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Talking torture, no Bach-to-Bach, a trial by Twitter, and more 

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Tales of torture

I just want to publicly thank our U.S. government for releasing those papers on American torture. These papers reveal in-depth another side of the evil of modern warfare.

God bless America.

— Brien Whisman

Colorado Springs

A good thing

It's a relief that Mayor Bach will not run for re-election. I doubt this city could have sustained much more of the damage caused by his destructive policies.

One of the first directives he issued after taking office was a sort of "gag order" to all city employees, banning any interviews with the press, without prior permission. So much for "transparency."

Then, due to his reckless campaign pledge never to raise taxes, predictably and inevitably the city soon ran short of sufficient tax funds to support basic city services, such as street lighting, parks maintenance, bus service, infrastructure upkeep, etc. The national press took notice.

He soon hired a city attorney, Chris Melcher, to help in his conflicts with the City Council. Melcher blandly asserted repeatedly that he was not the mayor's partisan, while disproving his claim by backing Bach in nearly every clash. Melcher grinned happily all the while.

Bach tried to keep the city from fulfilling its obligation to fund some PERA pensions which employees worked hard to earn. The courts put a stop to that.

Most recently, Bach failed to support a wide-ranging proposal that would have funded storm-water projects promised in SDS water pipeline deals with the city of Pueblo. Now Pueblo is getting ready to sue the Springs for this failure to keep its agreements.

There's more. But it seems clear that Melcher put the "fun" in "dysfunctional" and the Mayor put the "Bach" in "debacle."

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Look at all the facts

In a Dec. 5 Gazette editorial, City Councilman Pico blames rising electric rates on the EPA, ignoring critical facts and stacking the deck in favor of coal, though it is not the cheapest, most stable cost option for the future.

What's missing from his argument?

• Department of Energy data show wind power cost is equal to or lower than coal generation. Renewable energy costs continue to drop dramatically, while the cost of mining coal will rise as shallow, "easy" coal has been mined out.

• The health and environmental costs of coal generation are real and measurable. A landmark Harvard Medical School study provides a "best estimate" health and environment cost of coal generation of 14.8 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy. It rises to 17.8 cents when factoring in climate damage. The cost of wind generation is 2.5 to 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

• The Clean Air Task Force estimates the average yearly health impact from just the Martin Drake coal plant — including deaths, heart attacks, etc. — at $2.6 million per year.

• Martin Drake uses over 400 million gallons of unrecoverable potable water. Solar and wind power use zero.

• The independent HDR study commissioned by City Council concludes that when considering all costs, the lowest-cost option is a near-term closure of Drake, to be replaced by renewable energy, energy efficiency, and some additional natural gas generation.

Sadly, Council ignores these independent results. They forced Springs Utilities to reduce their Energy Vision from 20 percent to 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources; they removed $1.9 million dollars from energy efficiency incentives; and they are preventing the current Electric Integrated Resource Plan advisory group from considering the health and environmental costs of burning coal. The latter blatantly, and falsely, stacks the deck in favor of coal. If the city is to create a long-range strategy to provide the lowest and most stable cost electricity, it must consider all relevant costs, and plan with intellectual honesty.

— Jim Riggins, Southeast Colorado Renewable Energy Society

Monument

Trial by Twitter

Thousands of citizens are protesting daily across the country demanding change to our criminal justice system. I propose the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be changed from "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed ..." to read "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by Social Media ..."

— Bill Schaffner

Colorado Springs

Record and prevent

The massive public reaction to the tragic deaths of three black men at the hands of white police officers has led to a national call for use of body cameras to record and prevent any future mistreatment of suspects.

There is ample precedent. Animal-protection activists have used body cameras to document egregious atrocities and safety violations by workers in the meat, dairy and egg industries. The resulting videos have led to a number of corrective actions, as well as felony convictions, meat recalls, and even a $500 million civil settlement.

How ironic then that agribusiness interests in seven states (Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah) have now enacted "ag-gag" laws imposing severe penalties for using body cameras in their agricultural facilities. The language is typically drafted by the anti-consumer American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Let's hope that other vested interests do not impose similar restrictions on the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers.

— Claus Singer

Colorado Springs

A very bad idea

The recently released trailer for The Force Unleashed, the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise, has some fans working themselves into a tizzy. Much of this is due to a new light saber design which was dramatically revealed at the end of the trailer. Anyone who has even a passing interest in Star Wars has seen this new incarnation of the classic Jedi weapon and almost certainly has some opinion about it. If you've been online at all in the past few weeks you've probably seen all the Photoshop jobs that have been executed poking fun at this new design.

I'd like to add my voice to those that have expressed concerns over this new design that, as absurd as the idea of wielding a three-foot plasma blade is, wielding a three-foot plasma blade with a plasma cross guard is a recipe for disaster. This blade design is based off the European blades of medieval fame. Cruciform blades, when used with historical technique, involve contact of the hand and wrist with the cross and even the blade. This new design would likely result in injury to the person wielding it.

While I appreciate the nod to a European form of sword, it's not a good choice as a representation of this particular fantasy weapon as there is little room for someone to successfully use such a weapon. For those out there who are interested in learning the techniques associated with the cruciform European sword, let me offer a suggestion; the Black Falcon School of Arms is offering an introductory course for the English two hand sword starting this January. The BFSA has been studying and teaching English swordsmanship for more than a decade and would be happy to instruct would-be Jedi in the way of the sword (facebook.com/blackfalconschool).

— Ben Holman, Rector

Black Falcon School of Arms

Dreaming of spring

In the depths of winter, it's never too early to be thinking about spring! Some of my fondest memories, growing up in the Old North End, were meeting my new soccer mates for the new year's team. It was 1972, and we were the Bonny Atoms. Our coach showed us actual 8mm film of Pelé when practice was rained out one time.

Fast forward to 2015: What if we as a community met in our local park every Saturday with our children. While they played, the adults would have a bbq and bake sale to benefit one family of a player. If a family was chosen to be the beneficiary that Saturday, they would have the option to pass the kitty to the next family. By doing this they would receive a token. The holder of a token would receive special appreciation at the Grand Labor Day Celebration!

Any component of a plan like this could be replaced with a different activity. The point is to generate microcommunity interaction where the collective power of 30 families could periodically raise up one family while having a great time. I wouldn't be surprised if Bonny Park challenged Monument Valley Park to an away game.

— Kenton Lloyd

Colorado Springs

Correction

Based on interviews with incoming El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, the Dec. 10 story "Elder outlines new sheriff's team" stated that Elder would reduce the number of bureau chiefs from seven to four. Actually, there currently are, and will remain, only three bureau chief positions. Elder's picks for those are Brad Shannon, Mitch Lincoln and Bob McDonald. Larry Borland will be comptroller, but not a bureau chief. We regret the inaccuracies.

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