Letters for December 31, 2009

The fabled trail

Neil and Nancy wrote a great story! It made me want to hike the Camino myself. As I read it I felt I was there with them.

Michael Peter Langevin

Several old friends reported upon their fascinating walk to Santiago de Compostela, Spain—José Mas, Jim Conklin, Neal and Nancy Wiegman. A nice surprise to find the article!

My wife, Suzie, Beth and Rich (our children) and I spent a few summers in Santo Domingo de la Calzada at Suzie’s parents’ second home, a delightful little town into which Ellen Rowan arrived with a limp.

Richard and Suzie Clark

Fighting for the Perrys

Re ‘Family ties in jeopardy’ (Newslines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Dec. 24):

The Perrys should know about Disability Rights California (800-776-5746), which provides free attorneys for regional center clients. I hope that her case worker at the Far Northern Regional Center is helping as well. Also, Northern California Legal Services in Chico is free for the disabled.

Get on the Web and tell everybody about this story, and even send the president of the United States an e-mail. Call everyone you can: Good Morning America, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox—all the news stations. Once America knows what Butte County is doing, it will give the child back.

There are a lot of people out there who will fight for the Perrys. What Butte County is doing is very wrong. There are a lot of people in this state raising their own children who are disabled.

Thomas Graner

I am outraged that a local disabled woman has lost custody of her child! Why is there no community uproar about this story? People were recently more outraged by a story on KNVN about a woman losing her pet deer.

What the heck is wrong with people in Chico, to be outraged about someone losing a pet deer and not outraged about a disabled woman getting her child taken away by these incompetent county employees and judge? The child should be immediately returned to the mother and the mother’s parents. What an outrage!

Marion L Dearman

More on Russia

Re ‘The Russians are coming’ (Cover story, by Shannon Rooney, Dec. 17):

[Stories are] good to do, when you write about your business or your life story, but it becomes controversial when you use other people’s pictures with misleading facts and ideas. People mentioned in this article didn’t support the dark-painted picture about Russia, and about having ‘programmed men,’ ‘either macho or alcoholics,’ and that ‘supermarkets are rare,’ etc.

It would be ethical if Ms. Tonetti were more specific in her statements and facts. We understand that each of us came from a different background, and some had good life experiences and others not so good. When we think about our families and friends back home, we don’t agree with the author about Russian men, as they are our fathers, brothers and sons, and most of them are highly educated and professionals.

Also, we don’t share the article’s idea about Russian brides—it was twisted and exaggerated. Most ladies are very selective in what kind of man they are looking for, and they do not leave home unless they find the right man who will treat them with respect and love.

No matter what, we will always be thankful for the people and place where we were raised. You don’t choose the family you were born into, or the country. Life is a journey; learn from your experience, enjoy every moment, share with others, and always be thankful!

Mayya Reeder, Marina Burke and Natasha Staton

I am a Russian woman who lives in Butte County.

Russians have been in California since forming a colony in 1809 at the mouth of the Russian River. Besides Russian brides, there are more Russian people here. For example, the ancestors of such famous and powerful Hollywood actors as Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone came from the former Russian empire. Russian-born Sergey Brin is the co-founder of Google, the world’s largest Internet company.

One of the biggest Russian populations in America is in New York, where some 24 percent of the country’s Russian-speaking people live.

We appreciate the fact that America has an ability to accept different ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures, and no matter who we are, we all are humans and would like to live in peace and love.

Olga Worthington

Editor’s note: To read Elena Tonetti’s response to these and previous letters, see the Guest Comment.

It’s a free country

Re ‘Self-medication’ (From the Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, Dec. 24):

It seems to me that it should be a fundamental right to self-medicate—especially in the privacy of one’s own home.

Adult citizens of a so-called free country should be free to pursue their own happiness any way they want—as long as they are not harming someone else.

Kirk Muse
Mesa, Ariz.

The article left out Dupont Chemical, as Charles Dupont was head of the Ways and Means Committee that signed the Marihuana Tax Act into law. Please, do not forget Randolph Hearst, who brought us Reefer Madness in 1937 to beef up the fear of cannabis. And Mr. Harry Anslinger, who was head of the DEA at the time and was most instrumental in writing the law. So, for the last 70 years 100 million families have been negatively affected, mostly black and Mexican poor.

Just thought I would add a little history.

Now, the upside is that I am working with the city of Chico to bring free cannabis to any recommendation holders who want to sign up for the city grow. I am also working with [Butte County Supervisor] Jane Dolan for a county garden to consolidate growers to a safe site and free medicine.

If we can start these gardens, we will sell the overage for $75 an ounce, and that will sustain the garden, help pay for the police and fire and, if I can get [Chico State President Paul] Zingg to add to the curriculum for his ag and science departments to help us, then maybe millions to the university. If not, then I will go to Butte College. If not them, there are lots of other scientists and ag professors we can get.

I would also like to have a farm for the homeless and another farm to supply all of the schools’ fresh organic vegetables.

Joel Castle

Editor’s note: Mr. Castle is founder of the Chico Cannabis Club.

Where’s your research?

Re ‘Pot smoke is OK’ (Letters, by Lloyd Foote, Dec. 10):

Mr. Foote offers valid scientific studies to support his position that cannabis smoke is not tied to cancer and even has beneficial health uses. While it is difficult to disagree with your advice for people to do their own research, you offer none of your own to support your earlier comments. If you can find none, it would be more professional to admit your error and apologize to your readers for presenting propaganda as fact.

Dave Lane
Santa Cruz

Editor’s note: Space is short in Letters, which is why we didn’t list any of the dozens of sites a search for “health effects of marijuana” will find. Here’s just one: The National Institutes of Health (http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html) notes that “numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs.”

More on pit-bull debate

Re ‘Pit bulls R us’ (Letters, by Jenny King and Heather Schoeppach, Dec. 17):

You don’t have to own a ‘pit bull’ to know the kindness and gentleness that these creatures are capable of. They are a very smart and resilient dog. They are so eager to please that they will remain loyal to an unkind owner much to their own detriment. All it takes is one bad story on the news, recounted many times over to put wrongful judgment on these dogs; instead of their owners.

It amazes me how much ignorance is in this world and that people are so willing to believe the bad in everything without a second thought. Take a walk in the park and see these wonderful dogs playing with their owners and kids. Walk down the shelter aisles and see the amazingly sweet and beautiful faces waiting to trust you unconditionally while you are so quick to judge and exterminate.

I own an American Staffordshire Terrier which is lumped in with the term ‘pit bull’ by anyone who hasn’t educated themselves to know the difference. I can assure you that the only reason I don’t sleep at night is because my dog hogs the bed.

Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hate. Break the cycle.

Rachel Guffin

Bugged by the light

Can anything be done about the annoying strobe lights on cell towers? This is a problem throughout the nation, from what I have researched on the Internet. The lights are distracting, ugly and a nuisance.

An especially obnoxious bright one has been installed on top of the Sutter Buttes and can be seen up and down the Sacramento Valley after dark. It flashes every second all night long. Some cell-tower operators switch to nonstrobe red lights at sunset, but not this outfit.

Am I the only person who is bothered by this?

Winslow Potter

War begets more war

Since 9/11, with our continuing military occupation, bombing and killing of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, along with sponsoring corrupt governments, we have strengthened and increased the size of any terrorist groups in these countries.

The actual bombers came from Saudi Arabia.

They were small groups when we started our revenge and fear actions. They are now large and growing.

If another country bombed and occupied the United States, don’t you think there would be groups of American citizens fighting back?

Let’s end the wars. We can’t afford them.

Norm Dillinger

The causes of obesity

Since 9 percent of the nation’s health-care costs are from being obese, I suppose we should tax overweight people, rather than using euphemisms such as ‘plus size’ or ‘weight challenged’ to disguise the problem.

The surprising thing is, though, we know what causes people to be fat. They’ve found 10 times the normal amount of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens in the brains of overweight people and an abnormal amount of opiods in the amygdale (big words, I know, but this is a college town). Food is an addiction—people get high off of eating food. Food is a drug, simply stated.

Also, the microbial population in our guts changes according to the type of food we eat, and sugar and carbohydrates encourage the growth of microbes that make us fat.

The hypothalamus in our brain regulates eating, also, and ghrelin, released by our stomach, tells us to start eating.

Then there is the lack of physical exercise.

We really should start teaching our kids the above terminology in grade school so they know how to regulate their own bodies, but very few teachers know what the nucleus accumbens or amygdala are. But the answers are there. It’s not a mystery.

Michael M. Peters

Penny wise, pound foolish

There have been too many cuts in necessary services using the state’s budget deficit as a convenient excuse. Several of these can and will cost more in the long run. These need to be amended.

As of July, Medi-Cal no longer covers nine ‘optional benefits.’ Among these are adult dentistry and optometry.

Here’s an example of how the loss of one service can escalate rather than lessen costs. A person may have an infection in his or her mouth. If not examined at a dental visit, this could spread elsewhere and need to be examined by a doctor. Exams, tests, diagnosis, medications, etc. add up. If the infection were discovered earlier, there would have been less discomfort to the patient as well as less cost.

More logical thought must be given in deciding what needs to be cut down or eliminated.

Cherie L. Appel

Put a fee on bags

We at Environmental Advocates, part of the Community Legal Information Center, support California Assembly Bill 68. The bill places a 25-cent consumer fee on all single-use paper and plastic grocery bags at large grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores.

The funds derived from the fee will be allocated proportionally to local governments for litter cleanup and prevention and awareness programs associated with pollution from single-use products. Retailers would subsequently receive a portion of the fee to offset the costs of implementation, and to encourage the availability and sale of reusable bags.

Single-use products, particularly plastic bags, are filling up our landfills, waterways and oceans and becoming a deadly food source for marine life. According to the California Coastal Commission, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of floating litter is plastic.

A garbage patch the size of Texas has convened in the Pacific Ocean just north of Hawaii. Through photodegradation, bits of plastics are sinking, and an increasing amount of aquatic life are ingesting the debris and introducing toxins into our food supply.

The first step toward solving this problem is to reduce the use and accumulation of plastic bags. Worldwide, over one billion single-use plastic bags are handed out free every day. By following successful bag-fee models, such as the one adopted in Ireland that places a fee on all single-use plastic bags, we too can achieve a 90-percent reduction in plastic-bag usage.

We do not have to wait for Sacramento to act; the city of Chico can implement its own plan to reduce our single-use bag predicament.

Robert Sutherland
Environmental Advocates


Fix the streets already!

For the streets from Second to Seventh and from Main to Walnut, I feel that re-pavement is needed to restore the quality of these streets. Such road improvement would increase safety and reduce the chance of accidents involving cars, bikes and pedestrians.

These high-traffic areas are especially susceptible to accidents during the school semester, when non-resident students are driving, riding and walking on one-way streets.

J. Wong

Tears in their eyes

Re ‘Wild horses killed in Nevada’ (Downstroke, Dec. 10):

The BLM has never to my knowledge been able find out who has shot mustangs on public land. I can recall three cases of mustangs shot and mutilated in Nevada. I imagine it’s hard to investigate a crime when the feeling of the BLM is that the mustangs and burros don’t belong on public land.

The BLM has made this very clear over the past 30 years: The public lands are for cattle, and only 13-year-old girls cry over horses.

I am 76 years old, and I have tears in my eyes. Poor innocent horses.

Lee Chesterfield
Santa Rosa

That is inhumane, how would you like to be roaming freely, in your own back yard, and then shot dead by a human? I think that is wrong to go onto these animals’ land and kill them. Isn’t that called a massacre?

S. Brown
Austin, Texas


In ‘The Russians are coming’ (Cover story, by Shannon Rooney, Dec. 17), Mayya Reeder’s first name was misspelled in a caption. Also, in the same issue, the final ‘n’ in the name of letter writer Nikita Schottman was dropped. We apologize for the errors.—ed.