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Forget the bluegrass

I wholeheartedly agree with Karl Knapstein ("Park ponderings," Letters, June 25) concerning our deteriorating parks. In a year when the eastern plains are verdant with native grasses and wildflowers, requiring no irrigation, mowing or fertilization, it is absurd and sad that our parks are in such a sad state.

For years, the city's own Utilities department has advocated water conservation and conversion of thirsty bluegrass to low-water alternatives. The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden provides a beautiful example of the many plants adapted to our arid climate.

It is too bad the Parks Department hasn't applied the principles of Xeriscape to our parks more fully. One of the basic tenets is identifying turf areas that are unnecessary, impractical or difficult to maintain, and converting those to low-water grasses, shrubs and groundcovers. The water and maintenance budget could then be concentrated on the few areas where healthy turfgrass is essential to park use.

If this had been done in our parks years ago, we would now be enjoying beautiful expanses of native grasses and wildflowers, rather than bare soil and weeds. One good example is the restored Shooks Run near Pikes Peak Avenue, where the slopes have been seeded with grasses and wildflowers.

It is time the Parks Department sets an example of landscaping appropriate to our region. Our parks should be points of inspiration and pride.

— Nancy Strong

Colorado Springs

Quiet killers nearby

Cannon Air Force Base in the neighboring state of New Mexico has assumed a major role in remote-control warfare, maneuvering the airborne Predator and Reaper drones that do surveillance and bombing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A recent Albuquerque TV news story on the topic comes across as cynical and full of double-speak. A successful mission is said to "save lives" when in fact it takes many lives over there. There is mention of the need to bring in chaplains and counselors so that remote-control warriors can cope with the consequences of their actions. After all, they do 10 hours of warfare and then go home to their kids' soccer games.

There is apparently some unease about living in a surreal world as your daily job. War without risk is a happy-talk selling point for future "pilots" in this brave new world of warfare.

Disengaging conscience is apparently still a hurdle for some.

— Bill Sulzman

Colorado Springs

Faith-based community

In reply to "A new path to local change" (Between the Lines, June 25), thank you, thank you, thank you, for informing the city of people who really want to make a difference!

I'm happy to see someone who cares! Happy to see others feel helpless in this cause, but they did not sit back and bitch. They took the initiative to look for answers and suggestions to come up with solutions for a better hometown.

I sent them my feedback, though I can't offer much specifically. People like this give me faith in the community I want to raise my son in.

— Sara Keller

Colorado Springs

Off-balance headline?

In an Independent article ("Locally, fears of socialism," July 2) on the health care debate, reported ably as always by Anthony Lane, I was quoted accurately several times. But I could not understand the headline, the Indy not being FOX News. The one reference to anyone fearing socialism was a quote from an anonymous Monument resident.

Health care reform as socialism is the only idea expressed by right-wing media and congressional Republicans. They ignore the problem. However, I have found in talking to hundreds of people in El Paso County that health care reform is a top concern for everybody. Democrats, Independents and Republicans think access to quality, affordable health care, controlling costs and preserving everybody's right to choose their own health coverage is the way to reform health care.

That is the essence of President Obama's reforms. If you like your health care, you can keep it. If you want to choose a different plan you can, including a public option that will help take current huge profit margins for insurance companies out of the equation, as private insurers drive down costs to compete.

Real competition and cost reduction. That's what people want, despite the fears of one right-winger in Monument.

— Mike Maday

Colorado Springs

Robin Hood revisited

Let's hear no more fake argumentation about how this is the worst time to raise taxes because so many Americans are in economic distress. Yes, half the nation is stressed economically, and they must not be taxed. So where does the money come from? From the other half, the wealthy, of course, who can easily afford much higher taxes right now, by definition of the word "wealthy."

The U.S. is comprised of two classes, one excessively rich, making anywhere from $100,000 to close to a billion per year. But millions live in poverty, more than 40 million people cannot afford health insurance, and nearly 10 percent can't get work. Yet many, many Americans live in fabulous homes, often more than one, or on foreign beaches, watching their foreign bank accounts and trying to influence elections of politicians who will vote against taxes.

Which taxes should be hugely raised? Start with windfall profits taxes. Who would this hurt? Then raise luxury taxes. Beef up excise taxes and capital gains and estate taxes. Go for big enlargements of corporate taxes. The wealthy would still have hundreds of thousands, even millions, and the masses would be helped to get jobs and be productive again. We could afford public-works programs and job retraining.

Think Robin Hood: Take from the rich, give to the poor. Was he a socialist?

Think Jesus: He ordered his followers to give their money to the poor. Was he a socialist?

If this is socialism, make the most of it.

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Heroic surgeons

Regarding recent Gazette coverage about mistreatment of nurses: While we describe a dead pop star as iconic and heroic, we allow a real hero to be vilified by a disgruntled nurse who probably did not have the fortitude to work in the area to which she was assigned.

Operating rooms are difficult and messy places to work. Surgeons are very focused on saving lives and having cases go smoothly with good outcomes for the patient. Can doctors be belligerent? Yes. Can they be stressed out by 12 or 20 hours in surgery? Yes. Can they make mistakes? Yes. After all, they are human.

Just remember, it will not be a NASCAR driver or an NFL player who saves your life or the life of a loved one. It will be a surgeon who chose to spend 16 years studying medicine and technique.

As a registered nurse myself, I know there are thousands of grateful survivors of Dr. Bryan Mahan's surgical expertise who will testify to his ability and compassion. We are fortunate to have both him and his partner Dr. Burt Fowler in this community.

They are two of the top cardio-thoracic surgeons in the U.S., and their records prove it. Our hero worship in this country is misdirected. Give these guys a break.

— Steve Storrs


Shame on Israel

I am disturbed at how little coverage the media is giving to Israel's capture of the humanitarian-aid ship that was taking food and other goods to innocent people who are suffering in Gaza. The Spirit of Humanity was in international waters and should have been safe. It had unarmed, well-known peacemakers aboard.

Israel had no right to commandeer and board the boat, blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid. What Israel did is completely unlawful under international law, seizing the boat, its cargo and the crew's cellphones, and then imprisoning the crew. Although the crew did not even enter Israel, but were taken there, all have been informed they will be charged with entering Israel illegally.

Israel has been destroying other ships that have tried to enter with donations from around the world. Now those goods just sit there and rot while innocent men, women and children cannot obtain food, necessities or medical care. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney are currently in an Israeli prison because they tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

The U.S. should cease sending millions of dollars to Israel since it makes us complicit in human-rights abuses. At least, use it as a bargaining tool for Israel to cease and desist destroying aid boats and imprisoning aid workers.

— Sharlene White

Santa Fe, N.M.


Poisoned world

Technology has to redirect its research and intentions. Instead of looking for the quick buck, it has to develop solutions for safety and preserving the human race.

Industry has made the same mistake. Our air pollution from carbon monoxide is horrible. Even in our homes, gas stoves and furnaces need improvement on the carbon monoxide poisoning released every day as we cook and stay comfortable.

Our water is being poisoned, too. We know all this. We have great minds being educated to do great things for mankind, but they're directed to make money. That's putting the cart before the horse.

Disease doesn't only affect the poor, but the rich also. Our medical fields, drug companies included, have their own problem. It's all about money, and not what helps the patient. Sure, money is important, but it doesn't help a rich man with poor health.

— Virginia Tardi

Manitou Springs

Fight the force

Last week the feds released their latest economic scorecard that actually means something: "the monthly job loss count." For 19 straight months the economy has lost jobs, 467,000 in June, worse than May's supposedly "rosy" 322,000. Furthermore, the U.S. has lost 7.2 million jobs since late 2007, now approaching 11 million fully unemployed with 16.5 million more estimated to be underemployed.

Serious economists and fund managers are describing an "era of large-scale wealth destruction."

Rush Limbaugh and his FOX News ilk try to blame the Obama administration. Of course, Limbaugh is blaming Michael Jackson's death and Gov. Mark Sanford's tryst to Argentina on Obama as well. Lost in Limbaugh's conscience: In 19 months the nation has lost 1.1 million more jobs than were created from all the Bush-Cheney tax cuts and "Greenspan-bubble-generating" economy.

The real blame rests fully on the Wall Street financial oligarchy who benefited from those tax cuts and now have received payrolls and bailouts from us little people. This is by no means a cyclical correction; it's a full-scale collapse, little different from 1929 to 1939.

What to do? Kill the devouring force. That is what Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal did in the 1930s. It was all about regulating, making responsible our nation's capitalism, the foundation for an expansion never before seen. But the Reagan Revolution followed by the Bush eras revived the oligarchy. Now America must redefine itself to find new ways of facing and solving these self-inflicted problems.

— Bob Nemanich

Colorado Springs

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