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Radioactive promises

To the Editors:

Within days of President Obama announcing $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to the Southern Company in Georgia to build two nuclear reactors, the Vermont State Legislature voted 26 - 4 to shut down in 2012 their 30-year-old nuclear power plant. For years it has been leaking tritium.

A grassroots anti-nuclear movement, founded in the 1970s, nukefree.org, says of the 104 nuclear power plants in America, 27 are “confirmed” to be leaking tritium, a radioactive isotope. Our government knowing this and not containing or correcting this dangerous situation, yet allowing the plants to remain in operation, should be reason enough to shut these plants down. The nuclear waste problem has also never been resolved, so with these issues, along with the fact that the majority of Americans are against building new nuclear power plants as a source of energy, many are asking why would Obama go against his campaign promises to lead the green power revolution?

The nuclear power industry for years has not been able to secure either private financing or liability insurance. The big risk-takers up on Wall Street won’t touch the nuclear industry! In the past 30 years, not one nuclear power plant has been built in the U.S. So why now offer $8 billion in loan guarantees, and triple other promised loans to $54 billion of the people’s tax money, to this feared and despised industry? POLITICS!

Years ago, before anyone had ever heard of Barack Obama, he was taking donations from the largest owner of nuclear power plants in the U.S., Exelon. Exelon was a major funder of his run for the Illinois State Legislature and the White House. Their payoff was just delivered with our tax dollars! They own the Southern Companyin Georgia. It has been reported that the people of Georgia are not happy with the news of two new nuclear plants, especially since in the last few years they have4funded enough solar and wind energy to replace 1½ of the two nuclear power plants they already have in service!

Nukefree.org has disclosed that two of Obama’s top aides are linked to Exelon: Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, was the investment banker who created Exelon in a business merger, and David Axelrod, Obama’s Chief White House Advisor, was a lobbyist for Exelon.

To make sure this nuclear loan promise with our money does not become a “done deal” contact nukefree.org. Then just for the hell of it, call 1 (202) 456-1111 between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern Time and tell the President on his comment line how you feel about his campaign promises and politics.

– Susan Troen, Durango

In search of ‘Vacation’ pointers

Hello, citizens of Durango:

I live in Connecticut. I’m planning a trip out West to visit some locations where my favorite movies were filmed. One of those movies is “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” I know portions of this classic ’80s comedy were filmed in Durango, but I don’t have many specifics. I was hoping some long-time Durango denizens might be able to help me fill in the blanks.

I read somewhere that the infamous pool scene with Clark (Chevy Chase) and Christie Brinkley took place at a hotel in Durango, though I read elsewhere it was actually filmed in the greater Los Angeles area. Any insight?

Also, I know that the scene where Clark takes money out of the Grand Canyon hotel’s cash register was filmed in the lobby of the Strater Hotel in Durango, but I’m also wondering whether the saloon scene (where the annoyed bartender shoots a gun at Clark, impairing Audrey’s hearing) was shot in Durango. The saloon in the movie looks awfully similar to the Diamond Belle Saloon in the Strater Hotel, though nothing quite matches up. Again, any insight? Any indisputable evidence?

And, of course, if there were any scenes filmed in Durango that I’m not aware of, I’d love to hear about them. Thanks for taking the time to read this admittedly unusual letter. I hope to hear from some of you. Please call me at 203-814-0878 or e-mail me at bigdave311@aol.com. (In case you’re wondering, that e-mail address is in honor of my favorite athlete of all time, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.)

– Sincerely, Owen Lockwood, Fairfield, Conn.

Memories of Mayday

Dear Editors,

I accidentally came across your site and read the interesting Soapbox letter “One for Mining in Mayday” by Loraleigh Parker, of Mancos. I so totally agree with what she wrote. I just finished writing a book about prospecting in Colorado, 1933-1980, and the last 36 pages are of Mayday. My dad was a prospector and had a lot of patented claims in the La Plata Mountains. His mill site cabin in Mayday had been purchased ($1,000) from Joe Bachman but unfortunately the 5 acres it was on weren’t patented. When the government decided to come in and demolish all Mayday buildings for 200 feet on either side of the La Plata River, he put up a fight to keep our cabin but it was demolished along with Stanley Paskavan’s cabin, the Cook’s cabin, Minoletti’s cabin, and the Latchaw cabin to name just a few. These cabins had historical value, and I feel that at least a few of them should have been preserved. The wooden floor in one room of my dad and mom’s cabin was made out of pieces of old dynamite boxes. Behind it was a stone room with bars, where liquor was kept during prohibition. A seat in a huge boulder near the door had been blasted out with dynamite so the drinkers could sit and drink their illegal hooch. I am lucky to have photos of a lot of these old cabins.  

Forty of the photos are of the La Plata Canyon area. Axel Cedarwall is in a couple of them, as is the old Mayday school house, my dad’s mine, the Farmer Boy and Stanley and his cabin and store where he  sold “Cande, Cigaretts and  Pop” (his homemade root beer).  

The “old Mayday” still lives in many hearts and memories. But that is disappearing, and even the memories will someday be gone.

– Jody Chenoweth, Leavenworth, Kans.

Iraq, the abridged version

Dear Eds,

Remember Iraq? Here’s what you need to know. After Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, Bush and Cheney let him flee from Tora Bora into Pakistan and invaded Iraq instead. To be clear, Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. We were given many reasons by Bush and his officials for the justification of the invasion, nearly all of which were proven false and many were known to be false at the time we were told.

Regardless, Cheney and the neoconservatives were planning on removing Saddam Hussein for many years, and 9/11 was the perfect excuse. Now the story is “We’ve brought Democracy to the Middle East” and “We4 removed the evil dictator Saddam Hussein.” Well that plan might not work out so well.

What Bush never understood and the neocons failed to consider is that Iraq is basically split in two culturally – the Shiites and the Sunnis. For the Shiites, think Iran. Sunnis, think Saudi Arabia. With Saddam in power, Iraq acted like a counterbalance to Iran’s influence and they even went to war. With Saddam removed, a vacuum was created and Iran is quickly filling it. Shiite Iran already has reliable allies in Syria, Lebanon’s

Hezbollah and Gaza’s Hamas, and the void left in Iraq would broaden its leverage, unnerving Israel and diminishing Sunni powerhouses like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This should’ve been obvious and taken into any pre-war calculus, but apparently it wasn’t.

Two weeks ago, Iraq held national elections but not without Iranian meddling. Iraq’s Sunni Arabs claim Iran was behind the banning of 440 Sunni candidates, because of their suspected ties to Saddam’s outlawed Ba’ath Party. According to a senior Iraqi official it was the Iranians that forged the alliance between two Shiite rivals – the Sadrists who follow Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Iranian-backed Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Neither of whom are friendly to the U.S. There are no reliable opinion polls, but the Shiite coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance, is expected to do well against Prime Minister

Nouri al-Maliki, a moderate Iraqi whose bloc is dominated by Shiites but also has Sunnis and Kurds.

Whichever bloc wins the most seats in the 325-member parliament gets to nominate the next prime minister. So here we are today. If the Shiites do well in the elections, and the U.S. military sticks to their withdrawal timetable, than the Iranians will have achieved a very critical goal: Iraq will be a friendly neighbor, free of U.S. forces and influence. But this will also make Israel (a nuclear power) and its allies very nervous.

And you know who Israel’s biggest ally is? Unfortunately, it’s us.

– Bill Vana, Durango

Haunted by health-care reform

Dear Eds,

I’m confused and puzzled as to why progressives are celebrating the passage of a health care bill that will not become fully functional until 2014, even though taxes to pay for the bill start this year. If this is such a great bill, explain to me why taxpayer dollars were used to bribe members of Congress to vote for the bill. Again, if this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, why are members of Congress exempt from provisions of the bill? I’ll be the first to acknowledge that we need to reform health care. However, in poll after poll, almost 60 percent of U.S. citizens were opposed to this version. And finally, what gives Democrat legislators the wisdom to address the American public with such nonsense as “We have to pass the health care bill before we know what’s in it.”

I suspect that there will be a spike in the unemployment numbers of Democrat legislators in the first week of November.

– Dennis Pierce, via e-mail  

Of candidates and conflicts

Dear Editors,

As La Plata County Democrats consider candidates to run for county commission, my personal experience with one of the candidates for that office might be informative.

In the spring of 2007, I recruited Scott Graham and Leigh Meigs to run for the Durango City Council. Graham announced his candidacy (with balloons and fanfare) at the gates of Twin Buttes to highlight his opposition to development at that location.

As City voters may recall, Councilors Graham, Meigs and Rendon were all elected to protect TB, yet were easily duped by the developers’ exaggerated embellishments to create a Garden of Eden where wildlife would thrive despite habitat destruction sure to occur.

During his tenure on the council, Graham displayed an ongoing lack of leadership and understanding of an elected official’s role; not limited to when he and Meigs stubbornly refused to participate in meetings to update the City’s POST (parks, open space and trails) master plan.

Elected officials do not have the luxury of choosing which issues they will vote on or when they will participate. It should be a given that every elected official has the responsibility to engage fully on all issues, to step up to the plate and do their homework, to make tough votes and be willing to take the “heat.” Scott Graham consistently failed that test on issues of importance to the community. I was there. I saw it all – up close and personal.

Graham’s willingness to acquiesce to senior staff’s pro-development predisposition speaks for itself. With the undeniable attraction of a $72,000 salary, Graham, who is a master at self promotion, now asks Democrats to anoint him, apparently with no pang of conscience, for his previous history as a city councilor.

As Democrats will soon meet in County Assembly to select candidates, they might ask themselves if Graham can be trusted to honor any campaign pledge after his betrayal on Twin Buttes.

If Democrats want to get stung again after Joelle Riddle’s duplicity, then Scott Graham is your man.

– Renee Parsons, via e-mail



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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows