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Weed vs. weeds

We already have a 400-foot restriction between K-through-12 schools and dispensaries. Why do we need to add to that ("The war against weed," Between the Lines, Nov. 25)?

I, along with a lot of other people, believe that we should stop trying to take from what is helping boost our economy. College students are adults with the ability to make their own decisions. And as for preschools, if our concern is to keep them from the dispensaries or the lifestyles associated with them, then we need to make sure the preschools keep better track of the children in their centers.

The dispensaries here in Colorado Springs are bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now can you tell me what is so wrong with that? Why can't we just leave things the way they have been? Is the city that unwilling to accept that MMJ will help bring our city back to the beautiful place it once was? A place where all of our parks were maintained and our street lights come on at night to keep our neighborhoods safe for our children?

Please leave the medical marijuana laws the way they are and allow them to help improve the city of Colorado Springs.

— Kristina Lipsky

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: For news of City Council's decision, click here.

Put down the camera

Who are these people that try to run our lives, these bureaucrats who dream up all these off-the-wall rules and regulations? The medical marijuana rules and regulation "committee," these stalwarts of what is right and wrong and social consciousness engineers, are trying to drive an upfront and honorable profession into the back alleys of our recent history.

Cameras linked to the "home office" that watch the plants grow, dry and be sold? Who is supposed to pay for these hundreds (if not thousands) of video surveillance systems? Will we, as a state, have to gin up another agency to monitor said systems? Keeping track of the ever-changing weight of plants from seed to smoke?

The state's medical marijuana community, now well over 100,000, needs to unite as a body to protest these "goody-two-shoes" in Denver. For as quickly as the industry came out of the shadows, it can return to the dark underbelly of the streets — and with it go the commercial property rents plus the payroll and sales tax revenue.

Maybe we should put cameras in all the pharmacies and the liquor stores? Do you think anyone would mind?

— Karl Knapstein

Sedalia

Pandering to power

Recently on the local TV and radio stations and in the Gazette, we have heard it repeated endlessly how those nasty North Koreans shelled an island belonging to South Korea "for no apparent reason." This media barrage is a symptom of a serious disease that has infected most U.S. corporate journalism. That disease is wholesale disregard of facts that shed unflattering light on our country or its allies (particularly Israel and Great Britain).

The New York Times was one of only a few publications that briefly bucked this trend when it reported on North Korea's supposed "unprovoked" shelling of a South Korean island. The Times' Mark McDonald on Nov. 24 reported that the South Korean deputy defense minister acknowledged that South Korea had fired artillery close to North Korea shortly before North Korea shelled the island of Yeonpyeong.

Not only does U.S. corporate media censor itself ... but it helps our government's effort to censor "troublesome" uncensored media outlets (read WikiLeaks). Most Coloradans strongly support freedom of speech — even when that speech reveals dark secrets about our own country. It was recently reported that the online payment conduit PayPal has dropped WikiLeaks. I hope that everyone reading this will join me in dropping not only PayPal but any publication that conspires with our government to crush freedom of speech and/or lie to the people.

— Joseph J. Mitchener

Black Forest

Time for realism

Regarding the TSA patdowns ("Dealing with TSA gropers," Ranger Rich, Dec. 2), the reason TSA behaves intrusively is because people worry too much about terrorism. While terrorism is a problem, its actual danger and our capacity to alleviate it are vastly exaggerated.

First, the risk of a terrorist attack is very low, especially when compared to the risks of other potential threats. While fewer than 3,000 people unfortunately died on 9/11, 40,000 people per year die from breast cancer. That means fewer than 300 people, on average, died per year from terrorism if one only considers the 9/11 attacks and the 10 years preceding it. The number killed per year from terrorism would only decrease if one considers a greater span of time. Note that the death toll from terrorism in the U.S. is minuscule compared to other threats, even if 3,000 Americans per year died due to attacks on U.S. soil.

Second, there is no evidence that new security measures have prevented terrorism. There have been no terrorist attacks in the U.S. for almost 10 years, and the same is also true of the six years preceding the 9/11 attacks (after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing).

Third, the odds of a terrorist attack with WMDs are infinitesimal. The reasons why terrorists are not expected to use WMDs are explained by Peter Bergen, a security analyst, at cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/05/bergen.wmd/index.html.

Fourth, if a terrorist was willing and able to attack us on a large scale, he could just rent a bus and pack it with explosives. If we worried as much about terrorists on the road as we did about them on our planes, we would be forced to drive armored cars and submit to random road searches.

Finally, every bit of time, money and effort spent preventing terrorism is an opportunity cost when there are objectively greater threats we could alleviate using those same resources (e.g., cancer, street crime, etc.).

— Cody Miller Luke

Colorado Springs

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Isabel needs help

For years Colorado's diverse landscapes have provided me with the perfect nature-lover's playground. Pike and San Isabel National Forest lands have given me the ideal area to run, camp, or hike, and have supplied me with the occasional escape from civilization. I visit not only for the beautiful dense forests and wildlife viewing, but also for the incredible variety of wildflowers and the breathtaking mountain views. It is truly a unique and diverse area.

However, these conditions are changing. I have noticed a troubling trend in our national forests. Motorized vehicles have used the forest for access and recreation, but the dramatic increase in use and amplified impacts seem to be far outpacing the Forest Service's ability to manage them and prevent lasting damage. Trash and broken vehicle parts are strewn across these landscapes. The impacts to plants and waterways are harmful to wildlife and greatly depreciate the aesthetic value for all other visitors. Something must be done.

I find myself asking, "Does the Forest Service really need to allow motors on nearly every two-track in the Pike-San Isabel?" I wouldn't think so. And where did this spider web of roads come from in the first place?

I believe the Forest Service should identify all jeep roads and trails not serving a valuable agency or public purpose, and close them. Then convert most into non-motorized trails or completely rehabilitate them to protect the environment.

I understand motorized vehicles provide an exhilarating outdoor experience, and I am not advocating that they be completely removed from the Pike-San Isabel. Yet use must be controlled and access reasonably limited to protect the land and experience for everyone else.

— Alexis Miller

Leadville

Israeli illegality

The Gazette ran a short story Nov. 28 about two activists arrested at the Ulta Salon. KRDO (NewsChannel 13) also ran a news story about the sensational arrest, focusing on the age (86) of one of those arrested and the fact that he uses a walker.

It's funny how the truth was obfuscated. The real story Colorado Springs needed to hear is this: Ulta stores sell a product called AHAVA, which claims to be "Made in Israel." The product is made in illegal Israeli settlements, land that has been stolen from the Palestinian people, and from minerals that have been mined from the portion of the Dead Sea that also belongs to Palestine. The focus should have been on illegal Israeli settlements and the International BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that is gaining strength worldwide.

The goal of the BDS movement is to hold Israel accountable for continuing to break international law. Other products or companies that have been boycotted are Sabra Hummus, Motorola, L'Oreal and Sabon. When consumers buy these products they are helping finance the destruction of a peaceful and just future for Israel and Palestine. At the forefront of this movement are Jews who adhere to the finest principles of Judaism and "Tikkun Olam."

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob weeps as he looks down and sees what is being done with $3 billion U.S. tax dollars that we send to Israel every year, money that we could sorely use in our country. Old Testament prophets talk much about justice, and Micah 6:8 says, "The Lord requires His people to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God." America and Israel would be wise to heed these words. When governments refuse to do justice, the people will take it upon themselves to call out for justice from the street corners.

— Grace Yenne

Colorado Springs

 

Are you experienced?

I write in hopes to gain your support for the Over the River project proposed by artist Christo and his late wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude.

I experienced The Umbrellas in California and The Gates in New York, and the wonder of each experience lives long after the event.

I am emphasizing experience because a project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude is first and foremost an experience. One only need talk with newswoman Barbara Walters to know of her transformation from denouncer to disciple after she walked through Central Park and experienced The Gates for herself.

As an educator of 21st-century college students exposed hourly to iPod/cell phone/YouTube/television input, I know their world of "experiences" is largely coming from a flat screen. These are not real experiences that require them to interact and be a part of their everyday world. I have observed a deterioration of their interpersonal social skills.

As their mentor, I encourage them to have as many real (i.e., live) experiences as possible. Such as going to a live sporting event, having a game night at home, going bowling or to a museum. To try new things outside of their comfort zone that can only help them to grow and be more interesting.

A Christo and Jeanne-Claude project in your state will create jobs for many. It will also bring thousands (possibly millions) of spectators to experience the event. These workers and spectators will need places to stay and food to eat and souvenirs to buy. And as you must know, the artists do not take any proceeds.

I look forward to being one of many who will travel to experience Over the River. This project asks you to do something outside of your "comfort zone." It will be an experience you will not regret.

— Nanci Schrieber-Smith

Brea, Calif.

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