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Registry can help in ALS research
Combat operations are over in Iraq, declared President Obama earlier this year. So the Iraq war has ended. Our troops have returned home. But what the American public doesn’t know is that for some veterans, the war has just begun.
That’s because they are returning home only to be diagnosed with and die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease strikes veterans at twice the rate as the general public. It has no treatment, no cure — only death in two to five years. And it doesn’t matter if vets served in World War II, Iraq or never even left the United States. They are at greater risk of ALS.
Why? Is it head trauma, which recent headlines also suggest is the reason why more and more NFL players seem to be developing ALS? Is it physical activity, exposure to chemicals? We just don’t know. But the government is doing something about it.
Just a few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control launched a national registry of ALS patients, www.cdc.gov/ALS. The registry is the first comprehensive nationwide effort to identify not only who gets ALS, but why. Indeed, the registry may help us learn why our veterans are developing ALS. It may tell us why NFL players are developing the disease and why your neighbor has ALS. And it will help us find a treatment.
But not enough people know about the registry. It was forgotten by the press. I hope this Veterans Day, the media will remember that our veterans and thousands of other Americans are fighting a war against ALS.
And that the ALS Registry is there to help them fight back.
Barb Streett

Arts event was a community triumph
An event titled Evergreen’s Building Community Through Art Festival was held at the Lake House on a recent Saturday, showcasing artistic talents from people ranging in age from 7 to 50, and from all around our mountain community.
From a group of middle school students juggling while riding skateboards, to an 11-year-old songwriter performing her pieces while playing guitar, to interpretive dance, to Aerial Fabric Circus Arts performances, I was struck by the commitment and enthusiasm each individual showed. These performers have worked hard and received support from their families, coaches, teachers and, on Saturday, their community. Their efforts Saturday afternoon supported the Global Children’s Garden project, and each can be very proud of their contribution.
Monnya Silver, Evergreen resident and leader of the Snowflake Circus here in Evergreen and former head coach of the Evergreen High School gymnastics team, coordinated the event. She brought together a number of artistic leaders in our community to provide an opportunity for performance, and a community bond through art. She reminded us that 150 years ago, community was a necessity, but in our current world, we have to make an effort to retain and value our community. I am proud to be part of this community — one that has so much to share, and the opportunity and desire to support it.
Candace Wolf

Federal Reserve needs an audit
Wouldn’t it be illegal, or even an act of war, for a private individual, or a foreign government, or a terrorist organization, to flood our marketplace with $800 billion of counterfeit currency? It was when Nazi Germany did it to England during World War II, and when the Soviet Union did so in the post-WWII divided Germany.
If so, how does one individual named Bernanke, working for a private front organization, a.k.a., the so-called “Federal Reserve,” get a free pass for doing so today?
Where are the voices against such fraud?
Where is the Republican Party with its newly acquired House majority?
Who will speak for our fellow countrymen’s equity?
Where is the audit of the Federal Reserve?
Russell W. Haas

School reform means addressing
a spectrum of needs
The status quo is not acceptable, but improving public education is a complex challenge. Ideology and simple solutions are no substitute for hard work and proven practices.
We cannot move forward without acknowledging the real challenges facing our public schools. One out of every five children in our nation today lives in poverty. Poor nutrition and health care and illiteracy in the home, among other things, have a real impact on learning. Helping all students succeed requires addressing this whole spectrum of needs — a fact ignored by many “reformers.”
Too much of the debate has focused on blaming teachers. Yet teachers are not the problem in education today, and neither are our unions. Nobody wants unqualified teachers in classrooms. We need to focus on nurturing great teachers, by strengthening preparation before they enter the profession, and ensuring ongoing opportunities for experienced teachers to build their skills.
We must move away from the current systems for evaluating students and teachers. Standardized tests are clearly not the solution, either for measuring student achievement or judging their teachers. We need to focus on measuring the skills our children will need for the 21st century — critical thinking, reading comprehension and writing, and the ability to ask pertinent questions. And, we need to allow teachers and management to collaborate on new methods of evaluation that will give a better picture of what students are learning, and help teachers improve their practice.
There is no silver bullet to improving education, and movies and manifestos that claim to provide simple solutions do a great disservice to students and teachers. The only way to provide a viable choice to every family is by improving our neighborhood schools.
As an educator, I truly hope that this national debate will allow for real dialogue about the challenges facing our education system and the hard work and collaboration necessary to address them. Let’s put aside the rhetoric and stop the blame and start working together to give all of our students the world-class education they deserve.
Patricia Doolan

Ignoring elk overpopulation not an option

Following your article “Golf course takes aim at neighborhood elk,” you offer tips on living near wildlife: Keep your distance, for your safety. If an animal changes its behavior, your are too close!
How many kids know what’s a safe distance from elk, which, as the Division of Wildlife points out, are large, powerful animals that can become aggressive in some situations? What exactly are those situations, and how is a kid supposed to know?
Your article notes that a resident near the golf course is upset by the prospect of her visiting grandchildren possibly seeing a dying animal. “It’s a slow, painful death. You can imagine how the children would react.”
Counterpoint: Watching a child die, having been trampled or gored by an elk, might also be upsetting.
So here’s the choice: (1) we can shoot some elk, thereby persuading hundreds of others to leave our neighborhoods and our kids, as wildlife officer Ty Petersburg suggests as a possibility; or (2) knowing what we know about unpredictably aggressive, wild beasts, we can wait passively until someone gets killed or paralyzed for life.
Charlie Fisk

ANWR should be preserved
as a national monument

The new Congress has some crazy ideas for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the American people have been keeping it wild for generations. The 50th anniversary of the Arctic Refuge on Dec. 6 presents a historic opportunity to protect this last, vast American wilderness as our newest national monument.
Big mammals such as the iconic polar bear still roam freely in America’s Arctic, and millions of birds feed and nest on its plains.
They go there each year, seeking refuge from a world of encroaching hazards to receive sustenance and safe harbor for bearing their young. The Arctic Refuge remains wild, so the cycle of life continues. As Americans, we have a moral and civic duty to ensure that this cycle is not broken — not on our watch. Please, President Obama, protect the Arctic Refuge as a national monument.
Vicky Sanders