Letters to the editor

Thanks for the votes of confidence, Asheville

I want to thank all of the citizens of Asheville who came out and voted for me in the City Council primary election held on Oct. 7. It is an honor to have come in first place in the primary election.

Through my work on the North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act, I have seen what this community can accomplish when people come together around a positive vision for our future. If someone had said three years ago that North Carolina (the state that elected Jesse Helms) would establish the strongest standards in the nation for improving air quality, few people would have believed them.

We passed the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Act because Democrats, Republicans, environmentalists and business leaders worked together to get something done to address the air-quality problems facing our mountain communities. As the past director of the Western North Carolina Alliance, I am proud to have helped develop and pass the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Act.

I want to bring that same spirit of cooperation and leadership to Asheville City Council. From addressing the scarcity of affordable housing, to creating a more effective transit network, to creating jobs that pay a living wage, who we elect really does matter.

If you want a City Council that listens to all the people, and not just the well-connected interest groups, I would appreciate your support on Nov. 4. If you would like more information about where I stand on the issues or how you can get involved, please visit [my] Web site www.newmanasheville.com.

— Brownie Newman

Rosetta’s rants on; Rabey waves white flag

OK, I know it was a rant — but it’s got one coming in return!

In the Best of WNC 2003 [Xpress supplement], you sported a not-so-charming blurb on the “Best Place to get a Snoutful of Hippie,” citing Lower Lexington Avenue as that place. Yet the article goes on a diatribe about how Rosetta’s Kitchen always reeks of patchouli!

Man, I don’t when you’ve been hanging out at the Kitchen, but I’ve worked there since the very day it opened, and I’ve yet to smell the hippie parfum d’excellence in our store. On a regular basis, I smell roasting garlic, baking cinnamon, and coconut curry, [and] sunflowers and daisies, or whatever seasonal blooms sit atop our tables. Sometimes we’re rife with balsamic vinegar, simmering onions, and hot, greasy fries; and late at night, I have gotten a snoutful of PBR-soaked punk-rocker, clove cigarettes and even burning sage — but never, not once, a whiff of patchouli.

Furthermore, I find it a hyperbolic overstatement to say patchouli incites you to fits of warlike rage that would have you gunning someone down on the spot. Even my 9-year-old son, Lennon, would realize that was a childish overreaction.

Give the freaks a break — if you don’t like how it smells, stay away; but don’t discount our good food, entertaining atmosphere and eclectic clientele to everyone in town.

— Justina Prenatt

[Ed. Note: Frank Rabey responds for the third and final time: I give up! You win! Rabey bad; Rosetta’s good! Food delicious! Employees nice! Children sweet! Flowers pretty! Now I can’t type anymore; my eyes are too blackened to see.]

Rolling Thunder rolls again

The success of the Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour (at the Asheville Civic Center in May) attests to the need for support and connection among those who recognize the high-stakes political climate in which we currently find ourselves. With a “profits at any cost” mentality changing the world in ways that may be irreversible, folks from every walk of life are beginning to challenge the implications of corporate dominance on a global scale.

It has become increasingly apparent that such dominance extends into all levels of government. Thus the creation of the Rolling Thunder/Asheville organization, with its mission to “Take Back Democracy!” A monumental task to be sure, but Rolling Thunder maintains its momentum and motivates the grassroots by combining parties with politics.

And we’re at it again! “Halloween With Hightower” brings Jim Hightower’s nationally acclaimed political humor back to the stage, along with a full slate of energizing entertainment. Get informed! Get involved! Have a great time doing it! Mark your calendars for Thursday, Oct. 30, at 6:30 p.m., for a once-in-a-lifetime Halloween party at the Asheville High School auditorium, presented by Rolling Thunder/Asheville and WPVM, Asheville’s new low-power progressive station, coming soon to 103.5-FM.

For more information, contact RollingThunder@main.nc.us or check these Web sites: www.main.nc.us/RollingThunder, www.WPVM.org [or] www.JimHightower.com.

— Barbara McCampbell

“Point,” no “Counterpoint”

I always want to be supportive of my local community, including my TV stations. I have to say that I really appreciate the fine work and talent of our local news reporters and anchors. We are lucky to have them. But I found I have stopped watching the Asheville news altogether at all times because of a nonlocal issue.

It surprised me that here was some guy (who is he? I thought) who was making some kind of inflammatory “blurb,” almost a personal opinion about a nonlocal issue. Then there was no counterpoint. … I [soon] found this was a daily part of the 11 p.m. news. Not being a “complainer” type, I decided to call WLOS-TV just to graciously give feedback and tell them that I thought “The Point” was very negative and inflammatory — not really news.

During the call, the staff person did not even know who I was talking about at first, then realized and told me “The Point” was required to be shown by [WLOS]’ parent company, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. I looked them up on the Internet [at www.sbgi.net] and read, “Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country today.” Furthermore, [the Web site states], Sinclair “provides sales services to 62 television stations in 39 markets” and “Sinclair television group reaches approximately 24 percent of U.S. television households and includes ABC, CBS, FOX, WB, and UPN affiliates.” Then I read that Mark Hyman is vice president of corporate communications for Sinclair Broadcast Group, [its] home office in Baltimore, Md. So, we listen to him every evening and he doesn’t even live around here nor represent any or our local interests!

With so much power, I thought it a shame that as long as a large corporation was going to put pieces in our local news, perhaps instead of hearing inflammatory opinions of an executive’s choosing, that the time and money invested in “The Point” might be better spent telling inspirational stories and events, health tips, etc., to uplift our spirits and not create more division among people, as we are pounded daily with so many negative news events.

This is just my opinion. I realize others will have the opposite opinion, and [I] respect that. I just wish that if “The Point” continues, perhaps a “Counterpoint” [could] respectfully give the opposite opinion.

— Mary B. Mackley

{Ed. Note: WLOS-TV has been a Sinclair Broadcasting Group station for roughly six years. “The Point,” a station representative said, has been running locally for about a year.

Xpress asked Hyman for his own “Counterpoint” to Mackley’s views. What follows is “The Point” host’s response:

“The Point” is a one-minute daily commentary that is intended to stimulate public discourse. The writer’s letter is but one of more than 60,000 viewer responses we have received this year. We encourage viewer feedback, and every Saturday we air select viewer comments, both positive and negative. It is almost unheard of for a broadcast TV station to actively solicit and air viewer criticism.

While many news outlets editorialize in their news stories, we clearly identify our editorials as commentaries. In an age of homogenized, bland, politically correct news, we are proud to deliver news and commentary that stimulates critical thinking and encourages viewers to get involved, just as this viewer has done.]

— Mark E. Hyman

All aboard the protest bus!

$87 billion! Most readers will know that this is the amount being proposed to fund our “adventure” in Iraq. Numbers like this are thrown around rather casually in the media. Certainly people have a sense that this is a lot of money. I would like to lend some perspective to this number.

In the year 2000, the United Nations General Assembly set eight [Millennium Development Goals] for development and poverty eradication to be achieved by 2015:

• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

• Achieve universal primary education.

• Achieve gender equality and empower women.

• Reduce child mortality.

• Improve maternal health.

• Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

• Ensure environmental sustainability.

• Develop a global partnership for development.

In its 2002 Development Report, the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) states that a total of $96 to $116 billion per year is needed to achieve the Millennium goals. Current Official Development Assistance (ODA) is around $56 billion. So an additional $40 to $60 billion per year is needed to achieve these goals.

In year 2002, the U.S.A. added $40 billion to its military budget to fight the “war on terror.” For the year 2003, $75 billion was added to fund the war waged on Iraq. Now $87 billion is being debated by Congress as an added expenditure for the U.S. military and infrastructure in Iraq.

The wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have been justified on the grounds that they are a part of the “war on terrorism.” It can be reasonably argued that these expenditures, if spent to meet the needs of the world’s poorest as envisioned in the Millennium Goals, would do much more to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks. The amounts we have spent waging war in the past two years and the next $87 billion would, by themselves, bridge the needed ODA expenditure gap as estimated by the [U.N.].

People around the world stood up to say no to the Iraq war. Now we need to stand up and say no to the occupation. On Saturday, Oct. 25, there is a national mobilization to oppose the war, invasion and occupation of Iraq, in Washington, D.C., at 11 a.m. at the Washington Monument.

The Western North Carolina Peace Coalition (www.main.nc.us/wncpc), Veterans for Peace and the Asheville War Resisters League are sponsoring a bus from Asheville to the demo in D.C. It will leave Friday evening, Oct. 24, and will return either the evening of [Oct. 25] or the next morning. We’re asking those who can to pay the full fare of $65 for a seat; for those [who can’t], a sliding scale is available, which could take the price as low as $50.

As in the past, scholarships may be available depending on donations made for that purpose. Please reserve your seat as soon as possible to help us get a rough idea of how many are going. Call Ken at 680-9387 or Lena at 350-7934 to sign up!

— Cicada Brokaw

[Ed. Note: Buses will be traveling to Washington, D.C., from many major cities as part of this same campaign. A concurrent demonstration is planned in San Francisco.]

Don’t you be dissin’ my dog, eh!

I came across [the online Asheville Citizen-Times] article of July 11, 2003, regarding Maggie, the Jack Russell Terrier, and her owner, Jesse Treff from Asheville; and after reading this article, I was compelled to write you regarding the derogatory remarks that I found very offending and cruel, and bordering on slander; as was another [online] article [“Maggie Gets Dogged”] on July 23 in the Mountain Xpress.

Jesse Treff made the statement [in the C-T article], “The owner was the weirdest person I’d ever met. She wouldn’t put the dog down on the stage for rehearsal until they vacuumed the stage. This is a dog that’s never peed or pooped outside.”

[Owner] Sharon [Robinson] is not weird; she is a very refined, classy lady who cares very much for the welfare of her dog, [Chanda-Leah]. If a thumbtack, nail or any sharp object were on the carpet, Chanda’s feet could be injured. Believe it or not … this is exactly what happened at a show [Chanda] did in Ottawa, Canada, and that is why [Robinson] made this request.

Living in an apartment building, I think it was very clever that Chanda could be trained to go on her own toilet, saving having to go outside in the cold of our winters here in Canada. How many dogs do you know have been trained to do this?

I think the comment [in the C-T article], “The high-tech Canadian poodle, a J-Lo of a dog named Chanda-Leah,” was a very cruel statement, and whoever made this statement should apologize to Sharon Robinson for this nasty remark. Chanda may not be available for comment, [as the C-T article stated], but I have never known Sharon not to be available for the press.

We all know Jack Russell terriers and poodles are very intelligent dogs [that] can be trained to do almost anything, but we do not take potshots at either of them for our own gain; that is poor sportsmanship. We in Canada know that the “American Fido” [contest on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno] was not tallied correctly, but we take nothing away from Maggie; she is a darling little dog.

What about the fact that the Leno-show producer admitted to having changed the score back to reflect the 66 percent that Maggie had? In my estimation, that means they cheated. Did they also tell the judges who they could vote for the following week? There is no way that a dog that can do over 1,000 tricks should have lost that contest. They are probably unaware of the fact that Chanda knows: the days of the week, the months of the year, the alphabet [and] the numbers from 1-100. She can add, subtract, multiply and> can read all of that from cue cards. Chanda does not do simple math where the answers are all under 10; she knows all the multiplication tables up to 10 times 10. The 90-second spot on the Leno show didn’t begin to show what Chanda could do.

Why didn’t Sharon just let Chanda just do her numbers and multiplication tables … and do it from cue cards only? That would show up any dog. She just felt Chanda knew enough tricks that she didn’t have to steal someone else’s thunder. [People] are probably unaware of the fact that she was the only contestant in the contest that was told what tricks Chanda could and could not do.

Chanda has appeared on television shows all over the world. People were voting from Australia, Korea, Japan, Germany (Chanda has “little” friends at the Black Forest Academy in Germany; they watched the show and they were all voting for her), Russia and the United States. Upon their return home to Canada, the Robinsons had received hundreds and hundreds of letters from all over the world … but most were from America — apologizing about the treatment they received while on the Jay Leno show. These same television viewers even sent letters to the Leno show expressing the same sentiments.

The local papers here carried so many stories that Chanda was the main topic of conversation at all the business meetings that week. The Associated Press picked up on the story … all of Canada was voting …

Something you may not be aware of about Sharon is that her dog Chanda is used as an outreach ministry. [Chanda] entertains in schools, churches, nursing homes, hospitals and institutions for the mentally challenged and chronically ill. She touches the lives of many people in many communities in Canada and the U.S.A., and brings joy and meaning into their lives. She does not look for fame or fortune, and any honoraria go directly to charities.

As a matter of fact, [the two] went to Charleston, S.C., last November to do a show to help raise money for a young woman who needed to raise $50,000 for a double lung transplant. They were in Charleston for a week, doing shows in schools, nursing homes and churches. They made themselves available to the press and the local radio and television stations. They never asked for a penny … not even expenses.

On their way home from this trip, they had a car accident and were all nearly killed. Sharon was in bed, recovering from injuries (broken ribs and kidney damage) when the Leno show phoned and invited Chanda to take part in their show.

Chanda-Leah has been in the Guinness Book of World Records four times over the past 5 years (log on to www.PetHall.com … to see listed the many tricks Chanda can do). She can entertain you for over an hour, and I have seen her do this many, many times. She is a remarkable toy poodle.

Sharon and Chanda have received letters from the queen [of England], the prime minister of Canada, Mrs. Barbara Bush and … Chanda has even been invited by Queen Rania and King Al Abdullah of Jordan to come and entertain. This dog is famous and world-renowned.

Do you really consider what you wrote to be responsible journalism?

Sharon has seen and read your articles from Asheville, but is too much of a lady to respond. I know she would be embarrassed if she knew I was responding to these articles in your [newspaper].

— Margaret Graham
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

[Ed. Note: Graham’s letter had to be abridged to fit for print; the full text is available in the Letters section at www.mountainx.com. Chanda’s owner, Sharon Robinson, owns the registered trademark “The World’s Smartest Dog.”]

It seems soy obvious

I did not read “The View From the Top of the Food Chain” written by Tom Graham and published in Xpress on Sept 3. But I did read Elliot Long’s response titled “No Meat-ing of Minds,” (Sept. 24) in which he supports the consumption of soy as an alternative to eating meat. The misconception that humans should not eat meat is leading to a world of infertility, degenerative diseases and general malaise. And the substitution of meat with soy products is hastening this decline.

Our ancestors have consumed meat for millenia; before we developed the brain power and tools to hunt our food, we scavenged the kill of those with “sharp teeth and claws.” And like other meat-eating animals, we need to consume meats, particularly organ meats, that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins in order to have optimally functioning reproductive systems. And when we consume these nutrients in their natural environment, such as in meat or dairy products, we also conveniently consume the fat our bodies need to process these nutrients efficiently.

As our consumption of meat and other animal products declines, incidents of heart disease and cancer continue to be on the rise. Part of this is due to our love affair with the booming soy industry. It always amazes me that “health nuts” that seem to support the theory of whole food are so bought into soy products and the wide array of flavors, shapes and textures in which these products can be purchased. Unless soy beans are put through a long, slow fermentation process like that of traditional miso, tempeh, natto or tamari, then they contain potent enzyme inhibitors and goitrogens (thyroid-function-suppressing properties.)

The isoflavones found in soy, rather than being the miracle substance they’re purported to be, are actually potent carcinogens. And the estrogenic properties of soy are undoubtedly contributing to the hormonal havoc occurring in our nation evidenced by high incidence of early development of breasts, early onset of menstruation, and early menopause and infertility. Soy oils are highly polyunsaturated. These oils, contrary to public opinion, are far more likely to contribute to obesity and heart disease than the stable saturated fats found in animal products. And Mr. Long thinks soy tastes better? Most find the taste of unfermented soy disagreeable. It’s not surprising. This is usually an indication that nature is warning us to stay away.

I’m not in support of inhumane treatment of animals. As a meat consumer, I try to make responsible choices while purchasing meat (free-range, organically raised animals that have not been injected with hormones and antibiotics.) I eat meat for my health. I find that we, as consumers, easily buy into convincing research results published in magazines that claim to be promoting our health — but do we take the time to find out who is funding these studies? Do we even pay attention to who is advertising in the publications in which we read these articles? Don’t be misled. There is plenty of information available on the dangers of soy. If we don’t start paying attention to the warnings soon, we can expect that degenerative disease and infertility will plague more and more of our numbers.

— Jennifer Hutcheson
Black Mountain

Reversal of Nigerian’s death sentence welcome news

I think that most people throughout the world heaved a sigh of relief on hearing of the court decision [last month] reversing the sentence of death by stoning of the Nigerian woman convicted of adultery. But the reasoning of the court in applying Shariah law throughout this case seems really weird, to wit:

• The man named as the father of the woman’s child claims never to have had sex with her, and three male witnesses supported his claim. Their testimony met the requirements of Shariah law and thus held him innocent.

• The woman had been convicted chiefly on the basis of her having borne a baby 15 months after her divorce, if I remember rightly. The court cited Shariah law as saying that an embryo may gestate up to five years.

Such arbitrary declarations of law are reminiscent of a statute passed by the Illinois state legislature in 1897 declaring pi, the ratio of the area of a circle to the square of its radius, to be equal to 3 1/5. Clearly, this constituted a marked improvement over the older geometric value of 3.14159.

— Seymour Meyerson

[Ed. Note: Shariah law, a strict form of Islamic law practiced in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states, is best known in the West for its punishment of theft via the amputation of hands.]

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