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- May 17th, 2010
The Canadian menace
Thank goodness for Republicans like
gubernatorial hopeful Sheriff Mike Bouchard and State Representative
Kim Meltzer for promoting tougher laws to deal with undocumented
aliens in our fair state.
I’ve worried for years about the influx of hordes of Canadians through
our porous borders. A University of Michigan study recently
calculated that as few as 50,000 Canadians in Michigan could raise the
state average I.Q. by 4.3 points. Canadians’ penchant for civility
would degrade significantly our political confrontations, shedding
light rather than heat.
And can we really condone the bilingualism that is part and parcel of
Canadian culture? Will signs at Lowe’s now be in French as well as in
English? Go get ’em, Mike and Kim! Keep the focus on real issues!

William Heil • Petoskey

Government disaster
In “Pure Greed Drove Wall Street,” (5/3) Senator Levin states that
greedy Wall Street bankers and incompetent rating agencies are to
blame for today’s economic turmoil.
The facts tell a different story. Government intervened in properly
functioning markets over a period of several decades. This distortion
eliminated the discipline of the market and created entities that
became too big to fail, ultimately including Fannie and Freddie
themselves. One can only conclude that the federal government owns the
responsibility for creating the housing bubble and its aftermath.
The federal government planted the seeds for this bubble when it began
forcing banks to make risky loans via the Community Reinvestment Act
(CRA) under Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. Congress also enabled and
encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower their credit standards
year after year in an attempt to increase home ownership.
Without Fannie and Freddie in the picture, the free market would have
imposed discipline on mortgage bankers. Their survival would have
depended on adherence to prudent credit standards, and the size of
their mortgage portfolios would have been limited by their capital
base. Not so with Fannie and Freddie eagerly buying mortgages and
assuming the credit risk. Banks were free to make loans, sell them to
Fannie and Freddie, and repeat as often as they could find a willing
For the record, Fannie’s and Freddie’s regulator testified in 2004
that the two entities’ mortgage portfolios were too big, too risky,
and plagued by accounting irregularities. Democrats responded by
vilifying Republicans and the regulator (available on YouTube), and
the Republican majority proved themselves too cowardly to act.
Ultimately, this is a classic case of politicians doing what is
politically expedient rather than what is best for the country. It is
no wonder government programs fail so often.

Bill Newberry • via email

Keep it private
Some time back I was fortunate enough get an inside view of the
awesome work done by Rebecca Lessard in returning injured raptors to
healthy states of grace at the Wings of Wonder Raptor Rehabilitation
Sanctuary. Our region is truly fortunate to embrace one of the few
facilities of its kind, and the image of her being unduly forced to
cease her important work is extremely disturbing.
It is profoundly irresponsible for the Leelanau County Road Commission
to jeopardize this unique raptor hospital and sanctuary by attempting
to overturn the Lessard’s longstanding legal use of their entrance
trail as a private easement. Better to keep the easement private and
save raptors than serve mushrooming interests of county road
commissioners, commercial ventures, and/or well-known and connected
Intelligent, dedicated, high work-ethic people, the Lessards have
legally and sensitively carved out a sacred place and space in the
Leelanau forests -- for the right reasons. I pray that they prevail in
their well-founded dispute with the road commission, and that Wings of
Wonder’s marvelous work be allowed to continue.
Besides prayers, I’m sending a check to Wings of Wonder (address on
WOW‘s website) to help with legal and other expenses the Lessards now
face as a result of the road commission’s ill-conceived actions. I
encourage others to do the same. To witness the release and return of
a rehabilitated owl, hawk, eagle or other raptor to its natural
habitat is to witness an exquisite healing. Be a part of it.

Rev. Harry C. Dorman • via email

No microwave danger
I was very disappointed to read Robert Downes editorial on
electromagnet radiation in the May 10 issue.
When I think of sources to turn to for my science information, GQ
magazine is seldom a resource that I think of. For some very good
reasons that Mr. Downes should be aware of as well.
GQ magazine is not a science journal. Christopher Ketcham, who wrote
the GQ article is... a poet. Not a physician, not a doctor, not an
authority on the health effects of EMFs, and certainly not a person
who knows much about or cares much about science.
Now, it may seem like an irresistible instance of poetic justice that
high-tech devices should give their pretentious yuppy users brain
tumors. The fact of the matter is that the scientific consensus is
that EMFs produced by cellphones and WIFI are not dangerous.
“The National Research Council (NRC) spent more than three years
reviewing more than 500 scientific studies that had been conducted
over a 20-year period and found “no conclusive and consistent
evidence” that electromagnetic fields harm humans. The chairman of the
NRC panel, neurobiologist Dr. Charles F. Stevens, said that, “Research
has not shown in any convincing way that electromagnetic fields common
in homes can cause health problems, and extensive laboratory tests
have not shown that EMFs can damage the cell in a way that is harmful
to human health.” (from
There are good, readable websites written by people who actually have
scientific credentials that have responded to and debunked Ketcham’s
fearmongering. Places like:
Ketcham’s article is recycled, discredited, exaggerated junk.
But at any rate it would seem to me that it is the responsibility of
an editor to have a passing familiarity with a health issue he or she
writes about. Familiarity that goes beyond GQ. Familiarity that goes
beyond non-scientific scaremongers.
We live in a state with several major research and medical facilities.
Was picking up a phone to talk to some real scientists and researchers
too much to ask from a journalist? Even one writing an editorial?
Here’s some news you might not want to hear: your editorial seems to
argue that you left your brain or your motivation at Palolem Beach. As
Johnnie Cochran would have said: If you are going to write, do it
right. Don’t crib from poets writing on science in GQ, and don’t let
your resentment about digital devices get in the way of the facts.

Oran Kelley • TC

Write a letter
Dear citizens of Traverse City:
Burning our forests for electricity is a foolish and unsustainable
endeavor and you know it. You can feel it. It has already started
locally with a large wood burning plant in the Cadillac area. More are
proposed in Mancelona, Grayling and Manistee. All of these plants‘ “50
to 75 mile” radii intersect in Grand Traverse County.
Already, truckloads of wood are coming from Kalkaska and Grand
Traverse to feed the huge plant in the Cadillac area. Traverse City
Light & Power (TCLP) has shown how it’s proposed consumption is
sustainable. The problem is that TCLP does not operate in a vacuum.
All of these plants will compete for our forests, both public and
The quality of our air and water in Northern Michigan is what makes it
“feel different” than downstate. Burning our forests for electricity
will change that. If you like how Lansing, Flint and Midland “feel,”
just go ahead and do nothing!
As a Garfield Township resident I don’t have the voting influence
that the citizens of Traverse City do.
Citizens of Traverse City, we need you to speak up! You have a direct
influence on the city commissioners and they have a direct influence
on TCLP. Write a letter, a hand-written letter to your city
commissioners. Then attend the city commission meetings. Let your
local representatives know your opinion on this issue. You can make a

Doug Downer • TC native

Biomass questions
Let’s ask different questions about biomass. Do you think about how
your electricity is generated right this minute? About the damage to
our health from burning coal—say, from airborne mercury? What about
the damage to our earth and natural resources from harvesting coal? Or
the potential harm from nuclear power? How renewable is coal? How many
lives have been lost lately with biomass collecting, compared to coal
mining? Does burning coal produce a brown cloud of air pollution? Does
burning coal leave a residue on your cars? Are the trains that deliver
coal noisy to the neighbors? Are piles of coal waiting to be burned
Do you consider that the choice facing TCLP is not only between
biomass and wind or hydro in the future, but between biomass and
coal/nuclear today?
If the coal-burning or nuclear plant that generates the electricity we
use today were in town, and the coal was mined locally, and the dead
miners were our men—the story here would be different, wouldn’t it?
Don’t you think that if wind and hydro could get us off coal and
nuclear power as soon, as reliably, as cost-effectively as biomass,
TCLP would be pursuing those first?
Are you strongly opposed to forms of electricity that foul our air and
land and hurt us? Then I suggest you immediately stop using any.

Lyn Dolson Pugh • via email

Last week’s story on the suicide of Anne Avery-Miller should have said
that although her parental rights were to be terminated, her
8-year-old daughter remains with her father.

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