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Blood brethren
Whether it's shopping at a neighborhood market or giving to a local nonprofit, I believe in supporting my community. That's why Rep. Mike Merrifield ("Donate blood," Letters, Aug. 7) struck a nerve. While addressing a real, pressing need for blood donors, his letter essentially turned into an advertisement for Denver-based Bonfils Blood Center.

Blood centers such as Bonfils don't give blood to hospitals. They sell it to them. These blood centers definitely provide valuable services, such as supplying hospitals that are too small to warrant their own blood banks or acting as a backup when local banks run low. But their drives in Colorado Springs draw donors away from our local hospitals.

It boils down to a Denver outfit taking a vital resource out of our community and selling it back to our hospitals. This represents a significant cost (it's much more expensive to purchase blood than to process it in our own blood banks) and, more importantly, contributes to local shortages, since donated blood from here sits on shelves in Denver.

While I fully support the call to donate blood, I would much rather have my blood help here. Since Merrifield neglected to mention the two blood banks that are located in, draw from and provide for his own district, they are: Penrose-St. Francis, 776-5822; Memorial Health System, 365-5411.

Jake Sramek, M.D.
Colorado Springs

Peace and quiet
Regarding "Malice in the movement" (News, Aug. 7), I must agree with Eric Verlo that the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission is not active in the movement for peace and social justice.

PPJPC solicits "donations" from organizations that fight for social justice, but its members never actively support a cause as they claim to do. I have donated money to this organization. I asked for active support at City Council last year when public transportation was in jeopardy, but PPJPC refused.

I did support PPJPC, but since Verlo's departure as board chairman, I do not recommend donating money to PPJPC due to its lack of being active against social injustices in Colorado Springs.

Ed Billings
Colorado Springs

What would Ghandi do?
We were surprised and keenly disappointed by the tone and implications of J. Adrian Stanley's piece last week ("Malice in the movement?" News). She reports with some accuracy a minor incident that took place July 18 involving the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and a group of two or three individuals gathered by Eric Verlo in front of the commission offices. More "gossipy" than "newsy," the article suggests "malice" a strong, inflammatory and highly exaggerated description of diverse opinions among peace activists.

Tension, and even strong disagreement, are creative forces that challenge us to clarify our motives and purposes. Eric Verlo is correct in acknowledging tensions over methods of activism in the peace movement. Many who consider themselves "peace activists" across the globe engage in tactics, which fail to engender peace.

PPJPC is deeply committed to nonviolence and will neither engage in nor support activism employing tactics inconsistent with Ghandian nonviolence. Any peace message voiced externally that is not lived internally is fruitless and of little positive value to the peace movement. For these reasons, we are saddened by the tone of Stanley's article, which hardly deserves to be called "News."

Dorothy Schlaeger
Genie Durland
PPJPC board members
Colorado Springs

Hush, hush
I'm a Democrat in a right-wing city; my best friend is Republican.

We scrupulously avoid talking politics. The void between our beliefs is a conversational no-man's land filled with hostility and suspicion. My friends are intelligent, and I'd like to know what they think about the world in general, and national politics in particular.

What makes them want to be Republicans? I have no idea, nor am I likely to learn. How has this bristly antagonism come to be? What happened to the days when political discussion was socially acceptable? We may have disagreed, but friendships endured, and we didn't label each other as idiots or communists.

The disconnect began when conservative talk radio began cropping up like discordant music across the country. Rush Limbaugh was an early pioneer in Hate Radio. I was shocked to hear such passionate railing directed against other Americans over public airwaves. Some work themselves into such a frenzy of vitriolic ranting that I envision spittle hitting the microphone.

In half-truths and blatant innuendo, Hate Radio plants suspicion and fear, distorting thought processes of faithful listeners. Hate Radio decrees liberals are the spawn of Satan. Instead of focusing on important issues, candidates are forced by spin doctors to defend their lapel pins, patriotism, hand gestures or private religious beliefs. What about the economy?

As a liberal Democrat in a conservative setting, I have come to feel like a second-class citizen. The only people with whom I can safely discuss politics are like-minded Democrats. Will we ever be able to turn off Hate Radio and open an honest political discussion again?

Susan Craig
Colorado Springs

Lies and deceit
"Bush lied, people died," the sign reads. Enough said! No matter how many letters Bill Mendelsohn writes ("Lies: Take 3," Aug. 7), he will not convince me this is an urban legend. Manipulation, distortion and outright deception are the Bush administration's hallmarks. Sadly, our service members and Iraqi people pay with their lives and futures for this betrayal of the public trust.

Like the oil companies making windfall profits today, Bush and Cheney's friends in the defense industry profit off the misery they've caused. The arms industry makes billions from defense contracts while ordinary people suffer and the taxpayer foots the bill.

What scares me most, though, is that this same murderous gang of thieves is scheming to start another war in Iran before Bush leaves office. Seymour Hersh revealed in a recent New Yorker article that increased covert operations in Iran seem designed to provoke an international incident, to which the U.S. will have to respond. Please do not allow yourself to be manipulated again by "evidence" they are manufacturing. If you think gas prices are high now, imagine where they will be if we go to war with Iran.

Help restore some sanity to U.S. policy in the Middle East by voting for Barack Obama. He understands diplomacy trumps tough talk and military action.

Cyndy Kulp
Colorado Springs

Still convinced
Bill Mendelsohn concludes his "Lies: Take 3" letter by asking, "Can we finally put the Bush lied meme to rest?" He asks this as if his letter proved Bush didn't lie, which it didn't. Bill's letter sang the White House tune as if he had written the lyrics.

It is nigh on impossible to prove Bush lied because he, Cheney and the rest of White House thugs stonewalled better than even the Nixon gang of bandits and that is some kind of trick.

Bush is guilty of lying, obstruction of justice and running roughshod over our Constitution. So do scores of reputable authors, writers and scholars who have written articles, books and columns documenting transgressions by a president who has gone into areas of criminality no other president dared to go, even Nixon.

These documentors are acclaimed and laden with awards attesting to their expertise, factual reporting and adherence to the truth. All of them can't be wrong and the White House right. I cannot put the "Bush lied" truth to rest though my spineless Democratic congressional leaders have. I will not forget the 35,000 casualties in Iraq, the hundreds of billions wasted, our country's name besmirched around the world, and all because Bush lied.

Phil Kenny
Colorado Springs

Hypocritical Focus
What is that I heard coming out of Focus on the Family? Could it be some certifiably lunatic rambling that Focus was requesting followers to pray for rain?

Focus used its enormous communications empire to call on believers to pray for rain on Obama's acceptance speech Aug. 28 at Invesco Field!

They (meaning James Dobson) are seriously using (his) message machinery to call for divine intervention because he (uh, they) fears Obama politically. Is that like a Bronco fan praying for a touchdown because he fears losing to the Raiders? Or is it more like McCain praying for Dobson's endorsement?

The reality is, this lunatic-fringe rumor is true according to Focus' own mouthpiece: "Sure, it's boyish humor perhaps to wish for something like that, but at the same time it's something people (that can only mean Dobson) feel very strongly about. They're (Dobson is) concerned about where he would take the nation," said Stuart Shepard, who hosts the weekly commentary known as "StopLight."

This is not just some boyish humor making some funny YouTube video, nor is it girlish humor or gay lunacy. This is the outright, bald-face expression of manipulating religion for the sake of partisan politics.

What direction is Focus so concerned about to call for "divine rain" to dampen Obama's victory speech? Is it that Dobson and his followers actually take pride in their ignorance, or that Dobson needs a new mortal (Democratic) enemy to keep his empire continuing? Regardless, none of this is humorous in any way.

Bob Nemanich
Colorado Springs
Editor's note: Focus on the Family removed the "Pray for Rain" video from its site Monday, citing confusion and complaints from members.

Seeing clearly
Before retirement, I had the opportunity to experience and assist in management of Pion Canyon Maneuver Site for almost 20 years. Traveling to the site from Trinidad, you pass through numerous ranches, akin to traveling from an overgrazed desert into a wildlife preserve. Once on the site, you cannot help but wonder if this is what the prairie looked like before we "tamed the West"!

I remember surveying the southern boundary in August 2002. The wind picked up and the entire southwestern sky was black. Thinking we were about to get hit with a massive wildland fire, we dashed to our vehicles. As the storm reached us, we realized it was only dust, something like what the Dust Bowl farmers must have experienced.

Interesting that the storm was only on private ranch land and not the maneuver site. Interesting also is the outcry about wildfires in the area. The maneuver site is one of the few areas that have any fuel (prairie grasses) to burn! A trip to the area will usually show quite a dichotomy between a healthy ecosystem and an area that appears to be wasted.

I do not know why the Army thinks it needs more land. I do not agree with using eminent domain for expansion, and I think the Army was wrong in authorizing live fire after stating the area was only for maneuvers. But unlike our friends at FOX, let's try to be "fair and balanced" when stewardship of this area is addressed.

Also, I wonder what the ghosts of Sand Creek and the thousands of indigenous peoples driven from Colorado would say about who are the rightful owners of this beautiful area?

Steve Snyder
Manitou Springs

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