Opinion » Mail

August 2 — August 8


In last week's news feature (BW, News, "Active Today, or Radioactive Tomorrow," July 26) we stated that the tank farm at the Idaho National Laboratory contained "millions of gallons of liquid waste," when in actuality there is only approximately 900,000 gallons, according to the INL. Also, INL spokesman Alan Jines spent five years investigating disposal leaks at for the Department of Energy, not 12.

In the news feature two weeks ago (BW, News, "Juvenile Patients 'Riot' at Intermountain Hospital," July 19), we stated that former Intermountain Hospital CEO Richard Failla had been "replaced" at Intermountain following controversies over the alleged misuse of electroconvulsive shock therapy." To clarify, we were not saying that Failla had been fired, or that the alleged misuse of ECT took place in Boise.

Rall: Anti-Semitic Or Just a Moron?

After many months of not picking up your increasingly-thin publication, I finally did recently--and even found myself reading Ted Rall's "Acting Like Nazis" column (BW, Rall, July 26, 2006). If Ted finds Islamic extremists worthy of pity, maybe he should fly to Seattle and meet the families of those recently killed or critically injured by Naveed Afzal Haq, a 30-year-old unemployed Muslim--with a pending lewd-conduct charge against him in Pasco, no less!--who walked into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and yelled, "I am a Muslim-American angry at Israel!" before opening fire, killing one person and injuring five.

If self-important and suicidal Islamics in the United States and elsewhere want to know why they're held in such low esteem by so MANY of us, they might want to likewise visit some of those victims' families ... and happily remind themselves of the "just" and "noble" cause they're continually engaged in--that's assuming, of course, Rall isn't an Islamic fanatic HIMSELF!

Your "newspaper" is truly pathetic.

--John Pluntze,


Denino = Terroristo

On August 27 and 30, 2005, my daughter was just beginning the school year starting out in first grade at Hubbard Elementary in Kuna. That was when I made the horrible discovery that my daughter's school received a bomb threat. I discovered this by accident when I was driving by the school to drop off a friend. That day I will always remember (BW, True Crime, "Scaring Children in the Name of Love," March 30, 2005).

I will never forget the fear I had when I was told this. I did not think I could run fast enough to my daughter. Even though these children were evacuated into the building right next door I felt that if there really was a bomb, I was not going to allow my daughter to die alone. Luckily, I got to her in time and pulled her out of the school. Also luckily, Kirk Denino was nothing short of a lunatic that enjoyed instilling fear into others and nothing else. 

Well, today we no longer live in Kuna.  In fact, we are nowhere near there. I no longer felt my daughter was safe in a school district that was not very coordinated in that situation. 

Granted, I was impressed at how quickly the school evacuated these children, but to move them right next door to the adjoining school was not the smartest thing. I recently received a letter in the mail from the U.S. Deptartment of Justice stating that Kirk Denino walked away from a supervised release on July 8, 2006, and his whereabouts were unknown. This, of course, instilled more fear into my daughter and, I have to admit, me as well.

I contacted the U.S. Attorney and was told that Mr. Denino traveled the East Coast, bought a bus ticket to Idaho and then turned himself in once he arrived in Idaho. This right there tells me that he is far from normal. He is nothing short of a terrorist.

A man is not punished severely enough for threatening to blow up a school, but if he flies a plane into a building or blows up a federal building, then he is thrown into jail never to see the light again. I feel that this punishment should be just as harsh.

--Claire Owen,

Location witheld

Who Turned The Lights Out?

I believe that America is going through a dark age. How else can we describe the backwards thinking that puts right wing, extremist "morals" ahead of intelligent scientific and medical progress--a real solution to help the suffering of humanity.

Stem cell research, the one issue of merit that Congress seems to agree on is the one thing our president is going to use to flex his veto muscles? It would seem to me with the current administration's policies firmly in place, there is no room for America's progression, growth and progress. Only suppression, fear and greed. When are we going to wake up? Will it be when we start buying our medicine from other countries--the ones who don't let medieval thinking get in the way of medical progress? Or when China takes our place as No. 1 in the economic world? How about when we have ticked off too many other foreign countries with our bully tactics and they no longer want to play nice? Or will it be too late by then?

When will common sense, reason and intelligence make a comeback in this country? Come on America, let's move out of the dark ages.

--Cristi Dambitis,


New Battle, Old War

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. It was an incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner--and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis--there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources--most particularly that of water--by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements during the last 70 years.

Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called "justice." Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly--who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation. This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.

--James Chambureau,



Headlines and coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominate the news. New generations of war veterans are coming home daily. In this time of war, it is especially critical that we treat our veterans--both those who are returning from battle and those who served years ago--with the respect they deserve.  

Sadly, sick veterans with asbestos-related diseases are not being properly respected in our legal system, and they are not getting the help they need. Years ago, the U. S. military used asbestos for fireproofing and insulation. Today, countless veterans are being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases as a result of exposure to the substance that occurred while they served in the military.  

Civilians who can link their asbestos-related diseases to exposure on the job can enter our legal system. Although all asbestos victims face an uphill battle in the courts, at least these civilian men and women have one solid defendant to point a finger at. This is not true for our nation's veterans. Because the government has asserted sovereign immunity, veterans are barred from seeking compensation from the government for their exposure and subsequent illness in the courts. And many of the government's asbestos suppliers are now defunct, so pursuing them for compensation is a blind alley for veterans with asbestos-related illnesses. Clearly this is a situation that begs to be rectified.

Senate bill 3274 (the FAIR Act), which is now pending in the U.S. Senate, woud solve this problem for our nation's veterans by setting up a national asbestos victims' trust fund. The fund approach would take asbestos claims outside the tort system, to ensure that veterans get the compensation they deserve. And the FAIR Act won't just help veterans. It will eliminate the long waits for compensation that all asbestos victims must endure today. And unlike the current system, the fund approach will be based on strict medical criteria, and will ensure that only truly sick claimants receive compensation.  

Some have suggested that all that is needed to solve the asbestos litigation crisis is a stricter set of medical criteria to determine who can and can't pursue compensation. But because of the restrictions on their ability to seek relief in the courts, this approach would do little to help veterans with asbestos-related illnesses get the compensation they need.

 It's time for Congress to act. Time is running out for sick men and women with asbestos-related diseases. More and more die each day without ever seeing one penny in compensation. Only the FAIR Act promises to unravel the asbestos litigation morass and deliver fair and prompt compensation to all asbestos victims. I call on Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig to support Idaho's veterans and help us pass the FAIR Act

--Dale Smith is the former state commander of the Idaho branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.