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Letters 11/06/03

Various - November 6th, 2003

Cheers for sound science

I‘m writing to express my appreciation for the Michigan Board of Education (BOE) for a recent policy they have adopted. The BOE‘s new policy “recommends that local school boards support their school administrators and faculty to select, adopt and implement comprehensive sexuality education programs that are based on sound science and proven principles of instruction.“

Although just a recommendation, this policy is great news for supporters of age-appropriate, medically-accurate sexuality education. In the policy, the BOE writes, "Schools, in concert with families and communities, have a duty to implement effective sexuality education programs that will help students make responsible decisions during their school years and into their adult lives."

Students who are not offered a comprehensive sexuality education program, and are often only subjected to the scare tactics of an “abstinence only“ curriculum, are not given the tools needed to care for themselves and their futures. As a recent graduate of high school and current college student, I see everyday the effects of the lack of realistic, factual sex education in schools. By withholding factual sexuality information from students in the schools -- one of the only places they may be able to get the real facts -- we are doing them a disservice, and sending them out into the world ill-prepared and unable to deal with the many situations they will face in the future, or perhaps are facing today.

So again, kudos to the Michigan Board of Education for passing this policy. I would encourage our local schools to look at their sexuality education programs and follow this new policy. I would also encourage parents to investigate the programs in their children‘s schools to ensure that their child is receiving factual, medically accurate information.

Laura Horon • Charlevoix

True Romance

Whoa, Advice Goddess and response letter writer Greg Keith ! (Re: Letters 10/16) Let me get this straight. If a guy, say my significant other, scrubs the tub and buys me socks I‘m supposed to be bowled over with the romantic intention? I should be in romantic heaven?! Okay, I‘ll acknowledge a gift of service in service to love, but romance? Romance is supposed to be the manifestations of the ideal of love, and the bath tub ring smacks of domestic duty to me. The “yeah, but I was thinking of you“ piece works too, in terms of affection and respect for my happiness, and sure, I love my smart wool socks, but it is not a romantic gift. It‘s sweet, sugar. I think of you when I buy your favorite cheese, hang your shirts and sweep the floor, too. Isn‘t that romantic?
Consider this, those of you who are snuffling around the bushes of misogeny and unmitigated desire -- when I scrub the tub I‘m up on the house work -- I know my guy doesn‘t see it as a romantic invitation. So because I‘m a woman and you‘re a piggy guy I should?

Sarah Jane Johnson • Lake Leelanau,

We deserve answers

I must admit to a large degree of puzzlement concerning George Foster‘s Random Thoughts column on October 23. While it is morally admirable to advocate the continued presence of American forces in Iraq in order to maintain stability and ensure that any new Iraqi government has a fighting chance for survival, his cavalier dismissal of the reasons for this war deserve special condemnation.

I for one want to know if President Bush had faulty intelligence on the prewar situation in Iraq. How can any decent citizen overlook the fact that this president for close to a year made continual public statements about Saddam Hussein‘s possession of weapons of mass destruction, only to discover months later that these claims were clearly exaggerated?

I for one want to know if our president deliberately lied to the American people in some paranoid-induced post 9-11 rush to war. He either lied to the American people or his handlers made a monumental rush to judgement. In either event, its the height of irresponsiblity for any citizen, let alone a journalist, to simply walk away from this issue. Its the central issue of why we are in Iraq to being with.

Mr. Fosters later plea for greater international support, again while admirable on its face, overlooks the dangerous security situation in Iraq. No rational leader, not a part of the invading coalition, will place his troops or his citizenry in harm‘s way (to any significant degree) as long as Iraq remains in a state of paramilitary chaos. The United Nations in particular is showing reticence about sending more personnel to Iraq, this even after the latest UN resolution in support of internationalizing this conflict.

The whole tenor of the article was simply a plea to trust our leaders and get on with the task of nation-building in Iraq. For example, when commenting on the merits of this war to begin with, he stated “I wasn‘t in favor -- but who knows for sure“? In other words, when faced with the greatest foreign policy challenge of the new 21st century, we should simply duck the hard questions, and leave it up to our elected leaders to decide such issues.

I for one wish to live in a nation which cherishes freedom, not only in foreign lands, but in our own borders as well. When elected leaders send their sons and daughters to wars of choice and not necessity, when the rationale for such wars is based upon flimsy or exaggerated intelligence, then the people have a right to know what went wrong. To fully secure Iraq is going to take hundreds of thousands more American troops and many years of chronic casualties before any semblance of peace with honor is brought to that troubled land.

Given this grim prospect, we are all entitled to honest answers from our president and his team. Mr Foster‘s previous assertion that the United States would lack any credibility in the world if we withdrew from Iraq sounds a lot like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon‘s assertions concerning Vietnam. In order to save face, a lot of young Americans will perish in a foreign land because their leaders decided to prosecute a war of choice. The next time there is a terrorist threat in another nation, how many will trust this administration to exercise sound judgement based upon sound intelligence?

It‘s the height of irresponsibility for anyone to overlook such issues, even if they are supporters of our President. Every good and decent citizen should examine this issue carefully. A war which upon later reflection turns out not to be necessary is a war which cannot be won. We owe it to ourselves, our troops and the world community to find out what truly happened in the days leading up to this war.

Wars should never be fought on the basis of choice or ideology or new theories of military doctrine. Human life should be more precious than that.

Brian R Morgan • Gaylord

Unjust law

Thank you, Northern Express and Robert Downes, for printing the unbiased truth about marijuana.
To Robert Pierce (jailed for three months): you are not a criminal, only a victim of an unjust evil law. Keep that joy in our heart and keep on smoking that sacred, God-given herb. remember, good always triumphs over evil and our day is coming. To Steve Redder, marijuana is not a drug! It never was nor will it ever be (unless man messes with it). Also, don‘t judge a fellow man until you have walked a mile in his shoes

I pray that Judge Gilbert will do the right thing by publically speaking out againnst marijuana prohibition, because he above all other people should know in his heart how wrong this evil law is. Until professionals like him do this, like those in Canada, prohibition will continue.

Some law enforcement members, such as “LEAP,“ already have taken a public stand against prohibition, but where are the lawyers to take test cases pro bono and flood our courts? Is the almighty dollar more important than your soul?

It is more than time for all marijuana users and sympathizers to come out of the closet, take a “public“ stand, and say enough already! If every marijuana smoker in our area agreed to meet at the Grand Traverse Sheriff‘s Department and light up for Robert Pierce, the jail couldn‘t hold us all! But fear keeps us fromm doing this. But, did you know that marc Emory, editor of “Cannabis Culture,“ and only 400 supporters did this on the steps of police headquarters in Windsor, Ontario, and were ignored by the police? My new friends in Canada have told me that their Prime Minister has vowed to President Bush that marijuana will be decriminalized before he retires next year. I hope Bush will be retired also! Remember, nothing changed wwithout sacrifice and commitment.

Rev. Steven B. Thompson • Director, Benzie County NORML

Iraq spending must be a shared sacrifice

By Congressman Bart Stupak, (MI-01)

On October 17th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3289, the $87 billion dollar Supplemental Appropriations Act for Iraq.  I have no objection to spending every dime necessary to make
sure our troops are safe, that they have Kevlar(tm) body armor, reinforced Humvees, enough clean water to drink and everything they need to do their jobs in the field. I have no quarrel with the $68.3 billion portion of the bill for our military.

I do have serious concerns about the $18.6 billion in the bill to rebuild Iraq. For one, I question the logic of sending $18.6 billion in taxpayer dollars to re-build Iraq when we have needs here at home. America needs jobs, health care, a quality educational system and prescription drug coverage. We have the elderly in this country wondering how they are going to pay for their prescriptions, their winter heat and their groceries
Every dollar that the U.S. borrows to give to Iraq for reconstruction will need to be paid back by our children and our grandchildren. This country is already staggering under massive debt and our economy is in shambles. Every penny of the $87 billion dollars approved in this bill will add to that debt and require enormous sacrifices by every American taxpayer. This $87 billion for Iraq is on top of the $79 billion granted last spring, and the President has already indicated he will be seeking another $50-$60 billion next year.

The $18.6 billion in the bill for reconstruction in Iraq is simply too large a handout. I supported a proposal to separate the military portion from the reconstruction portion of the bill, but the Republican House Leadership prevented this proposal from receiving a vote. I argued that the money to rebuild Iraq should be a loan, secured by Iraqi oil as collateral. Iraq possesses the second largest oil reserves in the world, and they certainly could afford it. Iraq‘s oil reserves are so vast, even Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and other White House officials repeatedly assured us that Iraq‘s frozen assets and oil reserves could and should be used to pay for its own

I offered several amendments to this bill that were blocked by the Republican leadership. These amendments would have required that all reconstruction funds be repayable loans, not grants, with Iraqi oil used as collateral; that at least 50 percent in matching funds come from Iraq or the international community for reconstruction projects; that all steel used in reconstruction be steel “melted and poured“ here in the U.S.; and last but not least, that a $1500 bonus be given to every military person serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

My $1,500 bonus amendment for our servicemen and women, including the National Guard and Reservists, did not pass because it received 213 “yes“ and 213 “no“ votes. Democrats overwhelmingly supported the bonus. I was surprised Republicans voted to deny our brave servicemen and women a $1,500 bonus when they have voted for tax breaks for millionaires and for a $4,000 cost of living salary increase (COLA) for themselves.  Some of the projects in the administration‘s original $87 billion request included:

• $900 million to import petroleum products to Iraq, a country with the world‘s second-largest oil reserves
• $400 million for two 4,000 bed maximum security prisons, which works out to $50,000 per bed, plus $10 million for 100 experts to assist with prison reconstruction at $100,000 each
• $100 million for 2,000 garbage trucks at $50,000 each
• $20 million for a four-week business course for Iraqis, at $10,000 per student
• $9 million to “re-engineer“ the business practices of Iraq‘s postal service, including creating ZIP codes

I could not in good conscience vote for a bill that requires such great sacrifice from each of us, yet contains no requirement for sharing that sacrifice with Iraq or other nations who also have a stake in a stable, peaceful Iraqi reconstruction.

I believe we must take care of the health, safety, and welfare of our servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan first and I am prepared to vote for such a bill. I do not believe it is necessary to provide full medical benefits, education, and employment to every Iraqi citizen. I will continue to work for a more acceptable final bill that will bring our troops home quickly and safely and protect taxpayers from an undue burden.

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