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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Shackling is ridiculous and inhumane
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Thursday, March 4,2010

Shackling is ridiculous and inhumane

Pamela White’s article “Pregnant in Prison” moved me to tears (cover story, Feb. 18). Having a wrist or ankle of a woman in labor shackled is shocking and inhumane. Only people who have never given birth would think such a thing is OK.

I appreciated the view of Division Chief Larry Hank of the Boulder County Jail regarding following the lead of the hospital medical team and that trying to shackle someone to a bed during labor doesn’t seem to be common sense. Absolutely.

I hope the law is changed. It should be written in such a way as to require shackling a woman in labor only if she’s violent and poses a risk to the medical staff. Thank you, Ms. White, for another of your interesting and informative articles.

Karen Graffenberger/Boulder

Cages won’t stop drug use

I’m writing about Robert Sharpe’s thoughtful letter: “DEA raids help cartels” (Letters, Feb. 25). I’d like to add that it makes no sense, economic or moral, to jail or imprison marijuana users or sellers. Our jails and prisons should be reserved for those who harm others against their will — not marijuana users, sellers or growers.

We don’t jail or imprison those who produce, sell or use tobacco products, even though tobacco is a highly addictive and very deadly product.

We don’t have criminals growing tobacco in clandestine locations.

We don’t have tobacco producers or sellers attempting to settle their disputes with each other with gun battles in the streets.

If we were to criminalize tobacco, the situation would change.

We learned our lesson about criminalizing the drug alcohol in only 13 years. Why can’t we learn the same lesson about marijuana?

Kirk Muse/Mesa, Ariz.

Devilish Danish details

(Re: “Obama Goes Nuclear,” Danish Plan, Feb. 25.) Paul Danish advocates nuclear power for its baseload capabilities (vs. intermittent wind and solar), while making an implicit closing claim that natural gas-fired electricity costs eight times what coal-fired elecsee tricity costs. While nuclear will have a place in the future energy mix and its lack of carbon emissions make it attractive, there are two Danish errors that need correcting.

First, there are other baseload renewable options than wind and solar. Biomass co-firing of coal plants and solar pre-heating in gas plants reduce net carbon emissions while preserving plant dependability. Biomass gasification produces fuel for both distributed and central-station electrical generation and is increasingly popular in Europe and India. These renewable options will be faster to implement and more ultimately sustainable than nuclear, and the cellulosic biomass used is not foodcompetitive.

Finally, Danish claims that it takes $85.24 worth of natural gas to generate the same amount of electricity as $10.95 of coal. That is wrong on the face of it (having left out the $10/ton cost of delivery for the coal, Danish is off by a factor of two just on fuel costs) since generation with natural gas is more than 50 percent efficient these days, compared to 35 percent for coal (another 50 percent oversight).

In addition, natural gas plants are half as expensive to build as coal plants and half as expensive to operate. A recent academic paper by Alonso, et al., prices the wholesale cost of coal electricity at 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, and the cost of natural gas electricity at 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (at $5.20 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas). While this is a 10 percent premium, it is not the 700 percent premium Danish implies. The cavalier reasoning and research Danish employs will not serve us well in the long run as we debate our energy and environmental options for future development.

Sam Weaver/Boulder

A modern gas-fired power plant can be up to 1.5 times more efficient than a coal plant — so the comparison made in next to last paragraph is not entirely correct.

Bob Cannistraro/Boulder County

No praise for Obama

I did not expect miracles from President Obama, and did not get any — but surely we were entitled to at least some substantive change despite the unprecedented problems facing him. He made health care reform his signature agenda, but didn’t invest much effort in this until the last possible moment, having given the Congress little guidance. He did the same with the world’s No. 1 problem when he rushed to the Copenhagen climate conference at the last minute, not having strong-armed the U.S. Senate, particularly that most obstinate climate change denier, James Inhofe. He negotiated furiously, and offered no concrete U.S. commitments, to the chagrin of the Europeans and Pacific islanders like the Maldivians, who held an underwater cabinet meeting to drive home the threat to their very existence. But then Inhofe, still clinging to his belief of climate change as the greatest hoax, is in plentiful bad company among our undereducated populace, increasing numbers of which believe that global warming will never harm people in the United States or elsewhere.

Perhaps the Maldivians, the Colorado Ski Industry and Colorado hunters and fishermen who feel threatened by climate change, and the millions elsewhere, are just hallucinating busybodies. No kudos here to Pres. Obama for educating the American public and pressuring the U.S. Senate. Perhaps a laudable goal would be to enlist his “Race to the Top” in the service of shining a light on our climate change indifference and ignorance.

Speaking of “enlisting” takes us to perhaps the greatest disappointment in Obama: the hope of many that he would somehow rise above not only continuing Bush’s wars, but would also “end the mindset that got us into war in the first place,” as he said, and, I would add, that sends uninformed and poorly advised young Americans into these wars. That mindset, I submit, shows no signs of weakening and will, without a doubt, send thousands more such young people to the war machine to “defend their country,” meaning, to serve the empire’s need for perpetual war. And Obama shows no willingness to change that mindset. If he is prepared to stay in Afghanistan the 5 to 10 years both Gen. Petraeus and Pres. Karzai have said may be needed, he hasn’t told the American people. One could hope that they won’t stand for this armchair warfare escalation of the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the cynical waste of lives on both sides, for the dubious goal of defeating “the enemy.”

But such hope places unjustified confidence in the American people who seem to have great tolerance for leaders who drag them into various wars and conflicts and for the voracious appetite of the corporate-Pentagon war machine, which sucks untold billions from funds needed desperately for jobs, health care, fixing schools, roads, bridges — billions for military entitlements neither the GOPs nor the Dems mention while they are complaining about “government spending” for the economic recovery. Indeed, given the pubsee lic’s lack of curiosity to learn what its government is doing in, and to, the world in its name, and the corporate media’s equal lack of motivation to do its duty to inform, it shouldn’t be surprising that an important event has been taking place since last November in Britain that has direct relevance to all Americans but seems unnoticed by most: the British government’s Iraq War Inquiry. One would think that this inquiry, which has seen testimony by many officials, including Tony Blair (who had no regrets and said he would have agreed to invade even had he known there were no WMDs) and, later, Gordon Brown, would raise the question: why can’t we have such an inquiry here — especially since it was our government that was the driving force behind this unjustified invasion? Why can’t this country, for once, rise above its extreme polarization and show some integrity and willingness to find out what decisions led to the invasion of a country that had not attacked us, and, perhaps, conclude that “this should never happen again”? Is perpetual war the “deeper malady within the American spirit” that MLK so lamented?

“Clear-eyed,” said Obama, “we can understand that there will be war and still strive for peace.”

Sure. Hearing there will be war, indeed perpetual war, is music to the ears of the Pentagon and its war profiteers. Welfare for the poor is examined under a microscope, but welfare for the corporate war profiteers, one entitlement even the GOPsters love, passes routinely on both sides of the aisle.

Manfred Schwoch/Boulder

Stand firm against Iran

I am writing to ask this nation to immediately support stronger sanctions on Iran.

Iran has again rejected generous diplomatic offers and instead is expanding its nuclear program. The peaceful world does not have much time to get where we need to go — preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Serious sanctions must be put in place to convince Iran to change its mind. The UN Security Council and key groups such as the EU can peacefully stop Iran — but it must be done now.

Nuclear proliferation is one of the greatest dangers to world peace. The Iranian president has said that he would share nuclear technology with others.

Indeed, Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It is arming, funding and training Hamas and Hezbollah. It is supporting terroristswho are killing innocents in Iraq and in other nations.

Iran is undermining peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians that could lead to a positive solution for both sides.

It is time to persuade Iran to be a peaceful nation. If they are emboldened by possession of nuclear capability, Iran could increase its sponsorship of terrorism and put nuclear materials into the hands of terrorists who could strike anywhere.

Serious nations need to put sanctions as a tool in their toolkits to get Iran to stop its nuclear program. We must work urgently and effectively to ensure that Iran does not get nuclear weapons.

Please, support serious sanctions to peacefully stop Iran today!

Alan Berlinberg/Littleton

Music to conservative ears

Have you noticed the shrill cries of the left against the recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate political money in political ads and speech? Many would have us believe it is a travesty. It is not. Quite the opposite, and that is why the left is screaming.

You see, the law previously was against all, except those who ignored the law and got away with it by the allowance of the government. Who would that be? Why, the unions, of course. They have been allowed to violate this law with impunity to the point everyone just believes they can spend hundreds of millions if they wish.

This new decision by the courts allows everyone, not just the liberal corporations, to have corporate speech, especially the nonprofits, according to Cleta Mitchell, Washington’s pre-eminent campaign finance attorney. That would be the churches, America’s fifth estate and base protector of liberty and morality in government, until the above subversively forced them out. Now they will be back to their traditional political role and the left will not have a total monopoly on political money speech and their unchallenged ability to misshape society with it. That is the real reason they are screaming. So, by all means, let ’em scream! It is music to our ears!

David Cook/Loveland

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