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Hidden contradiction
As an avid reader, I am usually impressed at how balanced your publication is, especially in light of Colorado Springs' overwhelmingly conservative nature. However, I have to respond to "Sticking to principles" (News, March 20). The Liberal Store claims to support trinkets "expressing a range of peace-oriented messages and politically and socially progressive sentiments."

However, the article comments that the owner started out selling, and continues to sell, "Darwin" fish, described as "a jab at Christians who believe Charles Darwin's account of human origins is contrary to beliefs they base on the Bible." As a liberal Christian, I feel obligated to point out that professing a message of coexistence and tolerance while taking a jab at others' personal beliefs are radically contradicting messages! If they were really progressive, wouldn't these people advocate accepting everyone's personal opinions and beliefs, whatever they may be, without fear of ridicule and persecution?

Americans today are so polarized, things aren't going to get better until we pull together and appreciate the diversity that makes America great. Just because something is right for one person, doesn't mean it is right for everyone else. Let's stop perpetuating a stereotype of ignorance and take a stand for true tolerance. Chris Hale
Colorado Springs

Take your pick
The reality of the November presidential election is that there will be two viable candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Voters will have a clear choice: Which candidate is more likely to end the war in Iraq? Which will be more likely to turn around this moribund economy? Which is more likely to extend the Bush policies of the past eight years? Which is more likely to take a different path?

Which will value our environment more? Which will owe the most favors to big campaign donors? Which is most likely to bring positive change to our diverse country?

Yes we can.

Jeremy Van Hoy
Colorado Springs

Punching the clock
Colorado Springs' leaders have dropped the ball once again, this time with our police department. Apparently, the city failed to pay police for off-the-clock work, to the tune of $5.25 million. This money will come out of the general fund, doled out on an annual basis for three years starting in fall 2008.

I think I'll go back and sue all my past employers for all the work I have done "off the clock." How about anybody else? What person (who has ever held a job of any responsibility) hasn't worked extra on behalf of the employer? Everyone I have ever known has done this, for nothing except loyalty to their job and employer. Is there anyone in this city with better benefits and/or pension plans than our police department?

This is absolutely appalling news, and if it doesn't lead to some heads rolling at City Hall, I don't know what will. Who is in charge of this city? Who is responsible for this robbery from the taxpayers of Colorado Springs? Why do citizens have to pay over and over again for the incompetence of city officials?

Thanks so much, City Council. What a way not to run a city. Will the fire department be next to file suit for millions of dollars more? How about our newly named city fleet department? Who else can sue the city and win?

Addy M. Hansen
Colorado Springs

Community question ...
In response to Wendy Brown: You said it! I recently moved here from Fort Collins, where the recycling program was disappointing at best. I had no idea how bad things could really be!

My west-side apartment complex manager looked at me like I was crazy when I asked where the recycling bin was. My friend downtown quietly explained that Waste Management charges to pick up recycling, and as much as he would like to, he cannot afford such "luxuries" in our current economy.

Can the people here really not see the financial, environmental and simple moral benefit of reusing something instead of putting it in a pile and creating a new one from scratch? I am not a dreadlocked, patchouli-wearing hippie! I am a normal, 30-something woman who thinks our constant consumption of resources is out of hand. My neighbor and I now wait until it piles high and then carpool to the recycling center off Fillmore. Certainly not very convenient, but a small step we should all be willing to take.

Better yet, maybe our elected officials should put some thought into this! I like Wendy's idea of a resource for people looking to recycle and improve recycling options. I am learning Web design, have opened an e-mail account (csrecycles@gmail.com) and would donate my time to create a site with recycling resources and tips, if anyone would pay the small fee to register the domain name and the monthly fee to the site host. I have no background in activism or anything else, but this is important and the solutions seem simple.

Any takers? Send me an e-mail. What do you say, Colorado Springs?

Megan Miller
Colorado Springs

... and answer
This is a reply to "Our '70s mentality" (Letters, March 20) by Wendy Brown.

Wendy, you don't have to search the Internet. A helpful, informative recycling directory is available from El Paso County Solid Waste Management, 520-7878. Thank you for teaching your kids the proper way to recycle!

Thomas DuDash
Colorado Springs

Forgotten issue
Ralph Routon's column on health care ("Health care: It's our problem," Between the Lines, March 20) didn't address what I consider to be the main problem with health care today: the fees charged for service. Why don't we address those fees (and drug costs) when looking at insurance? We are looking at it backward.

I recently visited a doctor for a minor problem. The visit was less than 30 minutes. My bill was $600.

Of course, insurance only paid a part of that. Most was "written off," and my secondary paid the remainder. But why can't there be real costs billed in the first place? And why aren't they reasonable? What is this pricing game we play? And what does the person pay who is paying cash? Does he pay the $600? Or do those patients have a different rate?

The craziness needs to end right at the beginning the fees.

Pat Webb
Colorado Springs

A low five
With the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, we should end our occupation and set a timeline to get out as safely and quickly as possible. This "war" is a failing enterprise for the Iraqis and our country.

Of course, the administration's friends, Halliburton and Blackwater, are making megabucks from it and would not agree. How they can state that we're making enough progress to stay in this quagmire should not baffle us. We should make certain the Iraqis will be protected while they try to rebuild what we've destroyed. To obtain this security, we need to use comprehensive foreign diplomacy with all Middle East countries surrounding Iraq. Otherwise, our troops will be stuck in a volatile, costly situation for a very long time.

We cannot afford this, in lives or money. We should know by now our continuing presence and torture prisons are only creating more insurgents, harming innocent Iraqis and making us less safe.

Sharlene White
Santa Fe, N.M.

Supreme concern
Opinions voiced recently by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding gun-control laws smack of the same judicial activism of which these justices have accused their more liberal predecessors. To avoid politicizing issues, two tests have been used historically to determine the meaning and intent of the language questioned: What is its plain meaning, and, if that cannot be readily ascertained, what does the legislative history preceding adoption indicate was the writers' intent?

The meaning seems obvious. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. The word "militia" was used to support the view, at the time, that a standing army was to be avoided. One way of strengthening the militia was for reservists to be well-armed when called to duty. James Madison chose the word "people" rather than "individual persons," with language from the original Articles of Confederation saying, "every state shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia."

The Second Amendment was never intended as an absolute private right to own and use any and all firearms without regulation. Not one amendment of the Bill of Rights has ever been given the status of an absolute right. In U.S. v. Miller (1939), Justice McReynolds noted "the Second Amendment does not protect the right of citizens to own firearms that were not ordinary militia weapons."

Ronald Reagan's Chief Justice Burger noted "if an 18th century militia was intended to be well-regulated, surely the Second Amendment does not remotely guarantee every person the constitutional right to have a Saturday night special or a machine gun without any regulation whatsoever."

Bill Durland
Colorado Springs

Better option
The past three months have brought bad news about rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and global warming all linked conclusively to consumption of meat and dairy products. This was topped by the USDA recalling 143 million pounds of beef from potentially sick animals.

This month brings good news about The Great American Meatout (meatout.org). Fashioned after The Great American Smokeout, Meatout provides a superb excuse to turn over a new leaf, kick the meat habit and get a fresh start with a wholesome, nonviolent diet of vegetables, fruits and grains.

It's a diet touted by major health-advocacy organizations and leading health authorities. It's facilitated by the rich selection of delicious meat and dairy alternatives in supermarkets.Go to goveg.org, chooseveg.org and tryveg.org.

Claus Singer
Colorado Springs

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