News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2005


Senators must support asbestos legislation

As an Alabama veteran, I appreciated seeing that Sen. Jeff Sessions was one of 13 senators on the Judiciary Committee who voted for SB 852, a trust-fund solution to the current asbestos litigation crisis that is so harmful to veterans with asbestos-related illness.

But, I wasn't happy at all when I saw a group calling itself the Senate Accountability Project running television ads in our state, criticizing Sen. Sessions for his vote on asbestos trust-fund legislation.

A closer look at the Senate Accountability Project revealed all I needed to know. The Senate Accountability Project might pretend to be a "good government" watchdog, but in fact it's just a front group for greedy trial lawyers. The group's president and founder, Mark Iola, is a Texas trial lawyer who focuses on asbestos litigation. So in today's broken system, Mr. Iola gets rich off of asbestos cases, while sick veterans and many others go home empty-handed.

A victims' trust fund, like the one in SB 852, is the only solution that will ensure that veterans receive the compensation they deserve. Today, veterans with asbestos-related illnesses face a no-win situation. Sick veterans are prevented by law from seeking compensation from the U.S. government through the courts.

And since most of the companies that supplied the U.S. military with asbestos are long gone, seeking relief from the suppliers is also a dead end.

I urge Sen. Sessions and Sen. Richard Shelby to ignore the wealthy trial bar special-interest group and its ads. Alabama veterans know that a vote for SB 852 is a vote for the interests of veterans and sick victims.

Jimmy Manley

Past state commander

Alabama Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars


Seeks help finding old Alabama churches

We want to solicit the help of your readers in Morgan County. Joe Harrington and I are retired college professors engaged in a project of photographing 19th century wooden churches of Alabama.

Our goal is to preserve pictures of these old Alabama treasures that are fast disappearing from our countryside. They are indeed enduring spiritual legacies of our state.

Thus far, we have traveled throughout the state and have photographed some 175 churches in about half of Alabama's counties. But we want to find them all. If your readers know of any 100-year-old wooden churches in your county that deserve to be recorded, may we ask that they send us the name and location of these churches?

The final results will be archived in existing college and denomination church libraries. We currently publish a calendar featuring the churches and one day we hope to publish a book depicting our Alabama church photography. To date, the area churches we have photographed are Mount Nebo Baptist, the Church of Christ in Mooresville and Morris and Wheeler chapels in nearby Lawrence County.

Please take a minute and notify us of any 100-year-old wooden churches in your area. Contact me at (334) 887-7348 or e-mail me at

Robert H. Couch


One cow proves USDA effectiveness

The second U.S. cow to test potentially positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as "mad cow disease," is creating concern about how the U.S. Department of Agriculture is protecting the U.S. food supply. In fact, this incident should be seen as the exception that proves the rule.

In 1997, the USDA outlawed the use of ruminant parts in the feed of ruminant animals in order to eliminate the possibility of eating brain matter from an infected animal, thought to be the cause of this fatal brain-wasting disease.

While 20 countries, led by the United Kingdom, have experienced epidemics of this disease, the United States has not. In December 2003, an infected cow was found in the United States; it proved to have been raised in Canada. We do not yet know the source of this present cow, which initially tested negative in November 2004 but was recently re-examined with a more sensitive test.

In any case, since the Canadian cow was found, rules were instituted to keep out of the food supply any cows that cannot walk. The current cow in question was one such cow.

While the cow in question may or may not be found to have had BSE before it was destroyed last fall, it should be considered the exception that proves the rule: The USDA is doing a great job protecting America's food supply.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Ostrander, Ohio

MDA Lock-Up was a success

On behalf of everyone at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I want to publicly express my sincere gratitude to the citizens of Decatur for making the Decatur Executive Lock-Up on June 16 such a success. Decatur's "Celebrities Behind Bars" raised $48,746. The funds raised at the lock-up will enable MDA to pay for muscle biopsies and flu shots, send children to summer camp, organize support group sessions and follow-up clinic visits, and help with the purchase of wheelchairs and communication devices. In addition, MDA will be able to continue funding valuable research for the treatment and cures of more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.

I wish to thank the businesses in Decatur that helped by providing meals, transportation and music, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center and the Volunteer Center of Morgan County. My thanks also go to the Decatur Fire Department for working the bail table and the Decatur Police Department and Morgan County Sheriff's Department for participating as our arresting officers.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank every "Decatur convict" and each friend, family member and associate who helped bail them out of jail. You are truly heroes to those we serve in the Decatur area.

Kristi Nichols

Program coordinator, Muscular Dystrophy Association


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