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Expensive teens

At our recent city park board meeting, we received details on the Mayor's Top 100 Teens program. Apparently it had been taken out of the 2010 budget, and then Mayor Lionel Rivera put it back in the budget.

The amount is some $51,000-plus. I think this is a bit ridiculous — $510 per top teen? If these 100 teens worthy of some type of designation need $510, I would rather see it as a scholarship of $500 per person, not expenditures on administrative and printing costs. (Oh, that was $13,000!)

I was absolutely horrified that our parks, our police, etc., are getting huge cuts and this program costs so much money. It is very wasted in my opinion. I'm sure there are other ways to honor teens than this!

— Nancy Hobbs

Colorado Springs

Military malfeasance

First, for those in the Warrior Transition Units ("Still screwed," cover story, Dec. 10), on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you and your families for your service and sacrifices.

The healers at Evans Hospital and in Veterans Affairs are honorably working themselves half to death trying to help, while understaffed and underpaid, but the bureaucrat brass in the Pentagon are politicians and want this problem swept under the carpet. They know that the greatest impediment to their continued blank check on invasion, interference, destabilization and occupation is for the people of our democracy to know the true facts of war: the wounds, impacts, destruction and devastation.

The Pentagon brass, with their Vietnam-era mindset, don't train soldiers to become civilians, decompress, cope or adapt after years of training to make them into fighting machines. They leave their human weapons "locked and loaded," which they would never do with an actual gun. Along with intimidation, retribution, forced deployments, or retirements and mental emasculation, the Pentagon is using the health insurance industry's malicious tactic of claiming a pre-existing condition, usually personality disorder, to deny treatment and therapy.

Over 43,000 soldiers who have been found to be "non-deployable for medical reasons" have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan!

This is a crime.

As of this past November, there were only 438 licensed mental health providers in the military providing services for 553,000 soldiers who are already deployed or preparing to be deployed. This is a ratio of one mental health professional for every 1,263 soldiers!

This is a crime.

These people have risked everything, given more than we should ever ask, and in some cases paid the highest price. Our treatment of them should equal their courage and commitment.

— Mark Lewis

Colorado Springs

'Christmas on War'

Once again, of a wintry eve, I take up the theme: Christmas on War. The vast majority of Christmas themes are promotions of militarism, a polite way of saying "killing." Christmas wreaths placed on graves, with the message that "freedom" isn't free. I put one out on a grave, saying, "Dude, you didn't sacrifice anything, you didn't die for anybody, you just died. Screw glorifying war."

There's no actual Christ in Christmas. I read the book, there's no cut-down trees, no morbidly obese Elf-Changelings, no flying reindeer. No pressure to pay a month's salary buying worthless crap that'll cost half as much on Dec. 26.

Jesus wasn't even born in December. Bible says so. The shepherds were keeping their flocks by night, and they only do that when ewes are throwing lambs (giving birth). Lamb of God, get the symbolic gesture? I knew you would. Lambs start eating grass within a few weeks of birth. How much grass grows in January, huh? Huh? Huh? It means Jesus was born in February at the earliest.

You know what the bestest, most special gift is this season?

Not just a BB gun or a Jihadi Joe doll, no, dear reader ... it gets worse. It's a first-person shooter game called Call of Duty — Modern Warfare 2. That's because 1 wasn't as hideously violent, not enough to satisfy players' bloodlust. It's one of the games reported to glorify and reward not just war, but actual war crimes.

Killing prisoners, targeting civilians and places of worship. The makers of the "game" and the Army are quick to point out that the ones playing the game aren't likely ever to enter the military. Imagine that, a few million Glenn Beck/George Bush wannabes celebrating Christmas by blowing away imaginary kids.

— Jonah Elijah Brown

Colorado Springs

Hot in here

A lot of news coverage of the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen is placing the blame for an unsuccessful summit on China. While some of the criticism makes sense, it misses the bigger point. The United States — by far the biggest per-capita emitter of global warming pollution — has said we're only willing to cut emissions by 4 percent from 1990 levels. The scientific consensus says we'd need to multiply that number by 10 to stop climate change.

If we're looking for someone to blame for Copenhagen's failure, we should start by looking in the mirror.

— William H. Smith

Colorado Springs

Purple haze

I read in the news where regular white folks should be extinct by 2050. I say, good riddance! We've been evaporating away for some time now anyway. If a 100 percent black man and a 100 percent white woman have a baby, it's black. And if a 100 percent white man and a 100 percent Asian woman have a baby, it's Asian.

We just lost two more white people!

Eventually we'll homogenize into a blend of all the people colors, which is sort of a grayish people purple, so why bother to track colors at all? When will we evolve into sweet colorblindness? Do we really have to wait until we're all the same color?

"Hello sir, my name is Steve. I'm a nearsighted, middle-aged white male and I'd like to apply for the Endangered Primates list."

— Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Targeting Tosches

Rich Tosches ("Advice from on high," Ranger Rich, Dec. 17) has launched yet another attack (in the guise of humor), on The Broadmoor, in particular, its highly respected CEO, Steve Bartolin! His routine onslaughts on our five-star resort border on paranoia, the bizarre and a downright creepy obsession with the gem of our city.

I don't know why Tosches has this personal vendetta against the hotel that made Colorado Springs famous. Perhaps it is some sort of revenge for the hotel rejecting his application for employment years ago. (I'm kidding of course, just trying out my own brand of Tosches-type humor. Lame, isn't it?)

Seriously, enough cannot be said of not only The Broadmoor's dramatic economic impact on our city, but its mere presence sitting there in the foothills is a wish that other mountain towns can only dream of. Yet, for years, Rich has been berating the hotel with his witless, unfunny invectives because of some dark, weird reasons that only his hairdresser knows of. (Another attempt at my Tosches brand of humor, forgive me?)

His sarcastic comments about Mr. Bartolin are unworthy, undeserving and silly. He criticizes Bartolin for proving his business practices are better than the city's. I suggest if the city had some folks with Bartolin's business acumen, it wouldn't be in its current financial mess.

I also suggest Tosches ask any Broadmoor employee who has been there a while what they think of their CEO. Do it, Rich, I dare you.

— Phil Kenny

Colorado Springs

Guts for breakfast

I was delighted to read about the "We Need a New President Omelet" offered at Maggie Mae's at 2405 E. Pikes Peak Ave. ("New menu item," Letters, Dec. 10). Since reading about this I have made them my favorite establishment. Anyone with the guts to speak out against the current political religion gets my vote.

— Bill Sheedy

Colorado Springs

Serve yourself

To Dan Morgan ("Enjoy the omelet," Letters, Dec. 17), I think you're missing the point. I grew up in the 1950s and '60s, before political correctness. A time when the office of the president carried a certain respect. A time when you might not agree with your government but you supported it. A time when parents would not even consider keeping their children home if the president was going to speak by video to their school. Rather, they would find a way to be there with them.

I'm all for freedom of speech. Nowhere in my letter did I imply that Maggie Mae's didn't have the right to call their omelets whatever they wanted to. I simply stated that I was offended. Enjoy your omelet.

— Michael Augenstein

Colorado Springs

Call for clarity

They say that "silence is golden," but Gov. Bill Ritter's silence on the Piñon Canyon issue is an unwise strategy. By refusing to answer questions about the Army's plan to seize southeastern Colorado and turn it into the world's largest live-fire training range, he seems to be hoping that the controversial issue will go away. But pro-expansion spokespersons of the defense industry will not let that happen. If he refrains from a clear articulation of his position on the issue, others will paint his silence with garish, anti-military stripes.

Ritter should simply speak the truth. He should say that he is opposed to Scott McInnis' plan for the cannibalization of one economic sector, namely agriculture in southeastern Colorado, to induce artificial growth in another sector, the defense industry. He should make it clear that boosting the military-industrial complex at the expense of ranching is an unsustainable approach to economic development. He should not be shy about saying that he favors economic diversity and sustainability — and that that doesn't make him anti-military.

He should state clearly that destroying one area of the state, southeastern Colorado, for the sake of another area, El Paso County, is not his idea of wise and just governance.

He should declare that his desire to protect the property rights of ranchers around Piñon Canyon doesn't make him anti-military. And he should explain that the unjustified federalization of 6.9 million acres of our state and the loss of irreplaceable land and culture would not be in the best interest of the state as a whole.

If Ritter would break his silence and say these things, the contrast between himself and pro-expansionist, defense-industry consultant Scott McInnis would become clear.

— Doug Holdread

Trinidad

Selective science

Climate-Gate has revealed that those promoting the "carbon dioxide causes global warming" belief have been censoring the evidence. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) people at Copenhagen are still taking a "damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead" approach in pushing for laws to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate-Gate reveals a larger problem in the science community today: the willingness of some scientists to ignore evidence as a means of advancing their careers, tarnishing all scientists' credibility.

If we dismiss their censorship as no big deal, what credibility is left for good scientists and science educators given the task of presenting unpopular scientific truths? Where is the higher ground that distinguishes science as based on evidence? How do we defend science education from conservatives who want to replace the Theory of Evolution with stories of creation?

The IPCC has not helped the cause. Instead of producing laboratory evidence showing carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming, the evidence shows their hypothesis is wrong.

Yes, we need to do something about global warming. But doing the wrong thing is far more damaging to the Earth than doing nothing. Instead of proving its case, the IPCC has hammered the media with the constant cry that we have got to do something. Yet once the politicians take this wrong turn they will be unable to admit that they made a mistake, and all of us will be stuck on this lost-without-a-clue ride.

Mankind has placed a lot of new chemicals in the atmosphere in addition to dramatically altering the global environment. To learn what is causing global warming and other problems, we need imaginative scientists who focus on the evidence as they examine all possibilities. Our ever-changing world needs correct, sound answers, rather than answers that simply sound good.

— David Esker

Physics instructor/science researcher

Colorado Springs

Who needs insurance?

In response to Ed Gibbons saying he is for health care reform because the negatives aren't that scary ("Public option needed," Letters, Dec. 10): To say you are for "reform" that keeps our health care the same or makes it worse makes no sense!

If Obama wants to reform health care, these are the problems he should be fixing: Yes, health care should be affordable. No, some bureaucrat should not decide what care I get.

Why is it OK with you that you would have to wait longer to see your doctor, and why is it OK that your rate may go up? And why is it OK to increase the deficit?

Why would you state that you are in favor of reform that only changes things for the worse, not better. My family chooses not to have health insurance. Instead we chose to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of our bodies; we also chose to save our money so that we pay for our very infrequent doctor visits. I would never expect someone else to foot our bills.

— Lisa Koski

Colorado Springs

Clarification

In the "Potatoes" section of "That's the rub" (Appetite, Dec. 17), Kerri Olivier of Extraordinary Ingredients was recommending two distinct dishes as alternatives to roasted garlic mashed potatoes: either a Southwestern dish with dehydrated Anaheim chili peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and chili threads, or another dish with cheese and black truffle salt. The Independent regrets any confusion (gustatory or otherwise) our story may have caused.

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