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- February 15th, 2010
In defense of Avatar
In his January 25, 2010 letter, “Avatar brainwashing,” David Page seems to think that there are no members of the U.S. military who will abandon core values in exchange for dollars and that our government doesn’t steal tax dollars from the middle class to fund military operations that benefit corporate interests and trample on indigenous rights and national sovereignty.
I have just a few examples which point to the contrary.
In August of 1953 the CIA and MI6 executed Operation Ajax, driving the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, from office. They did this on behalf of the British Petroleum oil company.
The CIA then financed Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi’s takeover of Iran. Zahedi had been arrested during WWII for attempting to establish a pro-Nazi government in Iran. Iran’s new director of propaganda, Bahram Shahrokh, was a protege of Joseph Goebbels.
Less than a year later the CIA was doing the same thing in Guatemala. They ousted Jacobo Arbenz on behalf of the United Fruit Company.
Okay so this is all ancient history, right? During the recent American invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi seed bank in Abu Ghraib was destroyed (along with hospitals and other non-military targets.) The Coalition Provisional Authority passed Order 81 making it illegal for farmers to re-use patented seeds, thus paving the way for the Monsanto corporation to sue Iraqi farmers.
With the seed bank destroyed and coalition troops handing out Monsanto-patented GMO corn seeds to Iraqi civilians, the U.S. government was assuring windfall profits for Monsanto in a brand new market (Monsanto is a huge contributor to Democrat and Republican election campaigns.)
Other recent examples:
• U.S. military aid to Mexico used to drive indigenous people from their land during the Clinton administration.
• Plan Columbia during the Clinton and Bush II administrations.
• No-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan awarded to companies Dick Cheney used to work for.
Am I bashing the military here? Were the creators of Avatar bashing the military? I don’t think so. After all the hero of Avatar is also an ex-Marine. Do some ex-military personnel become mercenaries for money hungry corporations? Yes they do, just look at Blackwater and Haliburton.
Most members of our military are fine people who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately our military is too often co-opted by a civilian leadership (right or left) focused on using our military and our tax dollars to expand profits for the richest 1%, strengthen centralized banks and financial institutions, and build an Anglo-American fascist empire.
Avatar struck me as a much needed wake-up call for a populous that needs to rescue their democracy from the influence of the military industrial complex and finally elect a leader who can get lazy corporations off government welfare, bring all our troops home now and put an end to this foreign meddling and resource stealing nonsense.
“If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war. We’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for.” - Woody Guthrie

Nathan Karnes • via email

Questionable need
Christine Blackledge’s account of accidentally bringing a loaded handgun into a secure airport screening area is ludicrous. But her casual attitude about the weapons is what is really amazing. She advises she had had almost no sleep when she packed for her trip, and forgot to remove the loaded handgun from her bag.
Her account includes descriptions of police over-reacting, TSA officials who just didn’t understand, nasty jail conditions, etc. She doesn’t deny her mistake but wants to turn the issue around on the system, emphasizing how disconnected, inefficient, overbearing and just downright unfair it is.
It is true police officers can over-react, prosecutors can overcharge, and county jails are unpleasant places, understaffed and underfunded. But airport security officials are under great pressure and must be right every time. Police officers must make decisions on the spot with the information at hand, and county prosecutors sometimes have only 30 minutes to review a case before court. County jails are designed as short term hold facilities, typically might have only one supervisory deputy assigned per shift, and court schedules can change on a dime. Blackledge has no tolerance for the overloaded security and law enforcement system, but wants sympathy for her own carelessness
She has a permit to carry handguns, but displays a remarkably casual attitude about the care, custody and control of these weapons. If she can’t get enough sleep to enable her to be aware of where her weapons are, she should change occupations or stop carrying. She seems to think of a gun as a cool accessory, like a celebrity carrying a dog around.

Jean Wynn • Petoskey

Level of incompetence
I have had to deal with the local legal system on two occasions, and I could not be in more agreement that it leaves much to be desired. (Re: “Christine Goes to Jail,“ (2/1/10).
The first occasion was a midnight traffic stop for having my bright lights on. Considering that I was the only car on the road at the time, I have yet to understand the reason for the stop. Not only was I stopped for no good reason, the deputy did not know that an out of state vehicle does not require proof of insurance, and, he failed to find my large Swiss Army knife when he patted me down.
Also, I had an out of state license with no photo which was beyond the deputy’s ability to comprehend. One of my passengers, my brother, was arrested at the scene, and the level of incompetence only escalated from the time of the traffic stop to the time of his release. FYI, he got out of the car and asked the deputy why I was being handcuffed.
The second occasion was my daughter’s DUI. Something that she justly deserved; however, the legal system exhibited the same level of incompetence in this matter, as well. They remind me of the Keystone Cops. The unfortunate difference is that the Keystone Cops are funny. These people are not.

Gari Anderson • Burdickville

Time to buck up
So this woman got caught trying to board a plane with a gun in her purse, and now she’s complaining because the law got involved?
My friend said it wasn’t really about her crime -- it was about the abuse she suffered at the hands of police. So I read it. I didn’t get it. I found the woman’s sense of entitlement to be comical. She did something stupid and got called on it. Her story is not unique, at all. I’ve been arrested, been in jail, (recently -- I‘m out now) and I’ve heard this same story, over and over, just different details. They always minimize their crimes and maximize their victimization, and the authority’s responsibility for it. Even if everything she says is true, and that the method of her arrest was unnecessary, she was never a victim and never abused.
She was picked up on a warrant for trying to board a plane with a gun in her purse. Her complaints are that she wasn‘t properly dressed when the police showed up at 8 a.m. and although they told her she couldn’t change, they did give her time to slip into something else. She waited for six hours on a bench at the jail, had to wear a paper mask because she was coughing, was put in a single cell where she could be seen peeing. It took awhile—too long—for her to be booked.
After she was released that same day on her own recognizance her case foundered between the prosecutor and the court, and a trip to Africa was shortened. She blames a mean judge and a selfish lawyer?
When Paris Hilton was briefly released after one night in jail the sheriff said she had emotional problems, she’d been crying all night, when a fellow inmate heard that she responded: “We all cry at night, every night.“ Paris went back. Hey, Paris Hilton isn’t special and neither are you, so buck up! You seem like a tough gal, your job’s so dangerous you have to carry a gun in your purse, surely you could withstand some legal mess and inconvenience brought about by your lax gun wielding, and some confusion surrounding airport security.
Mike Morey • TC

Bogus anti-vaccine study
The Lancet, a British medical journal, recently retracted a 1998 “study” that suggested a link between vaccines and autism. In its 186 years, the Lancet has retracted only 10 or 15 studies (DeNoon MedScape article). “The Lancet retracted it after learning that [lead author] Wakefield -- prior to designing the study -- had accepted payment from lawyers suing vaccine manufacturers” (Broyd MedScape article).
The Wall Street Journal reports that “Dr. Wakefield had been paid to conduct his study on children who were clients of a lawyer... Meanwhile, Britain’s child vaccination rates had plummeted... The country has since suffered waves of measles outbreaks. In 2006, the first British child died of measles in more than a decade.”
The same article on the Lancet’s role: “Only with the General Medical Council now considering whether to strip Dr. Wakefield of his license has the Lancet finally said it “fully retracts this paper from the published record.” It warns us that “even reputable publications can become conduits for junk science.”
A New York Times piece, “Journal Retracts 1998 Paper Linking Autism to Vaccines,” cites the CDC: “It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world’s leading scientists that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism.”
For more information:,

Rebecca Peterson • Elk Rapids

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