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Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007 04:05 pm

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
SMOKING CAUSES GLOBAL WARMING? I won’t argue with Dr. James Piephoff’s assertions about the dangers of cigarette smoking, which were already proven in the 1960s and ’70s [“Letters,” Aug. 23]. But enough is enough! Now Al Gore and other anti-smoking hysterics are trying to blame cigarette smoke for global warming! The fact is that adult cigarette smoking rates have dropped 50 percent since the mid-’70s, when many scientists were bracing for the imminent “next Ice Age” and the term global warming was at least 20 years away. If cigarettes are as devastating as many believe, shouldn’t we be seeing positive effects from the drop in smoking rates by now? The last I heard, asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, and cancer are as prevalent than ever, especially among children who are nowhere near as exposed to cigarette smoke to the degree children were in the past. Unless you believe that tobacco is the only substance that is more lethal the less it’s used, something is amiss. Maybe the answer is that you can’t isolate one factor and ignore everything else. What else? How about vehicles? Those ain’t roses coming out of those tailpipes, no matter how much the smoke is deodorized and filtered. The fact that vehicle usage has exploded in the same timeframe that smoking rates have declined should surely give anyone who is really concerned about their children’s health something to think about. In light of the current oil problems, you would think that would also be a good reason to try to curtail vehicle usage. Instead, cities continue to expand outward, destroying more carbon dioxide-absorbing trees and plants for new roads and pretty much forcing people to own vehicles. Mass-transit budgets can’t maintain current service levels, much less expand. Rather than use trains to move goods, our highways are clogged with semis. And have you ever gotten stuck in traffic behind a school bus? It’s like being back in Dickensian London. Anyone who can get into an uproar about cigarette smoking while not even giving a thought to the internal-combustion engine, not to mention other factors such as pesticides and herbicides, the air pollution from unregulated factories in China, and the countries where U.S. industry relocated to avoid our pesky environmental laws, “sick” buildings, and a myriad of other possibilities — well, they’re in even greater denial than cigarette smokers. But then maybe smokers should take credit for global warming. Then, when Antarctica thaws out and massive oil deposits are discovered, George W. Bush III can send in the troops to slaughter the penguins and declare Antarctica the new, improved U.S.! And smokers will suddenly be heroes — unless the Atlantians and Lemurians used up all the oil in their heyday.
Thomas Leppert
TIP OF THE HAT TO THE GOVERNOR While Gov. Rod Blagojevich has often been criticized on these pages, his signature Friday, Aug. 24, on Senate Bill 300 merits a standing ovation. That bill, sponsored by Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, will go a long way toward sharply reducing the all-too-many DUI deaths and injuries in our state. Under this bill, starting Jan. 1, 2009, all DUI offenders, including first-time offenders, will have to have a breath-alcohol ignition-interlock device or similar device installed in their cars if they want to continue driving. A BAIID is akin to a Breathalyzer in your car. You blow into it, and if your blood-alcohol content is too high, the car won’t start. Our current system of license suspensions and revocations is largely ineffective, because studies show that 80 percent of these folks continue to drive regardless. The idea of this law is that if the DUI offenders are going to drive, legal or not, why not let them drive legally — but only when they’re sober? The BAIID — and the next generation of the device, which will detect if you’re drunk through sensors in the steering wheel — virtually guarantees that DUI offenders will only drive when they’re sober.
Studies show that BAIIDs work when they’re used. The problem in Illinois is, we haven’t been using them — only 3,000 are in use, compared to 50,000 DUI arrests a year. When I and others first pushed in 1993 for passage of a BAIID law sponsored by Rep. Clem Balanoff that would have required BAIIDs for repeat offenders, the opposition was so strong, the best we could do was get a watered-down pilot-program bill passed. Fourteen years later, SB 300 passed both houses unanimously and the governor signed it. The legislature and the governor finally got it! We now have the toughest DUI law in the country.
Sam Cahnman Springfield City Council
WHERE WAS THE OUTCRY? I usually don’t respond to articles, but your article in Illinois Times on this young woman was just riveting [Dusty Rhodes, “Twice burned,” Aug. 16]. At first, I skimmed over it and thought it was another story about domestic violence and pushed it aside. After going through the paper, I decided to read the story.     My heart went out to Aidah Mahmood because what happened to her was way beyond domestic violence. I was affected not only by her pain for so many years but also by the compassion you took in telling her story. I was so moved by your thoughtfulness and kindness that I read the article twice, coming to a sadness that I could not comprehend.
I knew women who were in domestic-violence situations and stayed in that situation for reasons unknown to me. Those situations were usually at the hands of boyfriends or husbands. As I did not stay in my relationship long after the first incident, I found little sympathy for women who refused to take the power back and leave those situations. What makes Aidah’s situation so sad is that she was crying out for help and for whatever reason the system just refused to believe her, with the exception of those who really wanted to help her escape years of brutal pain and torture. The difference with Aidah’s situation is primarily due to her culture. Perhaps for the love of her family and her desire to protect them she took the brunt of her father’s brutal anger. It’s sad the justice system here apparently condoned her family’s culture and history, but in the United States this should never be allowed.
From your article it was as though it perfectly all right to attempt to murder her. I can’t imagine how law enforcement could sit by and let this happen to anyone. If it were not for their culture and they were of a different ethnic and religious group would this have been swept under the rug? Where is the outcry from the community of this senseless crime? It really saddens me that nothing can be done. Victoria Johnson Springfield
LET’SENCOURAGEMOREBIKING Thank you so much for getting this article, “Pedal power” [Jeanne Townsend Handy, Aug. 30], published in your paper. I hope you will encourage more articles about “biking for commuting” in Illinois. I love to ride and want to see more opportunities in a safe environment to ride my bike and leave the car at home. Nancy Sanchez Springfield

HELPNEEDEDFORMILFORDHOME The work on Dorothy Milford’s home at 1020 S. 16th St. progresses; however, there is an urgent need for volunteers to assist with the project [see Dusty Rhodes, “It’s on the house,” April 26].      We need volunteers to come this Saturday, Sept. 8, at 8 a.m. to install siding, soffit, fascia, build a back porch, and clean up. There is much to be done and many hands make light the work. We will work to around 5 p.m. If you would like to put together a team and schedule a work day, please contact me by e-mail at raginggrace@sbcglobal.net or call 217-725-4679.      This labor of love is making a noticeable impact in this neighborhood. It is truly a demonstration of the redeeming power of God’s amazing love, expressed through his people to an elderly widow who has worked so hard to provide a nurturing environment for her six grandchildren against great odds. We hope to have her moved in by Thanksgiving. Nick Stojakovich Hope Church Springfield
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