Letters to the editor

Don’t miss the bus

A bus will be leaving the Westgate Shopping Center at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, bound for Oak Ridge, Tenn., where there will be a daylong peace rally in recognition of Hiroshima Day (the 60th anniversary of the first use of a nuclear bomb).

While I appreciate the excellent coverage the Mountain Xpress provides its readers of local issues, I would like to see this paper give more ink to the connection many residents of Asheville have with an organization in Knoxville called OREPA (Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance), whose mission is the elimination of nuclear weapons. Although located in neighboring Tennessee, the work of this nonprofit is crucial to the health and well-being of Asheville’s residents for many reasons, the most basic of which is that hazardous radioactive materials used in upgrading the United States’ nuclear-weapons arsenal are being transported along I-26 and I-40 (from the facility in Knoxville to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina). To learn more about the important work of this association, visit their Web site at: www.stopthebombs.org.

Xpress readers should know that at the time of this submission, there was still room on the bus for anyone willing to spend a day in support of OREPA’s goal. Participants should plan for a long, hot day under the sun: Bring water, snacks and sunscreen. There will be a walk of approximately 1.5 miles. To sign up for the ride with the intention of standing for a change, contact Lew Patrie at 299-1242 or 273-2229.

— Kathleen Buerer

Where is home? What is security?

Today is Thursday, July 21, two weeks since the London bombings, and today there are more bombings — but this time, apparently, with detonators without explosives. Are the perpetrators showing us (this time, thank goodness, with dud bombs) how impossible it is to put a security ring around a whole city — for indeed, it is a laughable proposition. But what could have been more ridiculous than our boy president strolling out onto the lawn at Gleneagles, expressing the usual sympathy formulas and commenting that he had alerted Homeland Security? Did he forget what country he was in?

The Iraq invasion is a tragedy, an outrage and a stain on any country that takes part in it. Its consequences are worldwide. I could go on and on and on.

I have English nationality. I have friends, acquaintances, three children and eight grandchildren who traverse the London streets daily. I’ve been living with rage; but now, here in faraway Asheville, I live in fear.

A friend — an American citizen — who lives in London has written me with feelings similar to mine. She has given me permission to pass her letter and her name (Trish Carn) on to you:

“In reference to the article you sent, ‘Boy President in a Failed World?’ by Tom Engelhardt … I had a similar reaction to Bush’s announcement on the lawn at Gleneagles following the bombings in London. I thought, ‘What is he on about?’ The attack was here in England, and I am certain that news of it was carried immediately in the United States media — so why would he have to say he had informed Homeland Security, etc.? Aren’t they big enough to read the news and make a decision? Obviously there would be an exchange of intelligence information, as that seems to happen fairly well — but none of the other leaders felt they had to come out and speak to the press. They just let Tony Blair deal with it and kept on with what they were doing.

“Did it make the news over there that the bombers were all British!? I can’t get over the selfishness of each of them. Martyrdom was more important than their own children growing up without a father, and the shame they brought on their families who did not know what they were doing. It is all beyond my comprehension. One of them was a primary school teacher! What about his class?

“(Sigh!) My vote doesn’t seem to have helped. But, I will continue to vote when I can.”

— Peggy Seeger

Keep on fishin’

I am unable to restrain myself from responding to “No More Fish Out of Water” [Letters, July 13]. The writer expresses a very extreme position on an activity that a great number of us value on many levels. The emotional portrayal of fishing and fish consumption as violent, immoral, un-environmental and dangerous to our health is completely wrong on many points.

Humans have depended on fish as a food source since the dawn of time. Even today, a huge portion of our planet’s population depends on fish for their survival. Closer to home, I personally know of families who depend on the fish they catch to supplement what they can afford to buy at the grocery store. The bottom line is that there are bellies to fill.

As a father, I feel that many of life’s most important lessons and rewarding experiences will be had by fishing: self-reliance, respect for nature, appreciation for all things living, patience and strategy, just to name a few. For me personally, there is no better therapy than a few hours spent on a beautiful day along my favorite creek with a fishing pole in my hand. I am proud to feed my family the fish I catch, and hope this ability is passed on to future generations.

The writer’s statements on fish consumption are quite misleading. The above-average life expectancy of some cultures is often attributed to a diet high in fish. As for the dangerous compounds found in fish (similar substances may be found in other meats — vegetables, too), it is quite possible to reduce risks considerably by knowing both the species of fish and where it was caught. Avoid eating fish caught in polluted waters, and don’t eat the species known to hold high concentrations of toxic compounds. It is very unfortunate that animal protein compounds the pollution in its environment. I wish the writer would make their emotional appeal to those responsible for damaging our resources, instead of attacking those who depend on them.

— Josh Kwidd

Press can impact mental health

I have been a semi-regular reader of the Mountain Xpress for several years now. The insights for living that I have gleaned from your publication are many.

One area in particular fascinates me, and that is the field of mental health. I am amazed at the ignorance of some people about what constitutes good mental health, whether it is personal or in the political arena.

This is basically a personal issue for me, since I have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. The second, the political arena, is fairly new for me. That is the reason for this letter.

This is a plea for you to do a series on mental health. Our local newspaper did a series on it just in the last year, and I saw the impact. I am appealing to a higher power, as this is an area that needs all the recognition it can get.

Thank you for your consideration.

— John R. Dykers III

Beware! There be monsters!

Like a child hiding under the covers, Monsters are out there. G.W. was elected in the name of Home land security and American righteousness. “Not on my watch” was a nice catch phrase; forget that 9-11 was well into G.W.’s first year, there were no weapons of mass destruction, and our budget surplus had turned to the largest deficit … . But we are still safe under the covers from all those Monsters. We’re better off not changing a thing. Stay the course.

Karl Rove helped foster that great spin machine from way back, and that same machine is still in power, pulling strings. This week it’s naming a replacement judge — what’s next week’s rabbit? If I’d had the spin-master job, I’d opt for some Republican coming out of the closet and then they become a Democrat — get a double deal there, good for keeping everyone amused for a while. But then, maybe the Karl Rove thing is just a diversion. Monsters everywhere.

— Mike Birkle

Inhaling justice in Amerika

The next time “devil’s weed” (i.e. marijuana) buzzes your brain, please reserve a moment to imagine the disapproving scowl of Elizabeth Dole, our dis-compassionate, will-never-support-medical-marijuana senator. Two seconds later, having ditched her churlish image from your mind’s sated eye, realize with glowing self-appreciation that getting high is a civic duty, an act of civil disobedience; stated properly: Civil Disobedience.

Marijuana is not just for the sick — it is for all of us who choose it. Marijuana may be momentarily illegal in Raleigh and Pack Square, but it is certainly … available in our living rooms where, as you know, only the best people congregate. Our living rooms act as oases in a desert packed with upper-middle-class, white elites who would rather die than accept any change not squeezed from their little minds. Elites who carry the burden of believing they are your Mommy and Daddy out to protect you from yourself: June and Ward Cleaver, maniacally plotting to keep their Beaver safe from the likes of Eddie Haskell and company. [Meanwhile the] foolish antics of bureaucratic knobs comprise a government that befits deleted scenes from a Laurel-and-Hardy movie.

They simply don’t get it; like, totally clueless. However, lacking the marijuana issue, then it’d be something else, of course. Anything to discredit the disrespecting masses who are their true sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. Thankfully, we, the disrespecting masses, collectively believe in our guaranteed right of free expression and have promised ourselves to faithfully continue expressing our Civil Disobedience regularly.

Our Mommies and Daddies in government should be grateful that we’ve discovered a way to tolerate their foolishness. Only after I’m stoned do they make any sense — well, in a Laurel-and-Hardy sort of way. By the time they fall under our care, parked in rest homes and the like, we will ensure that only medical marijuana is available, having discerned that pharmaceutical pain relief is simply inappropriate, unsafe. This is the sweetness of justice in Amerika.

— John Buckley

Poseurs, or journalists?

I honestly cannot believe how wimpy the journalism profession is today, when someone like Karl Rove can reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent to Matt Cooper of TIME magazine and columnist Robert Novak, and no one stays focused on the fact that a federal crime has been committed.

You journalists should not be distracted by the latest ploy by the White House: the John Roberts nomination. You should continue to delve into the truth of how this leak occurred and present a full accounting to the American people.

Karl Rove and his staff outed a CIA agent in order to discredit her husband, a retired U.S. diplomat who criticized the White House claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime had tried to procure yellowcake uranium in Nigeria. [Yellowcake was an] actual reason Bush used to justify [claims of] Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, [which] was merely a ploy to manipulate the emotional consensus of the American public, then take us into an illegal and unjust war.

As a Vietnam veteran and 10th-generation American whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution and every war since then (with the exception of the Korean War), I am disgusted with the overt manipulation of truth and justice that is happening under the Republican Party’s pirating of our democracy.

I know what war can do to the soul and psyche of a young man or woman. It happened to me and thousands of my brothers. To send our children into this huge mess, where almost 2,000 have died and 10,000 have been maimed for life, is a crime. And for what? To guarantee Mobil and Exxon continued access to Middle East oil? How convenient of them to use us as their agent of force. And at our expense. These elitist sons and lackeys of international corporations now own us lock, stock and barrel, and we are all becoming financial serfs in our own homeland.

You journalists should be in the vanguard of revealing the truth. Where are your values? Where is your integrity? Please don’t continue to just be poseurs of journalism. Your job, above all others, is to defend our freedom by bringing to light the truth, so that we as a people can be informed of how we choose to govern ourselves. Get to work. Do it.

— Michael Young

Watching the Halliburton connection

Fire Halliburton for its laxity in London Underground security!

Yes, as the Halliburton Web site (www.halliburton.com) brags:

“KBR [Kellogg, Brown, Root] is one of the world’s leading providers of integrated security solutions. We conduct assessments and provide security solutions for facilities around the globe … .” Locations mentioned include airports, government facilities, ports and private corporations.

There’s more. Services cited include threat analysis, security risk management, design and engineering, and physical security operations.

My personal favorite [project]: “Since 1988, KBR has been enhancing the safety and security of the London Underground. The entire network has been reviewed to define at-risk locations in order to quantify the consequences following an adverse event.”

I would like to know KBR’s official response to the recent events in London, and I have repeatedly e-mailed them as to how this “lapse” in security happened. I will inform Mountain Xpress as soon as I am notified.

Meanwhile, strings are still being pulled, and puppets still dance.

— Nancy Odell

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