“For over 200 years, the press has glibly gone along with congressional ‘reform’ after ‘reform’…”

“The Fate of the Ocean”

Julia Whitty, an excellent writer and, we hope, a fine reporter, wrote “Not long ago, the growth of seagoing technologies paralleled the growth in the annual global fish harvest. But 2000 marked a decisive turning point when the global wild fish catch, which grew 500 percent between 1950 and 1997, peaked at 96 million tons despite better technologies and intensified efforts by fishers. Thereafter it has fallen by more than 3 percent per capita a year, declining to 31 pounds per capita in 2003, a rate last seen 40 years ago.”

Whoa!

She switched from gross tonnage-caught to pounds per capita. Per capita of what? The world? Rhode Island? A Honda Civic? This paragraph is almost completely meaningless. It would be meaningless except that it seems to answer in the negative the question “Can this reporter be trusted?” (The link she invites readers to click on is little help here.)

As an editor in the `70s of the National Fisherman, back then the primary journal of America’s commercial fishing industry, I wrote about fish harvests, treaties, “sustainable catches” and gee-whiz fishing technology. I generally believed fishermen over scientists when conversation turned to sustainable catch levels – something I’ve felt guilty for since as scientists back then have increasingly been proved right.

My guilt increased last July upon sailing from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina, over what seemed a dead sea. I was reminded of all those traditional fisheries now closed and had time on watch and off to look out over the apparently lifeless ocean and ponder how I could have been so loyal to fishermen and deaf to scientists back then. I wondered how our readers would have responded had we believed the science and reported the warnings more vigorously. What would our advertisers have done? Would fishermen have stopped reading us? My immediate boss certainly supported truth-telling, but he shared my affinity for fishermen – and perhaps my skepticism of scientist and “fishcrats.”

This, then is to urge good reporters covering controversies and unpopular situations today to question their own gullibility constantly, to look beyond off-putting personalities and better scrutinize what’s said and the proof presented. It’s a strong suggestion for readers to continually question reporters’ rigor.

It is clear our oceans are more barren now, and I choose to accept the gist of Whitty’s reporting, but switching from a gross tonnage figure to a meaningless “pounds per capita” must call into question all of her other assertions.

Sincerely,

BROOKS TOWNES
Weaverville, NC

“Immigration: More Nickels than Dimes”

The author does not distinguish between illegal and legal immigrants. I do not think that all the illegal immigrants who have been here for years and have children here should be deported. However, Bernard Wasow must admit that the huge numbers of illegals here has indeed diluted the labor pool, thus forcing down wages. A fence can not keep people trying to find work out of the country. As long as employers are hiring illegal aliens, they will continue to come here.

We are a country of immigrants, and should continue to be. However, we need to control the number of people who want to come into the country. The only way to do that is through LEGAL immigration. This means that the laws must be enforced against hiring illegal immigrants. Make a process for many of the illegal aliens who have been here for years to become permanent residents and then citizens. But from this point forward, the INS needs to crack down on employers hiring ILLEGAL immigrants. How else can we control the numbers?

PETE SHIELDS
Portland, OR

“Defense Pork: Putting Lipstick on the Pig”

For over 200 years, the press has glibly gone along with congressional “reform” after “reform”—every reform that has been enacted that had any teeth has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Again in the wake of the Abramoff scandals, the Washington Post and New York Times and others are making proposals that will not do any good at all—never have and never will. Only a wise constitutional amendment, which the Supreme Court cannot override, has any hope of reforming Washington.

Here is what could effectively work, but only as a constitutional amendment—any type of reform such as this that is not a constitutional amendment would be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and thus, is a waste of everybody’s time…

1) Eliminate all gifts for all elected and appointed government officials and those seeking elective or appointive office; this includes every type of gift in any form, even birthday gifts from their own spouses or children; no trips for any reason, no meals, nothing. (Once any type of gift is allowed, corruption will seep in—example: If personal gifts are allowed from an immediate family member, then wealthy corporations could give millions to a brother or daughter who in turn, could give it to the candidate—a rule of absolutely no gifts is absolutely essential.) This eliminates the open bribery lobby mess we now have.

2) Make all donations of every kind to all elected and appointed government officials illegal other than monetary donations from individuals; cap individual donations at a total annual amount of 1% of the median national wage (at present, approx 50,000 annually, or $500). In other words, based on today’s economic income reality, no person could donate more than $500 in combined donations to all officials they choose to donate to in any calendar year. This eliminates the rule by wealth we now have.

3) Require all (other than public-supported) television and radio stations and all newspapers to allot a certain amount of equal time to all qualified candidates. Qualified candidates defined as those able to collect enough valid voter signatures to qualify, depending on size and type of office sought. Equal time dependent on size of market share and office taken. (Example; a U.S. senator from Wyoming would require less signatures to qualify than a senator from New York and running for city council would require less media time donated than running for President, etc.) This eliminates the rule by wealth we now have.

4) Since number three eliminates the excuse that politicians need a lot of “money” to run for public office and number two allows for individuals to donate to cover candidates other expenses, then make it entirely illegal for candidates themselves to spend a dime on their own elections. This eliminates the rule by wealthy individuals we now have.

5) Make all those convicted of breaking these laws serve a minimum of 20 years in federal prison, with absolutely no reduction in time for any reasons; no time off while appealing, no plea bargains, no reductions, no exceptions.

There is no such thing as a perfect law. This type of amendment would eliminate over 99 percent of our current problems. There are certain “tweaks” and restrictions that need to be addressed in the collection of signatures proposed above in order to maintain fairness. Again, none of this will ever work if it is not a constitutional amendment. I have yet to read one article in one newspaper or put out by one activist organization that is calling for a constitutional amendment–that is what is wrong with America–nobody is proposing legislation that will actually do any good.

Sincerely,

RICHARD ABERDEEN
Nashville, TN

“Teen Herbicide”

The article about how deadly supplements are is journalism without any scientific basis. If you are going to write a balanced article, why do you not ever write about all of the scientific data on how supplements have been shown to help with so many health issues? That information is widely available but not reported by the press.

For example, there have been countless studies showing CoQ10 can prevent and reverse heart failure with no side effects, yet the media fails to report this news that could potentially save millions of lives. In the article you try to show that supplements that have never been proven to have any harm are dangerous. Creatine for example has not been linked with any deaths or negative health problems yet you picture it in the article as if it is an example of a “deadly natural supplement”. There are many over the counter medications that cause far more deaths in a year than Ephedra has ever been linked to. In fact of all of those so called Ephedra caused deaths most could have been easily cause by many other factors.

There is so much research and scientific data on the beneficial health effects of supplements to help with such conditions that it was previously believed that only drugs could help. USA Today estimated a couple of years ago that over 100,000 people died from prescription drugs that their doctor had prescribed. The popular blood thinner Coumadin has the same active ingredient as rat poison yet it is prescribed to thousands of people. There is a natural alternative known as Nattokinase that has helped many people with even serious clotting issues but the doctors and the media never mentions it as there is no money in a substance that the drug companies cannot control since it is natural.

I could send you a mountain of valid scientific research on many natural supplements that could help many serious conditions but I can bet that you would never write an article on how this information is available but never get printed by the mainstream media. It is very sad when an supposed alternative publication such as yours sounds just like the many others in the media controlled by the drug industry and their advertising dollars.

Sincerely,

WALTER CHAMBERS

“My Saudi Arabian Breakfast”

Just read Chad Heater’s article. I agree completely with the premise, and favor hidden energy costs being revealed. I must point out however, that food calories are actually kilocalories. That is, unit for unit, a food calorie contains 1000 times the energy of the calorie unit used to measure energy values of fuels. A nonfood calorie is the amount of energy required to heat one cubic centimeter of water one degree (centigrade), a very tiny quantity.

Mr. Heeter’s concept is sound and important, but his numbers mislead.

Regards,

GERMAIN GINER

Chad wrote a most excellent article on the subject of oil/fuel use and illustrated the chain of events that we largely take for granted that use energy. If only such insight and clarity of reason were evident in Washington today!

Bush’s general failure to even acknowledge the importance of oil dependency and conservation as issues prior to Hurricane Katrina speaks volumes of the extent and degree to which the oil revenue involved in all of this has helped to shape our domestic and foreign policies. The oil industry types and the countries that possess the oil that is consumed are composed of some pretty sharp people, and fortunately they can pretty much be sent packing by tearing a page out of the history book, the one with the windmills on it.

If we went along to about every 10th power-tower and installed a 5mw windmill, this country would once again become energy-independent. That would cost money, but it would sure as hell be a better investment in our nation’s future than shooting people to get more of their stupid oil.

Thank you.

BERT WALKER