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The next disaster?

Chemical security legislation was introduced over 10 years ago, but the cozy relationship between industry and policy has taken over. The chemical industry, like the oil industry, wants self-regulation. As evident by the BP disaster, industry cannot dictate policy and regulation. The private sector cannot guarantee the safety of millions of citizens in cases of disastrous events, and it is time for the government to hold industry accountable.

Profits over people should not be the motto, but safety over production. A chemical security bill passed the House in 2009 and is waiting to be introduced in the Senate. It would protect more than 110 million Americans. I know Sen. Mark Udall spoke out against BP last week. It is time for him to take a stand, along with Sen. Michael Bennet, to emphasize how important chemical security is, not only to our national security, but to our safety, health, and environment.

— Sara Tscheschke

Denver

Open space workouts

Walking my dog in Stratton Open Space last week, imagine my surprise at finding the parking lot at the trailhead almost full — at 6:45 a.m., 18 of the 21 available parking spaces were occupied. Of those 18 occupied spaces, 15 vehicles had Fort Carson window stickers. A couple individuals appearing to have completed a run said they were part of a group from Fort Carson who ran from the parking lot up to Gold Camp Road and back.

This is an uphill run, quite a vigorous workout. When I asked whose idea it was, I was told, "Our commander."

A week earlier at about the same time, I witnessed a parade of vehicles pulling into the same parking lot (the driver being the only occupant in each vehicle), whereupon the individuals exited the vehicles and began putting on camouflage flak-jackets, backpacks or whatever. These were clearly military, presumably from Fort Carson.

I have encountered many military during my walks in Stratton Open Space. Usually, they are off-duty and walking with girlfriends, spouses, children, and their own dogs. Unlike Caroline Williams' bad experience at the Manitou Incline ("Calling off the troops," News, June 3), I have found soldiers to comport themselves well.

But Williams' experience, and my own positive experiences, whether on the Manitou Incline, at Stratton Open Space, or any other off-post recreation area, misses the point. Why is Fort Carson sending its military to a 380-acre open space in the city, or to the off-limits incline to train its troops when those soldiers have 370,000 acres of their own on which to train?

— David Ruetschilling

Colorado Springs

Say no to both sides

Is the two-party system broken? Many staunch Republicans or Democrats vote the party line only to be disappointed due to lack of accountability, undeliverable promises and simply rubber-stamping the party line. Maybe it's time we had more choices. As history has shown us, voting unaffiliated may be the answer.

Manifest Destiny, or the divine inspiration that drove America to its exceptionalism, has always been part of our tradition and values. On both sides of the Rockies, we are well-rooted in those early values of country, church, community and family. Then as today, Colorado's individual ruggedness is more than one who is sitting on a fence; it's about taking action. It's deeply embedded in reason, consideration and evaluation, not political parties.

Our two-party system has strayed from our traditional notions of substantial justice and fair play. Every day we are lied to by politicians who are driven by special interests with little, if any, regard to what those who voted for them want, believe or desire. For decades, many of us in Colorado have chosen not to vote for the lesser of two evils by not voting at all.

Our two-party system is broken. It is locked in two-party bickering, embracing special interests and out-of-control spending. To break the gridlock, the people of Colorado and America need to vote Unaffiliated.

— Charley Miller

Littleton

 

BP's rules

Let's say my car had really bad brakes. I would have to choose between fixing them or just driving around not knowing if the brakes would work when I pressed the brake pedal.

If I chose to drive with bad brakes and they failed, causing me to smash into and kill several people, I would be in a heap of trouble because I failed to take proper precautions to prevent the incident; I believe that offense is called "negligent homicide."

British Petroleum chose to forgo proper safety precautions on its oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and, when the rig exploded, 11 workers were killed. This is also negligent homicide, so why isn't BP under investigation for this? Isn't this a double standard? BP is a person, just like me (according to the U.S. Supreme Court), yet I'm languishing in a prison cell awaiting trial while nothing is happening to BP; in fact, Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, actually apologized to BP for being asked to make money available to help clean up the extraordinary mess in the Gulf! (Thanks a lot, Republicans.)

If it looks like a skunk, feels like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, it's a skunk. This looks, feels and smells like a double standard!

— Fred Kormos

Colorado Springs

Solving the problem

Illegal immigration is nothing more than 20th century slavery! An illegal immigrant gets a job with an employer who knows there is a $10,000 federal fine for employing illegals yet hires him anyway. The illegal is paid considerably less, gets no insurance, no workers comp and, if he complains, his employer threatens to report him.

Thousands of businesses hire illegals routinely and have for years. Our elected leaders feed off business and are compensated through campaign contributions. A dog isn't going to bite the hand that feeds it so, despite laws in place to curb hiring and subsequent mistreatment and exploitation of illegals, the government won't curb illegal migration.

When pressed, as the Arizona law did, the federal government performs some token act like sending 1,200 National Guard troops to the border, but not enough. The government then gets the unwitting help of those who scream, rant and rave about the Arizona law being racist and discriminatory. They don't read the law, preferring instead to echo the tripe they hear on TV and the Internet without considering for a moment that the Arizona law will also deprive some unscrupulous employers of their ability to victimize illegals.

The quick, efficient situation is a guest worker program, which Congress has steadfastly refused to implement. After all, you can't make nearly as much money off them if they're legal and protected by state labor laws.

— Bill Evans

Colorado Springs

Ending the spill

There is one simple solution that nobody is talking about for some reason.

Explosives. Not any old explosive. The only bombs powerful enough to cause a concussion that will seal the well shut are the thermobaric "bunker buster" (maybe... but I doubt it would blast down far enough for a lasting solution) and a nuclear warhead (which I recommend). In fact, I would recommend the biggest one in our arsenal to be detonated just over the leak. This would make a crater where the well is and pinch off the well far down into the crust.

The wildlife has already been driven away by the toxins, and the water will absorb the radiation from the hydrogen bomb. The only result on the surface would be a ginormous bubble-fountain of water and the oil that's already there.

One caveat: The gamma and X-ray pulse from the bomb might ignite the surface oil. But hey, the Fourth of July is coming up, and that would be the most awesome display of fireworks ever!

— Jason Canitz

Colorado Springs

Different priorities

Sen. Michael Bennet voted against the Brown-Kaufman amendment that would bust up the mega "too-big-to-fail" banks. During the health care battle he voted to keep the antitrust exemption in place. He didn't support a public option until his constituents conveyed "fish or cut bait." Now, tell me again who he's really supporting?

Andrew Romanoff doesn't wait to test the waters; he supports the right thing. So we Romanoff diehards will keep the faith with the former speaker of the Colorado House, who was not appointed, but elected four times, who supports Coloradans, not big corporate power, which is substantiated by not accepting any contributions from them.

— Cara Koch

Colorado Springs

Dear Mr. President ...

To President Obama, many of us in Colorado think your trying to influence our Democratic Senate contest is overstepping your authority.

When our governor asked us to e-mail our choice for a senator to replace Ken Salazar, we were impressed with his open fairness. However, since he didn't listen to our voices, we ended up resenting his bait-and-switch stunt. He chose a well-connected man who had never been elected.

Mr. President, what inspired us about you was your strong public service, your dedication and integrity and, in particular, your refusal to take corporate funding in your campaign. Andrew Romanoff embodies that kind of dedication, integrity and courage. Just as you were, he is a breath of fresh air; he remains fresh, faithful and true.

As we respect you, you need to respect our ability to take a hard look at our candidates and make our choice, based on our history and appreciation of what our candidates have done for us through their years of service.

If you knew much about our state's culture, and our loyalty to proven, elected legislators, you'd never recommend Michael Bennet over Andrew Romanoff. So please keep in mind, that at the end of the day, we'll decide what's best for Colorado.

Now if you will excuse me, I have doors to knock on for Andrew. The last time a candidate so inspired me was two years ago and that candidate was you.

— Micheale Duncan

Monument

Rhetorical fiction

Grace Yenne's letter ("Sad reality," June 10) actually is propaganda without any foundation in fact.

Gaza is a territory governed by a democratically elected group called Hamas. The Covenant of Hamas includes the following actual statements: Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. The Islamic Resistance is but one squadron that should be supported... until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realized.

Hamas is determined to destroy Israel. No flotilla to the Hamas-controlled shores can be considered "unarmed." No blockade by Israel in defending its territory can be considered "illegal."

The people of Gaza, by virtue of electing Hamas as their leaders, have actually declared war against the state of Israel. Israel is continually being shelled by people from within Gaza, yet in spite of such actions, the Israelis are allowing over 80 tons a week of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Until Hamas and the Islamic people are willing to accept that Israel has the right to exist, flotillas such as the one from Turkey, and those coming from Iran, will remain tools of Islamic propaganda without any credibility, or humanitarian value.

— Dan Goor

Colorado Springs

Bills good for hunting

The Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains is our state's largest wilderness area, and a refuge for big game (and other) species, like elk. At the turn of the last century, it was estimated that only 1,000 elk remained in Colorado, with 100 or so left in the valleys of the Upper San Juan River and Rio Grande. Elk do best in settings far removed from humans; the Weminuche elk proved this by thriving in the remote forests and cirque basins, eventually exceeding 10,000 in number by the late 1960s.

Colorado Division of Wildlife was one of the area's staunchest wilderness supporters in the early 1970s, and today there are three new wilderness proposals being considered in Colorado. One, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, will set aside more than 33,000 acres in southwest Colorado for wilderness protection.

The Colorado Wilderness Act of 2009 taps 34 areas totaling 850,000 acres for protection, and the Hidden Gems proposal calls for wilderness designation of 342,000 acres, mostly in White River National Forest.

Elk and other wildlife (and all of us) have precious little untrammeled land left in this state. Currently, wilderness designation protects only 5 percent of Colorado's landmass, mostly high-elevation mountaintops. These proposed wilderness bills are generally lower-elevation wildlands (i.e., winter range) that comprise the most vital habitats for big game and other wildlife, yet receive the most pressure from high-impact industry and motorized recreation.

There are enough Forest Service roads in the state to go from the Kansas border to Utah and back, 17 times. Excessive road densities have been shown to negatively affect elk and deer behavior, reproduction and survival.

— David Lien

Colorado Backcountry

Hunters and Anglers

Colorado Springs

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