Email letters, April 3, 2012

More research is needed on Parkinson’s Disease

April is Parkinson’s awareness month. According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, “one million individuals in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s, with approximately 4 percent are under 50.” Parkinson’s (PD), is a degernerative, movement disorder, caused by the brain’s inability to produce dopamine. The lack of dopamine, is the reason for the symptoms, most common, tremors, limb stiffness, slow movements, unsteady gait, and more.

Symptoms very with each patient, making diagnoses difficult. The primary treatment is a dopamine replacement medication, called, carbidopo/levodopa or Sinement. A diagnoses is then based on the patients response to the medication. Also, each patient responds differently to the medication. Often the medication effects don’t last long enough, before it is time for the next dose. During these, “off” periods, the patient is without any relief of symptoms.

There are a number of medications, given to enhance or prolong the Sinement effect. Surgery is an option, usually recommended when the patient no longer responds to medications. Deep Brain Stimulus, (DBS), is still a treatment, not a cure.

Without a cure, physicians can only attempt to relieve the symptoms, with the goal of keeping the patient as active as possible for as long as possible. Research is currently in process, to hopefully, slow the disease progress.

PD is a life changing diagnoses, non fatal, itself. It doesn’t receive the attention, or the research funds as the “big C” diagnoses. Like brain injury patients, the general public is unaware the PD patient has a problem.

Grand Junction

Audit big oil companies

Last week, 47 U.S. senators, mostly Republicans, voted to continue giving big oil companies their tax subsidies worth at least $24 billion annually. In 2011, the big five — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell — raked in $137 billion in profits.

A recent think tank study from Washington,  D.C. shows that for every penny increase in the price of gasoline per gallon, it gives the big five $200 million in profits. The same study shows that since the beginning of the year, the price of gasoline has risen 29 cents per gallon. The study goes on to state that if this price continues through the end of March, it would provide $5.8 billion in additional profits for the big five oil companies. It looks like these senators will be getting their bonuses this year.
The big five oil companies never talk about their overseas subsidies of $600 billion each year.
This vote on Capitol Hill last week was a bill introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D), New Jersey, entitled: “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” The vote was 51-47. Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill. By the way, the 43 Republicans and 4 Democrats that voted against this bill also killed an estimated 37,000 wind energy jobs. The “Production Tax Credit” portion of this bill provided an extension of tax breaks for the wind energy industry. This will have a negative impact on this growing industry in Colorado.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the big five oil companies have been avoiding paying their proper share of taxes in our country. For example, ExxonMobil claims that they paid 45 percent when they only paid 17.6 percent in 2010. ExxonMobil made $41.1 billion last year. The oil companies hoard their billions in cash overseas so they do not get taxed here. I think that it is time for an IRS audit of the whole industry. I doubt that President Obama or Congress have the guts to ask for this audit. 
New Castle

Groups are dedicated to animal welfare

I wanted to write a personal thank you for the article that was published in The Daily Sentinel. Rachel Sauer’s story was accurate, inspiring and educational for readers who are unaware of the work of many dedicated individuals. They make a difference in the world of animal welfare and it is refreshing to read an article with well-deserved accolades for devoting their lives to give many animals a second chance. Having grown up in Grand Junction, it makes me especially proud to see what The Daily Sentinel is doing to increase public awareness.

I would like to add that Penny McCarty, the staff, Cindy Haerle and the volunteers of Mesa County Animal Services work tirelessly to facilitate the many “happy ending” stories that you hear about.  Mesa County should be proud to have such a dedicated group of people overseeing their animal control services. All Breed Rescue Network, Inc. (ABRN) members work closely with Mesa County Animal Services, and know first hand how much they have elevated the caliber of care that animals receive, as well as the increased number of animals that receive a second chance. Penny and the team she has assembled have created an exemplary model for animal control services and are held in high regard throughout the animal welfare community. 

It does take a village to make a difference and the collaboration that exists between ABRN and our colleagues in Grand Junction does make a difference. That collaboration enables all of us to continue to uphold the reputation that Colorado has as a leader in matters of animal welfare.

ABRN greatly appreciates the visibility that the Sentinel story gives the rescue community and thanks you for helping further our organization’s mission of “ending the euthanasia of Colorado’s adoptable dogs.”

KAREN BROWN, President
Members of the Board
All Breed Rescue Network, Inc. 

Rote instruction is necessary in teaching math

Regarding the April 1 Daily Sentinel columns “The Best Way to Teach Math in the 21st Century”: Jody Mimmack and Bill Larsen argue, in their endorsement of yet another new math approach to new math, that 21st century skills also require mastery of critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy, collaboration, self-direction and invention. Certainly, but why confuse those with math.

You can be a whiz-bang at math and not give a hoot about collaboration. You may never invent the next widget but are not, therefore, blocked from understanding E=MC2 and the intricate mathematical structure supporting it. Similarly, you can collaborate until the cows come home, and still not be able to divide 63 by 7 in your head or on paper.

Look at it in reverse. Would you insist on the ability to solve quadratic equations or explain the Pythagorean Theorem if the goal were to find a collaborative team player? How about inventors? Some of the finest were brooding loners who were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore.

There’s no secret to math. It doesn’t need to be re-discovered, re-invented or prayed over. It is a discipline, and discipline is what it takes. Rote instruction plays an integral role in its mastery, as it does in countless other life skills from typing and handwriting to driving and shaving.

Grand Junction

Not enough accountability in Obamacare’s payment advisory board

There is a good reason that Obamacare is being challenged before the Supreme Court; the law is full of elements that range from unsound, to unconscionable, to unconstitutional. One of these elements, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), symbolizes the very thing Americans fear most about the law — unaccountable Washington bureaucrats with control over rationing health care.

As an elected official in the state of Colorado, I understand the importance of transparency and accountability in government. Congressman Scott Tipton, in voting to repeal the IPAB, has demonstrated that he understands this as well.

The so-called Affordable Care Act exempts the IPAB from federal “sunshine” laws, and grants it blanket authority to operate in secret and to be influenced by special interest groups. Nowhere, in its over 2,000 pages, does Obamacare include a provision requiring the IPAB to hold public meetings or hearings, consider public input on its proposals, or release transcripts of its deliberations to the American people.

What is included is an invitation for lobbyists to lavish unaccountable IPAB members with cash, meals, cars, vacations, etc., with the statement that the IPAB “may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.”

I would like to thank Congressman Tipton for fighting the good fight in Washington, and for upholding the principles of transparency and accountability in government. Elections have consequences, good and bad; thank goodness we have elected people like Scott Tipton to help counter four years of bad policy from President Obama.


Scrutiny of gas industry is long overdue

By framing his statements with a ring of certainty, David Ludlam suggests the natural gas industry is an underdog soldiering on for an energy-starved nation against the excesses of a concerned public and an obstructionist government. This view would be comical were it not so obviously designed to “drill for people’s hearts and minds,” a strongly worded goal on the Western Colorado Oil and Gas Association website.

As president of that organization, who better than Mr. Ludlam to unsheathe the sword of a propaganda program designed to further the interests of that organization and its members ?

It is rude and disingenuous to belittle the efforts of intelligent and well-informed citizens who are simply trying to see to it that the exploration for and production of an ephemeral product does not permanently alter or destroy other equally important human economies and lifestyles, beautiful landscapes, air quality and precious water sources.

The track record of the industry remains far from exemplary, and the public has every reason to demand more caution, regulation and oversight at every step of the natural gas production process. It is a poor calculus indeed to make irretrievable sacrifices of land, water and air, even more so when so much of the resource is now exported for profit. Millions of acres of Colorado public lands are already leased for gas development and the time is ripe for greater national deliberation about the entire process.

It is a fact that energy development is often incompatible with functioning ecosystems, human communities and in many cases, life. So be it. That’s the nature of the product and its location. This simple truth as well as the nature of business to put profit ahead of people forces the scrutiny this industry is now facing. Frankly it is long overdue and I make no apology for it.

Citizens For A Healthy Community in Paonia


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