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

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 Pblico 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

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

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.

John Brewton,
Healthy Homes Inc.

Joe Don Baker a Loser?
Re: The review of Congo [Film, "Monkey Business" by Edith Sorenson, June 15]. Edith, did you watch this movie, or did you get your review from your 12-year-old son or grandson? Because only a movie patron who is under 17 years old could truly say this was a rip-roaring movie that is a lot of fun. It cannot even begin to compare with Jurassic Park.

First off, did you miss the scene showing the TraviCom building in Houston, Texas, with mountains in the background? Shame, shame, shame. The producers and director of this show obviously did not care to take their time in showing the correct locale for our city. And what about Amy, a gorilla who can speak through sign language and a data glove? Yes, this was a great idea, but she looked like a human in a gorilla suit for most of the movie.

As for R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker): his part was of a greedy, who-cares-about-my-son-he's-dead, now-get-that-diamond head of TraviCom. I just do not want to see this kind of sentiment or lack of in a movie. I believe he belongs only in those Walking Tall movies, where he's more of a winner than a loser.

Now, yes, I did like some of the movie. The other characters were fun and somewhat believable once the scene left Houston and went to Africa. Maybe because I've never been there and do not know if the locale is correct. Maybe because that is when my mind left the theater and became one with the movie. But, had I seen a review before this movie came out, I would not have spent my $4.25 (before 6 p.m.). I would have waited until it went to the dollar movie, or better yet network television. Sorry, Edith, you were way off.

Pati Whetsell

That's Entertainment
This is an entertaining column [The Insider, July 6], but printing it on that gray background makes it more difficult to read.

J. Brownfield

Label This Battle "Turtle-Free"
"Dead in the Water" by Michael Berryhill [June 29] correctly cites major conflicts between bay and offshore shrimpers and the competition for both groups from cheap imports. Unfortunately, however, the sea turtles take the rap again as the bad guys even though the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to allow sea turtles to escape drowning is simple compared to other industry problems. The dilemma of the bayshore shrimper pitted against offshore shrimpers combined with overfishing of the bays and the cheaper, imported shrimp which is swallowing up the U.S. markets are much more complicated issues than using TEDs to exclude sea turtles.

Mr. Berryhill's comparison of a bay shrimper to a "family farmer" is incorrect. A farmer makes huge investments. He either rents or buys farmland, then purchases seed, fertilizer and insecticide in addition to investing in several large implements. Then the farmer plows, plants and plows again before harvest. On the other hand, a shrimper buys his boat, an inexpensive permit, waits until spring, harvests a public resource and sells it.

Many shrimp fishermen use TEDs and understand why they are needed, but, unfortunately, some continue to protest, tie TEDs shut and mutilate the sea turtles they catch. Why the industry does not police itself and ostracize those who have given shrimp fishing such a bad name is a question yet to be answered.  

Even Mr. Standley admits that he has caught some dozen turtles in his nets while not mentioning that he is only one of thousands of shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico who have probably done the same. The number of shrimpers in the Gulf has increased from 5,400 in 1959 to the most recent estimates of more than 13,000; yet, the amount of shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Mexico has not increased appreciably. Even the shrimp industry realizes that management of their resource has been faulty or totally lacking.

Mr. Standley may have released the turtles he caught "alive and kicking," but research has shown that even a short drag of a sea turtle underwater fighting for breath may injure the animal and will certainly leave it dazed and more likely to be caught in another shrimp trawl.

Although some shrimpers try to blame sea turtle deaths on causes other than shrimping, the 1994 season provided more evidence of guilt than the Simpson trial. When there was shrimping there were dead turtles; when the federal/state closure began, the sea turtle deaths plummeted; the strandings started again when shrimping started; and went down dramatically when enforcement was increased. The government has always tiptoed around the shrimp industry and sea turtles continue to die in Texas waters year after year at the hands of some who risk the good name of the industry and the reputations of those who use TEDs.

Shrimper Richard Moore missed a golden opportunity to market his catch as "turtle-safe" shrimp throughout the Southwest and nationally. Shrimpers in Florida and Georgia have eagerly signed affidavits allowing observers on their boats to confirm they are using TEDs. These ambitious fishermen will benefit from the nationwide advertising soon to be launched by Earth Island Institute of California at no cost to themselves. (Interestingly enough, Earth Island Institute and the Georgia Fishermen's Association filed a lawsuit last year to prevent the importing of shrimp from nations not using TEDs while the National Fisheries Institute joined government bureaucrats to argue against this needed protection for the shrimpers.)

The conservation community wishes the bay shrimpers well. Most of them are probably hard-working individuals like C.L. Standley and Richard Moore. We hope that their battles with the offshore shrimpers are settled satisfactorily for both sides, but we continue to ask that the sea turtles and TEDs not be blamed for industry problems brought on by improper management of the resource.

Carole Allen,
HEART (Help Endangered Animals -- Ridley Turtles)

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