse City and select commissioners, the local left has been very quiet on the subject.
I just checked out some of the local lefties haunts online and there was not one mention (excluding the Record-Eagle) of the lawsuit. Could it be the T.C. lefties don’t dare come out against George Galic at this point? Maybe because they know something? Or at the least have good reason to suspect he’s correct?
What if George Galic prevails and it is shown without a doubt that government business was conducted in the backroom? Would they defend conducting business behind the scene as the right way to operate government? No, they’ll remain quiet on this one. For now anyway. But that’s okay because “no (leftie) news is good news” as an indicator of George Galic‘s chances of prevailing.

Alex Peterson • TC
 
Monday, April 13, 2009

Letters 4/13/09

Letters Holding the line
Homeowners, neighborhoods and communities are best served when people are able to remain in their homes. Families across our state are struggling to do just that, and I want to make sure they have a fighting chance. That’s why I am working on measures to protect homeowners from property tax increases that are out of step with their home’s actual value.
Legislation I sponsored would make sure that a property’s taxable value doesn’t increase any faster than its assessed value. I also co-sponsored legislation to prevent homeowners from seeing their property taxes go up if the assessed value of their home goes down. In addition, homeowners whose tax assessments fall below the taxable value of their home would see the taxable value of their home also reduced. Both measures would need approval from voters in November.
It’s true these proposals will result in less revenue for government. But just like our hardworking families, government at every level must learn to tighten its belt and live within its means. Common sense and fairness says that if home values are falling, property taxes should not continue to rise. With families leaving our state in droves and those who remain struggling to stay in their homes, how can we justify collecting property taxes that are out of step with home values?
When I came to the Legislature in 1992, Michigan was hurting – property taxes were out of control and families were losing their homes. Today we find ourselves in similar distress, and I will not let government continue to rob our hardworking families. Bringing property taxes back in line with home values is a common sense approach that will help struggling families and communities throughout Michigan. Homeowners shouldn’t have to watch their property taxes climb while their home values drop. I am fighting to change that. I urge our House colleagues to join us in protecting Michigan families during these tough economic times.

Michelle A. McManus • State Senator, 35th District
Stop sexual assault
The Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRC) joins the rest of the country in recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The WRC helps hundreds of individuals and families each year that have experienced this devastating crime of sexual violence at some point in their lives.
We now have an additional mission of primary prevention. This is taking action before any violence occurs to prevent an assault or victimization. Primary prevention seeks to change root causes of sexual violence; such as societal norms, attitudes and behaviors.
The responsibility for sexual violence prevention lies within each of us. Educate yourself and start conversations about the problem of sexual violence. Challenge those who use degrading language or actions. Intervene or get help if you see a friend or stranger grab or insult a woman. Do not support companies that use commercials or ads exploiting women, and explain to children, nieces, nephews, and others that this is not okay.
Help re-define what healthy masculinity looks like to end dangerous stereotypes. Mentor youth by modeling equality in relationships. Primary prevention helps create communities where we all have the right to feel safe in our relationships, homes, neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
The WRC is a non-profit agency serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, call the WRC 24-hour crisis and information line at (231) 347-0082 or
(800) 275-1995.

Carrie Sundstrom • Community Prevention Coordinator

 
Monday, April 6, 2009

Letters 4/6/09

Letters Stop the spending
Until the U.S. government can balance its checkbook it is time to stop the frivolous, wasteful, and seemingly endless spending.
What is the point of creating a budget if you cannot or do not plan to adhere to it? According to the 2006 U.S. census, the payroll of the U.S. government alone is a staggering $13,896,346,626 per month. There is a lot of fat that could be cut from that payroll which continues to grow with every new problem the country encounters. The attacks of 9/11 gave birth to a new branch of payroll in formation of the Homeland Security Office. Didn’t we already have homeland security through the National Guard?
I do not believe that the problem was not enough security, but instead a false sense of security that we allowed ourselves to be lulled into. Even if Homeland Security is a viable need for our national safety, there are plenty of other programs not necessary to the survival of the nation that should be terminated or put on hiatus, until such a day that we are once again in the black as a country.
One program that should be looked upon as fluff and should be discontinued, until we actually have the cash in hand to fund it, is the space program, which according to the 2006 census demands $150,593,571 per month just in payroll alone. This may not be a popular opinion, but our future is not in space, it is here on Earth, and even though I am interested in what is out there as much as anyone, we should concentrate on our current homeland.
Programs like the Blue Angels should be looked at for their entertainment value, and not as a necessity for national morale and recruiting. How about cancelling the Army, Navy football programs? That is what would happen if it was a public school that could not make the ends meet. It is time for the government to be more responsible and accountable with its spending, and if said government proposes a budget, approves the budget, then damn it, balance the budget!

Donald Robinson • Frankfort

Spending spree
It is becoming more clear every day that the President’s budget and stimulus package includes enormous spending for programs that while worthy of debate in their own right are masquerading as keys to reducing structural costs and providing the essential elements for economic recovery and prosperity. The country is in a serious economic recession and financial system crisis and the president is trying to smooth talk the people into believing that borrowing to spend unprecedented billions on health care, the environment, green energy , education and adding enormous cost to entitlement programs are indispensable components of a financial recovery plan. Items that are important but not urgent should not escape exhaustive debate and not be immune to the process of purging based on affordability.
Sorry Mr. President, but your strategy of throwing every pet social program onto the recovery wagon and calling it essential baggage is not selling to thoughtful Americans who know that spending beyond our means has consequences. When news pundits struggle to explain the enormity of the increase in national debt you advocate and when economists are forecasting dramatic damage to the dollar as the world’s standard for currency, and forecasting upward pressure on interest rates and inflation, the credibility of your assertions of future financial health is undermined beyond repair. Your spending spree is looking more and more like a cure that could end up being worse than the illness.

Dick Selvala • Cross Village
‘Best of’ feedback
It seems your fact checker, or the compiler of lists, is asleep at the wheel when it comes to servers and bartenders.
Kim has not been a server at Hanna for over a year. She currently manages at Siren Hall.
The bartender at Hanna (yours truly) was not even listed, and many of his regulars believe that he is the best in Traverse City.
So it goes.

Tony Berry • TC

Loved the “Best of” issue. But I suggest another category: Best Cop. I nominate State Trooper Blair DuVall of the Honor post. He lost his life to cancer last July. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.


Nutty ACORN scheme
ACORN was and continues to be contentious in regard to their roles in registering voters this just past election. I seem to recall individuals registering the same potential voters dozens and dozens of times in some cases, and investigations of this corruption being discussed in the many states in which it occurred. With that in mind, I’ve been expecting some announcements as to accountability of these illegal activities from the Justice Department and as to those who lead this organization.
With the latest stimulus package that President Obama has just announced and signed, I think I’ll stop holding my breath as to any in this organization being held accountable. Rather than that occurring as most might expect, just the opposite has been announced that carries a large price tag that will “benefit” this group. For those who might have missed being informed, ACORN is now receiving $5 billion of your hard earned tax payer dollars as part of this “stimulus” package for all the good deeds they do for us.
Can anybody explain the stimulus involved with rewarding those attempting to dismantle and destroy our one-man, one-vote democracy? Further, just what is it that our new President is attempting to stimulate? Seems like a reasonable question that all might ponder thinking about.

Brian Spencer • TC

Slow down
To the ignorant drivers that use our roads daily. I am sick and tired of you running “up my butt” when I have my turn signal on, which means I am turning either right or left! Got it? That means BACK OFF, SLOW DOWN, BE PREPARED TO STOP, use some common sense!
Homestead Road in Benzie County seems to be one of the worst! Evidently, drivers are not worried about the school zone. Maybe they have no kids attending Benzie Central. Maybe they don’t care that more and more kids are walking, or that the track team trains along this road.
I assume that those who drive this road don’t care about those who live on it because of how fast they go in front of the houses and because of the countless animals that have been hit year after year, both domestic pets and wildlife.
Oh well, I guess nothing will change until a person gets hit and dies. Then maybe someone will care, someone will slow down, someone will stop acting so uncaring.
I will tell you this: if any of our kids, grandchildren, animals/pets get hit by you, you will be sued for the maximum amount allowed. This is simply avoidable ignorance. Maybe you will care when you are the one affected by, or the cause of, an accident

Lisa Mai Shoemaker • Empire


 
Monday, March 30, 2009

Letters 3/30/09

Letters Letters 3/30/09

Branded for life
I just want to thank the Northern Express for telling my son’s story (re: “Branded for Life,” 3/23). Countless lives are forever destroyed by these laws. It has been a crazy few years and I had nearly given up hope of anyone caring.
Special thanks to Anne Stanton for telling the real story. Her article will help the cause, and people have already contacted me with their stories. She went above and beyond for us and we are forever grateful to finally have our concerns validated.

Name withheld

Train to nowhere?
Great article on the proposed mag-lev train (re: Random Thoughts, 3.23). How do these proposals gain traction when there is no science to support them?
At Old Dominion University a demonstration project for two miles has failed after four years of trying a mag-lev train. The same company failed in Florida in a project that was supported by state and federal taxpayers. Is there any evidence of a successful mag-lev project in the U.S.? No.

D. Aussicker • via email


Stop this train wreck
We are at a crossroads. For the first time, the plan to haul toxic wastewater from Bay Harbor Resort and East Park to an underground well in Alba is off the table. We sincerely hope CMS Energy will stop this train wreck and spare themselves a great deal of grief and money.
The cleanup methods that CMS has so far installed do not solve the problem. They merely transfer them to a distant pristine location and pass responsibility for them along to future generations.
Before I get to a saner proposal, consider this question: How long does it take for the substance of a mountain to be washed to sea?
In this case the mountain represents the huge piles of cement kiln dust, 2.5 million cubic yards of hazardous waste, improperly buried and hidden underground at Bay Harbor and East Park. This toxic leachate is so potent it can kill or maim on contact.
The current cleanup plan intercepts the leachate before it enters Lake Michigan, neutralizes its highly caustic pH with sulfuric acid and trucks it off-site for disposal.
Our calculations show that it would take thousands of years to clean up the mountain. That’s one million gallons of toxic leachate per week, collected, neutralized, transported and pumped down the Alba well. Now factor in trace amounts of toxic heavy metals. These “traces” become tons when the variables of time and volume are factored in.
It is immoral to pass these toxic problems on to future generations and to risk polluting our rivers and Little Traverse Bay.
In contrast, our cleanup plan is simple. Entomb the cement kiln dust (CKD) in impervious cells at Bay Harbor. “Isolate and contain...” the CKD, just like the 2005 EPA Order says (and to which CMS agreed).
The process of entombment is widely used and not much different from building a standard hazardous waste landfill. A hole is excavated next to one end of a CKD pile. The hole is then lined with a material that is impervious to water and CKD, which will last forever. Next, excavate a portion of the adjacent CKD pile and place it into the lined hole or cell. Once the cell is full, cap it with the same material as the liner and proceed to line the new hole in the same manner as the first. Repeat until all CKD is contained.
This simple process halts the ebb and flow of water through the CKD piles. Once complete, there will be no need to truck leachate anywhere. The CKD would only need to be moved short distances and the work requires just simple excavating equipment.
The costs of our plan, when factored over time, are a mere fraction of what CMS currently proposes and there is almost no risk of contaminating other places.

Dr. John W. Richter • President, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed
 
Monday, March 23, 2009

Letters 3/23/09

Letters Book store casualty
Thank you for the support and the kind words in your editorial of March 16 as well as in your past issues (“Reinventing the Book Store” Random Thoughts). Our store, Boyne Country Books in Boyne City will be closing as of March 31, just short of 15 years in business. The recent economic downturn made our small business untenable. We really wish to thank all our super customers who have become our friends and supporters over the years.
We are sorry about the Borders situation mentioned in your editorial, and the bookstore business situation in general. The original Borders store in Ann Arbor was our favorite when we lived in that area and helped make us interested in opening a bookstore in the first place. We hope things will rebound for others as the economy improves. You can always be optimistic!

Steve and Kathy Anderson
Owners, Boyne Country Books

Patriotic drivel
Heather Shumaker’s account of her trip to Washington for Obama’s inauguration was interesting and appreciated. Joe Evancho’s eviscerating letter in response was one of the most petty and mean-spirited attacks I’ve seen in your pages.
His letter is just an attack and a blathering outburst of patriotic drivel. We have the highest standard of living in the world? In searching various ranking methods, I could not find a single source where the United States ranks number one. The 2008 statistical update of the United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks the U.S. 15th. The index combines normalized measures of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and Gross Domestic Product.
Our per capita income is high but less evenly distributed than in other western countries. In 2006, the poverty rate for minors in the U.S. was the highest of all nations in the industrialized world. There are many people here without full access to medical care. Unlike most European countries, if you lose your job in the United States you’re likely to lose your insurance. And in what other industrialized country does critical illness lead to bankruptcy?
Is patriotism exemplified by ranting slogans and spewing false assertions, then attacking those who take a more critical view of their country in exhorting it to rise to higher standards?
This is a great country, but there’s an adolescent arrogance in flag-waving assertions of being “the greatest nation on the face of the earth.” It’s as if we’re cheering at a football game rather than taking our national interests seriously.
It’s bizarre to claim that we have the backbone to correct our flaws if the government stays out of the way. History shows our government to be an agent of social progress in desegregating society and enforcing equal civil rights.
There are many terrible things in American history, including institutionalized slavery and genocide. What we can be proud of is our demand and expectation that we strive to do better and to live up to the ideals expressed in our founding documents. A tough task to be sure, but can we do it? Yes we can.
People like Heather Shumaker who engage and participate and celebrate our nation at critical moments in her progress are great and true Americans and contribute much more to our patriotic heritage than the petty sloganeers.

Gary Worden • TC
 
Monday, March 16, 2009

Letters 3/16/09

Letters Screening pedophiles
Anne Stanton’s “How a Pedophile Slipped Through the Cracks“ (3/9/09) raises more questions than it answers. First, if the police, the courts and Child Protective Services all knew this pedophile “was trouble,” did they notify the public and especially organizations involved with children?
If so, how was Child Guidance overlooked? If not, are the police, courts and Protective Services negligent? If huge organizations like TCAPS and TBAISD with all their resources could not identify this individual as a potential problem, why is Child Guidance expected to identify that potential?
If a “standard background check” used by “many schools and non-profits” including inquiries to state and national registries, state police and the FBI isn’t fail-proof, then what is the standard?
Attorney Blake Ringsmuth contends filing a FOIA with the Michigan State Police would have provided “reams of information” of “criminal activity” on the pedophile, and alleged Child Guidance failed by not accessing that source, so is a FOIA the standard? If so, why file with just one state’s police? Why not every state’s? And if the FOIA discloses criminal activity, when can a potential employer use that to deny an applicant employment?
Mr. Ringsmuth stated “a pattern of accusations” even without any convictions has to be taken seriously. Has he or the courts defined what a pattern is? One accusation? Two, three, four? And if a potential employer does not hire such an applicant who is legally innocent, will Mr. Ringsmuth or another attorney be taking that employer to court for discrimination?
Clearly a problem screening potential employees exists, and in my opinion the courts and legislature should develop a standard process that would safely, legally, efficiently and comprehensively identify applicants inappropriate for working around children. Mr. Ringsmuth is intelligent, involved and has demonstrated personal concern for human rights; people like him are best suited to spearhead such an effort.

Jan Vlach • TC

Say no to coal
Our elected officials in Lansing need to vote no to any new coal-fueled power plants in Michigan.
Nations around the world and various states are already realizing the enormous health, financial, and environmental risks inherent in coal. We need to speak out to help to stop the construction of dirty coal-fueled power generating plants (along with their toxic emissions) in Michigan.
Coal is dirty to handle and worse to burn. And we know that the industry’s “clean coal” message is more public relation’s spin than anything real. It‘s about as real as “safe healthy cigarettes.”
The coal industry has invested millions in their public relations, advertising and marketing campaigns to promote the myth of “clean coal.” Front groups like American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and a downstate P.R. firm are utilizing the momentum of the elections as a platform upon which to spin their message.
Any responsible Energy Bill must drastically curtail carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, mercury, selenium, arsenic, and particulate emissions in order to protect personal health and our Michigan environment. Statistically, we must reduce our dangerous emissions by 80 percent by 2050 if we have any hope of abating global climate change. Coal combustion tools and techniques at this point in their development area are unable to comply with environmental imperatives.
No coal power plant is worth disease, suffering, and global climate change—especially when there are safe, clean, and sensible energy alternatives in Michigan that will create desperately needed jobs.

Brenda Archambo • Cheboygan
 
Monday, March 9, 2009

Letters 3/9/09

Letters Republican pork
The most vocal Republican governors in criticizing the “pork” in President Obama’s stimulus package are Barbour, Jindle, Palin, and Sanford. Ironically, they are also the top four beneficiaries of federal spending; receiving more than any other state.
For each federal tax dollar sent to Washington, these states receive:
• Governor Haley Barbour (R) Mississippi $2.02;
• Governor Bobby Jindal (R) Louisiana $1.85;
• Governor Sarah Palin Alaska (R) $1.83
• Governor Mark Sanford South Carolina (R) $1.35.
Maybe the taxpayers should publicly demand that these hypocrites return any excess earmarks so they too can contribute to the welfare of our nation. I suggest they receive only 75 cents for each dollar they pay to Washington. That way they would be putting a little in, instead of taking a whole lot out. Something they criticize others for.
Also, the Senate Republican leader has twice as many earmarks in this year‘s budget than the Senate Democratic leader. Interesting is it not?
A handy table here: www.nemw.org/taxburd.htm

Tim Wiley • TC

Shop with conscience
If you believe “that whoever feels deeply feels for all that lives,” then it‘s time to let your spending reflect that view.
Today I was horrified to find items for sale at Oryana Food Co-op which originated in Israel. Israel manages to even outdo the U.S. in human rights violations.
Having a family member who has served as a volunteer in Palestine, we are keenly aware of the human rights violations and degradation of Palestinians.
For those not familiar with Israel‘s less-than-human stance regarding the Palestinians, “Palestine Inside Out, An Everyday Occupation“ by Saree Makdisi would be enlightening. The bare existence of an indigenous people started in 1948 as the U.S. and other colonial powers were determined not to let the Jews into their own countries. Instead, they stole the land which was Palestine and handed it over to Israel. It would be very much like Canada deeding over all of Michigan to someone they didn’t want.
Do not spend your money supporting stores which support Israel. Join the boycott of Motorola (HangUpOnMotorola.org) Support the boycott of Caterpillar by businesses. To honor those suffering in other countries, be aware that every purchase of a cell phone, Blackberry, etc. results in personal devastation with mining practices which place little value on human life. Shop with a conscience.

Jerry Young • Bear Lake

Power to the people
With all eyes turned to Washington hoping for an economic fix, are we then as individuals absolved of blame or responsibility? Impotent to affect change with our puny input?
The economy is largely a reflection of consumer spending habits – we vote with our dollars, and we have exactly the economy we’ve supported and deserve. We decry outsourcing and blame corporations for moving overseas, but this is the result of consumers shopping for the lowest price. Low prices require cheap labor.
We live so disconnected from the natural world; most are blissfully ignorant of the cost to the earth in extraction, manufacture, and transport for every shiny object at the mall.
We are now three generations removed from the farm, and much of our agriculture is toxic, inhumane, and unsustainable; but most haven’t a clue how or where their food is grown or processed. By supporting local growers though farm markets we reverse the trend and improve our food and farming.
The imbalance of wealth at the root of so much of what ails us cannot be redistributed by government taxation and regulation, but by informed consumers choosing to support healthy sustainable businesses . . . even at a higher price.
When I shop at my village grocery, I support my neighbors, the store thrives, and money stays in the local economy. If I shop at Sam’s Club, I support the five Walton heirs (worth $18 billion each) and everyone else gets squeezed. What it saved?
Our problems run deeper than a struggling economy – a natural world diminished daily by ignorance, greed driven wars ... we can do better.

Richard Allen • Leland

Vaccine decision
I thoroughly enjoy reading your paper and value the kind of educated insight which surfaces within a number of your articles. However, I was deeply offended and shocked by the recent article, “The Value of Vaccination” by Rebecca Peterson.
It is my understanding that parents have the right to inform themselves and exercise their freedom of conscience in order to protect their children from “bad science.” Peterson believes that “bad science” is being used to dissuade parents from vaccinating their children.
But “bad science” is also being used to coerce parents into following the vaccination schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that a vast amount of doctors abide by. The truth of the matter is that this particular schedule consents to injecting a child with an overwhelming amount of viruses in one appointment.
I know that many people argue that we should not be “bucking the herd,” but the real problem is that we are treating each child as if they are part of a herd rather than an individual child with a unique immune system. I choose to vaccinate my daughter, but I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand and blindly following a regimented schedule that does not take into account the unique needs of each child.
Peterson questions, “Why is it that occasionally even a vaccinated person contracts one of these diseases?” This is in fact a true occurrence, but it is not an occasional one. What is alarming is the recent statistic revealed in Mothering magazine: “The incidence of measles cases has risen dramatically from 2007 to 2008 and is at its highest level in more than a decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63 of the 131 new cases of measles from January to July 2008 were among those unvaccinated. The majority of the cases (68), however were among those vaccinated” (O’Mara p. 10).
I can empathize with Peterson’s concerns regarding unvaccinated children, but I refuse to demonize parents who have the right to decline. So, if it is trendy to be an American who exercises the right to choose what is best for his or her child, then I guess I’m trendy. If it‘s hip to be concerned about the vaccination schedule and the recent epidemic of autism, then I guess I’m hip. And if it’s irresponsible to believe in the tenets of this country, then I’m irresponsible too.
Peterson argues that, “vaccination should be a group decision, not an individual one.” This is a frightening statement. Does she understand what this would mean regarding the role of government in our lives?
A responsible parent is a parent who is willing to dissent if it ensures the safety of his or her child.

Kacey Corcoran • Petoskey


 
Monday, March 2, 2009

Letters 3/2/09

Letters Cougar sightings
Very good article on the cougars in the Bendon area. I also live in the Interlochen /Bendon area and have seen the cougars in my back yard ( black ones with a baby in tow ).
There is several living in the Karlin area currently. The are also three living in Grawn. I have been tracking them down for the past year.
I also have a picture of a cougar that is very clear.
Good article that really tells the truth about the way the DNR handles this issue. The same thing happened to me.

Dale Maupin • Bendon

Hogs pose a threat
Readers of the Northern Express should not be mislead by Robert Downes‘ recent tongue-in-cheek treatment (“Who Let The Hogs Out?”) of Michigan’s growing problem with wild hogs. If our state continues to ignore it, and our citizens joke about it while waiting for the government to save us, the wild hog will likely do damage to the land comparable to that caused in the Great Lakes by zebra mussels, lamprey eels and other exotic pests.
Crop losses (as much as $10,000 worth on a single farm), ruined lawns, a child and adult chased by two hogs near Ann Arbor, and state forest damage have all been documented in Michigan in the last several months. Pseudorabies—a devastating disease in domestic swine—has been found in wild hogs roaming parts of the state. It’s not a movie or a joke, or somebody else’s problem.
The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is not being alarmist in its assessment of the potential effects of wild hogs. The Conservancy has been conducting research and educating the public about the problem for two years. We brought one of the world’s top experts on hogs to Michigan and consulted with several other out-of-state experts about the lengthy and well-documented record of destruction wherever hogs have become established. Forty-two states and several Canadian provinces have learned the hard-way that the wild hog threat is no laughing matter. The $800 million annual damage caused by wild hogs across America is conservative. That’s why biologists, agricultural experts, and citizen-conservationists are urging Michigan, and I urge Mr. Downes, to take the wild hog threat seriously.
For more information about Michigan’s wild hog problem, readers can contact the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy at 517-641-7677 or email: wildlife@miwildlife.org.

Patrick J. Rusz, Ph.D
Director of Wildlife Programs
Michigan Wildlife Conservancy

The cost of digital TV
Re: Tom Carr‘s story on the upcoming switch to digital TV:
Talk about disconnection: look at this side of the situation. All I seem to hear is the date of changeover.
A government mandate to switch to digital TV. Ever wonder where the convertors are being manufactured?
Stimulus: Government mandates should include “Made-In-the-USA”.
Rebate: Yes, please. We all are eligible for a rebate that subsidizes manufacturing in a foreign country.
Reality: Northern Michigan is stimulated by primarily manufacturing industries, correct?
Who will be accountable for this oversight? Those that are still working are paying the tax to provide the rebates.

R. Tegel • via email


Hookah hazard
I am writing regarding the hookah trend that has recently reached the Traverse City area. The hookah, or waterpipe, is often seen as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. However, research indicates that this is not the case. People should understand the risks that hookah use poses to their health and the health of those around them.
The hookah indirectly heats tobacco, usually with burning embers or charcoal. The smoke is filtered through a bowl of water, and then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece. Other common names for hookah include waterpipe, narghile or narghila, shisha or sheesha, and hubbly-bubbly.
Hookah is an ancient form of tobacco use originating in Persia and India. It has emerged as a new trend among young people. Hookah bars and cafes generally target 18-24 year olds.
A typical hookah smoking session lasts 40-45 minutes, during which time the user may inhale as much smoke as consuming 100 cigarettes. The heat sources for the pipe, such as wood or charcoal release additional toxins when burned. Initial research indicates that smoking hookah is at least as toxic as smoking cigarettes. Because the pipe is passed from user to user, there is an increased risk of transmitting infectious diseases including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and herpes. The secondhand smoke generated by a smoking session is dangerous to others.
It is clear that more research is needed related to the health effects of hookah use, but the available research indicates that smoking hookah is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. For more information, please see the following fact sheet from the American Lung Association available at: http://slati.lungusa.org.

Lisa Danto, RN, tobacco addiction specialist coordinator, Traverse Bay Area Tobacco Coalition

Time to evolve
I appreciate Stuart Kunkle’s letter to the editor in your Feb. 2 issue (“Dire predictions“). He brought up an excellent point of view regarding the future of energy and life as we know it.
Listening to the radio every day it seems like we’re just throwing money blindly into the same sinking ship, hoping it will start to float again.
The Transition Handbook, from oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins states that there are actually several possible scenarios for life beyond the oil peak. Basically they can be described as “Evolve,” “Adapt” or “Collapse.”
“Evolve” suggests that we will use the ideas of earth stewardship and positive transitions to create a new way of life.
“Adapt” assumes that somehow magically a new energy source will be discovered (that we are currently unaware of) that will let civilization as we know it continue forever.
“Collapse” implies that nothing we do will be able to stop the crumbling of civilization (like every other civilization in history). The economy, energy and growth is interconnected in a complex web, similar to an ecosystem in nature. As housing, banking and car industries collapse, initiated by a spike then plateau in energy prices and availability, growth and the civilization based on it struggle to keep from collapsing as well.
Let’s remove our ego (or fear?) from the dialogue and be open to more diverse points of view. Change can be frightening, but please don’t confuse realism with pessimism and dismiss it categorically. Anticipating a future more regionally based (as Stuart Kunkle suggests), actually seems to me an optimistic (and realistic) future, a future where we spend more quality time with people (and our own children), making things by hand and relearning forgotten crafts. Personally, I’m with Stuart. I vote to “Evolve.”

Genevieve Pfisterer • TC
 
Monday, February 23, 2009

Letters 2/23/09

Letters Predator priorities
I read the article “Computer Cop” by Anne Stanton. I commend her on her work. I will state my position on child pornography and child abuse in this manner: I have no patience or tolerance for a person who has harmed a child, I sincerely believe that a man who has been found to have sexually abused a child should suffer public impalement on a fence post. I am NOT joking.
We must be very careful though, to separate the wheat from the chaff. The idea that a person is deemed worse for looking at a disgusting picture is WORSE than the person who actually commits such acts is ABSURD!
The authorities who hunt these predators must not be forced to do their job on a “shoestring” budget either. But, we must be aware of the pitfalls.
One of which is to become a zealot in pursuit of “sin.” We’ve seen this happen before. Recall all of the hysterical probes into the “satanic, child-sacrificial killing cults” that proved nonexistent in the 1980s?
We desperately need dedicated people to pursue these criminals on the Internet, and elsewhere, and I wish Detective Heller success in cornering his quarry; but, I sincerely hope he is not unduly influenced by the sign he has so prominently displayed on the wall behind him in what I assume is his office; to wit: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
No investigator should rely on his/her “imagination” rather than the use of “knowledge” to present facts.
I can “imagine” what my neighbors might be doing in their bedrooms at night; but I certainly have no “knowledge” of those activities.

Jim Parsons • Thompsonville

1st Amendment issue
Anne Stanton’s recent article on Todd Heller, the “computer cop,” raises important questions about the First Amendment which were lost in the glare of the more titillating (and apparently more newsworthy) subjects of internet child pornography and child sexual abuse.
Personally, I find that the idea of law enforcement agents having free rein to examine data on my personal computer smacks of Big Brother. The idea that my privacy is protected by the requirement of a search warrant pales in this day of the Patriot Act, which could be invoked for nothing more than an intercepted email expressing criticism of the government. The oft-used justification that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” obliterates the distinction between privacy and secrecy, a distinction I feel is fundamental to our First Amendment protections.
Regarding the article: Ms. Stanton paraphrased comments from myself and Dr. John Ulrich (as experts in the evaluation and treatment of sex offenders) to respond to discrepancies in the law as it applies to internet child pornography and criminal sexual conduct law.
The fact that one can go to jail significantly longer for looking at internet child porn than for actually committing criminal sexual conduct against a child is certainly of legal interest but really speaks more about the trees than it does the forest of our society’s posture on sexual misconduct as well as sexual behavior in general.
I cannot speak for Dr. Ulrich, although I have worked in shared capacities with him on several occasions in the past and know him to be a caring, highly competent and dedicated professional. In the article, I felt that out-of-context quotes attributed to myself might lead the reader to conclude that I might feel the accused are themselves being victimized (by discrepancies in the law). I can say that in my experience, I would never let my professional empathy towards my clients minimize the seriousness of the behaviors of which they may be accused: That is for their attorneys to advocate.
As for so-called “legitimate” Internet pornography in general, while I am a staunch advocate of freedom of expression, I am at the same time a bitter critic of a capitalist economic system that panders to our society’s continuing confusion over sexuality by prostituting it on the Internet solely for monetary gain.

Michael Nunn, LMSW
Interlochen

Bush league
George Bush was right in keeping the nation safe after 9/11. Many times senior Democrats were briefed on interrogations, including then-Senator Clinton, who agreed there would be things done to keep us safe, including in Iran.
Then-Senator Obama voted for the Bush wiretapping program. To this day, more Americans support retaining the Guantanamo prison than oppose it, and many prisoners who have been released by Mr. Bush have come back to oppose the U.S. again in many ways.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers wants to prosecute both Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes, but will not be allowed to do so if Obama demures.

Len Barnes • Mission Peninsula


 
Monday, February 16, 2009

Letters 2/16/09

Letters The need for nudists
On my local NPR station in Ann
Arbor, I heard a report that attendance at the Sleeping Bears Dunes National Lakeshore had been down considerably this past summer. This was blamed on the economy.
Not considered was the effect of the suppression by the park authority of nudism on Otter Creek Beach. I know a lot of naturists (aka nudists) who have given up going to Empire because of the harassment by park authorities on this traditional clothing-optional beach.
A public nude beach is a big tourist attraction. Haulover Beach near Miami (Florida), an official nude beach run by Dade County, is the most used park in the Dade County Parks system and generates major dollars for the parks and the community.
Nude beaches are legal in Michigan if the local community agrees to it. Many people who live in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties enjoy skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing; but they are not
organized. What is needed is a local naturist group to work with the local governments to create an official, clothing-
optional beach. Anyone interested in
doing so can find an article on creating a naturist group on the website,
www.MichiganNudeBeachAdvocates.org.
A nude beach is good for the economy and good for personal freedom!

Matthew Kerwin • Chelsea

Israel‘s infamy
I read January 19-25’s letters with disbelief. I thought that the lack of cheerleading for Israel’s latest collective punishment of civilians in the local letters pages meant that the Israel-first, Israel-at-any-cost folks were feeling conflicted enough to at least keep silent about hundreds of men, women, and children in an open-air prison being blown to bits by some nasty new weaponry being tested in Gaza so Israel can sell that technology to a fearful world. But no. The mythmakers are well here too.
Israel violated the latest cease-fire by assassinating six people on November 4, after blockading the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea so that the people were denied food, medicine, and everything else for almost two years. This was their punishment for democratically electing Hamas, which is not as corrupt and discredited as the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.
Israel’s response to Palestinian moderation has been to build the Apartheid Wall, to steal land and water, to build checkpoints and Israeli-only roads that criss-cross the landscape, stealing Palestinians’ time and daily lives, as it has for more than 40 years--all with America’s blessing and billions in our tax dollars. Wouldn’t you resist if you were Palestinian? Wouldn’t anyone?
I am sure Hamas extends its apologies to Israel for not setting up a clearly-marked military installation and then putting its members there for them to more easily identify and bomb. Hamas members live in their communities, with their families, in the most densely populated place on earth. Perhaps the fact that Israel’s smart weapons couldn’t tell the difference between a civilian and a militant meant that Israel, the one with all the power, ought to have found another way.
But Israel isn’t very interested in peace, contrary to its public relations. See what the Israeli peace movement says at www.icahd.org.

Bill Watson • TC
 
 
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