Letters to the editor

Bicyclists should stop being selfish

This is in response to the May 10 letter, “Bicycles Deserve Some Respect.” I have much more respect for the bicycles than I do the people that ride them. … The bicyclists will get my respect when they stop bicycling on roads in inconvenient areas.

I think it is great that people want to exercise by bicycling. However, there are designated areas where people can safely enjoy riding their bikes, such as the area on Riverside Drive that has a bike lane, the N.C. Arboretum, Beaver Lake etc.

Yes, riding a bike is a great way to cut back on gas usage, but this is an inconvenience to other drivers unless you live and work in downtown.

Here is what I’m sick of: I live in West Asheville and travel on Bear Creek Road, along with an increased amount of drivers detouring the construction on I-40. If a biker is in front of me, what am I supposed to do? I certainly can’t go 20 miles under the speed limit as I stay behind the biker. If I did, [he or she] would eventually wave an arm in a manner suggesting/insisting that I pass. Cross the yellow line into the oncoming traffic’s lane? Last time I checked, [that] is illegal … and also very dangerous. We live in the mountains and our roads are winding — [adding to] a dangerous situation. Why should I have to break the law and put myself in danger because someone chose to ride a bike in the street? The bicyclist is giving me the OK to break a law? I don’t think so!

I get especially upset when I have to pass a bicyclist on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Don’t people realize they are putting other people’s lives at risk? What does the amount of taxes paid have to do with anything? There are a lot of things in life that I deprive myself of doing because it may put someone else’s life in danger. Why don’t you bicyclists stop being so selfish? Go get a mountain bike and take it out in the woods where you can enjoy it without bothering others!

You’ll know it’s me honking at you when you see the bumper sticker on the back of my car that says: “Don’t Share the Road.”

– Jackie Snyder

Papering the county with ballots

Tuesday, May 2, must be noted as the day Buncombe County wasted the most paper ever in one single event. The Board of Elections had to provide enough paper ballots to each precinct in our county for the number of people registered to vote there. We had the lowest voter turnout in 20 years. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out a lot of paper was unused.

The county commissioners’ decision to not use electronic voting machines that provide a paper record is the reason for this waste. Now all of this unused paper has to be stored for 22 months.

It will happen again on May 30 [in the runoff election]. Please contact your county commissioners and beg them to reconsider the proposal from the Board of Elections for the electronic voting equipment with a paper-recording device. This will also bring Buncombe County back into the 21st century, in regards to making our voices heard without error.

— Gary Monday

N.C. acupuncture law raises questions

I recently moved to North Carolina after 27 years in California. I am an avid hiker and an enthusiastic gardener. I was charmed by the great mountains of WNC and attracted by its year-round precipitation and temperate climate. The lure was irresistible as a potential Shangri-la to me. I neglected to check some practical things, like whether I would be allowed to practice acupuncture here. I found out too late that was not so.

I was trained, tested and licensed in good standing in California for seven years, but that has no relevance here. I am required to start from scratch, taking a series of exams administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), a hurdle similar to the one I passed in 1999 after finishing acupuncture school.

I respect the laws of North Carolina, so I am not practicing acupuncture here unless or until I get licensed. Having said that, I want to raise a question or two about those laws — respectfully and carefully, because I am a new resident.

I am not a lawyer, and my reading of the law may not be precisely correct, but my take of the law tells me that a physician or chiropractor licensed in the state is allowed to practice acupuncture without an acupuncture license. Acupuncture, or Oriental medicine, is a very different discipline that requires very different training from conventional medicine or chiropractic. Why would that not matter in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook lists three regular licenses (Class A, Class B and Class C), a commercial license (CDL) and an endorsement for motorcycles. The driving-skills test must be performed in a vehicle representative of the class of license desired. I see this law as reasonable, because the safety requirements would be different depending on the type of vehicle.

The N.C. acupuncture law means to serve and protect the public. Many members of public, though, are probably not familiar with its details. If they learned what I’ve just told you, would they feel they are well served and protected by the law? I, for one, think the law can be improved to serve and protect the public better by modifying it to accommodate well-trained and experienced out-of-state acupuncturists who want to come to this great state and serve. What do you think?

— Joseph C. Cho
Black Mountain

Which comes first, barbecue or pollution?

North Carolina is home to more pigs than people. While most of the humans use sewer or septic systems, the 19 million tons of feces and urine produced by the pigs (50,000 tons a day) goes untreated. Thankfully for us in the mountains, most of the pigs are located in the eastern coastal plain. Much of the pollution routinely ends up in N.C. rivers and streams. One single event spilled 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed an estimated 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing.

Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gasses combined. Hog-waste “lagoons” (cesspools) are a significant source of methane. Hog factories pour more nitrogen pollution (as ammonia) into the air of the coastal region than all of the municipal and industrial sources combined.

Accordingly, I was dumbfounded when I recently learned that the good folks at RiverLink would be holding a barbecue fund-raiser. To add insult to injury, they also gave a RiverBusiness Award to a barbecue restaurant. I hope in the future they raise money without polluting North Carolina and recognize businesses friendly to the environment. To learn more about factory farming, visit www.factoryfarming.org.

Nobody wants a hog farm in their backyard. And most people would neither pollute a river nor inflict egregious cruelties upon animals. Why are so many folks comfortable paying others to do so? Out of sight shouldn’t be out of mind, and it’s time that people face their complicity. Most need not look beyond their plates.

Stewart David

Immigrants are equal in human rights

May 1 brought [together] millions of immigrants across this country, rallying for equal rights and recognition. Whatever the economic and cultural boundaries that must faced in the future, we cannot deny that our country’s face will change — as it has continued to do since the first immigrants stepped foot upon these shores.

Mexican immigration is occurring at a rapid pace that will surely test the limits of the United States. While many of these men and women currently hold jobs of the lower-class, unskilled work force, their children will aspire to surpass the farmhand and housekeeper positions while looking towards a greater future for themselves and their own children. These people are still people, and thus are equal in human rights.

We, as Americans, have been taught to believe in this land of the free and home of the brave, and these immigrants hold true to these ideals. They have traveled many miles from their home and families, through much danger, to provide their children with the freedom that our great country provides. If that isn’t bravery, I know not the definition.

It is a complicated issue with many sides and many views, but I do know that I respect these immigrants as equal humans, and we must strive to create a partnership between Mexico and the United States to help both our peoples prosper.

— Jen G. Bowen

Help turn this march around

There was a March of Dimes walkathon in Asheville on April 29, and there will be a major fund-raiser dinner in September. Many individuals and local businesses have supported this organization. These supporters have the right and responsibility to demand that the organization provide financial statements and details of the experiments they generously fund.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the March of Dimes pays its top three executives a combined $1 million a year and spent some $27 million on animal experiments in 2002 — such as turning primates into alcoholics, then forcing them to give birth so “researchers” can dissect their offspring.

There are many other charities that do not vivisect animals, and which spend your money directly on people. The March of Dimes’ money could go directly to places like drug and alcohol recovery and prevention clinics, which could in large part prevent birth defects — the organization’s target.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check www.pcrm.org for more information on such charities, and how you can join in the campaign to reform the March of Dimes.

— Mark Crimaudo

Open the floodgates — let immigrants rise

When it comes to immigration, “What about me?” is the only view I hear. The talking heads — liberal or conservative — are to one degree or another taking a stand at protecting us from the horde that will overrun us and lower our standard of living.

Wake up. We are a part of a global economy that relies on having these nice little Third-World countries to use, or more conveniently — poorer neighbors to the south. Companies go there so they have a cheap work force, lower taxes, lower pollution standards and lower safety standards. Are these good things? We don’t seem to think so for the good old USA. So why is it OK anywhere, for anyone?

We the people benefit in lower-costing goods, and companies make more money, and then we send money to Feed the Children and the Red Cross because we feel sympathy for the world and its downtrodden masses. But let’s get real; for the most part, it’s our help (exploitation) that keeps those countries Third-World.

It’s time to really take a look at where we want this little planet to end up. There are the haves and the have-nots, and every one reading this is in the haves. We can either continue in the direction of little feel-good efforts while building a bigger and better wall to protect us, or we can bite the bullet and let them in, open the borders. Like water when opening the floodgates, we’ll reach equilibrium. Without a prison work force held in by border constraints, companies will have to raise the standard of compensation everywhere. And yes, it will impact us all — but doesn’t it already?

The reality is that having Third-World countries with this disparity of living conditions is not in anyone’s best interest. People should be afforded the same opportunities wherever they live: no to protectionism, no haven anywhere for exploitation. Open the borders, and sooner than later there will be equality on a global scale.

— Michael Birkle

Trading water for oil

A United Nations report warns that 17 percent of the planet’s population (1.1 billion people) lack access to safe drinking water and 40 percent (2.6 billion) lack basic sanitation. This [causes] the loss of 1.6 million lives annually.

Essential to life itself, water is also a key resource of agriculture and manufacturing industries. Serious conflicts over shared water supplies have arisen between neighboring countries. It won’t be long before water replaces oil as a root cause of international conflict and terrorism.

Between 70 and 80 percent of all available water is used to grow animal-feed crops and to process animal carcasses. Most of America’s surface waterways are used as sewers for runoff from feed crops and animal factories.

Concerns for world peace and protection of aquatic habitats are rapidly joining traditional concerns for consumer health and animal welfare as compelling reasons for kicking the meat habit in favor of vegetables, fruits and grains.

— Albert Bowers

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