Soap Box

Buzz over chainsaws was merited

To the editor,

As a former ranger in the Weminuche Wilderness for the San Juan National Forest, I was ecstatic to learn of the agency rescinding the approval to use chainsaws in the wilderness area to clear trails. I applaud the organizations Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch and the San Juan Citizens Alliance for their quick action to bring this matter to the attention of the public. Now, more than ever, the public needs to get involved and speak up in matters of our public lands. As the remaining wild country shrinks in our nation, we must remember Aldo Leopold’s view that we belong to a community on this Earth, and in consequence, we owe a duty.

Working as a wilderness ranger, I became intimate with the traditional cross-cut saw to clear trees and found beauty, energy efficiency and satisfaction in this tool. I personally feel that the demands of the forest management cannot be met with current staffing cuts and budget decreases over the years. We must rethink, collaborate and be patient to mitigate the issues the San Juan National Forest is facing presently and for the future. Yet we must still maintain the high standards of the Wilderness Act that makes the Weminuche Wilderness unique.

We must remember, as Edward Abbey states, “The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”

– Crystal Muzik, Moab

Zero suicide more than just hope

To the editor,

I’ll start out my letter with a question: How many of you know someone who has attempted or died by suicide? I suspect there are a lot. Why did 1,175 Coloradans die from suicide in 2017? It’s a simple question with many complicated answers. The gut-wrenching statistic is that suicide is the leading cause of death among 10- 24 - year-olds, and we have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of those who die by suicide have seen a primary care provider within the previous month. Thirty percent have seen a behavior health provider in the previous month.

In 1999, The Henry Ford Medical Group in Detroit implemented a “Zero Suicide Prevention” system of care, which was named the “Blues Busters.” The plan had lofty goals: screen everyone using an evidence-based screening tool, then determine who is at risk for self-harm or suffering from other behavioral issues, such as depression or anxiety. Their protocols also included an integrated and coordinated system of care that also emphasized evidence-based therapies.

The results were astounding, and within a few years, the system was implemented within their primary care departments. From 1999-2009, they had an 80 percent reduction in suicides including zero suicides in 2009. The North Central Health Care System in Wisconsin, which cares for 10,000 lives, saw zero suicides in 2015 following implementation of a similar system.

In 2016, Colorado Senate Bill 16-147 passed, which allowed for the creation of a Colorado suicide prevention model based on the Zero Suicide model. Regretfully, there were no funds appropriated for this bill.

Zero Suicide is more than just a hope. I urge all of you to call or e-mail our Joint Budget Committee members and ask them to approve funding for this important first step.

– Dr. Jonathan Gordon, Mental Health Colorado Board of Directors

Freedom from tyranny of Trump

To the Editor,

Our so-called president has a long history of lying, averaging several lies a day since his inauguration. He’s doubled down on lies that have been soundly debunked. Such as that the Mueller Report totally exonerated him of obstruction charges. In fact, the obstruction is ongoing.

He rages against “fake news,” meaning the hated fact-based media that calls him out on all his lies. He calls them the enemy of the people, modeling the likes of Hitler and Stalin.

He’s also well known for accusing political opponents of doing the things he himself does and is, such as “Lying Ted,” “Crooked Hillary” and most recently “Crazy Nancy.” He’s well known for his pettiness and vindictiveness. He’s worked to sabotage our intelligence and national security agencies in favor of what foreign dictators tell him.

Now he accuses those agencies of trying to carry out a coup against him. He directed his loyal minion William Barr to selectively declassify any information that might support that claim.

He’s doing a good job (aided by his Republican minions in Congress) of sabotaging the checks and balances the Constitution set up with three equal branches of government. He’s trying to claim the power to define what constitutes treason and who is committing it – anyone who mocks or criticizes Himself. Get ready Guantanamo. Fortunately, the Constitution actually says what constitutes treason.

Trump and members of Congress have taken an oath to protect the Constitution. But Trump insists that his minions give their first loyalty to him, not our country or the Constitution. They have complied, betraying their oath of office. The biggest threat now is those domestic enemies. The real coup is happening right now in plain sight – Trump’s coup against the Constitution and the rule of law.

So what will you be celebrating this Fourth of July??

– Carole McWilliams, Bayfield

Let facts rule the abortion debate

To the editor,

It is important to understand the facts before choosing to side one way or the other. With today’s constant use of social media, we have to fact check, look at the evidence and remember that the issues still exist the next day and in the weeks after. Just because you click away from something doesn’t mean you can disregard it. The issue of abortion is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue.

Consider these facts from various sources:

• The population of the United States in 2015 sat at 321 million, out of this, 638,169 women had an abortion. This is 0.197 percent of the population, or 11.8/1,000 women aged 15-44 years.

• Abortion rates have steadily fallen in recent years with the availability of and education about contraceptives playing a large role in this reduction.

• The survivable age for a baby is 24 weeks of pregnancy. Even then, there is only 20-35 percent survival rate. Babies born before 27 weeks are likely to have to fight for survival and go on to live with long-term health problems.

• In 2015, 91.1 percent of abortions were at or prior to 13 weeks, 7.6 percent were performed between 14-20 weeks and 1.3 percent after 21 weeks.

• Miscarriages occur in about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies and often have the same symptoms of an induced abortion.

• Four states have passed “heart beat” bills this year meaning that abortion is banned at six weeks or earlier.

• If these laws go into effect, those who miscarry as well as their doctors will be pulled into legal investigations when symptoms are similar. The rates of illegal and dangerous abortions also will inevitably go up.

• The new abortion law in New York says that late-term abortions (after 24 weeks) may be performed  “when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health” or within the case of a stillborn. This law is not a free for all, nor is it easy or in any way wanted by any woman to get a late-term abortion.

• In general, those who seek abortions later in pregnancy have learned about a major fetal abnormality that will cause the baby to die late in pregnancy, right after birth or experience major health problems. 

• Although few, some abortions take place due to rape or an incestuous relationship (1.5 percent). This is the only form of abortion currently funded by Medicaid.

• About 60 percent of women who obtain abortions have given birth one or more times prior to this decision.

Abortion is not something anyone wants. The name “pro-life” is not a fitting or fair description of those against abortion. No one wants to have an abortion, to see someone they love have to make the decision to have one, to have a pregnancy so dangerous that you have to have an abortion. No one wants a child to have to suffer when they come into this world and to have to fight to live, or a mother to die as a result of ignorance to risks – not “pro-life” advocates or “pro-choice” advocates. The more appropriate name for those against abortion would be “anti-choice.”

You cannot realistically be against abortion and not in favor of the use of birth control. It is far too contradictory. The highest rates of teen pregnancy come from places that teach abstinence only.

Pregnancy and children are wonderful parts of life, however, there is a time and a place. The right to choose this time should not be taken away. And to be raped and forced into a lifetime of remembering is cruel. To make a woman carry a fatally disabled or stillborn baby to full term is cruel. Men are affected by abortion too, and it’s time for us to stand up for each other.

I understand fully that there is a heavy religious influence on thoughts of abortion. You absolutely have the right to hold these values. You absolutely do not have the right to force these values upon anyone else.

This is an ongoing discussion, and people have to participate but at the same time be accepting of the evidence that sits in front of them. And when you log onto social media tomorrow and the next day, keep the conversation going, write letters, participate actively in your beliefs. Don’t let someone else decide for you.

– Grace Cartier, Durango

Russia is a threatening adversary

To the editor,

Russia continues to be an adversary of the United States and keeps trying to encroach into the Western Hemisphere and create instability in the region.

When I served onboard a radar picket ship in the Pacific during the 1950s, we tracked and reported Russian bear bombers making practice runs approaching the West Coast of the U.S. In the early 1960s, Russia installed missile batteries in Cuba that threatened the United States. We implemented a naval blockade, and Russia was forced to remove the missiles.

Once again, Russia is becoming militarily involved in the Western Hemisphere. It has bilateral agreements with dictator Maduro of Venezuela, which is being expanded. On March 23, two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela carrying 100 special forces personnel to help bolster the Maduro regime.

We have to help the democratic forces in Venezuela oust Maduro so we can get the Russians out of Venezuela. The Russian are a threat to the countries in the region and could threaten the United States and our interests in the Western Hemisphere.

President Trump told the Russians to get out of Venezuela. I commend him for realizing the adversarial threat Russia poses to the United States.

– Donald Moskowitz Londonderry, N.H.