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Barf alert

Dear Editor,

In your June 6 issue, "reporter" Terje Langeland authored an article titled "Terrorism Is as Terrorism Does," which leads the casual reader to conclude that the article will actually be about terrorism. Such was not the case.

In what passes for journalism and news in the Independent, Langeland goes on to relate how some local "peace activists" were arrested on Air Force Academy property by El Paso County Sheriff's deputies.

Why were they arrested? Did they commit an act of terrorism as the article lead suggests? No! They were arrested for refusing to leave Academy property while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was speaking at the graduation ceremony.

So, why the misleading and provocative lead-in, I wondered? Is it just a left-wing cynical attempt at capitalism to sell more papers? Yeah, probably.

But, further into the piece we see the "meat" of the charge. One of the arrested activists suspects that he may be considered a terrorist by the FBI due to their new surveillance methods. Suspects.

Wow, now that's a story! What a joke.

I suggest if the Independent ever wants to be considered anything in this community other than an entertainment rag for Colorado College students and left-wing activists that they try to actually write some news. Minus that, at least rate your articles in advance with a barf alert warning label.

-- John Sears

Colorado Springs

Intolerable situation

To The Editor:

In Terje Langeland's May 30 news article, "Gay Discharges on the Rise," Pentagon spokesman, Col. James Cassella, defends the U.S. military's ban on openly gay soldiers by recycling the discredited platitudes of an aging military brass. The presence of gay soldiers, he says, "creates an unacceptable risk to morale, good order, discipline and unit cohesion."

This assertion, for which neither the military nor Congress has ever offered evidence, has been refuted time and again. Not only has my organization found that openly gay soldiers do not undermine military effectiveness in Israel, England, Canada and Australia, but the Rand Corporation, a conservative think tank created by the military itself, reported similar findings in an exhaustive study in 1993.

Cassella also questions the "notion that the number of gay discharges is growing."

But the rate of gay expulsions has skyrocketed consistently since "don't ask, don't tell" went into effect in 1994, growing from 617 that year to over a thousand in 1997 to 1,250 in 2001, the highest number in 14 years. This growing rate of discharges occurred as the active-duty force shrank in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Finally, Cassella, who recently defended the recruitment of non-citizens by insisting that "we like to look like America," claims that discharges result primarily when gays voluntarily reveal their sexual orientation.

Evidence suggests a variety of reasons why the sexual orientation of gay soldiers comes to the attention of commanders. But the bottom line is that the law creates an intolerable situation for gays, who are subject to investigation and expulsion not only when they reveal their sexual identity, but also when they are "outed" against their will.

Imagine the difficulty of facing the most common personal questions by colleagues and commanders when you are forbidden to mention the most basic personal information, such as the existence of your lifelong partner. No straight soldier would tolerate that, and no gay soldier should have to either.

-- Nathaniel Frank

Senior Research Fellow

Center for the Study of

Sexual Minorities in the Military

University of California, Santa Barbara

Killing and breaking things

To the Editor:

The article by Terje Langeland on gay discharges on the rise is pure liberal propaganda. Without going into detail, the reason that the homosexuals are getting out of the service is after joining, they find that they will have to kill and break things, and they don't want to do that and then tell someone they are homosexual whether they are or not just to get out. Quite simple.

Stop trying to make it a major conspiracy.

-- Mary Goulet

Colorado Springs

Send him to Denver

To the Editor:

I just finished reading Terje Langeland's story regarding the governor's failure to interview Magistrate Barbara Hughes for the most recent El Paso County Court vacancy [June 6-12].

Thanks for an accurate, well-written report. You got right to the heart of the matter -- the governor is not giving equal treatment to all candidates, especially when one considers that he's only appointed 11 women over the past 3 years.

I wish we had more writers like Langeland in Denver. His coverage was much more accurate and interesting than the story that appeared elsewhere. Thanks for a job well done.

-- Julie Wells

Executive Director,

Colorado Women's Bar Association

Denver

Smoke in your eye

To the Editor:

Smoke in the sky sure does make for colorful sunsets, doesn't it? See the one Sunday evening? The air was positively glowing. Just one of the benefits of nearby range fires, I s'pose.

How many folks have actually seen the burn area south of town? It surprised me as it stretched over Ft. Carson to the Fountain Mesa. That's several miles long and at least a mile wide. I'd taken the freeway to Fountain and found the south edge of the burn on the mesa west of exit 128.

Looking at the expanse of blackened hills, I imagined what the damage would've been if this fire had started maybe 10 miles north and raged an equal distance across the foothills of the city.

At 4 to 5 miles long, it would have taken out everything in a mile-wide strip between NORAD and Red Rock Canyon. Or Garden of the Gods to the Academy. We'd've made the national news if that had happened. Hundreds and hundreds of houses could have been torched. Wildlife habitat would've disappeared and we'd be left with a blackened moonscape, punctuated by two- and three-story stucco and tile roofed McMansions. Scary stuff.

And the moral of this story? Well. Perhaps just that extreme care should be taken by everyone these days to keep a fire from starting in the foothills. No matter how careful with an open flame you may feel, all it takes is a spark, and there goes the neighborhood. Poof!

It's explosively dry out there folks. Take some preventative actions, clear brush away from near your homes, know your neighborhood escape routes, stick to propane grills and be careful! This place we love would look a lot different without any trees along the foothills.

-- Mark Cunningham

Colorado Springs

Our children's birthright

To the Editor:

Lately, it seems we can't see the forest for the fees! Here's why. The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program ("Fee Demo") was instituted by Congress in 1996 as a means to "demonstrate" whether or not Americans would actually "pay to play" on public lands.

Fee Demo is the plan behind the American Recreation Coalition. The ARC contains members from a number of influential lobbying organizations, from the RV Industry Association to Walt Disney. Their ultimate goal is to commercialize and privatize much of our public land. For their own profit, of course.

But Fee Demo is merely a test, not a permanent program. Colorado just became the fourth state to pass a house joint resolution (HJR 02-1051) in opposition to Fee Demo. Our own state legislators realize it is double taxation, a penalty to the poor, and most horrifically, the sense that our wilderness is a commodity to be developed and used.

It is time for the federal government to fully fund our national legacy! No one should be excluded from public lands because they can't afford to pay access fees.

Please visit www.wildwilderness.org for more information and to sign their Internet petition. Finally, as part of a Nation-wide Day of Action in opposition to Fee Demo, join us below the Mt. Evans Fee Station at Echo Lake Park between 8 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, to protest the Mt. Evans Highway Fee Demo program.

We need backcountry skiers, hikers, hunters, ATVers and families. We need everyone concerned about the future of our public lands. America's open spaces are our children's birthright; let's NOT sell them to the highest bidder!

For more information or directions to Echo Lake Park, contact the Rocky Mountain Coalition for Public Lands at P.O. Box 62503, Colorado Springs, CO 80962, 636-2662 or 510-4019, or see rockymountaincoalition@juno.com.

-- Sue Spengler

Colorado Springs

We are all different

To the Editor:

Suicide ("Suicide Epidemic," June 6) could be reduced if people felt they had a way out. Their perspective is very different. We can help ourselves if we want. The drugs are very expensive and most people are not diagnosed properly the first time. Most people who see a counselor stop going because they're looking for the "magic pill" (it doesn't exist).

Mental-health therapy and meds costs lots of money and if you can't afford the doctor or the meds you get what you can, and individuals need individual treatments. We are all different. Some of us need more than one type of med to help us and it takes commitment on the parts of both the patient and the provider.

Bottom line: If you hate the misery you live every day, seek help and if you don't feel you're getting good help, keep looking.

Luckily for me I'm a veteran and qualify for counseling and meds.

-- Lynette Trahan

Via the Internet

P.S. Many prisoners who cannot vote have mental-health issues and have no recourse!

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