Opinion » Mail

September 28, 2005

Curses, Oiled Again • Katrina Heroes • Radioactive writing • Burned Easy • Kitty Kulture • Lama Lamenting

Curses, Oiled Again

So what did we gain when we stole Iraqi oil from the Europeans?

About two dollars at the pump and more enemies than we can count.

To paraphrase Bush's UN speech: We have obligations--big obligations to my buddies at Big Oil.

Something is seriously wrong with our moral values and foreign policy, and I hope the world survives three more years of Bush.

--Joe Bejsovec, Boise

P.S. For safety reasons, Daylight Savings Time should be discontinued when school starts.

Let the Protests Begin

Here's good news for every American wearied and sickened by the destructive policies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. On September 24, a massive rally to impeach the Bush administration and end the genocidal war in Iraq was held in Washington, D.C., surrounding the White House. More than 100,000 Citizen Patriots were there with global peace activists.

Bush and Company are in big trouble! The debacle of Iraq was highlighted by his refusal to meet with Cindy Sheehan, who represents many of those families with sons or daughters killed in that terrible conflict.

The trajedy of New Orleans, which was simply abandoned to its fate by the massive, money-hungry federal bureaucracy Bush and his handlers have created to control the American people, only added fuel to the above raging inferno. Every new day adds to and highlights the religious hypocrisy, deceit and greed of our current president, who may go down in history as the most corrupt, incapable and destructive occupier of the White House.

Now is the time for every true Patriot, tired of watching our country being destroyed by the greed and moronics of Washington, D.C., to "stand up and be counted."

-- Joe Moran, Boise

Katrina Heroes

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I want to acknowledge the many unsung heroes who have emerged from this tragedy--the dozens of nonprofit social service agencies behind the recovery and rebuilding of people's lives.

Nonprofits are the social fabric of our communities, providing the services that government and business don't. They are a necessary--and as we see so clearly now--vital component of our communities. What would we do without the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Way, the food banks, the shelters, and the many community-based organizations that stepped up to the plate when no one else was around. Even before Katrina, these groups were actively working in their communities to address many of the same problems that have become so glaringly obvious after the storm.

Nonprofit organizations have undergone tremendous scrutiny in recent years, some deserved, much of it not. At a time when we have seen first-hand their important role and contribution, I ask you to consider investments that not only allow for the continuation of valuable programs and services, but for those which provide nonprofit leadership and staff with the training and education necessary to strengthen, grow and sustain themselves so they are around to support those who need them today--and tomorrow.

--Betsy Dunklin, Executive Director

Idaho Nonprofit Development Center

Radioactive writing

Mr. Wollheim quotes Doug Rokke (BW, NEWS, "Caught in the Cross-Fire," September 14, 2005) as an expert on depleted uranium in his article. As a professional in the radiation safety field, I have carefully followed Doug Rokke's involvement in this area for several years and I do not consider him an expert on depleted uranium. Mr. Rokke has often made highly misleading statements with respect to depleted uranium and with respect to his own background in this area. He claimed, for instance, that 30 people from his work group died after working in a cleanup involving depleted uranium after the first Gulf War.

The military investigated that claim and could find only one person in Rokke's work group who had died and that person had not worked with depleted uranium. Rokke refuses to respond to my inquiry asking that he provide support for this claim. I believe he lied on this point--deliberately.

Doug Rokke also fabricated a false quote on the contents of a 1943 memo to General Leslie Groves where Rokke incorrectly claimed that the memo was on depleted uranium.

In various locations on the Internet, Doug Rokke is described as having a Ph.D. in Health Physics. I don't know how this incorrect information got in the interviews with Doug Rokke, but I do know that he does not have a Ph.D. in Health Physics. He does have a Ph.D. but it is in education.

I know it is difficult for a non-specialist such as Mr. Wollheim to write on such a specialized scientific subject such as depleted uranium and I can understand his making mistakes on this subject.

Nevertheless, I must correct the following mistake in his article. Wollheim writes that:

"Complex health problems for troops and civilians exposed to DU have been linked to three basic characteristics of this weaponry."

It is more correct to say that certain activists have claimed that depleted uranium has caused health problems for troops and civilians. There is considerable experience with exposure to uranium going back many years and this experience does not support the claim that serious health problems have resulted from the use of depleted uranium. At best, Wollheim gave only a superficial and misleading account of this controversy that does not include the careful studies of depleted uranium that have been carried out by international bodies such as the United Nations.

The Health Physics Society is a professional organization for those who are involved in radiation protection. The Web site of the Health Physics Society has some information on depleted uranium which involves the best judgment of professionals on the subject. Here is a link to this information: http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q611.html.

I must add that although I am in the business of providing training on the subject of radiation safety, I have no financial interest that involves depleted uranium and if the use of depleted uranium were to end immediately, I would not suffer financially. My interest in this subject stems only from the fact that I understand the scientific issues and believe that it is an issue that is being used for political purposes by those who do not agree with the foreign policy of the United States. While I respect their right to disagree, I don't believe that this gives them the right to present false information.

--Robert Holloway, Ph.D.,

President, Nevada Technical Associates, Inc.

Burned Easy

While waiting for a friend at our favorite coffee shop, I picked up Boise Weekly (BW, Vol. 14, Issue 11, "Burner Issue", September 14, 2005) and, after reading Rob Brezsny, I turned to the Advice Goddess. However, I didn't read her this morning because my eyes fell on the Svelte cartoon by A.M. Brock. What an insensitive, racist, stereotyping piece of bad art this is!

The real story about the Big Easy looters is that most were members of organized gangs. These gang members looted milk, bread, water, batteries, plastic tarps, and, OK, some beer and cigarettes. Then they took said necessities to various gathering places for survivors trying to get out of the city and they distributed the loot in an organized way, to those in need, beginning with families with children and older folks. Many of the more sensitive but less sensational news accounts of the aftermath of Katrina included these Robin Hood actions. Most network news organizations preferred filming the errant looter who, on his own, did indeed make off with a TV or stereo.

This cartoon should not have been published. In addition to perpetuating negative stereotypes, by trying to make a joke out of a catastrophic situation, it is in extremely bad taste. I am sure any survivor of New Orleans would indeed feel "burned" by this inept and uninformed cartoonist.

--Mary Kelly, McCall

Editor's note: FYI, A.M. Brock was the winner of last year's Bad Cartoon Contest. In December, we'll select another winner and they'll get 52 chances to offend you again.

Kitty Kulture

I just wanted to say that this issue's cover is absolutely great! A cat instead of a dog in Boise for a change! Being from the Northeast, I can say Boiseans are way too involved with dogs and their messes! Personally we are a cat family--are there any others here though?!! Seriously, the artist did a great job and it's a nice painting of a cat. I like it so much more than past covers and I have an eye for art. I'd like to see more like this.

--J. Duffy

Editor's note: For the record, I hate cats. You could say I have cat issues. The only reason that cover made it was because I told the staff they could choose a cover in my absence. I get back from vacation and, voila, a cat on the cover. D'oh!

Lama Lamenting

Not to beat a dead horse, but the recent article in the Weekly (BW, NEWS, "Made in China," September 14, 2005) and the subsequent "pile-on" letters (BW, MAIL, September 21, 2005) criticizing the Dalai Lama event in Hailey, have severely distorted the well-meant efforts of Kiril Sokolof and the organizing committee, and completely missed the mark.

It is an unassailable fact that there are always inconsistencies between the actions and lifestyles of humans and the core principles of their respective faiths. In other words, none of us are perfect. Had the Weekly's reporter, and sympathizing critics, framed the issue in the abstract, without denegrating the integrity of the individuals involved in the event, this would have been a legitimate debate. I'm not a Bhuddist, and find contradictions in that faith, along with all others.

But to discredit the people who organized the event through the use of feeble metaphors about rubber bracelets derailed the train of rational thought.

At the end of the day, what transgression was committed that provoked such vitriolic outrage? A wealthy man donated a large sum of his time, energy and money in an attempt to bring a message of compassion and hope to a nation deeply divided, struggling with its soul and whose sons and daughters are killing and dying every day throughout the world.

Sure, I suppose Sokolof could have organized a golf tournament or rock concert instead. Or, like the Allen Company, could have convened a summit of industry power lords hunched over Porterhouse steaks and golf putters while crafting schemes to make the rich even richer. And yes, Sokolof put forth his self-devised view of Bhuddism. Yes, he has an ego. And yes, he is guilty of hypocrisy. But here's a news flash. So are all of us.

The point is that 10,000 people, influential and not, including Idaho's schoolchildren gathered for four days in a demonstration of support and unity for the simple concept of compassion. If a single person was inspired to invoke greater compassion in their own life, and to evoke it from others, then, in my opinion, the whole event was worthwhile.

Personally, I can deal with 10,000 more of those admittedly annoying rubber bracelets. They're much less disconcerting to me than confederate flag decals on the back windows of pickup trucks. Kudos to Sokolof and his team. They did a good thing, and I refuse to cast judgment on their character, lifestyles or judgment.

--Brad Purdy, Boise

E-mail a letter to the editor to editor@boiseweekly.com