Letters | Cutting to the chase


Cutting to the chase

(Re: “Foreskin follies,” Uncensored, Feb. 16.) Way to go Pamela! Thank you for your attention to the practice of infant circumcision. There are some good reasons to keep the penis intact. Like I read somewhere: “A foreskin is not a birth defect.”

Patricia Kay Youngson/Boulder

Thank you for your sensitive and balanced reporting on this issue. Most articles either refuse to present the other side of the circumcision debate or are simply ignorant. Not only have epidemiological studies failed to find any benefit from circumcision with respect to sexually transmitted diseases, the U.S. has both the highest rate of HIV among heterosexuals and circumcision in the developed world. This is not speculation but what the CDC and other national health services show. As an intervention, circumcision has been tried and found wanting. Now, with all the press about circumcision possibly preventing HIV infections among heterosexual men, we may be seeing risk compensation, where men who are circumcised think they are protected. This will only make the epidemic in the U.S. worse and, in my opinion, is dangerous and unethical.

Let’s compare and contrast circumcision to the polio vaccine. Both have been widely available for the last 60 years, both have clinical trials showing efficacy. Now, if the countries that had the highest vaccination compliance had the highest polio infection rate, after 60 years of use, would any sane person use it? Yet that is exactly what we see with circumcision and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Polio is unheard of in the U.S., HIV is more common here than in any developed country. Not only is it more common in general, but also among heterosexual men and heterosexual women. Moreover, the U.S. has the highest rate of HIV-infected heterosexu al women of any English-speaking developed country: two women for every heterosexual man. Move north, across the Canadian border, and that number drops to one to one. Clearly, the U.S. is doing something very wrong, and it is infecting men and women with HIV.

As for the cost of circumcisions paid for by Medicaid, the data cited by your article was only for the cost paid to the attending physician under Medicaid. Looking at the data in the National Inpatient Sample (NIS), the Kids Inpatient Database (KID) and the Statewide Inpatient Database (SID), available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows the true expenditure to be 10 times higher.

The average circumcised child spends 0.2 days longer in the hospital and requires other interventions, all of which are charged to Medicaid. Not only does this bespeak of the risks associated with infant circumcision, it also increases the cost to Colorado from $200,000 per year to over $1.9 million, money that should be used to buy books for schoolchildren and supply needed funds for Medicaid recipients who are in critical need. Circumcision is truly tripping over dollars to pick up nickles.

Scot Anderson/via Internet

Cell phones and drivers

Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted by a Casey Middle School eighth grader as part of a language arts class assignment. It is presented unedited.

I am writing you this letter because I want you to listen to my issue that you have to know about and help us do something better to control this issue.

I argue that drivers should stop using their cell phones while driving, because death numbers and car crashes are increasing a lot each year, and they are also damaging stuff around us.

It is a problem that people text while driving, because it’s very bad for our surroundings and it puts people’s life at risk.

When people are texting, some of them might text because they think the text is important or because their self important.

Also, people texting can cause crashes, deaths, injuries and a lot of damages.

The effects on this issue is that it would cause deaths, and it might increase the number of deaths, crashes, damages and the number of people going to prison. If people damage stuff outside, that the owners used and cost a lot of money, they are going to pay for the damage that they made. Colorado and other states should make a law that involves using cell phones while driving, if not they should make one to control this issue.

Although, the people that are driving should turn off their cell phones and turn them on when there done driving, or simply they shouldn’t answer. People need to understand that they are risking their lives. Consequently they can kill them self ’s or they might injure them self ’s.

In conclusion, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In September 2009 the (NHTSA) [said] 5,870 people were killed, in 2008 [an] additional 515,000 people were injured due to distracted driving.” Do you want this to keep happening every year and a lot of deaths numbers increasing?

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope you could help and change and also make something to really control this issue.

Victor Arellano/Boulder

Fracking stealth mission

The tenacity of the oil and gas business is almost impressive. The advent of horizontal fracking engineering has representatives delivering the rhetoric of new jobs and rosy times. The usual smooth-talking suspects are EOG Resources, Halliburton, Anadarko, Noble Energy, Chesapeake and other competitors looking to win land bids and break hearts. If fracking continues as planned, their stealthy tactics and expectant stakeholders will be rewarded with billions of dollars worth of profit. And that’s just on the Front Range.

Determined to understand how this all works, I did some metaphoric digging. I flipped back through journals from a summer spent touring natural gas drilling sites, meeting with BLM staff, hearing from communities in proximity to platforms and wells, and talking with representatives of Xcel and other buyers. The process of sticking tentacles into the ground, drawing up gas locked in shale, and getting it to market seems intentionally confusing. There are many parties involved and stops along the way.

This is basically how it works. An operator from a drilling company determines areas of interest. Recently, land in Longmont and in Weld County by Erie’s public schools became very interesting after it was deemed profitable.

Contracts are negotiated, or forced, between the oil company and the landowner. Sometimes a homeowner will own the land and not the minerals underneath, making it justifiable for the company to slip access what’s underground. If a homeowner refuses, the Landmen, the official title of the person knocking on your door, can move forward under a “forced pulling” pretense.

In cases where the BLM has cited possible species extinction warnings, the drilling has happened despite. The rhetoric of an economy boost trumps health concerns, rights of individuals and the unfortunate habitat placement of plants and animals. I do not think I’m taking liberty in saying this: Historically, when someone has said “no,” the rules change, straight answers fall to the wayside, and the bully on the playground wins.

Here’s an example of a governmental safeguard. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission monitors spills. For public convenience, if a spill occurs, like the 25 gallons of diesel fuel on the highway of Weld County on Feb. 24, 2011, or the 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid onto the land in Weld County on May 16, 2011, a citizen can file a complaint form. Like spilt milk, it’s wiped up and a report is prepared and posted online with the reassurances of “no further action needed,” “report pending” and “no impact identified.”

Compared to the unfathomable million-year timeline formation of shale — a mineral once a vegetation mud pack in shallow waters — the digging up and shipping off of this controversial commodity seems to be happening with a disconcerting lack of hesitation. EOG (a drilling company) addresses drilling strategy on their website in a letter to stockholders. “Our explorationists quietly scout different areas and analyze rocks that are amenable to substantial development potential.” No strategies for community health precautions; just a promise of sneaky feet and good eyes.

It leaves me wondering, with wells springing up next to playgrounds, with investors tiptoeing in backyards, can we afford to let fracking be a stealth mission? Can we afford to lie down with the familiar promises and assurances being whispered in our ears? We need to decide what the community response will be to fracking projects, other than filing paper work and stomping our feet.

For participation in community discussion and action, attend “The Truth About Fracking” on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2–3:30 p.m., at Trail Ridge Middle School Auditorium, 1000 Button Rock Dr., in Longmont.

Cayte Bosler/via Internet