Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Call to cut world-wide carbon pollution

August 1, 2014 — 

EPA’s Clean Power Plan

“The Clean Power Plan will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels.” It’s a noble effort on the part of the Environmental Protection Agency, but this may all end up being a matter of too little too late. The key word here is “help.” It will slow down the greenhouse gasses going into the atmosphere, but it will not stop or reverse the damage that has been done. The storms and the droughts we have been experiencing will continue to get worse, the oceans will continue to rise and acidify.

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Letter: Oregon District 4 tribal chief refused access to his congressman?

August 1, 2014 — 

Questions for 4th Dist. Rep.

What has Oregon’s congressional delegation been up to lately? At least one of them has been visiting an out-of-state Indian tribe called the Smith River in Northern California. It’s strange that when a local 4th District chief went to Washington, D.C., he was turned away; the congressman would not see him. I thought we, not Californians, voted our congressman into office. Who does our congressman represent anyway, California or Oregon?

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Guest column: Roseburg VA needs competent managers

August 1, 2014 — 

I retired from the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center this past December, after spending 11 years working there. My last six years were as an administrative officer of the day in the emergency room, and I couldn’t agree more with the July 20 article titled “A workplace turned toxic.” I applaud both Marcia Hall and Dr. Steven Blum for writing about the vindictive management; what they have said is so true.

As an administrative officer of the day, the supervisor I had was a person who bullied subordinates. I was threatened by a co-worker and went to my supervisor with the problem. She’d say she would resolve it, but never did. She would tell you one thing and then do something completely opposite, so you learned to have no faith in the leadership there. It seemed that employees who did not do their jobs or got into trouble were rewarded, and sometimes with higher-paying positions. I attended meetings with my co-workers, and in trying to make for better working conditions or such, I was always shut down.

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Editorial: Roses & Thorns

August 1, 2014 — 

THORN

Firefighters slighted in death

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Guest column: If the VA doesn’t change its leaders, the culture won’t change

July 31, 2014 — 

The current Department of Veterans Affairs crisis at its core is about corruption and malfeasance that has obstructed the health care of veterans. The crisis has illuminated critical issues including access to initial care, administrative bonuses, and harsh, reactive punishment for those who try to speak up for patient care.

The crisis actually involves the entire structure of VA health care. Recent Congressional hearings reveal systemic lack of accountability, no functional oversight, no transparency, and seeming “diplomatic immunity” for management misconduct.

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Letter: Government should not usurp the local authority necessary for people to be responsible for themselves

July 30, 2014 — 

Responsible for ourselves

I just returned from the Saturday Farmers Market, where I went to “buy local.” I learned to my chagrin that buying food from local sources is in jeopardy, due to state government intrusion. The market manager told me state government employees demanded local farmers and producers yield to state, federal and/or international requirements for packaging and labeling, in order to sell their locally produced foods to us. I couldn’t buy honey.

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Guest column: Remembering when James Garner learned a little about Douglas County

July 30, 2014 — 

It would be difficult to say that James Garner was the most famous or influential person I’ve met in Douglas County, considering that I’ve talked with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and presidential candidate Barack Obama during stopovers in Roseburg. But I would have to say that meeting James Garner was my favorite and most memorable experience as a journalist.

James Garner filmed the movie “Fire In The Sky” in Oakland and other places around Douglas County in the early 1990s. He reportedly was staying at the Windmill Inn in Roseburg while he was in the area, but access to Garner was highly restricted by the movie’s public relations people. So, I had no expectations of meeting Garner while I was in Oakland doing a story. I just wanted to be able to interview some cast member who was in the movie.

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Letter: Former VP of Monsanto is now Deputy Commissioner of FDA — conflict of interest?

July 29, 2014 — 

Warning about GMO concerns

Genetically Modified Organisms are food you eat, such as corn and soy, that were manipulated in a laboratory by forcing DNA from a completely foreign species into them. This foreign DNA may include a virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Guest column: Medicare for all — the time has come

July 29, 2014 — 

Medicare — health insurance for Americans 65 and older as well as younger individuals with certain disabilities or health conditions — turns 49 today.

Since President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed this historic legislation in 1965, nearly 50 million Americans (15 percent of the nation’s population) depend on Medicare for their primary health care (www.aarp.org).

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Editorial: Govt. needs to know when to walk away from casino bid

July 29, 2014 — 

It was a bad idea two years ago, and it’s still a bad idea.

The Coquille Indian Tribe has not given up its efforts to build a casino off Interstate 5 in Medford, less than 75 miles from Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville. The tribe continues to push for the plan it announced nearly two years ago, despite the fact that Oregon’s governor, both senators, a House representative and other politicians have spoken against it. So have the Medford City Council and Jackson County commissioners.

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Letter: Fill VISN and national levels with honest leadership focused on veterans’ needs

July 29, 2014 — 

Call to replace VA leadership

The News-Review’s July 20 story “A workplace turned toxic?” details the dysfunctional environment that has been present for many years at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. It is not surprising that so many employees have chosen to leave Roseburg VA.

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Letter: Jordan Cove denies requests for list of property owners along Pacific Connector Pipeline route

July 29, 2014 — 

Why is land list a secret?

The Pacific Connector pipeline is the chosen route to bring natural gas from the shale oil fields of the mountains west to a not-yet-built natural gas compression plant at Jordan Cove on Coos Bay, across the channel from the city of North Bend. Private pipeline developers have been granted the power of eminent domain to seize more than 300 parcels of private property which lie in the path of the 230-mile Pacific Connector route.

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Letter: Skookum Pond Trail needs more permanent signage to withstand vandalism

July 29, 2014 — 

Scout’s work appreciated

Last Saturday afternoon we took our son and daughter-in-law to Skookum Pond. All of us enjoyed the visit, the scenery and the lovely green environment.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Let humanity guide how we handle the children coming to the U.S. illegally

July 27, 2014 — 

There’s no question we need to control our borders. Citizenship in the United States of America has a significant value and it must be earned, not stolen.

It’s why we have an immigration process.

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Editorial: Roseburg VA employee dissatisfaction points to problems

July 27, 2014 — 

We’d like to think Roseburg is different. That a place with such beautiful scenery and friendly, helpful people could avoid corrosive work environments.

It seems that’s not the case. Not at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center anyway.

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Letter: Process Douglas County’s raw logs locally to boost economy and job prospects

July 25, 2014 — 

Don’t export our timber harvest

Thank you to the editorial board for the July 20 editorial in The News-Review. It explained clearly the economic problem with timber harvest in Douglas County. The problem is the export of raw logs. The timber industry exports the logs it harvests from private property, so it covets the cheap logs from federal lands.

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Letter: Roseburg city council’s concerns about medical marijuana questioned

July 25, 2014 — 

Tobacco vs. marijuana

The front page headline of The News-Review on June 20 was: “Keep medical pot away from parks, homes.”

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Guest column: Would my absence have altered the course of anyone else’s life?

July 25, 2014 — 

Recently I learned that I have been dead for 36 years.

I thought back, trying to recall what I had been doing on Dec. 1, 1978, the day of my passing, but drew a blank. I guess death does that to a person: blots out the memory of an unpleasantness.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

July 25, 2014 — 

ROSE

Final salute to Marine

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Letter: A country with no borders risks terrorist activity and economic disaster

July 24, 2014 — 

Economy has a tipping point

It seems that we have reached and passed the “tipping point.” I read an analysis of U.S. Census figures by Terence Jeffrey for CNS News that concluded that 86.5 million private workers actually carry the economic load of the nation, supporting 148 million Americans who rely on government benefits. With close to twice as many on this wagon as are pulling the wagon, it’s obvious that the tipping point has been passed.

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Letter: Umpqua Community College might garner increased local support by offering more evening classes

July 23, 2014 — 

Not supporting UCC expansion

In the July 13 editorial titled “UCC funding,” the editors of The News-Review were insisting that we, the taxpayers, must support Umpqua Community College’s expansion program. Of course it would be wonderful for the community to have a growing community college.

But I think the editors, and also the trustees, forget that the community is made up of people — hard-working, tax-paying people — who only have so much money with which they can pay extra taxes. Most of us do not have the luxury of telling those who have hired us (for the trustees, it is the taxpayers) that we need to be paid more than we are, and then expect it to happen. The editors make it sound so easy to just demand that we support UCC!

I received an excellent education at my community college in another locale, but that college has extensive evening classes, which is the only reason I was able to attend. That community college has more students in its evening programs than in its day programs. That’s because the evening programs make it possible for so many who can’t go to school during the daytime to attend college and improve their lives on a schedule that meets their needs.

In order for people to want to support a local college, that college must first meet the needs of the local citizens. I have heard from so many that the lack of a true evening program is one of the main reasons for their lack of support. The editors of The News-Review might consider telling the trustees of UCC that they must first support their community and to support their own community’s needs by expanding its evening programs.

Deborah Lanterman

Roseburg

Letter: Pray for our country

July 23, 2014 — 

Disappointed by politicians

It is quite disappointing that Congress accomplishes so little, as well as our president. In the Senate, I am so frustrated with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

I recently read in the book,“Illustrations Unlimited,” by James S. Hewett, a great truth concerning our situation today with Congress. Quote: “When Edward Everett Hale was chaplain of the U.S. Senate, someone asked him, ‘Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?’ He replied, ‘No, I look at the senators and pray for the country.’”

Need we say more? It’s sad that this is actually the position we are in today.

Chuck Stuermer

Roseburg

Guest column: Let’s help economy by recruiting successful entrepreneurs

July 23, 2014 — 

Without dissent, the economy in Douglas County remains dire. Two facts are obvious to all: Douglas County is receiving fewer and fewer dollars each year to fund county services; and individual prosperity, on average, continues to diminish.

This is in contrast to what much of the state and much of the nation is experiencing. While Oregon and the U.S. continue to struggle economically, within Oregon, Douglas County ranks near the bottom in most economic indicators. In other words, Douglas County is an economically failed county, ranking in the hardest one-third of the U.S. to live.

According to a recent New York Times story, Douglas County ranked 2,228 out of 3,135 counties in the U.S. when considering six points of data: education, median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity.

But we already know that; one doesn’t have to travel far across the county to see abject poverty. In many cases, one only needs to look around at one’s own neighborhood.

That’s the situation. Or is it?

Not entirely. To correctly understand the mechanics of a broken state one needs to understand how and why it occurred. Like an archaeologist digging through the dirt, looking for 65 million-year-old dinosaur bones, a proper analysis of Douglas County’s economic situation requires a detective to dig up the whys, why-fors, and why-nots of how we came to be in this situation.

I’ll save that exposé for another day, for my aim on this day is to shift our focus away from stating the obvious (time and time again), and toward a discussion on ideas to improve the economy in Douglas County.

It is often said that everyone has an opinion, and yet, the silence on this issue from community leaders is deafening. It is as though no one in the county has the vaguest idea of what to do about it. People instead keep reiterating the obvious problems we face.

The people of Douglas County need solutions — or lacking that, ideas, even bad ones that at least are capable of instilling a measure of hope among our people.

Here’s an idea, perhaps a bad idea, but it’s better than having no idea at all: Let’s shift Douglas County’s economic development strategy away from high-risk, low-reward entrepreneurship endeavors and toward the low-risk, high-reward recruitment of presently successful entrepreneurs.

That is, instead of putting all of our efforts into persuading our citizens that they can all be successful small business owners like some Orwellian better business bureau, we go out, find, and recruit medium-sized business owners across the nation who have already succeeded in becoming prosperous employers.

With the right mix of intelligence gathering (consulting services), hostess hustling, and incentives we ought to be able to land a few medium-sized whales per year.

Such employers would diversify our economy, provide for family-wage jobs, and ensure a stable tax base for county services. If in the process, we were to finally and forever throw off the shackles of the system of patrician patronage that is in large part responsible for the county’s underachieving economy — then all the better.

We must break with past policies, for the now is neither praised for its prosperity nor lauded for its successes.

Mark Garcia of Myrtle Creek is a small business owner and a past candidate for the Oregon Legislature and Douglas County board of commissioners. He can be reached at mgarcia@lacodiatech.com.

Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center needs full Emergency Room staffing

July 22, 2014 — 

Veteran talks of ER experiences

I’m a veteran who uses the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center for my medical problems. I’ve had to use the emergency room five times and each time I was there a minimum of five hours.

Twice, I went to the emergency room for heart problems and was sent home without much help. My arms and back were hurting and they sent me home with “arthritis pain.” I went in again and the doctor said it was something else and sent me home. Then I went back on the night shift and thank God I found a good doctor who sent me to Mercy. The next day I was sent to Sacred Heart for triple-bypass surgery. The doctor at Mercy told my wife to call my family, it was that bad.

I’m glad we have a VA hospital in Roseburg and they do help me and others with our care. I realize the hospital is understaffed for the number of patients it sees, but it would seem that it could improve the ER services to be able to diagnose a problem correctly in a timely manner.

My heart isn’t much good now, after I had five to seven attacks during all this, but at least I’m still alive. I could tell about other things that happened there, but all in all, I’m glad the Roseburg VA is available, such as it is.

David E. Cordray

Myrtle Creek

Editorial: It’s time to put a Northeast Stephens Street crosswalk on sure footing

July 22, 2014 — 

The city of Roseburg got closer this month to punching the button on action that would bring a pedestrian crosswalk to Northeast Stephens Street. Now it’s up to the City Council to decide whether this project has legs.

A city advisory committee decided unanimously on July 10 to recommend the council plan for the project in the fiscal year that starts in July 2015. This was a good step. It addresses safety concerns raised by Roseburg residents about the mile-long stretch that lacks a place for people to legally cross the five-lane street.

However, Public Works Director Nikki Messenger on the same day announced she will recommend the crosswalk be part of a package that includes pouring asphalt on the street and upgrading sidewalk access ramps. All the components together ring up at $1 million. That step may be in the wrong direction. It’s easy to envision delay on the crosswalk if its installation is tied up on a big, expensive project.

Residents aren’t the only ones who have said the stretch of road presents a hazard. A 2011 study by Portland transportation planners concluded the city should add a midblock pedestrian crossing halfway between Northeast Hewitt and Clover avenues. Pedestrians in this neighborhood aren’t just out for Sunday strolls, after all. The road contains four bus stops, two for each side of the street. Some of those who need to catch buses are in a hurry, and people in a hurry are more likely to jaywalk.

In addition, the street’s 2000 block was the site of a life-threatening injury last October. A Roseburg man attempting to cross it ended up in the hospital in critical condition after being struck by a pickup.

At least one advisory committee member, Noel Groshong, indicated that safety shouldn’t take a back seat to “financial convenience” and cautioned against delay of the project.

Groshong is right. It took years of complaints and a campaign by private citizens to get the Roseburg National Cemetery parking lot paved. The city finally joined the effort, but the foot-dragging that preceded its contribution made the city appear indifferent. It’s unlikely a similar group would take up the banner to find funding for a Northeast Stephens Street crosswalk. The neighborhood lacks residents with clout and homes tony enough to generate momentum for their cause. A higher-income district might have that crosswalk by now.

The committee’s July 10 recommendation could nudge Roseburg toward a move that protects not only pedestrians, but also bicyclists and motorists on a busy city street. Now it’s up to councilors to give the crosswalk a green light by putting it in the budget.

Hitching the crosswalk to other street improvements is fine, as long as it doesn’t hobble the project. Northeast Stephens Street has waited long enough for a basic, lifesaving fixture.

Guest column: Employee survey shows low ratings for Roseburg VA

July 22, 2014 — 

In January of this year several Roseburg Veterans Affairs employees asked if I could get a copy of the 2013 VA employee satisfaction survey. After attempting to get this in formation from the Roseburg and Veterans Integrated Service Network Freedom of Information Act offices with no success, I requested the survey from Washington FOIA on Feb. 27. I finally received the report on July 3.

The 2013 employee satisfaction report shows that, like the veterans, the employees rate the Roseburg facility very low compared to other VA facilities. The veterans report rated Roseburg in the bottom 4 percent of all VA facilities. Unfortunately, unlike the veterans report that compared all VA facilities, the employee report only compared VISN 20 results for comparison. VISN 20 is the regional office that oversees Washington, Oregon, Alaska and parts of Idaho Montana and California. The report does show an average for all VA facilities and Roseburg was consistently below this average.

The Roseburg employees rated the VA facility at the bottom in most categories. The areas where Roseburg rated high were burnout, turnover intentions and exhaustion. The lowest ratings were for organizational commitment, job control and innovation. Roseburg scores were “significantly, slightly or much lower than the comparison group” in amount of work, direct supervision, senior management, promotion opportunity, customer satisfaction, overall satisfaction, work group satisfaction, organization satisfaction, employee development, leadership, respect, conflict resolution, cooperation, diversity acceptance and civility.

An area of concern for me were the charts that showed there has been very little change in these results in the past four years. In other words, things are not getting better. When employees were asked if they were supplied with results of prior surveys Roseburg was above average. However, when asked if changes were made based on prior surveys, Roseburg was far below the average.

When employees were given 19 areas from which to choose and asked what area most needed improvement the vast majority, 53 percent, selected senior leader/upper management while only 11 percent selected pay/benefits/promotion. Over the years there have been many veterans who have attempted to inform the director and chief of staff of the problems that confront the veteran when they attempted to get health care. At one time the senior management at the facility was open to these suggestions and worked with the veterans in an attempt to rectify the situation. When the current director came to the facility she disbanded a number of the committees with veterans as members and removed veteran representation on other committees. I have to wonder if this was a good move. I think the fact there has been little or no improvement in the past four years speaks for itself.

It is my personal feeling that the vast majority of employees at the Roseburg facility are good, hard-working people who want to do their best to help the veteran. Unfortunately they are hampered by bureaucratic red tape and unrealistic systems and procedures placed on them by Washington and VISN 20. In the 22 years that I have been going to the Roseburg facility, I have never seen the employee and veteran morale as low as it is today. In a meeting on Oct. 29, 2012, I asked the current director why the VA continued to lie about wait times. I received no answer. When employees are told to adjust records to show that goals are being met, when they are in fact not, it is extremely hard on employee morale. Combine this with the harassment the employees receive from the veterans, who know they are being lied to, and the result can only be stress and flaring tempers. It is no wonder the employees feel like they are being squeezed from both sides.

All I can hope for is that the employees will be as patient as possible with the veterans and that the veterans will be as understanding as possible with the staff. We are all in this together, for better or worse.

If anyone would like a copy of the employee survey, just send me an email and I will gladly forward it to you.

Fred Tempest of Riddle is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a radio operator in Germany from 1954-56. Now a retired manufacturing consultant, he is a former member of the VA’s Patient-Centered Care Committee. He can be reached at donean@charter.net.

Letter: U.S. citizens deserve better treatment from their own government

July 21, 2014 — 

Tell your reps. to enforce laws

I’m tired of being treated as a third-class citizen by the government.

For example, to fly commercially, I must prove who I am with authorized photo identification and be subject to searches, even after proving I’m a law-abiding U.S. citizen. Yet illegal immigrants with a piece of paper and their word can board a commercial airline. And Homeland Security is implying I am more dangerous than an unknown person, with no history, who is here illegally. Either treat us all equally and fairly, or give law-abiding U.S. citizens the same or better privileges.

I urge you to write to your congressmen and senators. Tell them to enforce the laws equally for all people in the U.S. These double standards must stop!

David Farrell

Winston

Letter: Education is important, so step up and rebuild Yoncalla High School

July 21, 2014 — 

Build school for the kids

In response to the editorial on Yoncalla High School, I say rebuild it. I live in Rice Valley, in the Yoncalla tax base. Even if it raised the property tax double to $1,000 over 20 years, that’s only $4.17 a month; big deal.

Let’s say Drain and Yoncalla joined. Would there be a new mascot named? Yoncalla shouldn’t have to give up the Eagles and Drain shouldn’t have to give up the Warriors. I went to school in Drain at the high school.

I read someplace that a new school would cost $9 million. Let’s do it and repair the grade school. We had our chance at education, now let’s step up for these kids. That’s what is important, so keep their school.

All that said, now ask why the funds aren’t there anymore. It’s simple: Everything is tied up in court over the timber. The environmentalists have abused the legal system. Just bring the harvest levels back to where they were when Bill Clinton was president. Congress and the Senate has let this happen; we all need to step up and say, “No more!”

Yoncalla is just a start. Even if the schools do merge, there will be a time when a new high school will have to be built. Pay now, or pay later. Drain High School won’t last forever.

Pat Fitzgerald

Oakland

Letter: Roseburg assisted living resident admires kindness and patience of caregivers

July 21, 2014 — 

Caregivers are appreciated

Recently, there was a letter in the Public Forum about how wonderful caregivers are. I just had to write to say how much I agree.

I moved to an assisted living facility in January. I couldn’t begin to tell you how nice all the young people working here are. I noticed it the first time I came here with my Senior Companion to look at this place. My admiration for the caregivers and other people who work here has only become greater in the past few months.

I appreciate all these good people for their kindness and patience. They are my “family.”

Bessie Dailey

Roseburg

Letter: Should we offset global warming by using nuclear energy?

July 21, 2014 — 

An alternative to fossil fuels

If global warming is the existential danger to civilization claimed by so many, I’d like to offer some thoughts for consideration.

1. Nuclear energy has the potential to provide vast quantities of power without producing C02 or other greenhouse gasses.

2. Every year the U.S. and other countries produce many ships powered by nuclear reactors because they’re tactically superior. If these reactors are safe enough to install for a mere fighting advantage, shouldn’t they be safe enough to consider for use on a larger scale to help curb climate change?

3. While the U.S. does next to nothing in the nuclear area, China, India, South Korea and other important C02-emitting countries are now building dozens of reactors to help do their fair share to curb greenhouse gasses.

4. Even President Obama has expressed his support for nuclear power. (“We supported the first new nuclear power plants in three decades.” This quote comes from a Miami speech on energy policy, Feb. 23, 2012.)

By any objective standard, non-nuclear efforts have fallen far short of addressing C02 issues. It has been nearly 25 years since Al Gore first published “Earth in the Balance” and U.S. production of wind, solar, and geothermal energy combined now represent about 2 percent of our country’s total energy production. We’re currently producing more fossil fuel than at any time in America’s history. Despite all of our efforts, the rate at which we’re adding C02 to the atmosphere has been increasing, not decreasing.

If man-caused climate change is a minor problem, I might concede the drawbacks of fission and consider taking a pass on nuclear energy. However, if warming poses the threat to life on earth that some claim, then doesn’t nuclear energy become an increas­ingly rational part of the solution?

Roger Shaffer

Canyonville

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