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All bad news
We hit the milestone 4,000 number of troop deaths and are growing beyond that daily. A blip of horrible reality in our busy and distracted lives, not to be on the front page again until 5,000 are dead. How less monumental are the 90,000 (some list between 600,000 to over a million) Iraqi civilian deaths, many of them women and children, not to mention those wounded and psychologically damaged from the war, imprisonment and torture?

Who knows how many private military contractors have died in Iraq? Our government doesn't have to account for them. And what about our troops without limbs, untreated brain trauma and psychological problems? Many of the last two haven't been counted.

Latest figures show approximately 30,000 seriously wounded troops. Our cost for the Iraq war is almost $1 trillion. As if that isn't bad enough, we're borrowing from the country with the worst human rights violations in the world, China.

Consider lives, money, values, democracy, reputation, and then reflect on the true total cost of the Iraq war.

Sharlene White
Santa Fe, N.M.

"Ironiq'
The earliest civilization we've found on Earth existed over 7,000 years ago, in what we now call Iraq (ironiq!). That means humans have had seven millennia to figure this "civilization" thing out. Seems like enough time, but apparently not.

Looking around, you'd think we were all born yesterday. We kill each other, lie, steal, rape, con, cheat, stalk, eradicate ... there's genocide, an attempt to completely remove another group of humans from the face of the planet for eternity. We routinely spend billions on new and more effective killing machines. We are knowingly poisoning our planet, the only place we have to live.

Here in the U.S., our elections are a circus. We have hunger, child neglect and abuse. Our schools are dangerous, and they have to beg for the money they need to educate our future. Every new technology seems to create new opportunities for con artists, thieves and child molesters. We plant cities in the paths of hurricanes, on major fault lines and in flood zones, and then when a disaster happens we call it an "act of God" and rebuild in the same place.

You'd think we'd have learned something. You'd think we'd need less government, not more. You'd think we'd need fewer police, fewer lawyers, fewer laws. And fewer weapons. You'd think our elections would be shorter and more accurate with every new term. You'd think we would want to be part of the solution, not the problem. We came from other countries and cultures, and we brought their knowledge and history with us. We should be better at this, but we're not. We choose consumerism over conservation, war over schools, prejudice over understanding, deceit over truth.

It's not easy looking at your species and realizing you've wasted 7,000 years, and tomorrow's just another day...

Steve Suhre
Colorado Springs

Compliments
I am so happy to see "Indy takes 13 state awards, including six first places" (Noted, April 3)! This is wonderful news! I love your paper; you deserve every bit of this! I look forward to Thursday mornings. Before I even walk into work, I grab one of your papers from the bin at Tejon and Colorado; it makes my day. Thank you for all of your hard work!

Jill Crouch
Colorado Springs

Seventh heaven
About once a month, for the last couple of years, I have been dropping off my recycling items at Waste Management's recycling warehouse at 602 E. Fourth St., northeast of Nevada and Fillmore. Located on the west side of the building, the free drop-off area is open 24 hours a day.

For years I was disappointed that they only took #1 and #2 plastics. But the other day, to my surprise, their plastics bin said #1-#7. I called them and the operator verified they began accepting the higher-numbered plastics in February. Thank you, Waste Management!

Cheryl Ross
Colorado Springs

Magic Springs-dom
I would suppose all the members of City Council were elected to those positions because constituents felt they were people of vision. I hope our "vision" will keep the natural beauty bestowed on Colorado Springs, which makes it one of the distinctive cities of the world. Good leaders take cues from historical events that shed light on key decisions; there is a proven electric transit system that moves tens of thousands of people daily, millions yearly and is eco-friendly.

Walt Disney, another visionary, developed a transit system decades ago that would suit Colorado Springs. Electric and solar (the Springs has plenty of sunny days yearly), the monorail system in conjunction with a solar-electric trolley system would create a cleaner, eco-friendly transit system and reduce rising CO2 emissions. Within the city, this would provide the mass-transit capability needed. Outlying transit to faraway locations (county) would be provided by a mix of rail and buses ending at the monorail pickup points.

Visit Disney World, study the transit system there and see if Disney was right or wrong. Let Colorado Springs become the model for future eco-friendly, mass-transit systems. Other cities such as Seattle have employed monorails, but a system integrating several east-west and north-south moving hubs would create a positive result.

Isn't this type of thought along the lines of that which would draw federal funding toward lessening our dependence on foreign oil? I live in the county, but love Colorado Springs; it is at the heart of Colorado, and to be honest has lost some of its quaintness and beauty because of over-development.

Richard Campbell
El Paso County

The 2 percent solution
As a native Coloradan, I have always found that ours is a state concerned with community. Currently, Colorado receives unequal treatment in the New Energy Economy. Nearly 1 million of our fellow citizens are not provided with the same opportunities for energy efficiency as others.

HB 1107 will complement HB 07-1037, which was passed last year and required Xcel Energy to invest more revenue into energy efficiency. Unfortunately, it left out rural electric cooperatives and municipalities. While the rest of Colorado enjoys financial savings and cleaner air, local communities across the state continue to pay increasingly high energy bills.

HB 1107 directs utilities serving more than 5,000 customers to spend at least 2 percent of their sales revenues on cost-effective energy-efficiency programs for customers beginning in 2010. They would be able to choose which energy-efficient program they would offer. These programs help build our New Energy Economy, and are a necessary step in meeting the goals established in Gov. Bill Ritter's climate action plan. Making our homes and businesses more efficient is essential in reducing Colorado's particulate air matter, which causes severe asthma attacks. Most of all, efficiency will save Coloradans money.

The estimated electricity savings by the year 2020 alone is equivalent to the electricity use of more than 170,000 Colorado households. Ultimately, HB 1107 will create $600 million in net economic benefits for consumers and businesses.

Coloradans should not be forced to pay outrageous energy bills when there are proven, cost-effective, clean energy alternatives available. Urge Sens. Bill Cadman and David Schultheis to vote yes on HB 1107. Tell them your health should not have to suffer, nor should you have to pay higher energy bills, because Colorado's electricity providers are providing inadequate service.

Heather Maurer
Consumer associate, CoPIRG, Denver

Clear-cut reason
Dick Standaert ("Rotten alternatives," Letters, March 20) blames environmentalists for the pine bark beetle epidemic, claiming that we have blocked the logging which could have prevented it. This is nonsense.

As Deb Acord quite rightly points out ("Beetlemania," cover story, March 13), the roots of the current beetle epidemic lie in another epidemic 100 years ago: an epidemic of human forest destruction through logging and wildfire that left few parts of Colorado forests untouched. The result was even-aged forests, often composed of lodgepole pine, a species that flourishes on disturbed sites and is highly susceptible to beetle infestation. Environmentalists cannot be blamed for the makeup of today's forests.

Nor is it true that we have impeded efforts to create healthy forests. The practices that environmentalists have most consistently opposed have been clear-cutting turning large acreages into stumps and slash, which then grow back into vast, even-aged stands of ideal beetle-food and the continual opening of new acreages to logging.

Our efforts to protect the few remaining uncut, mixed stands of old-growth forest should have turned loggers toward the fire- and disease-prone, second-growth forests that previous logging operations had left.

Instead, when they were kept from cutting the few, last, best trees, the large logging operations mostly shut down and left the state. The sad truth is that commercial logging generally has not aimed at promoting healthy forests, because cutting for sustainability is not as profitable in the short term as "grab the best and leave the rest."

Standaert proceeds to chastise environmentalists for opposing oil drilling on the North Slope of Alaska. Global warming concerns aside, this kind of rush to exploit every possible resource in our lifetimes is the exact opposite of good stewardship, and will ultimately impoverish the people, and not just the forests, of the future.

James Lockhart
Pikes Peak Sierra Club,
Colorado Springs

Missing the point
It was great to read Sheila Wallace ("Lamborn's latest," Letters, March 20) regarding Rep. Doug Lamborn's expensive mailings to taxpayers.

Last April we received two of these, and I wrote to him to report the instance as government waste.

The full-color mailing to each voter, with his picture on it, was nothing more than an election plug for him saying that he was fighting hard to reduce taxes, all at taxpayers' expense.

Well, don't bother to write to him about it, as I did. The following month I received a letter from his Washington office thanking me for taking the time to contact him about HR 524, the Partnerships for Access to Laboratory Science! What an effective representative. Oh, and he apparently took our address off the mailing list. We don't receive the propaganda any more.

Charles Rice
Colorado Springs

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