Letters to the editor

Bombing of Iraq created family tragedies

Even if you accept that dropping a bunch of bombs in Iraq was necessary to prevent them destroying American and British planes patrolling the “no-fly” zone, there were still mothers killed and fathers killed. Whether or not you agree with the action, there are children whose parents will not be coming home because of an international conflict they can’t understand. Orphans were made the day the bombs were dropped. Let us at least acknowledge this. It is critical for the sake of our humanity to do so, to make clear the cost of such an action. They are not nameless, faceless bad guys. They are Iraqi people, born into a country governed by a dictator through no fault of their own. Even soldiers (drafted, no choice there either — join or they kill you) go to work, raise their kids and try to have a life, just like us. Even “just soldiers” had families at home who they will never see again. More kids who will grow up hating — their families taken from them not by illness, but by bombs from the sky. I was saddened that on the news report, no “estimated deaths” were mentioned, and no questions were asked about the lives lost. Only “facilities” [were mentioned]. There were people there. Whatever political party or belief system we belong to, we must take responsibility for this — all of us — by acknowledging what we as a country have done.

— R.E. Wait

Is censorship the last refuge of true believers?

Ron Ogle in his letter [Jan. 24] asks why Mountain Xpress persists in printing the lies of industrial-forestry spokesmen. He refers specifically to a commentary in the Jan. 10 issue, “Chip mills do not harm North Carolina.” He then asks why not print articles by the KKK or the Flat Earth Society. I am glad that Xpress has not fallen victim to such ad hominem attacks by many in the environmental movement. The writer must be unaware that his own views would be considered out of order in many publications. Each side in this debate has good and bad points to make. Neither necessarily has a lock on the truth. But printing only one point of view assures that the truth will never be found. Censorship may be the last refuge of true believers.

— Julian Price

Stop adding to the problem of animal overpopulation

I cannot thank Daniel Withrow enough for his magnificent letter concerning animal euthanasia [Feb. 14]. He was able to demonstrate in a concise, compelling way why breeding should be halted. Daniel provided some accurate and useful information on adopting purebreds. I didn’t even realize that 25 percent of abandoned animals were purebreds; this is a useful alternative to buying from puppy mills. Check your shelter before you start searching the classifieds!

If you’re thinking of taking an animal to the shelter because it barks, poops on the carpet, or just isn’t the right color or height (breeders, this is for you), remember that this is a living, feeling creature. Would you abandon a child for simply not living up to your unrealistic expectations? I suggest that anyone seeking to obtain a breeder’s license (is there even such a requirement?) should spend a day working in their local animal shelter. I know the breeders out there will give me a million reasons to rationalize what they do, but the reason to stop it can be explained in one sentence: You’re contributing to, if not causing, the Animal Holocaust.

I acknowledge that there are plenty of idiots keeping dogs chained to trees, feeding them trash, and not caring if the animal suffers from fleas or tapeworms. I also realize that many breeders treat their animals with real love, and lots of animals lead wonderful, pampered lives in their care. What I am saying is, stop adding to the problem of animal overpopulation. Let’s empty the shelters before we bring more animals into the world. Be responsible, compassionate and just downright human.

— Traci Mathews

ACCESS-ing a higher quality of life for those with disabilities

The world’s largest minority group doesn’t seem to know of its own existence. This unacknowledged, most typically ignored minority group cuts across all lines of sex, race, age and class. Puzzled? Fully one-fifth of the world’s population is estimated to have disabilities that interfere with the tasks of daily living. The hard fact we prefer to ignore is that all humans are at risk for disability — whether by birth, accident, brain chemistry, chronic or catastrophic illness, or aging. Most of us are affected by disability at some point, whether in our own lives or in the lives of someone near and dear to us.

ACCESS Independent Living — a small, dedicated group of volunteers — is quietly working to link people with disabilities to existing resources, provide mutual support and heighten awareness of disability issues in several Western North Carolina counties.

We at ACCESS hold fast to Margaret Mead’s notion: Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, that’s the only thing that ever does. ACCESS is a private, nonprofit organization created in 1999 by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities. We are determined to help ourselves, identify gaps in services and set about filling them for ourselves. ACCESS has very little funding and no paid employees, but perseveres with an ambitious agenda to change our community for the betterment of all its members, including the temporarily able.

ACCESS has prepared a comprehensive survey to collect information from people with disabilities about their needs and interests. We want to hear from as many people with disabilities as possible about the quality of life [they] experience in our community. No one has ever asked people with disabilities what works and/or what gets in the way of living a full, active life with disabilities. We … will use the information gathered to plan our future services and to demonstrate unmet needs to obtain funding for additional community services.

There are several ways to access and participate in this survey: It’s available on the World Wide Web at ACCESS-WNC.COM. You can complete the survey from the comfort of your home or a friend’s at your leisure. Most libraries have computers available for public use, as well. Additionally, most libraries are fully accessible for people with disabilities, though we recommend that you call first to be sure you can get in to use the computers. In Madison County, copies of the ACCESS survey will be available at the Marshall, Mars Hill and Hot Springs libraries, with boxes in which to drop responses from Feb. 27 until mid-March. Additional distribution locations are possible, as well. Please call ACCESS if these locations aren’t convenient.

In Buncombe County, copies of the survey will be available between Feb. 28 and mid-March at the Buncombe County Health Center (35 Woodfin St.) and in the lobby of the United Way offices (50 S. French Broad Ave.). Both of these locations are accessible for people with disabilities.

Please note that all information given is completely confidential; we don’t even ask for names. … You can call ACCESS at 250-9929 in Buncombe County and 689-9173 in Madison County [for assistance in completing the survey]. … Please be patient if you get an answering machine. … Messages will be checked daily, but please remember that ACCESS is run by volunteers, most of whom have disabilities themselves. …

We want to thank our many dedicated volunteers who created and maintain ACCESS. Special recognition and thanks goes to Dr. Laurie Pederson at Mars Hill College and her social-work research class — who accepted our survey as a class project and have already gone above and beyond what was originally agreed upon — and to Jean Krause, Madison County’s head librarian, who graciously allowed us to place surveys in all Madison County libraries. We’re also very grateful to Warren Wilson College’s print shop for an excellent print job at a very good price. Special thanks to Ed Smith — a Madison County Web-page [designer] — who’s donating labor to build our Web site, which is on its way to being a comprehensive resource with state-of-the-art accessibility for people with disabilities everywhere. Last, but certainly not least, we wish to thank Asheville disability attorney Ms. Cynthia Strom, whose law practice — Ganly, Ramer and Strom — provided seed money to get us started and has continued to provide essential in-kind support. Many, many individuals and local agencies have contributed to ACCESS. … We’re grateful for all contributions of time, money and in-kind donations.

ACCESS Independent Living is a 501(c)3 private nonprofit corporation. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, call 250-9929. We also gratefully accept donations, both cash and in-kind. Our mailing address is P. O. Box 905, Asheville, NC 28802.

— Carol Hubbard, MSW, LCSW
ACCESS IL executive director

Is the state “budget deficit” merely a ploy to promote a state lottery?

Are you confused over Gov. Easley’s alleged fiscal deficit, especially since we had such an alleged surplus just a short while ago? Could it be that they’re softening us up for the ol’ one-two punch? One is the declaration of a serious deficit, resulting in the shutting down of programs, firing of employees, dire warnings, etc. This is where we are now. Two is where the citizens are told that, unless we vote for the lottery, they’ll have to raise our taxes. That’s the name of the game, folks. That’s what it’s all about. The lottery is designed to remove huge amounts of money from the masses and put it into the hands of a few.

Of course we’ll have the lottery. The politically naive, the “sheeple” and the questionable results from the voting booth will see to that. But will it be an elixir for our troubles? A couple of years ago, I read an excellent article in the EIR magazine entitled “Legalized gambling: Britain’s Dope, Inc. subverts the U.S.,” written by John Hoefle. It is the most comprehensive document on the subject that I’ve seen.

Despite the rosy promises of the promoters, one study by Prof. John Warren Kindt, University of Illinois at Urbana, estimates that for every $1 a state receives in gambling revenues, it spends $3 for social-services and criminal-justice agencies to cover the damage done by gambling. Gambling is a “regressive tax on the poor, and makes poor people poorer.” Just think about it: Instead of solving our problems, the lottery will treble them! Hoefle tells us that state and local governments “went from fighting against gambling, to protecting it as a source of revenue; rather than protecting their populations, they have elected to loot them.”

I’m not addicted to gambling, nor am I entertained by it. However, I am concerned by what our politicians are doing to us. Is it too late to demand accountability from them? Is anyone else bothered by this blatant manipulation?

— Ann Ryder
Mars Hill

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