News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Public needs education about big cats


I saw your article about "Royal Bengal Tigers" being brought to the park by circus carnies Yaro and Barbara Hoffman. It may interest you to know that anyone who knows anything about tigers knows there is no such thing as "Royal" tigers and that there isn't one purebred Bengal tiger in the entire United States because of the fad from the '70s-'90s to inbreed and crossbreed Bengals and Siberians to get the white coats. It may also be of interest that all white tigers are severely inbred (and basically retarded), which is why circus acts prefer them. Most of the problems associated with inbreeding cause a lifetime of suffering for these cats. There wouldn't be irresponsible zoos and back yard breeders continuing this practice if the press were better informed so that the public wouldn't support it.

More about the Yaros here: Big Cat Rescue saved an ocelot from them that they had been dragging around the country for photo ops where they would charge the public to have their picture made with an exotic cat. It would take two of them to wrestle him into a harness so that he could be used this way. They got rid of him because he kept biting people.

An exotic cat bite is not like a dog bite; it causes severe, convulsive vomiting and the injured area immediately swells dramatically, causing intense pain to the victim. Exotic cats don't let go, and often the bitten area and the cat have to be completely submerged in water until the cat will let go. People are bitten by these traveling "educators" all the time, but they move from town to town, are difficult to prosecute and have no assets.

Carole Baskin

CEO, Big Cat Rescue

Tampa, Fla.

Dukes' position on Sunday liquor sales is clear


Apparently Keri Elmore of Athens failed to read this statement of President Harry S. Truman: "We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are."

A strong mind would understand that Rep. Bill Dukes and other members of the local delegation insist that the mayor and all members of the council approve by resolution any request for local legislation.

A strong mind would understand that they required that a public hearing be held before this vote takes place. Without such a hearing, the public may have been limited as to its input of the details of the ordinance as it is formed.

A strong mind would understand that the delegation did not vote to allow Sunday alcohol sales. As stated by THE DECATUR DAILY: "The Sunday liquor bill gives the Decatur City Council authority to call a referendum so voters can decide if they want liquor sales on Sunday."

A strong mind would understand that Rep. Bill Dukes refused to take a "middle-of-the-road" stance by stating that he personally opposes Sunday sales. Someone taking a "middle-of-the-road" stance would have simply voted to allow the referendum and never have declared whether he was for or against Sunday sales.

A strong mind might find it strange that the local delegation unanimously voted to present the measure to the Legislature, yet Keri Elmore chose to single out only one member of the delegation. This member has served this area as a public official for almost 40 years. Frankly, the citizens of Decatur are lucky to have someone of his character and integrity "in the kitchen" or the Legislature.

Steve Garner


Gas prices rise, morals decline


Has the world gone mad? I was shocked to read about the Alabama gas station owner who was run down and killed by a driver escaping with stolen gas, but I was even more appalled that this comes as no surprise to industry experts. Besides the fact that our society's morals are in serious trouble, if rising gas prices are all it takes to make people's values decline so drastically that they feel it's OK to kill someone over $52 worth of gas, this incident shows just how urgent it is to control gas prices.

Alternative energy is the only permanent solution to our energy crisis. Experts are saying that, while gas prices might go down some, we will never again see prices dip below $2 a gallon. Being dependent on oil is harmful to our national security, our health and our environment and it is time to rethink our energy consumption. The United States must set mandatory limits on global warming pollution now, ensuring a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, promoting clean energy alternatives and protecting people from our apparent lack of morals in the face of expensive gas.

Anne Havemann

Washington, D.C.

Columnist wrong about Gen. Boykin


Cynthia Tucker's column, "Remove General from sensitive job," was a scary case of Christian bashing and an attack on the right of freedom of speech and freedom of worship by our military members. For speaking his Christian beliefs in church, she says, "he has ridiculed Islam as 'satan' and dismissed Muslims as idol worshippers," something for which she believes he should be punished. Punished for what, Cynthia? Telling the truth? Exercising his constitutional rights?

This column is nothing but left-wing, anti-American trash from the Universal Press Syndicate in Kansas City, which is known more for its syndicated cartoon strips than it is for serious journalism, and written by a so-called journalist who is known more for her mean-spirited radical columns than she is for good sense.

With all due respect to Auburn, it takes more than a degree from Alabama's agricultural university to qualify as a serious journalist qualified to critique international relations.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin shouldn't be criticized — he should be promoted. To most Americans he is a hero, except to a few like Cynthia Tucker, who are determined to take out their bitterness over real and perceived racial injustice any way they can by attacking our system for whatever reasons they can dredge up.

If Cynthia doesn't like it here maybe she should go to Cuba or some other third-world country and stay.

James R. Henderson


Putting numbers on retirement financial needs


Your articles on finance the last few days are very timely. However, it would be well for the readers to have some numbers on the financial problems.

If a 50-year-old man desires to retire on $40,000 a year at age 65 and he and his wife draw full Social Security, he will still need $250,000 to provide an annuity that will pay $1,300 per month for his life and assuming for the life of both he and his wife, at age 50, would need $280,000.

Savings required at present interest rates: $1,000 to $1,200 per month.

He would also need to be debt-free at retirement for these numbers to work.

Ralph Jones, CLU

Financial Consultant

Add Rader to ranks of cruelest killers


It started on Jan. 15, 1974, in Wichita, Kan., when four members of the Otero family were found strangled to death in their home. Ten months later, a local newspaper editor received an anonymous call from the killer, directing him to a particular book in the Wichita public library. Inside was a letter filled with numerous misspellings claiming credit for the killings, and promising more to come. He signed the letter, "BTK Strangler." In a postscript, he wrote, "The code words for me will be — bind them, torture them, kill them."

On March 17, 1977, he lived up to his promise when 26-year-old Shirley Vian was found strangled in her home. The killings went on throughout the '80s, with the occasional letter to the editor, and then the killings stopped.

In February 2005, Wichita detectives and policemen snared the predator, Dennis Rader. He was a Boy Scout leader, church congregation president and professional dogcatcher.

Rader described himself as a mean man, but also a nice man. Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy said the same thing. When I watched Rader at his sentencing hearing, he showed remorse only for himself.

The judge handed down a life sentence for each victim: 10 victims, 10 life sentences. Now, Rader will join the ranks of other serial killers, like Bundy, David Berkowitz, Henry Lee Lucas, John Wayne Gacy, as one of the cruelest, cold-blooded killers to have ever walked the earth.

But, Rader also joins the prison system, where he will never walk free in society again.

Jimmy Robinson


Government waste risks financial future


David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, says the federal government's long-term liabilities and unfunded obligations now total $45 trillion, or $365,000 for every worker. Some $13 trillion is credited to the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill, which will not go into effect until 2006. If my research is correct, the insurance companies, drug companies and health care providers with high-powered lobbyists are the ones who pushed for this bill and are the first to benefit from this bill. Those of us who are on Medicare have seen our Part B premiums go up 17 percent in 2005 and were told to look for another increase in 2006.

Mr. Walker said the Pentagon is spending $1 billion per week in Iraq and has no idea where it is going. They have absolutely atrocious financial management. If they were a business, they would close. In 2004, the government's operating deficit was $567 billion and furthermore, in 35 years, it is entirely plausible that the federal government could be reduced to doing little more than paying interest on the national debt.

Now if my math is correct, in the past 36 years, there have been two Democrats in the White House: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The only balanced budgets occurred on Clinton's watch, so who are the real conservatives? If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk. When I reflect back over the past 36 years and think about the leadership of our last two Democratic presidents, and especially Jimmy Carter, it makes me proud to be able to call myself a lifelong Democrat.

Gordon Pigg


Bachus should want Robertson off the air, too


I read with interest the statement of Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., that Bill Maher should be removed from the airwaves over comments he made on his political show about how to recruit new soldiers for the armed forces. Mr. Bachus said of the comment, "I think it borders on treason. . . . I want him off the air."

For consistency's sake, I am hoping that Rep. Bachus is also calling for the removal of Pat Robertson from the airwaves, following his remark that the democratically elected president of Venezuela should be assassinated. Political assassination of a foreign leader is a violation of federal law.

If Rep. Bachus is not willing to demand the removal of Pat Robertson, then his stance on Bill Maher is hypocritical and politically motivated. If one should be removed, then so should the other.

Robert Franklin

Dallas, Texas

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