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The hard choice

Marc Cooper wrote that states “will have no choice except to levy a panoply of regressive taxes” [Dissonance, “Matrix Politics,” May 23–29]. I strongly disagree. The fact that politicians may be more interested in ensuring their re-election than in finding creative solutions does not equate to having no choice. For example, increasing gasoline taxes to levels more like Europe’s would not only help fund the state, but would at the same time help accomplish the fuel economy that other methods have failed to achieve, help clear the air, reduce the trade imbalance, reduce funding of terrorists, and fall most heavily on the wealthy SUV drivers. So why is this approach ignored by the media? Could it be that the editors themselves like to guzzle gas? Could it be that they like to point out the hypocrisy of others while hiding their own? There’s plenty of blame to go around, and the media should be big enough to accept blame for spending more time whining about Washington than proposing solutions that work.

Scott Peer Glendale

Our bum rep

Re: “Saddam’s Last Days” [photo essay by Teun Voeten, May 23–29], as a loyal Republican who usually gets your paper only for the free movie listings, I was excited to see your pullout photo spread on vandalized images of Saddam Hussein. I had heard your paper was for leftist kooks, but I see you’ve followed the lead of the established media and focused on the badness of Saddam and the damage done by the war to property.

I think your bum rep as a leftist paper is unfair: I never even saw any photos of dead or wounded Iraqis in your paper. Also, Marc Cooper and other Weekly columnists did a great job of undermining those wacko peaceniks — who really just needed to get a job already. The Bush administration went in there to liberate Iraqis, the oil being just a coincidence, and your photo spread proves it. Your caption also nicely puts to rest any lefty whiners’ ideas that Saddam might still be alive, or that there is instability in Iraq, or hostility toward the U.S.

Keep up the good work.

—Jenni A. Dreger-Epps Los Angeles

Uneasy does it

In his notes on Bush at War [“The 10 Most Influential Books of the Past Year,” May 30–June 5], John Powers implies that Bob Woodward is not a serious journalist because he does not “dig into the truth” of what he is saying. Who can know the truth? As Woodward himself says, “Criticism, the judgments of history and other information may, over the coming months and years, alter historical understanding of this era.” The picture I drew from this book is of a president who prides himself on his gut decisions, has a low tolerance for detail, debate, doubt and dissent, and has a grandiose vision for his presidency — an “ambitious reordering of the world through preemptive and, if necessary, unilateral action to reduce suffering and bring peace” (Page 341). This picture gives me much unease. Woodward also gives interesting insights into the roles played by supporting players in the administration, the Pentagon and the CIA in the push toward war. Let readers form their own judgments.

—Beryl Palmer Redondo Beach

The desert, as is

Re: Arty Nelson’s “Birth of a Notion” [May 23–29]. Hmmm, the desert . . . New York . . . ? It’s scary to me, as a desert artist and full-time resident of the high desert, to see this trend — or should I say, trendy thing trying to happen here. The desert is about space, not necessarily about filling the space with something. There are a lot of different people out here, and they, along with the landscape and sky, are what make this place so wonderful. It seems like this New York art thing needs to give itself a big deep breath. What’s great about the desert is that pretension, style, fashion and all the other crap does not exist here. In fact, it’s fascinating how the desert reveals rather quickly that which is not of substance. Hopefully, if your article inspires people to come here, they will come now and enjoy the art of the sun baking them at 105 degrees. The desert is trying to humble everyone here. It does not always succeed, and many people just don’t get it. The desert is about getting over it and letting it go.

I guess my main point here is that everything affects everything else. Do whatever you enjoy, just consider that what makes this place great is its as-is quality. Be careful what you wish for, and keep it simple.

—Perry Hoffman Twenty-nine Palms

Tick talk

In the recent “Summer Get Out ’03” special insert of the L.A. Weekly, your writer Dave Shulman penned an interesting article on the Temescal Loop Trail [“Exiting the System,” May 23–29]. He unfortunately ended his piece with incorrect and possibly dangerous advice on removing ticks: “If you go climbing trees near the stream, you might, as one of my friends discovered a few weeks back, provide a last meal for some down-on-their-luck ticks, which, upon discovering, you might wish to burn to death with a hot knife or needle, or suffocate with a handy blob of peanut butter.” ‰

A tick should never be removed with the methods he describes. Infection, Lyme disease or other problems can result. An injured or dying tick tends to regurgitate your blood right back into your bloodstream — with its own nasty microbes, bacteria and viruses added to the mix. Please let Mr. Shulman and your readers know that the wives’-tale methods he described (burning or suffocating) can be harmful. Simple tweezers on the live tick are the safest way.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

What is the best way to remove a tick?

To remove attached ticks, use the following procedure:

1) Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves.

2) Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. (If this happens, remove mouthparts with tweezers. Consult your health-care provider if infection occurs.)

3) Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (saliva, hemolymph, gut contents) may contain infectious organisms.

4) Do not handle the tick with bare hands because infectious agents may enter through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. This precaution is particularly directed to individuals who remove ticks from domestic animals with unprotected fingers. Children, the elderly, and immuno-compromised persons may be at greater risk of infection and should avoid this procedure.

5) After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.

6) You may wish to save the tick for identification in case you become ill within two to three weeks. Your doctor may use the information to assist in making an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.

—Sloan Fader Los Angeles

Weekly winners

The Weekly has received two first-place awards in the eighth annual Alternative Newsweekly Awards contest. John Powers won in the category of arts criticism (for his film reviews), and Max S. Gerber won the photography award for a series on L.A. scientists called “Microbats, Broken Skulls, Rocket Girls & Prehistoric Beach Bears” (http://www.laweekly.com/ink/02/50/features-gerber.php). That piece was conceived by former Weekly art director Bill Smith, who also received an honorable mention for his cover designs. With the two new awards, announced last week at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ annual convention, the Weekly has now received a total of 29 first-place awards, more than any other member paper.

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