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Obama's first test

The United Nations, European Union and others condemned Israel for its latest indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza last week, as Israel mobilized its nuclear-capable military for an invasion. Meanwhile, the U.S. reaffirms its unqualified allegiance to Israel as its "special ally."

We await the inauguration of a new president calling for change, declaring defining moments and telling us, "Yes we can!" Well, here is the opportunity to restore America's respect for human rights of indigenous peoples in the Middle East.

So far, Barack Obama does not appear to have matched his own call for real change, but we have hope (another of his slogans) that he will, once he takes office. Many Jews, here and abroad, as well as Christians and Muslims, call for a truly independent, sovereign Palestinian state. Hamas adhered to a six-month ceasefire, only to be once more disappointed by an Israel apparently determined to hold on to all lands that were part of the British Mandate in 1948.

We, the people, are also called by taking to the streets if necessary. Why not renew the daily nonviolent demonstrations that took place in front of the White House for years during the Vietnam War? It's time to do the same for the end of the Israeli occupation and empowerment of true justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

The only path to security for Israel is through justice for Palestine, which, in turn, is the ultimate key to permanent peace in the Middle East.

A happy New Year will only be marked by real, immediate progress for all people threatened by violent retribution and retaliation. Resolution and reconciliation are nonviolent alternatives, particularly for Semitic cousins whose 60-year conflict must and will end according to the proclamation of the prophets.

Bill and Genie Durland

Colorado Springs

Share the stage

If President-elect Barack Obama's plan is to strengthen civil rights, the Inauguration Commission should have picked someone other than anti-civil rights Pastor Rick Warren to do the invocation. Because of Obama's message of inclusiveness and unity, this is a major snub to the many people who worked so hard to get him elected.

A better suggestion to promote the president-elect's message would be to invite leaders of different faiths to share in the invocation. Along with Pastor Warren, there could be a Rabbi, a Muslim, a Buddhist and an Episcopal or Catholic priest, each saying a few words. What better way for Obama to begin his presidency than by actually demonstrating his plan to unify, to strengthen civil rights, and to show the world who Americans really are?

Sharlene White

Santa Fe, N.M.

A substantive problem

Colorado Springs and El Paso County used to accept a rather large portion of the local population struggling with substance abuse. City and county leaders worked together to find solutions. Since the city encompasses about 65 percent of the county's population, this "joining of forces" made sense.

From the mid-1990s into the early 2000s, programs, services and facilities were available to anyone suffering with addiction problems. Still, substance abuse continued to grow at staggering levels in all areas of our area's population young, old, male, female, insured, uninsured and our city and county both began to see a huge jump in the cost of caring for its citizens with substance abuse issues/matters/problems.

Nevertheless, cuts to programs began to happen ... despite the fact that the problem continued to soar in its severity.

Today, while programs and services for our substance abusers continue to be cut at alarmingly sudden, fast rates or completely eliminated the numbers of substance abusers in Colorado Springs and El Paso County continue rising to new heights. Just because we don't have the money, or don't want to spend the money, doesn't mean the problem is going away. Because it's not. It is rising and will continue to rise.

On Jan. 20, a man representing a platform of "hope," "change" and "understanding" will become president. Will this new leader come through and provide for all citizens of this nation, including the huge number of Americans who suffer with substance abuse? Only time will tell.

Only time will tell, but something must be done. Programs and services must be continued on a regular, non-interrupted basis. We cannot afford to leave these citizens along the wayside. They are everywhere, and they are everyone. They are you and they are me.

Addy M. Hansen

Colorado Springs

Mystery 'pen pal'

I would like to respond to the anonymous note-maker who felt so compelled to rip a page out of his (or her) day-timer and emotionally scroll "Typical Democrat!" then placed the message on our car at Uintah Gardens the day before Christmas Eve. This seemingly sly author must have been responding to our bumper stickers: "Obama '08"; "I was there at the Democratic National Convention"; "Celebrate Diversity"; "Don't pray in my school, I won't think in your church"; "Teach respect for the Earth and all living creatures"; and "Equal Rights equals no Special Rights."

The note insinuates we are in some way typical. If this person actually knew our family, he would known we embody the concept of being atypical. Unfortunately, in reality we know that in Colorado Springs, the "supposed" base camp of the recently rejected Republican movement, any possible identification that one is a suspected Democrat is enough for others to openly ridicule us as social outcasts.

That said, it is now appearing commonplace here that previously closeted Democrats are less afraid of this political classification. I see countless persons displaying Obama '08 bumper stickers. Maybe this motivated our spontaneous author to single us out in this holiday season as a "Typical Democrat!"

Ironically, the page our stealth critic used provided a quote from Orison Marden, an American associated with the late 19th century New Thought Movement, which embodied metaphysical beliefs: "There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow." Was it this quote our mysterious pen pal was alluding to? Hope and a better tomorrow were Barack Obama's campaign theme, which delivered him a record 109,000 votes in El Paso County!

Happy New Year, everyone, and may we all try to get along.

Bob Nemanich

Colorado Springs

Dark outlook

The new year is traditionally a virtual fulcrum, a mental pivot, lever or human cannon, if you will, that we use to launch our psyche into a fresh, sparkling new period of change and hope for the future. Pity there's little so hope on the horizon these days.

The government is hanging on to that tired old "trickle down" antidote, bailing out Wall Street and the banks that have created the problem, so it could be a while before any of the actual victims see any signs of daylight.

Like a surgeon carefully shaving your head and then spending hours studying cranial structure and surgical methods when your ankle is broken, you can have faith that your future is in capable but misguided hands. He'll find the part of your brain that knows you have an ankle and remove it, putting an end to your ability to see the problem.

Now you will be a cripple and should be on welfare, and that's your fault, isn't it! Problem solved!

Wait your turn, have faith, be patient, and hold on to your "failure" tightly, as it's bound to get bigger and more unwieldy. Much bigger ...

Happy New Year!

Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Growing and poking

I so appreciate the lively existence of the Independent. It is a counter-balance to the libertarian ideology in the Gazette.

Keep growing. Keep poking. Keep writing the articles.

I voted all your recommendations in the past election. I really do not know where else I would turn for common-sense advice about initiatives, amendments and candidates.

Lawrence C. Warner

Colorado Springs

Aggravation and absurdity

Sometimes I think there is a digressive unit within the Pentagon charged with dreaming up regulations designed to aggravate our military forces and veterans.

In March 2008, the Pentagon issued a change in regulations significantly narrowing the definition of combat disabilities. The defense department stated that disability benefits should be higher for military personnel wounded in combat.

Two recent cases point out the absurdity. Sgt. Lori Meshell suffered a shattered hip, and back injuries, while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. Since she was not hit by shrapnel, the Pentagon ruled her injuries were not combat-related and she was not entitled to about $1,200 per month in benefits.Cpl. James Dixon experienced traumatic brain injury, concussion, dislocated hip, and hearing loss from roadside bomb and mine explosions in Iraq, yet his case was ruled non-combat-related. (This information is based on a Boston Globe article, Nov. 27, 2008.)

This regulation has to be changed to classify all injuries experienced in war zones as combat-related. I state the preceding comments as a former PO2(E-5) and LT(O-3), U.S. Navy.

Donald A. Moskowitz

Londonderry, N.H.

Parking issues

After reading about the Gay and Lesbian Fund tearing down small houses surrounding their building on East Costilla Street ("Buildings make way for parking," Noted, Dec. 25), a sense of dj vu took me back to when the Dixie Apartments were torn down by First Presbyterian Church to provide parking for their Sunday mega-services.

First Pres claimed to be helping tenants find better housing. Parishioners felt better thinking these people would be better off. Tearing down their home wasn't the church's problem.

The Gay and Lesbian Fund used a real-estate spokesman who said the small houses would "barely qualify as houses." Using charged words such as "packed with asbestos" and being "aghast" at conditions was meant to make people feel better about eliminating more affordable housing.

These houses were left over from the city's very early days, in an area where people of color lived. This was their neighborhood. Their church, Payne Chapel, still stands at the corner of Costilla and Weber. (It's now an office building.) No doubt, these modest houses needed work. Yet it is much cheaper and greener to rehabilitate existing buildings.

Does the Gay and Lesbian Fund really need 80 parking spaces? There's a plethora of free on-street parking, and I have yet to see their existing parking lot full during the day. If the problem is for evening events, a very large lot across the street in front of Apex Sports is empty all night.

It is time this city stops tearing down affordable housing for parking lots. It is particularly egregious for organizations that are supposed to protect and nurture neighborhoods to participate in destroying them.

David Ryan

Colorado Springs


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