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Thank you for bringing the issue of bullying to the forefront in your excellent article ("Schooling Little Monsters," Education Guide, Nov. 21). We all know it's happening, but the solution is complicated, and growing more complex as more avenues for bullying arise (particularly cyber-bullying). Girl-on-girl violence (social, emotional and physical) is especially insidious, and most girls (and women) can describe a time when they were negatively impacted by girl bullying and how far-reaching its effect was.
Seeking solutions, West Middle School will be presenting the documentary Finding Kind to all of its girls on Thursday, Dec. 6. "Kind Campaign (kindcampaign.com) is an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based on the powerful belief in kindness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl 'crime.'"
We invite the public to our family and community screening of the documentary at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the West Middle School Auditorium, 1920 W. Pikes Peak Ave. By attending this screening, you can take a stand and help create change in the lives of girls.
— Katie Clarke Flemate
West Middle School
Drug war failures
The people of Colorado and Washington state are way ahead of the politicians in Washington, D.C. ("What's the world coming to?" City Sage, Nov. 21).
If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize Mexican drug cartels, prohibition is a success. The drug war distorts supply-and-demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees.
If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to deter use, prohibition is a failure. The United States has double the rate of use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available.
Let's hope President Obama does the right thing in his second term and brings the change promised in 2008. If his administration won't lead long-overdue marijuana law reform, they at least need to get out of the way.
• The 2008 WHO survey confirming higher rates of use in United States: plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050141
• Drug stats from the United Nations: unodc.org
• Comparative analysis of U.S. vs. Dutch rates of drug use: drugwarfacts.org/cms/Netherlands_v_US
— Robert Sharpe, policy analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
'When white men ruled'
To those who emotionally, intellectually and otherwise find some political reason to oppose Barack Obama at any cost, please allow me to tell you what is actually going on. Demographically the electorate has been changing. The same thing happened through the 1880s and 1890s, the 1920s and the 1970s, and it has also happened in the 2000s.
Now whites make up 72 percent, (down from 87 percent in 1992) of the electorate and white males just make up one third of the electorate.
This year, Obama won with just 39 percent of white votes, the majority coming from females, and further the majority of those coming from females under age 40. Obama received 44 percent of his total vote share from ethnic-racial minorities, 53 percent from those minorities and women under 40, 78 percent of his vote share from men and women under 49 combined with minorities. So 22 percent of his votes came from whites over the age of 50.
It means that Obama's coalition is the first one to win a presidency getting less than 40 percent of white voters.
Now how he did it is a story of great interest, but the fact that he did it is another bigger one. White voters continue to decay by 0.939 percent annually, meaning in 2016 they will be below 70 percent. In 2024 they will be about or less than 66 percent (depending on flu shots).
White male dominance is over FOREVER in these United States of America. They might remain in power in corporate positions and other institutions, but over time that will wane. It will be written and misunderstood in history books, if they still exist, and our grandchildren will ask, "How was it when white men ruled?" And I will say, "Worse than now."
— Bob Nemanich
Power to consumers
As mayor of Denver, Federico Pena was one of the visionaries who planned and saw to completion the building of Denver International Airport. He also served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. At present, he is co-chair of a coalition of electricity stakeholders who support structured competitive electricity markets.
Here is what Pena has to say: "Colorado's consumers are being denied access to competitive markets for electricity by persisting with the outdated regulated monopoly model for electricity."
"Other states have abandoned the outmoded protected-monopoly regulation approach and embraced competition which has resulted in economic and environmental benefits to consumers" (Denver Post, Nov. 16).
Pena goes on to praise the merits of providing customers smart meters to allow them access to dynamic prices in a competitive market. Smart meters would allow consumers to manage their own electricity usage and costs.
We have competition in transportation, telecommunications, financial services, etc. — why not the electrical sector?
— John A. Daly
Everyone saw the advertisements during the recent political campaign, but perhaps there are those who either didn't believe the ads regarding the example of venture capitalists, aka Bain Capital; perhaps, saying we either didn't know anyone involved or thought the advertisements were benign and happening to "someone else," or just election year hyperbole.
However, if you want a homegrown, hometown, real and tangible example of venture capitalists and how they eviscerate, ransack and eventually destroy a company and jobs, you need look no further than the demise of Hostess Brands.
The death of Hostess began, as most of these situations do, with a takeover that at first seemed attractive to many involved with the company. This was the case in 2009 when Ripplewood Holdings, LLC (sound familiar) and lenders took control of Interstate Bakeries Corp. and renamed the company Hostess Brands.
Ripplewood put the company through two bankruptcies, amassed mountains of debt, mismanaged the sales and marketing of an iconic brand, and then attacked the workers demanding more salary and benefit concessions with no reciprocal cuts in management's wages, bonuses, benefits, health insurance, etc.! Gregory Rayburn, CEO, was given a salary of $100,000 a month when he took over to "guide" the company through bankruptcy!
Ripplewood and Rayburn will begin liquidation of the assets of Hostess Brands and profit handsomely, as Bain Capital did with their "acquisitions" by selling brand names, trademarks and other intellectual property, monies that will go to their benefit, given the vagaries of venture capital laws.
In the meantime, 18,000 employees are out of work — just before the holidays! Indeed, a hometown example of greed, selfishness and avarice.
— James M. Hesser
The other Gaza story
Regarding "The Gaza Story," Nov. 21:
First, I don't want to reply to all the wars they have had between themselves for years, only the one they are in now. Second, Bill and Genie Durland's remark that the American media consistently cover only Israel's side of the story is too ridiculous to comment on — in this day and time, in Colorado and most of the country, the media cover all of the Arab countries and show mostly what happens in those countries, not what happens in Israel. Eighty percent of U.S. news coverage is for the liberal viewpoint, from the news programs and TV shows like The View to night show hosts, etc.
Hamas' objective is to annihilate the Israeli people, not to have a piece of land. I know Israel has a blockade on the Gaza strip, but it is to keep arms from going to Hamas. They took out a leader who is their enemy and has been fighting them all these years. You notice they pinpointed the assassination.
You talk about Israel being for war; they are now completely surrounded because we have helped put Hamas and their allies in charge of every country. Libya now is in limbo but has our enemies in charge. Iran and all the other countries have the same attitude toward us as well as Israel.
I realize you think it is unfair for Israel to have so much power, but without it they would be completely eliminated from the earth. They worked hard and made a paradise out of a desert and really do want to live in peace. It's bad enough what happened to them in Germany, but what they have to go through in their own country is sad.
In the paper today after all the countries got a peace agreement, Hamas won't agree to it. So who wants real peace?
— Rodney Hammond
Aiding and abetting
The current wave of secessionist feelings must be very encouraging news to America's enemies.
— Brien Whisman
Start the discussion
It has been a long time since freedom of speech, or the press, was transposed into freedom of profit. Back in the 1800s it was decided that without a readership there were no advertisers, and the newspapers would breathe their last breath, becoming a thing of the past. So freedom of revenues outranked our founding fathers' lofty beliefs of freedom of discussing ideas.
With it being easier, and more cost-saving, to ask only the simple questions, freedom of debate is limited to the editors' point of view. "Variety, in coverage" and giving many facets of thoughts on the subject certainly became a thing of the past, by Martin Luther King's time.
This is a ghastly thought, because the news alone has the power to lift up the quality of life for all, where it reaches a crescendo, a high point — for all, not just the very rich. End All Poverty, a Colorado nonprofit, aims to assert the fact that rendering the thoughts and fears of the poor could wipe out poverty.
— Jan Hoag
Peggy and the drillers
Regarding Peggy Littleton's Gazette guest column, "Regional collaboration is the 'oil' of energy independence" on Nov. 18, I beg to differ.
Ms. Littleton challenges us to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, I assume by letting local representatives collaborate with oil and gas interests and let them drill with minimal rules limiting air, water and land pollution. She keeps crying that we need energy independence, but facts from the CIA Factbook on Energy show the more we drill, the more we export. We are fourth in the world in refined petroleum product exports and No. 9 in total natural gas exports (2009 data). Drilling here with minimal rules will just contribute our oil and gas to foreign markets so drillers can make more profit.
She is right that domestic energy development must be done the right way, protecting important public health values, mitigating impacts to surrounding citizens and making operators contribute their fair share to roads and schools. What is missing is Ms. Littleton's effort as a county commissioner in protecting citizen health and welfare, and her substantive lack of effort to protect our air, water and land. The county commissioners caved to industry and state pressure, and if you doubt that compare the first and second drafts of El Paso County rules to the pablum they finally approved.
Ms. Littleton wants regional collaboration, meaning she wants Colorado Springs to adopt the county's weak rules, or those of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. They claim the state's regulations are the most strenuous in the country, though COGCC rules allow oil and gas drilling within 350 feet of schools, hospitals and residential areas; don't require water testing; and don't require spills to be reported until they exceed 210 gallons (five barrels), unless waters of the state are involved. And there are only 17 state inspectors to check compliance on more than 47,000 wells.
The state needs to strengthen its regulations and add ten times the inspectors to enforce them, but until it does Colorado Springs must implement protective rules. If Council fails to protect us and collaborates with the county commissioners, we must follow Longmont's example with a ballot initiative to create rules that protect the citizens from pollution.
— Neil Talbott
The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind was incorrectly listed under "Private Schools" in the Nov. 21 Education Guide. CSDB is a public, state school. We regret the error.