Letters

Hackwork
Re: Jim Simmon's article on Congressman Steve Stockman [News, "God, Guns & Kombucha," June 22]. Geeeeeee. Why doesn't Simmon just come out and say he doesn't like Steve Stockman? I'd like to read an accurate and well-documented critique on the congressman, not a hack job fluffed with guilt by association. I wouldn't wish coverage like this even on politicians I dislike. How did this get by the editor?

Kevin Southwick
Houston

Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi
Virtually every day of my Italian-American life my eyes are assaulted by cultural and racial inequities.

One of these assaults is the overwhelming use of the term "Latin" (and derivatives Latino and Latina) only in reference to Hispanics -- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics at that!

When in the world will we see these terms used in reference to all Latin cultures: Italian, French, Romanian, even Portuguese/Brazilian!

Latino, in correct usage, is a contraction of Latinoamericano, and as such refers to all of the Spanish, Portuguese or French-speaking people south of the border; it is really neither a cultural or racial identification.

Your use of the term Latino/Latina in your article on Arte Público Press [News, "Family Feud," by Claudia Kolker, June 29] is only one in a continuing trend to use these terms exclusively in reference to Hispanics.

The truth of the matter is that five cultures, not one, descended from the Latin. In this day of supposed cultural awareness, the question is, are you willing to address this issue?

Name Withheld
Houston

Editor's reply: No.

Big Questions
Your disturbing report on the possible effects of EMFs on children ["Killing Fields?" by Claudia Kolker, June 22] raised a number of questions. There are many questions that Kolker did not address that really need to be part of the power line debate.

Let's assume that a jury finds truth in the idea that EMFs harm children. First of all, as the O.J. trial has shown, facts and law are often strangers when high-powered lawyers are involved. What then? Will some families (and their lawyers) get some big bucks, and that is the end of it? Not if the bill is high enough. What will HL&P do then? If they move the transmission towers and lines, where to? No one will want them in their back yard. But your story hardly touched on the strength of fields found around them, in spite of the cover picture. However, as you have reported, it is the local transmission lines, the meters, household wiring and some appliances that yield the scary exposure numbers. So, picture this: Families with children will live in areas where wiring above and below ground has been removed. Electrical meters are gone, along with house wiring and appliances. Schools and daycare centers will be stripped of electrical service, to protect the kiddies. What happens when lawyers prove that EMFs are hurting the rest of us, too?

In the back yard, just against the wall, is the air-conditioning unit. Right now it seems to be running most of the time. What kind of EMF numbers is it generating? Should I keep the kids out of the yard and away from that wall, on the inside? What about the rest of us? The story does not even mention the appliance that more than half of my HL&P bill goes to run. How about some answers to the big questions that this debate generates?

Matthew Marks
Houston

Straightening
I want to congratulate Claudia Kolker on her excellent coverage of a very difficult issue for everyone concerned ["Killing Fields?" June 22]. The scope of the EMF issue is so broad, so far-ranging and so complicated that even entire books can fail to adequately cover the subject. The amount of constant research being carried out alone (when published or made public) can suddenly outdate even the latest material used for reference by people in my field.

The release of many press items portraying EMFs as a non-issue has certainly clouded the issue. Recently, a group calling itself the American Physical Society got widespread press with a statement by "their" physicist stating that EMFs posed no problem. Research indicates that this group has no credibility and the physicist admitted that he had no experience with EMFs!! What can possibly be behind an obscure group being given so much credence? I readily await scientific evidence which supports either side as I believe that all the American public really wants is the truth -- or as close as we can get to it in our society.

Much has been made of the American Medical Association's public stand on EMFs. I only wish that some of their non-anti-EMF statements received more press. The following recommendation is from a booklet "Effects of Electric and Magnetic Fields" published by the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs: "That the AMA urge manufacturers, homebuilders and employers to reduce the exposure of the workers and the public to electromagnetic fields, including power lines, appliances and equipment."

The primary reason for this letter is to set the record straight about a statement attributed to me. In Kolker's article, it is stated that I say that the culprit (for high readings on the gauss meter at Kent Academy) is bad wiring. I never stated this. What I said is that the wiring is causing the fields. I did not use the term "bad." The only way I could know this is through a much more thorough investigation, probably with the assistance of a certified electrician. I also did not state that the wiring would have to be "shielded" to reduce the fields inside the building. Mitigation of electromagnetic fields is a complicated business and can involve many different techniques, with no guarantee of total success. This is not meant as a criticism of Kolker's reporting, merely a correction. And thank you's to Kolker for her article, the Houston Press for tackling the subject and Kent Academy for allowing me on their premises. Every situation is different and every inspection I carry out adds to the knowledge that is accumulating about EMFs.

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