Heal thyself

The only explanations I can find for the statement in last week's cover story (Out of Breath, Nov. 10) by Dr. Nathan Rabinovitch at National Jewish Hospital, that he has no evidence that ozone triggers respiratory problems because he doesn't "hear this from the kids," are that it was either taken out of context or he, like many mainstream physicians, is completely blinded by his own ideology.

Can he possibly believe that children, or their parents, keep track of ozone levels and correlate them to the severity of their symptoms?

Ivory tower specialists sometimes seem to live in their own world, but this would constitute living in a parallel universe! He seems to exhibit the typical stance taken by a profession that has progressively allowed itself to become the pawn of big business over the past 25 years.

The "experts" would have us believe that the increasing death rates from asthma are related to inner-city children's exposure to rodent droppings, or genetic influences that cannot be altered. If this is the case, all you can do is take a drug. No one dares examine with any conviction possible links of allergy, asthma and other respiratory problems to increased exposure to environmental toxins, or immune system dysfunction resulting from the intake of obscene amounts of processed foods with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats, lest we risk the wrath of the giants of corporate America, including the pharmaceutical, food processing, agri-business and chemical industries.

Not only that, but in our current system, the incomes of physicians, hospitals and insurance companies also depend on this wheel of disease. If people actually started taking care of themselves and were somehow able to extract more responsibility from corporate America, the entire system would collapse of its own unbearable weight.

Who cares if we all get sicker, as long as the economy keeps chugging along? You should.

Keep up the good work, Indy!

-- Joel B. Klein, M.D.

Colorado Springs

Smoke and fire

Last week's cover story, while excellent, does not mention particulate pollution.

Suspended particulates, mostly from wood burning, are recognized as far more harmful than ozone and can, in a susceptible individual, cause cardiac arrest within 24 hours of exposure. Wood smoke, according to the EPA, is rivaled only by diesel emissions as far as toxicity. Investigation into the use of fireplaces, wood barbecues, bonfires, etc., might prove useful. In San Luis Obispo County, we have a rising level of [particulate matter] PM2 and, unfortunately, a great fondness for wood burning.

-- M. Power Giacoletti

San Simeon, Calif.

Grow up

As a resident of Colorado Springs residing within the boundaries of School District 11, I am writing to the Board of Directors because I have had enough of the antics of director Eric Christen.

I am referring to the verbal threat that Christen issued to citizen Dave Therault at a recent school board meeting, which was detailed in the Independent's Nov. 3 Public Eye column.

Is it a usual and customary practice for a board member to threaten community members when they do not like what they hear? Is this the message we want our students to emulate? Somehow, I get the image of "schoolyard bully."

How much more do the residents of District 11 have to put up with the immature antics of Christen?

I am embarrassed that other communities have to read about the behavior of certain board directors. I hope that some of the board directors are embarrassed as well. Yet, I continue to wonder: When is someone going to do something about it?

Now we read stories about past criminal history, which may or may not be true. I have always believed that "where there is smoke, there is fire."

What a fine, upstanding role model Eric exemplifies to the young students of District 11. The voters in District 11 have spoken loud and clear. The results of this past election have stated that the residents of District 11 do not want to be subjected to the puerile antics of Christen one more minute.

I ask the District 11 Board of Directors to commence with the task at hand. That being the welfare and education of our city's youth. To Christen, I say, "Grow up or get out."

-- Brian Lund

Colorado Springs

Dissecting frogs

Pity the poor public school biology teacher. Various religionists around the nation are trying to force design theory into the textbooks and public school classrooms, rather than exercising their freedom of choice to send their offspring to religious schools.

If biology teachers are eventually forced by law to teach religious theories alongside natural science, we can envision a class discussion something like this:

Biology Teacher: OK, students, today we have to take time out from dissecting frogs, doing fruit-fly breeding experiments, and recombinant DNA research to talk about the theory of intelligent design. Maybe some god or smart person designed the universe.

"But Mr. Tube, why should we believe that?"

BT: Well, no reason, really, but it's one theory and the law says I have to mention it in class.

"Mr. T, could the Designer be Jehovah?"

BT: Maybe so, Buffy, but maybe not.

"Could the Intelligent One be Allah?"

BT: You betcha, Abul, could be. Or not.

"What about Thor? Or Odin?"

BT: Interesting theory, Sven, but no particular reason to believe those, either.

"I heard it was really Shiva and Vishnu."

BT: I wish we had time to discuss those too, Sahib, but those are mere theories.

"Isn't it really God?"

BT: I really can't say for sure, Biff, but that's one theory ...

"Mr. Tube, even if there is a designer, where did the designer come from? Who designed the designer?"

BT: Got me there, Annie.

"And isn't all this just another attempt to anthropomorphize and personify nature with no reason to make that leap?"

BT: You took the words out of my mouth. See me after class about your Harvard application.

"Mr. T, can we dissect frogs now?"

-- Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Better be right

If the situation in Iraq is salvaged -- and I believe it is important to realize that it can be -- all credit should go to the soldiers in the field. It would not be the first time that their improvisational skills and valor would have succeeded in spite of misbegotten decisions by their civilian leaders. And on behalf of our veterans, I will make a plea to change the current policy for creating future veterans.

Let us accept, for the purpose of discussion, that the intelligence about Saddam's WMDs was simply wrong. The importance of this is, that it makes a travesty of the Bush administration's policy of "preemptive war," which is a variation on the line, "I thought he was going to hit me, so I hit him back first."

When this means going to war, you had better be right about the other guy's having had the ability and intent to hit you first. So, at the very least, you had better be able to assume that your intelligence is accurate. But not only was our intelligence about Saddam's WMDs completely wrong, we don't have a clue about why it was so wrong. Therefore, we cannot assume that any analogous intelligence will be right any time in the foreseeable future.

Yet the policy of "preemptive war" is still in place. I am forced to the conclusion that the Bush administration is willing to go to war without either knowing or caring whether it's really justified. I don't know how to describe this attitude -- words like "arrogant" and "irresponsible" seem completely inadequate. But it is clear that our soldiers, and soldiers-to-be, deserve better.

-- Kurt Foster

Colorado Springs

Reagan is rolling

In the wake of the passage of Referendum C, it will be useful for Republicans to examine the rhetoric of their elected "leaders" (Reagan conservatives, all) who loudly proclaim their support for limited government.

While TABOR has been effective in keeping government growth at a manageable level, the so-called ratchet effect brought on by the recent recession provided us with a historic opportunity to actually shrink the size of government.

I realize the entire El Paso County Republican delegation to our state assembly voted against Ref C, and I appreciate the sentiment. I also realize that each one of them probably campaigned against C by attending one or two of those quaint Republican gatherings where they receive thunderous applause for valiantly denouncing the "liberals" who are "after your money."

The problem is that these gatherings, while entertaining, constitute nothing more than preaching to the choir. The majority of our "leaders" never took the battle to the general public, where they might have won some converts.

Why did they choose to stay quiet? My guess is this: The concept of limited government comes down to specific policy decisions about what government should do and what it should not; what should be funded, and what should be cut. The defeat of Ref C would have forced the proponents of small government to come out of the shadows and actually define what they believe are the limits of governmental authority and responsibility.

It's a difficult thing to do, and it requires courage. True Reagan conservatives would have relished the opportunity. The fact that the current crop of Republican legislators chose to run and hide may show that they are something less than they claim to be.

-- Javier M. Mazzetti

Colorado Springs


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