Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Letters 8/30/07

Letters E-Coli ruined my summer
Okay “ruined” may be overstating the issue.
But as somebody who lives downtown and goes swimming often at Clinch Park I’m pretty upset about the beach closings.
Particularly when we aren’t given a reason for the problem. Is it related to the rain? Are the sewage plants to blame? Are the boats that anchor down there dumping their waste into the water as reported by Northern Express? Why doesn’t somebody stop them?
My biggest question is: Why is this story being reported but not investigated? Here we have a man-made problem which is closing the most beautiful and popular stretch of beach in the area. What’s really going on? These closings MUST be preventable. It almost has a conspiracy feel to it. As if we are supposed to simply accept this and assume the E-coli is somehow a natural occurrence.
Bottom line: somebody is doing something they shouldn’t be and I hope we hear more about this soon from our local news sources.

Eric Kurt • TC

Booze gravy train
I’m sure that we have all heard it a thousand times... The welfare system needs an overhaul!
I am a single working mother who has a full time job. My income qualifies for poverty level status, for sure! I have applied for some assistance myself and was told my $22,000 income was too much money. So I carried on working every day and so on.
Well... this past summer has been a real eye opener to say the least! I met some people that really shined the spotlight on welfare fraud and the many ways it can be achieved. Traverse City has an extremely high number of people, young and old, that receive welfare assistance and have very creative ways of using it to purchase alcohol! Did you know that these people actually receive cash benefits as well as food assistance?
Did I mention that they are homeless people due to severe alcoholism? Giving an alcoholic cash is like giving a heroin addict heroin! I have seen these people purchase six cases of rootbeer on their food card, then walk down the street, pour all the pop out of the cans and return the pop cans to purchase vodka!
Did you also know that when an addict enters Dakoske Hall rehabilitation center, the first thing they do for the new addition is sign them up for a bridge card? They immediately qualify for cash and food. I have seen it with my own eyes!
I think that to qualify for these benefits, you should have to take drug and alcohol tests. I also think that there must be some way to track purchases made with the bridge card or some way to flag unusual purchases like six cases of pop. This is our taxpayers‘ money here! Pop is not a source of nutrients to begin with! Why are these people given cash? Does this bother anyone else?

Susan Cummins • TC

Same old, same old...
It is time to set aside the petty discourse about the Northern Michigan “music scene,” or lack thereof, and remember that we are so fortunate to have the Holy Trinity of bands right here: The Horn Dogs, Luther Gravy and the Soul Biscuits and Jellyroll Blues Band for our listening pleasure. They will never go away -- they are Eternal -- they are the Northern Michigan “music scene.”

Claire Ahearne • TC

Sewer blues
The article by Anne Stanton titled “Northport’s Sewer Blues” was the best I have read -- well balanced and informative.
The initial push for a Northport sewer was predicated on false environmental information that stated the septic tanks in Northport were 85% failed or failing. The “factual” environmental issues remain on the court table after the Honorable Judge Power stated the case has merit. All concerned environmentalists need to study the issues as presented by members of the Northport FORUM through our legal counsel. The environmental issues are not over until they’re over.
The original group of responsible citizens, who extensively and exhaustively researched the Northport issues, remains as one with the assistance of the FORUM members. The original group comprised of one engineer, one economic expert, and several environmental experts, have consistently approached the Northport Council since the sewer’s inception in an attempt to communicate concerns. Those concerns were never addressed by the council.
Criticism of the original group and currently the FORUM by proponents of the sewer is absolutely absurd. To say that they have raised the cost of the sewer is, once again, predicated on false, misleading, and slanderous lies. The Northport Council, along with the township board and the Leelanau Board of Public Works, raised the monetary stakes when the democratic process was set aside in favor of a land based petition process and political expediency.
Our Constitution was written with the intent of protecting the rights of every human being. One is the right to have issues heard, discussed, understood, and to arrive at balanced solutions.
Since the Council set aside our constitutional process, it now becomes the responsibility of the FORUM members to uphold that process. The Honorable Judge Power realized that the people’s case has merit and will be heard -- costly as it will be for both sides.
The time has come for every Northport citizen to be heard now and in the next election. Join the FORUM and protect the environment and your constitutional right to be heard!

Ronald J. Schobel • Suttons Bay

Electric car math
Hey folks -- Puleeeeeeese do some math, re: the piece on Garth Ward’s Corbin Sparrow (8/23).
Trying to do the miles-per-gallon (mpg): Stated data in your piece: his 20-mile commute used to cost him $18.75. Okay, assume gas is $3, he would use 6.25 gallons, for a mileage of 3.2 mpg (if gas was cheaper, the mileage would be even worse).
Is that realistic?
Let’s assume you really mean 40 miles, 20 each way. Then he’s getting 6.4 mpg. Lots of time in traffic I guess.
Likely driving a commercial truck of some sort. A 1970 Caddy would be hard pressed to get that low a number.
And... whoops, the Sparrow has a 40 mile range, so maybe that 3.2 mpg number is right.
Other : 0 to 60 in 10 seconds. Whoopie.
Then we consider that this isn’t a “all season” mode of transportation. Note that I agree with the author that “technically, it’s not a car.“
What does Mr. Ward do in the winter (late October to late March?)
The Sparrow may be cute, but that’s about it.
As for “Who Killed the Electric Car?” They ain’t gone, just getting ready for reincarnation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt
Otherwise, keep up the good work folks

J.T. Hoagland • via email

(Our understanding is that Garth Ward was referring to a round-trip in a utility truck, a fact which the Express neglected to state in the article. -- ed.)




 
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Letter 8/23/07

Letters Testing for safety
The current hullabaloo over imports from China is frustrating to watch. It has led to calls to ban all imports from China, set up new systems to test incoming products, and generally given politicians way too much opportunity for mindless blathering and calls for expensive or impossible safety measures.
We cannot afford to test all incoming products, and we cannot ban imports from China. A system exists right now to assure safe and effective products from all countries, and it does not cost the U.S. taxpayer anything.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Conformity Assessment Committee, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) have established a system of standards and processes to verify the competence of producers and to test these products for safety and proper function (depending whether the product is food, toys, pharmaceuticals, telephones or automobiles).
This system is in place now, and accreditors in most countries (including the U.S. and China) are following the rigorous process of accreditation to international standards, peer-assessment, and mutual promotion of the agreement. The system has been endorsed by the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and a host of other respected global organizations. Further details can be obtained from www.ilac.org.
What is needed is to have bulk customers (not consumers) require that the producers they buy from must be certified for manufacture of the product, and that the product must be tested for compliance to specific requirements by an accredited laboratory.
In the recent very visible cases, the pet food, toy, and pharmaceutical manufacturers did not demand that the products be tested by an accredited laboratory, or that the manufacturers be certified for the products they were selling. If the customers had demanded certification and accredited testing, these manufacturers would have obtained it from their government or other organizations (it varies by country). Such verification is mandatory only in Europe for some products, but almost everywhere else it is voluntary. Note that the consumer cannot do this; it is the responsibility of the bulk purchasers.
Trillions of dollars in products and services are being traded under this system, and it works. It is working not just to assure safety and that products work, but it also works to reduce the enormous amount of wasted products – Syrian oranges that arrive in Europe and must be dumped at sea because they do not meet local standards; Volkswagens that are produced for the US market but can’t be sold because they fail EPA emissions tests; Mattel toys that must be disposed as toxic waste. The examples and dollars involved every year are mind-boggling, but usually they are not publicly reported..
Anyone buying anything for resale has an obligation to require verification of competence of the supplier, and the conformity of the product to specified criteria. Purchasing on the basis of price alone only leads to unfortunate news stories.

Dan Tholen • TC
 
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Letters 8/16/07

Letters When the music‘s over...
Oh my god..... Enough about this so-called music scene and all the bullshit that goes along with it. There is no music scene here!
Just a dog and pony show for all the fudgies, with the same f-ing cast of characters. Hey guys, (you know who you are), let‘s all form duos and do the soft shoe for the tourists, shall we? This is vacation land, not L.A., N.Y., Nashville, or even Detroit.
There used to be music made here, but not since the ‘90s, and even then, it was dicey. Why make real music, when you can hide in Traverse City, sit down, get lazy, and play “Margaritaville“ & “Brown Eyed Girl“...
Please stop thinking it’s ever going to be more than it is. Anybody can play the same old song. Those who can play are the ones responsible for letting the music die, by settling for the easy dollar and the status quo.

John C. Hefti • TC
 
Thursday, August 9, 2007

Letters 8/9/07

Letters The poop on poop
Re: “The Politics of Poop“ series:
Farmers have applied manure to their crop fields as long as there have been animals and crops.
“Livestock manure is often used to build and maintain soil fertility, but it may also be used to improve soil tilth, increase the soil’s water holding capacity and reduce wind and water erosion,” according to the MSU Extension Bulletin. “Manure applications, however, may also cause surface and groundwater pollution if mismanaged.”
The same benefits and detriments can occur with the application of septage sludge to farm fields if mismanaged. After all, human manure is not that different than livestock manure once it is screened.
When farmers apply animal manure to crop fields, to comply with Right to Farm Guidelines, they must:
• keep accurate records;
• have soil tested for existing nutrients;
• have manures nutrients tested;
• calibrate manure spreaders to know how much manure/nutrients are going on the fields;
• know the crop and its nutrient needs so the right amount of manure can be spread.
Michigan State University Extension office works with farmers to make sure the appropriate amounts of manure and/or fertilizer are applied to the crop. The goal is not to waste money or nutrients, but to be environmentally friendly and as efficient as possible.
Spreading septage on farm fields is heavily regulated and permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in cooperation with the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency. MSU Extension works with septage haulers and farmers to apply the right amount of septage for the crop. The septage hauler must follow the same rules as farmers with these additions:
• use only septage taken from homes,
• screen waste to take out paper products;
• have soils tested for existing nutrients;
• be specified distances from water bodies, wetlands, property boundaries, homes and wells;
• incorporate the septage into the ground within six hours of land application;
• have 10 hours of continuing septage education.
Using septage as a fertilizer for crops is like using animal manure for fertilizer. The nutrients and the organic matter are good for the soil and good for the crop. Putting the waste into the ground and utilizing the nutrients and organics is a cost effective way to get rid of the waste. This is the ultimate: reduce, recycle, reuse.
“Sewage sludge has been applied to land in the United States and Europe for over 40 years, with no evidence of associated health problems. Today, almost half of the sewage sludge generated in the United States is land applied,” according to an EPA brochure. Septage is a valuable nutrient that should be utilized and not “thrown” away. Think about it!

Heidi S. Lang, Soil Erosion
Officer • Antrim County


Ramble on...
In response to: “Ramblings of a full-time musician” in last week‘s Express, I would like say halleluiah to Mr. Greilick for challenging the misconceptions of our local music scene.
As a former musician and the father of a talented young singer who has performed in this region for many years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know and experience some of the finest players in the North. The list runs long, and if there is one common thread weaving through that pool of professionals around here, it’s the fact that they all do their talking on the stage, right where it belongs. For those who choose otherwise, I sure hope they can walk the walk.

Mark Waggener • TC
 
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Letters 8/2/07

Letters The aftermath of war
In response to David J. Newland‘s letter (“Do Nothing Democrats,“ 7/26), in which he suggests that Democrats in Congress “lack the moral courage” to end the Iraq war, I would point out that the two wars our nation has fought against Iraq have smashed the Iraqi military. Our troops have shown terrific and terrifying professionalism and overwhelming capability. The oilfields of Iraq are placed beyond the reach of insurgent forces who may desire to disrupt the flow of oil to the U.S. and its economic allies. This is the victory that Mr. Newland overlooks.
What has our engine of war done to ensure the future flow of oil? It has impoverished an entire nation with bombing and sanctions, dissolved the Iraqi police and employed only foreign contractors. The U.S. has done everything it can to create a hopeless and enraged underclass in Iraq. House-to-house sweeps, arrests, brutal interrogations, torture, and random and targeted killings complete the mission of permanently destabilizing the average Iraqi.
There is now self-sustaining violence in Iraq. All that remains is the task of propping up whichever faction supplies us oil, a matter of supplying weapons and resources at a reasonable price. This worked marvellously throughout the Iran-Iraq war.
The men and women who have gone to Iraq are no longer children to be lied to. No political party is going to send them any divine “message.” It is the American people who must hear the message our troops are sending us.
Lastly, I ask you sir, precisely what sort of moral courage would be most appropriate for Democrats who wish to end this current war? And what moral courage was necesssary to begin these wars?

Eric Pyne • Frankfort

The straight poop
Thanks to Anne Stanton for a great article about poop in the July 26 Northern Express. It sure isn’t a fun summer topic, but Anne gets right in and shovels it up. The bottom line is that Michigan’s laws are very weak in dealing with septage waste, whether from animals or humans. And to top it off, the legislature is constantly decreasing the budget of the DEQ for investigation and enforcement.
At a dairy Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) with 1,000 cows, more poop is created in a day than all of Traverse City’s humans. Traverse City has a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, but a CAFO operator can spread that much on a field to wash into drainage ditches and streams. This just doesn’t make sense, unless you are a lobbyist for the Farm Bureau.
And hats off to Keith Termaat and the Milton Neighbors for their grassroots organizing to help Antrim County deal with land application of poopage. The Sierra Club has been trying for years now to strengthen regulations on CAFOs; we appreciate local efforts to keep the topic in front of legislators. We are all neighbors, and we all live downstream.

Tom Karas • Mackinac Chapter,
Sierra Club


Don‘t close great school
I do not have children of my own, but I have spent my entire adult life as an educator.
I live in Acme Township. When we moved up north, we were very impressed with the quality of Bertha Vos Elementary School, as evidenced by neighbors who chose to move here specifically so they could send their kids to that institution.
For the past seven years, I have spent several days a week volunteering at TC Central High School, and it is obvious that the graduates of Bertha Vos are among the most talented and academically well-prepared students I have encountered. Acme Township is growing by leaps and bounds, and not having a neighborhood school would certainly be detrimental to that growth.
We are miles from any other elementary school. If Bertha Vos closes, it is unlikely that TCAPS will save any money, since so many of the students will end up enrolling in the Elk Rapids schools. Bertha Vos is the heart of our community. I am asking the Board to reject the recommendation to close the one school that services the entire northeast corner of the TCAPS school district, for the sake of our children, our community and itself.

Lois Goldstein • Williamsburg
 
Thursday, July 26, 2007

Letters 7/26/07

Letters Lack of respect at C-Fest
I am writing to say that I am quite disappointed in the Cherry Festival directors or whomever was in charge of scheduling and planning events this year.
I took an early afternoon off to take my family to the Heritage Day Powwow (their first) at the Open Space only to have to sit through 25 minutes of sound check for the Emerson Drive band (at full volume through the fronts) while the Powwow‘s two drum circles and announcers were trying in vain to be heard over the “noise.”
As a professional musician of almost 30 years, I fully understand the need and desire to have a good soundcheck before an event. But as member of the Cherokee tribe, it really upsets me that the road crew and local stage hands couldn’t have been instructed not to start soundcheck until 4:01 p.m. for a show that doesn’t begin until dusk.
The Grand Traverse Band does this event here in town ONCE a year, for four hours. Is it too much to ask for a little respect and let them have that scheduled time to share in their culture? It is called “Heritage Days” after all...
Thanks for letting me vent.

Damien Allen • via email

Chill out
In response to the letter in the July 12 edition, “Machines of Death,” by Jason M. Glover of TC -- Dude, take a pill! We had a good time. Have a nice day.

Rick Burmeister • Northport

No cherry for the slice
of pie I‘m holding
How was your Cherry Festival? I’m hoping yours and most of your readers was enjoyable... Mine Started Out with Great excitement, and Joy With The Start Of this
Year‘s Festival Being July 7th... The Same Day As My Wedding, That also Being 07 07 07... The Luckiest Of All Lucky Dates, and To Think Some Of These People, My family from all over have never even been to Traverse City, Let Alone Be Able To Enjoy My Wedding And Participate In one Of This City’s Greatest Events, And enjoy Our Local Hospitality.
But Do Our Locals Enjoy Our Local Hospitality???? I Mean I’m not Quite Sure. But I really Think There‘s Something In The Water.
Know This, after years of sitting Back From My First Exhausting Brush With The back stabbing, Backwoods idea of musical politics up here... what Is Up.... I Hit It Hard With The Band Radio Flyer’s... We Came Out Entertaining Audiences,Having Fun... And Getting Noticed. OOPS I’m Sorry I Forgot ... I’m Not In The Music Click, I Better Tone It Down (Not). Then I Created A Kick Ass Open Mic For A New Club In Town... Record Bar Sales I was Booking Great Local Bands From All Over Northern Michigan, we Were All Having Fun. OOPS... Here I Go Again Showing way To Much Concern For The Local Music Scene. Some Local Musician With An Attitude Wants To Boycott The Open Mic... It Didn’t Work, We Rode Out That Storm (thank You To All The Local Musicians That Stood Up With Me)...
This Year I Opened Northstar Productions, one Awesome Place To Practice, Record, Net Work.. And Get Booked. Look Out You Local Hate Mongers Of anyone Trying To Do something For Everyone... I’m Back And I’m Doing Big Things For This Community And Those Who Care About What Goes On In Our Local Music Scene... It isn’t About The Dollar with Me”It‘s About The Music.”
I’m actually a little upset about the support I got in return when it came to my band playing in our local Cherry Festival,,, I turned down an early opportunity to open for a national act because I wanted to support our very own local talent....
And in return my band got nothing, Not To Mention some genius thought a jazz trio would be an appropriate opening act for a rock band. This Would Have Been a great Chance For Many Of My Distant Relatives to See My Band And I Perform, Not To Mention My Band Mates First time playing for their home town On the National Cherry Festival Stage.... we were all excited...oops ...wrong Again Always Some Type Of Backstabbing....
Oh Well, I always Say “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Hey Bob, Keep Up The Good Work I Know You‘re Supportive Of The Local Music Scene. Oh By The Way I Heard Your Traverse City Tune On The WKLT. That was cool! Great Song, Peace.

Don Swan, Northstar Productions
(Don Swan‘s letter has been run verbatim to maintain the rock & roll spirit in which it was written. -- ed.)
 
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Letters 7/19/07

Letters Safe Passage fundraiser
For many of us, issues of poverty and social injustice in the world seem overwhelming. It’s not often that we find an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of impoverished children in far away places - places like the slums of Guatemala City.
An ever growing number of people in the Traverse area have found just such an opportunity by becoming involved in Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage.
Safe Passage is an extraordinary program in Guatemala started by one young woman who was courageous enough to act boldly when she saw suffering. Safe Passage is now an internationally recognized non-profit working to improve the lives of impoverished families living on the periphery of Guatemala City’s enormous garbage dump.
Safe Passage was founded by Hanley Denning, a young educator from Maine who traveled to Guatemala in 1999 to learn Spanish. In response to what she saw, she sold her belongings and used the modest proceeds to found a program to help children foraging in the dump to attend school.
Safe Passage has grown to now serve nearly 600 children per year, from preschool to high school, providing tutoring, school supplies, nutritional support, a health clinic, and other services which help children receive an education and break out of generational poverty. Within a safe environment, every child participates in an integrated program that fosters optimism, good health, educational achievement, self esteem, and confidence.
Tragically, last January, Denning was killed in an automobile accident in Guatemala – leaving everyone who knew her or her story in shock. Since her death, the outpouring of support from people around the world, as well as the determined effort of the board of directors, staff, and volunteers of Safe Passage have allowed service to children to continue uninterrupted.
Traverse area residents have been very involved in keeping Hanley’s vision alive. Over 40 area residents have traveled to Guatemala as volunteers. Students have held coin drives and fundraisers in their schools, local businesses have made donations, children have created artwork to sell, and a student and two professors from Northwestern Michigan College recently returned from a site visit to Guatemala to explore options for developing an educational partnership.
The Great Lakes Friends is hosting a “Summer Fiesta” to benefit the children of Safe Passage. The event, “Journey to Guatemala,” will be held on Tuesday, July 17 at the Hagerty Center on NMC’s Great Lakes Campus, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It will feature a “virtual visit” to Safe Passage, live music, food and drink, silent and live auctions of Guatemalan arts and crafts, as well as a short film tribute to founder Hanley Denning. Tickets are $25 each, and can be purchased at the door. Come celebrate the power of what can be accomplished when people join together!
More information about Safe Passage is available at www.safepassage.org

Elizabeth Kushman • TC

Drugging kids for profit
Three cheers for activist Ben Hansen’s detective work to expose the shameless overdrugging of Michigan kids with dangerous psychiatric drugs under the approval and authority of the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health, which oversees the Medicaid and foster care programs.
There is a nationwide trend to raid state Medicaid coffers by putting as many people as possible on very expensive anti-psychotics such as Zyprexa. Eli Lilly, the maker of Zyprexa, is currently being sued by the attorney generals of eight states for fraudulently marketing Zyprexa for unapproved uses.
Montana’s suit claims Lilly “instructed its representative to minimize and misrepresent the dangers of Zyprexa, affirmatively and consciously placing company profits above the public safety.” It goes on to state, “This failure to warn was designed and intended to maximize company profits.” Zyprexa has been linked to excessive weight gain and increased diabetes risk.
On March 17, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Ohio doctors prescribed Zyprexa 165,000 times to Medicaid patients in 2006. More than 13,000 of those prescriptions went to kids under 19.
Recently, I spoke to Mark Matus in the Michigan Dept of the Attorney General’s Healthcare Fraud Division and urged him to investigate if Eli Lilly had fraudulently marketed Zyprexa in Michigan. He acknowledged that Michigan Medicaid spends millions of dollars on Zyprexa but seemed unconcerned that there might be any fraud going on. I sent him a package of news articles detailing the basis of these suits again urging him to take action. Info on the many suits involving Zyprexa can be found at www.psychsearch.net//lawsuits.html. I never heard back from Mark Matus, and wonder just what kind of Healthcare Fraud Division is being run under Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.
While Michigan is in a severe budget crunch, there seems to be no lack of our tax dollars available to drug kids with expensive, dangerous psychiatric drugs that are not even approved for use on children in the first place. It’s an outrage.

Ernest Ryan • Temperance
 
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Letters 7/12/07

Letters Education, not diversity
My son attends a nearly all-white school. There’s not much diversity, tragically. The school, believe it or not, just educates any kid who enters its doors. Radical idea! After all, how can the kids learn if there aren’t different colors of faces around them?
I asked my son if it’s hurting him to be in a predominantly white school. He was mystified, since he just made the B honor roll and is proud of his achievement. His sixth grade project was, his teachers said, the best in 10 years. I don’t know how he did it. It’s unimaginable for him to have succeeded.
You see, my son is Guatemalan. We adopted him at the age of three months. His skin is brown. His hair is very black. According to the “diversity” crowd, he’s being damaged by attending a non-diverse public school in our mid-Michigan district. The diversity pushers think his white pals should be put on buses and shipped to, say, Flint, because there aren’t enough white faces in the Flint schools. The black children of Flint should be shipped 30 miles back to our district so they can show their black faces, so the school can claim it’s “diverse.”
Fortunately, the Supreme Court just struck down the Mengele-esque concept that public schools should be able to hold a color wheel up to a child’s face and decide on the value of his hue, so diversity can be “created.”
Justice Stephen Breyer says that not having diversity as a primary goal undermines the promise of integrated schools the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education from 53 years past.
“To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown,” Breyer said.
The “promise of Brown”? When did the promise of the Brown morph from educating children without regard to race into forcing diversity by looking only at children’s faces? The “promise” was that public schools in America would be open to all children of any color who resided within a school’s district. The promise does not involve shuffling kids like marbles to achieve color balances. Any child, of any color, in any order, in any balance, should be educated equally with the others.
“What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today,” says Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court’s only black member. “The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students’ race. Because ‘our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,’ such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional.”
My son agrees. “Diversity” should not be a goal of schools. Education should be the goal of schools. Radical idea, huh?

Diane Carey • Owosso
 
Thursday, July 5, 2007

Letters 7/5/07

Letters Disappearing wildlife
The birds in our yard totally disappeared when the intense, widespread spraying of pesticides began in 1999 after the first case of the West Nile Virus was discovered in New York. About three years after this particularly intense period of pesticide spraying, I started to see an occasional bird in our yard. This summer, after eight long years, I am now finally seeing a more normal number of birds around our home.
Prior to 1999, we had so many blue jays that I was beginning to consider them a nuisance. We had black-capped chickadees in our evergreens, nests of robins and cardinals, as well as bees and butterflies, but they
all disappeared -- our yard felt absolutely sterile.
The June 15 edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the: “Audubon Society calls for quick action after finding stunning declines in 16 once-common species over the past 40 years.” Our birds have been disappearing for a long time. Yes, loss of habitat is a problem, but I believe our use of pesticides is an even bigger problem. According to www.wikipedia.org, pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950. The slow decline in our bird population parallels our increased use of pesticides.
National news recently reported honeybees are disappearing, which is a direct threat to our food supply. I believe our prolific use of pesticides, and other chemicals we pour on our lawns and golf courses, is the major cause of our disappearing wildlife. The more we use poisons in our environment, the more wildlife disappears.
The black-capped chickadee has not
returned to our yard yet, but I have hope that it will return again some day. For further
research see: www.mercola.com/2002/aug/31/west_nile.htm.

Mary Anderson • via email

Fourth food for thought
In addition to Fourth of July, fireworks, flag waving, family picnics, and other deserved fun making, why not add a reading of the entire Declaration of Independence? It totals 1,340 words. It takes about 10 minutes for a thoughtful reading out loud to friends and family.
Reflect on what you know of the times and challenges that inspired the authors’ principles and their list of grievances. Ask yourselves “How does any of this relate to today?”
If you need help see: www.ushistory.org/declaration/ or a good history book.

Tom Shea • TC


 
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Letters 6/28/07

Letters Case for legalizing drugs
I’m writing about Howard J. Wooldridge’s outstanding letter: “Cops against prohibition” (6-14-07).
If we re-legalized all our illegal drugs so that they could be sold by licensed and regulated businesses for pennies per dose, would this eliminate our drug problems? No.
However, doing so would substantially reduce the crime rate and increase public safety.
Will we ever be able to eliminate our drug problems? No.
However, we can substantially reduce the harm caused by our illegal drugs.
Regulated and controlled drugs would be of known purity, known potency and known quality - which would make them very much safer than today’s black-market drugs.
But what message would we send to children if we legalized all illegal drugs so they could be sold in licensed, regulated and taxed business establishments?
The same message we send to children today when we allow products such as alcohol and tobacco to be sold in licensed, regulated and taxed business establishments.
A free country’s government cannot protect its adult citizens from themselves. A free country’s government has no right to attempt to do so.

Kirk Muse • Mesa, AZ
 
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Letters 6/21/07

Letters The facts on drugs
I applaud the Express for raising important questions about excessive drug use. I would like to correct some misconceptions from the two articles.
The 875 “mood stabilizers/anticonvulsants” prescribed for children under four were probably to control seizures, which are far more common than bipolar disorder in toddlers. Similarly, the “dyskinetic” agents prescribed for small children are likely for cerebral palsy, not antipsychotic side effects. Investigative journalism, not innuendo, would be more informative.
As an inpatient psychiatrist for 30 years, I have seen refractory cases in which doctors add on multiple drugs, but I have never seen patients on a dozen simultaneous psychotropic drugs.
The Department of Mental Health uses data from Medicaid prescriptions to notify prescribers if they are prescribing in a deviant fashion, e.g., five or more drugs, unusual doses, or two atypical antipsychotics.
Mr. Hansen refers to the ”requisite agreement to take prescription drugs for the remainder of his life.” Involuntary treatment is ordered by the Probate court typically for 90 days of combined inpatient and outpatient treatment.
The statement: “If there’s a chemical imbalance, then why is the list of side effects so long?” reflects a misunderstanding. A wealth of biochemical, genetic, and CNS imaging data confirm models of neurophysiologic imbalalnce in major mental illnesses.
Psychotropic drugs do not treat these imbalances in the straightforward way that a vitamin B12 shot corrects a vitamin deficiency. Rather, psychiatric drugs, much like anticonvulsant drugs, modify the “downstream” results of neurochemical imbalances closer to the symptomatic level. Psychiatric drugs, like drugs for seizures and high blood pressure (another biochemical imbalance), have many potential side effects.
All prescription drugs are approved by the FDA only after extensive studies show them to outperform placebo in a statistically and clinically significant fashion, and to be reasonably safe.

Bob Fawcett, MD
• Petoskey

Racist scheme?
This new immigration scheme is racist. There are six billion people in the world, living in almost two hundred countries. This proposal grants special treatment to thirty-million Mexicans and Central Americans, plus their relatives, while penalizing all other nationalities who remain in their home countries dreaming of United States citizenship. The Haitians and Africans, Poles and Latvians, Indians and Pakistanis... are they not also worthy human beings? They have been promised a legal and orderly application process. Ordinary citizens - Republicans and Democrats - are not anti-immigrant. Our politicians are. Once again, they are selfishly responding solely to business interests and to potential new Latino votes.
Americans unite!

Joseph Pasulka • Southport N.C.

 
Thursday, June 14, 2007

Letters 6/14/07

Letters Cops against prohibition
As a retired police detective from Bath Township, Michigan (near Lansing), I read with interest your idea to increase tourist dollars by legalizing/regulating and taxing marijuana (a la Amsterdam-type coffeehaus). Thank you for your courage to propose such a sensible step. May I add another, perhaps more important aspect of ending marijuana prohibition?
During my 18 years of police service I was dispatched to zero calls generated by the USE of marijuana. Its use is NOT a societal problem. I have always urged my fellow citizens to not use any mind-altering, intoxicating and addictive drug, which includes marijuana. However, having my profession still chasing the Willie Nelsons of Michigan does REDUCE public safety.

Offr. Howard J. Wooldridge (ret.)
education specialist,
Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition • Washington, DC

Present the other side
Re: Recent articles in Northern Express: “Are Our Kids Being Overdosed?” and “Is Our Pill-popping Society Losing Its Mind?”
I was taken aback by the one-sided perspectives in these recent articles, which imply that there is a concrete line between neurological “diseases” and mental health “disorders.”
The idea that I object to most significantly is that there is “no such thing as a chemical imbalance in the brain.”
The brain is a physical organ of the body, just as is the pancreas, the liver, the heart, etc. Why would someone believe that the brain is not vulnerable to physical anomalies, when we easily understand physical problems in other organs? The brain is indeed vulnerable to disorders and diseases, as well as to individual differences.
Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine are some of the chemicals that affect the brain directly. Hormones also affect the brain in many ways.
The brain is a complicated organ, to be sure, so the research involving that organ is often more controversial than research regarding some of the other organs. But research involving the other organs is not without controversy, nor are the medications for diseases of those organs without side-effects. Psychotropic medications are not the only medications that have side-effects.
The side-effect issue is difficult and often not easily solved. The problematic symptoms must be balanced against the side-effects. One person’s tolerance for either the mental health symptom or the side-effect of the medication will vary from another person’s tolerance of the same symptom or side effect.
There is no magic pill, and patients are often encouraged to work first in therapy (my specialty), rather than relying on medications. However, there are some mental illnesses that create such difficulties for the afflicted person, that medication is life-saving and sometimes relationship-saving (either temporarily or on a longer-term basis).
It is true that some depression is triggered by the grief and loss that happen in everyone’s life. Each person must make the choice about whether (and when) he or she will seek therapy or counseling and /or consult with a physician or psychiatrist about the possibility of medical treatment (medication). These are valid choices and should be done with the understanding that there could be side-effects to the medication.
The neurological side of mental health problems is vastly complicated, just as is the environmental side of these problems. Large libraries are filled with books on both subjects. Both are valid and intertwined.

Marilyn Madison, MSW, LMSW
clinical therapist
Death with compassion
Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who claims to have helped at least 130 terminally or chronically ill people die, was paroled this month. Kevorkian has served more than eight years of a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1998 death of Michigan resident Thomas Youk, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Covert, clandestine aid in dying occurs every day in the U.S. It is a symptom of a national health care crisis—the unbearable suffering and violent options that many dying patients face at the end of life. Dr. Kevorkian’s notorious actions demonstrate the desperation patients feel, and the need for rational public policy on end-of-life choices. Only Oregon currently has rational policy.
Instead of being forced into considering options like Dr. Kevorkian, guns and other violent methods, patients should be able to talk with their physicians about a range of legal, safe, peaceful options for easing a painful dying process. Covert practice of aid in dying is inherently dangerous and irresponsible. The only way to protect patients, families and doctors and enforce safeguards is through laws such as Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.
Compassion & Choices advocates that all mentally competent, terminally ill patients should have a full range of end-of-life choices, including aggressive pain and symptom management, palliative sedation, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, forgoing life-extending interventions and aid in dying. This is the only way we can prevent future Kevorkians from preying on the desperation of those experiencing the fear, anguish and unremitting pain of prolonged terminal illness.
Seventy-eight-year-old Dr. Kevorkian suffers from diabetes and active hepatitis C. He deserves the same chance for a peaceful, dignified death that is the right of all people. Kevorkian drew the national and international spotlight to the desperation of patients whose legal choices are inadequate. But in the end Dr. Kevorkian told the Michigan Parole Board that he should have advocated for aid in dying through legal channels.
As media coverage of spectacular cases like Kevorkian and Terri Schiavo peaks and subsides, let us not forget the many Americans who each day suffer needlessly prolonged illness due to the lack of a rational policy on end of life care.

Robynn James, CFRE • assistant VP for development • Compassion & Choices • Denver, CO (Williamsburg resident)
 
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Letters 6/7/07

Letters Global warming facts
This letter is directed specifically to those, including our elected officials, who believe global warming is a natural cycle of our planet and has little or nothing to do with human activity.
The evidence suggests that the Earth has been considerably warmer, especially during the age of the dinosaurs, hundreds of millions years ago, and colder where the Earth may have been completely frozen about 600 million years ago. But in looking at climate change during the past several million years, there is probably no previous episode of such a dramatic rise in global temperature as has been observed in the last few decades, and those rises have never before been associated with increased carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
Why is that? For the past few centuries, we humans -- for the first time in the planet’s history -- have removed and burned fossil carbons to provide energy on a massive scale. This process combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, which we release into the atmosphere through our tailpipes and smokestacks. About half the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels accumulates in the atmosphere and leaves the atmosphere in five years.
Unfortunately, the other half of the carbon dioxide gets stuck in the natural carbon cycle for hundreds of years, which mean the carbon dioxide gets recycled back into the atmosphere. The results of this yearly accumulation of carbon dioxide is that atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 40% since the start of the industrial era to levels the planet has not seen in at least a million years.
How do we know if the increase in carbon dioxide of the past few centuries is of human origin? We have very good estimates of how much has been burned owing to the fact that fossil fuels are commercial commodities. The carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere is consistent with these estimates. Also, examination of the composition of atmospheric carbon shows that it is becoming more like the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
Finally, the oxygen content of the atmosphere is decreasing slightly, consistent with the oxidation of carbon through combustion.
It is also a scientific fact that we can slow down global warming by taking specific actions immediately. We must use energy efficiently like Europe and Japan, which use half the amount of energy per capita and maintains our standard of living. Our industries must restrict their carbon emissions or face a carbon emission tax. Our government must stop subsidizing carbon-based industries and increase subsidies for non-carbon industries.
If we take action now, our cost will be one percent of the global economy, but if we do business as usual then impact of global warming will cost us 20 percent of our economy.

Ronald Marshall • Petoskey

 
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Letters 5/31/07

Letters The poop on manure...
Kristi Kates’s article regarding organic food contained information that was rather shocking. Consider the following statement: “Non-organic cows, if you will, are often fed – brace yourself – manure for dinner...” What source did Ms. Kates use to cite this nonsense? If taken to its furthest extent, the tortured logical absurdity of such a statement leads one to conclude that non-organic cows are like perpetual motion machines wherein they provide (ah hem, ‘excrete’) their own breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If cows indeed ate manure for ‘dinner’ or any other meal, then no farmer need grow corn or hay to feed their cows. Amazing! Can you imagine the profit margin on such an animal? No overhead and all production would be a farmer’s dream!
Having been an agricultural loan officer for nearly 30 years, I have examined many farming operations that focus on either dairy or beef production. Never – brace yourself – never have I encountered any herdsman who incorporates manure into the feeding rations of their animals. I was raised on a farm and we managed a modest dairy herd until I went to serve in the Army. I observed the habits of the creatures for whose welfare we were responsible. One thing I know from direct observation is this: Cows will not eat their manure. They will eat all around a ‘pie’ but will not eat into it – ever.
Because Ms. Kates writes about non-organic cows in painful ignorance, one wonders if anything she has written is credible. That which may be laudable about eating organic is discredited by authors who veer from trustworthy citations and instead rely upon bombastic and shocking myths that are a disservice to the reader. Northern Express would do well to choose their contributing editors more carefully.

Ronald G. Rhoads • TC

 
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Letters 5/24/07

Letters Overdosed kids
Re: “Are Kids Being Overdosed?“ by Anne Stanton, May 17:
To answer these questions one must consider that all physicians go to medical school where they study (1) all things physically normal, (2) all things physically abnormal — diseases — and (3) how to examine, image and chemically test the patient to tell the difference.
All physicians (and this includes psychiatrists) know that in the specialty of psychiatry there are no actual physical abnormalities — diseases. Rather, abnormalities/diseases of the brain and nervous system are the province of the specialty of neurology -- things like strokes, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, etc,
Abnormalities of the brain can be found on physical/neurological examination, brain scans and chemical tests. Such is not the case in psychiatry, where we deal with troubled emotions and troublesome behaviors—all subjective—but never with demonstrable, objective physical or chemical abnormalities.
And no such thing as a “chemical imbalance” of the brain has ever been proven to exist in psychiatry. There is no justification to give “chemical balancers”—pills for psychiatry’s “chemical imbalances” of the brain. They do not exist. Could it be this is all done for profit?
It is for this reason that the first and only real abnormality/disease in any psychiatric patient is the intoxication/poisoning with the first psychiatric drug they are given to ingest or are injected with. This is why their second, fifth, seventh and tenth real diseases are their intoxications/poisonings with their second, fifth, seventh and tenth psychiatric drugs; not a single one of them targeting a predetermined physical abnormality/disease.
This is why no psychiatric drug “treatment” has a scientific basis. Throughout the rest of medicine every “medicine” targets an abnormality in a scientifically designed manner: chemotherapy drugs preferentially targeting faster growing cancer cells; X-ray therapy targeting the faster growing cancer cells. Insulin, in diabetes, the shortage of insulin and elevated blood sugar level, antibiotics, the chemical life-cycles of infecting bacteria, etc.
But not in psychiatry! What we start with in psychiatry is a physically normal individual, albeit one who is emotionally troubled, and perhaps, troublesome. What we do with psychiatric drugs is erase or obliterate their being troubled and troublesome and we invariably do so by giving them chemicals, all of which act by damaging the brain in diffuse, inexact ways. Like a machete, one science writer put it.
No less than your children and grandchildren, or mine, what these children need is love, a home, parents, being protected, cared about, and cared for.
Being a foster child is not a medical condition. And yet psychiatry has laid claim to between 60 and 90 percent of foster children nationwide, drugging them all, putting their final stamp on them—the conspicuous physical sequelae of their drugging/poisoning--things like the grotesque, uncontrollable movements of tardive dyskinesias, or of what looks for all the world like a typical case of advanced-age, Parkinson’s disease, but for the fact it is seen in a five-year old—the handiwork of psychiatry.
By rejecting the fact that these children need love, structure, discipline and an education, but instead, imposing a system that makes them profit-points and intoxicates and poisons them we will surely rue the day when, at 18 or 21, they age-out and spill out into society totally unloved, unprepared, full of the realization that this is what was done to them—this and only this. Their cost in terms of life-long disability will be but a fraction of the cost we will pay for having “pimped” them to the for-profit, psychiatry-big pharma cartel.
In 2003, pediatrician William Carey, of the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital testified to Congress that 17% of US school-age children (8.5 million) were on one or more psychiatric drugs. Nor is this epidemic finite, like those of real, objectively verifiable diseases.
Spending on all psychiatric drugs climbed from $7.9 billion in 1997 to $20 billion in 2004, an increase of more than 150 percent (The Washington Times, April 1, 2007). Nor does it stop. Nor does the victimization of normal, defenseless children stop. Nor is there anything in the least scientific, healing or ethical about it.
Ask Steven Sharfstein, president of the American Psychiatric Association for proof that even one psychiatric diagnosis is a real disease. On June 27, 2005, on the Today Show with Matt Lauer, he had no answer for ethical psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, who had told the truth of the matter: that there were no such things as “chemical imbalances” of the brain—the sales pitch of every unethical medical practitioner who make this their justification for making “patients” (usually lifetime “patients”) of normal children and drugging them.

Fred A. Baughman, MD
El Cahon, CA

Dr. Baughman is author of “The ADHD Fraud--How Psychiatry Makes ‘Patients‘ of Normal Children.“ www.Trafford.com He was in the private practice of neurology and child neurology in Grand Rapids from 1964-1975 before relocating to San Diego, CA. He is a former director of the March of Dimes, Western Michigan Birth Defects Clinic and assistant professor of Neurology at the Michigan State University School of Human Medicine.
 
 
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