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It goes both ways

To the Editor:

I found Michelle Chihara's article very fascinating ["The Silence on Terrorism," Jan. 24-30]. I couldn't agree more with the last sentence of the article that talks about having a debate that includes all voices. Very interesting indeed! These same people (Michelle Chihara included) that preach the need to listen to all voices are the same group of people that are quick to exclude or criticize others that don't agree with them. While all of the examples that Ms. Chihara cited of left-wing liberals losing their jobs or of someone being booed off of a stage may be true, these very same things have happened to conservatives who may have voiced their concerns or views where they weren't appreciated. It goes both ways, Ms. Chihara, lest we forget!

-- Gary J. Brunette Jr.
Colorado Springs

In the midst of crisis

To the Editor:

I read with interest some of the comments about Pat Buchanan's new book on immigration and the U.S. [Public Eye, Jan. 10-16]. Let me say, first of all, politically I'm left of center, even left of Clinton or Gore, and naturally I've looked on Buchanan's political views with a critical eye.

However, it should be obvious to anyone with an iota of intelligence that the United States is ill prepared to accept immigration, even at the current levels. Frankly, we don't even have the social infrastructure to adequately care for the 280 million to 290 million people presently in this country. Let me cite just a few instances of the present inadequate social infrastructure.

We have tens of millions of people in this country without health insurance, and the quality of our health care ranks behind many Western European countries and Canada, even though we claim to be the richest country in the world. In many urban areas, schools are either in dilapidated condition or we have way too many children for the existing facilities. We have a transportation infrastructure that is 25 years behind Western Europe. All one has to do is look around the streets (and libraries yes!) of virtually every American city of any size and see platoons of homeless people to realize we have an affordable housing crisis.

The increased demographic pressure fueled by immigration at current levels will lead to a gradual erosion of the quality of life in the U.S.; the result would be the same even if the new immigrants were from Sweden.

The main advocates -- behind the scenes, of course -- for increased immigration are big business and corporate America. For them, massive immigration means more consumers, nothing more and nothing less. New consumers who'll in part feed an already growing Wal-Mart class of underpaid Americans who can be counted on to buy gas, groceries and $30 shoes on a regular basis. Corporate America is quite comfortable with that kind of economic scenario, but is anyone in this country prepared for the infrastructure upgrades necessary to accommodate the influx over the next 50 years?

-- Thomas Plazibat

Talkin' 'bout revolution

To the Editor:

John Hazlehurst's column is one of my must-read items each week. However, as a Democrat I take exception to the way he has written off the 70,000 registered Democrats of El Paso County [Outsider, Jan. 24]. Though there may well be few contested races this election year, the party is not over until the last guest leaves and the lights are turned out.

I don't like the super-conservatives that the Republicans seem to love grooming and shipping up to Denver. But their day in the sun may soon be over, if not in 2002 then 2004. Yes, they have more money, a big edge in voter registration and strong leadership. Kinda reminds me of the British Empire in the late 1700s. Somehow a poor, ragtag and politically divided bunch of Colonials gave King George a black eye and sent him packing back to London. But it did not happen overnight. Yet it did happen when the time was ripe for change, for a true revolution.

And as for Mike Miles, though his roots are in Fountain (where he also works as an outstanding middle-school principal), he lives here in the land of Bill Cadman and Ron May ... Eastern Colorado Springs. Keep an eye on Mike Miles ... and the Democrats this year and in the next election cycle. Revolution, Mr. Hazlehurst, is in the air.

-- Steve Bell
Chair, Democratic Action Team
Colorado Springs

Viva Amlie

To the Editor:

I'm sure most Americans are put off by the French film Amlie because its sensibilities are too sophisticated, subtle and otherwise real/painful [Film review, Jan. 24]. The day I saw it at the Kimball's, the theater was packed -- great word of mouth.

Too painful, sometimes the real world [strikes too close to home]. As example, the protagonist/heroine's actions [revealing] her "damaged heart": "This is ultimately annoying and overly diverting," according to Kathryn Eastburn, the reviewer.

Well, K.E., I wasn't "annoyed" or "diverted," as this is what made overcoming such so triumphal (happy ending)! I've been in the entertainment business for 43 years. I teach acting, once directed Orson Welles, and have written and produced screenplays ... Thus, I know a little about the movie biz.

Amlie is the best feature film I've seen in 10 years (or more)! But, you have to have European sensibilities to appreciate it (my top three are all European-made).

I watch a movie like Amlie -- a tender, uplifting, entirely cleverly crafted work of art -- and I ask rhetorically, "Why can't Hollywood make movies like this?"

Because our cultural sensibilities are harder, colder, faster, tougher, more melodramatically "black and white." The mass audience doesn't like subtleties. We're still too naive, too immature, too unevolved compared to European audiences -- certainly less sophisticated.

Well done, Jean Pierre Jeunet! Viva La France when it comes to the cinema!

I think the Indy should have let Andrea Lucard review Amlie! I'm guessing she's French?

-- F.A.H. Dalrymple
Via the Internet

Editor's note: With the exception of Amlie's annoying cat-and-mouse game with love interest Nino, reviewer Eastburn also found this to be a fine and stylishly acted film.

A sort of checklist

To the Editor:

I am still in the beginning of the process of transformation that was begun last fall when we Americans were jolted from our complacency. The Independent played a significant role in reflecting back to us the facts that had not been center stage in our consciousness. I want to hold onto the urgency and commitment so that it may fuel my behavior to become a more responsible and compassionate citizen of the world.

Would it be possible for the Independent to help those of us in the community who are interested in moving from this heightened awareness to action? Something to guide and direct us to real and specific action? Would the Justice and Peace Commission be interested in writing regular messages that provide opportunities to live differently?

I imagine a sort of checklist: How many cars in your household? How many miles driven weekly? How many miles per gallon? Then what the ramifications of decreasing consumption would mean to our fellow persons in other countries. What stores should we not shop? Who should I contact and where to voice my opinion re: U.S. actions/policies? My hope is that you will help me continue my education and find avenues to make a meaningful difference.

-- Theresa Kledzik
Manitou Springs

Armpit of the country

To the Editor:

It's a disgrace that the Legislature is doing nothing about controlling growth. Anyone who has been to Southern California lately can easily see what Colorado is rapidly becoming. Parker, Colo. has become a pit with one housing tract after another dumped into it. Douglas County is following rapidly in its wake. All this is due to the fact that our elected "representatives" and our county commissioners are in the employ of the developers, not the people of this state.

During a water conference organized recently by the Parker Water and Sanitation District, I expressed my amazement that not once was the need to control growth mentioned as a way to preserve our dwindling aquifers. John Fielder made a real effort during the last election to pass his anti-growth initiative. It was defeated by the use of scare tactics organized by the developers; the promise was that the Legislature would address the issue. It has not. Coloradans should wake up before our beautiful state is gone.

-- V. E. Perkins, Ph.D.
Franktown, Colo.

Life behind bars

To the Editor:

Earlier this month, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. celebrated the first anniversary of the arrival of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, its panda pair from China. The zoo is paying China $10 million to display the pandas for 10 years.

The pandas have been an attendance and souvenir bonanza: More than 2.5 million people have visited them, and souvenir and refreshment sales at the zoo soared to $10.5 million through mid-December 2001, up from $6 million in the same period the previous year.

Of course, the zoo claims that "conservation" -- not cash -- lies behind its desire to display captive pandas. Zoo officials are hoping to breed Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, to help increase the dwindling giant panda population. Never mind that past attempts at breeding captive pandas have failed spectacularly.

Most readers probably remember Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling, the celebrated panda pair given to the United States by China in 1972. National Zoo officials hoped Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling would breed as well, and they tried everything from artificial insemination to flying in a substitute from London to get results. Ling-Ling did give birth to several cubs, but none lived longer than four days.

After being kept captive for 20 years, in an enclosure that paled in comparison to the dense bamboo forests and misty, rainy mountains of her true home, Ling-Ling died of heart failure in 1992. A grieving Hsing-Hsing bleated for her for a month. He died several years later, suffering from cancer and arthritis.

Pandas are great crowd pleasers, but displaying them in captivity won't bring back lost land or protect animals from poachers. It's time for zoos to stop "saving" animals by breeding them and work on saving habitats instead. Animals deserve freedom in their natural homelands -- not a life behind bars.

-- Paula Moore
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Va.

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