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Cheryl Sullenger--A Danger to Women

Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue, recently wrote a column for the Wichita Eagle in response to a column by Julie Burkhart, director of South Wind Women's Clinic. Burkhart's column dealt with the requirement that doctors at clinics that provide abortions must have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Sullenger refutes Burkhart's claim that such a requirement is not only unnecessary, it also hurts women. Because of such a law now in effect in Texas, several clinics have had to close, leaving many women having to travel far distances to get abortion services.

Think first? duh --

We've remembered 50 years ago and the tragic death of our President. I picked this up from one of the articles, I read.

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy, 35th US president (1917-1963)

We are all a little guilty of forming opinions with little effort or thought to back our opinions.
Our ideology, far too often, obscures facts.

I sure wish the 'comment' section worked. But, it don't !
I'd like to comment on Voice of Moderation,by Richard Head.

Our adult Sunday School class has been studying Proverbs (Old Testament). Today's lesson was in the 14th chapter. Quoting from verses 20 & 21 (RSV): The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends. He who despises his neighbor is a sinner, but happy is he who is kind to the poor.

We learn early in life that the 'rich' kids have toys, candies, games, etc. and if we cater to them, we might get to share them. But the 'poor' kids usually don't have much for us to covet or share. Those 'poor' kids are left to feel disliked and abandoned. That hasn't changed since I was a kid and it was the case, even, back when Solomon wrote the Proverbs. It just seems like we all would like to be associated with those who appear to be successful and popular.

Now, read that 21st verse. What does it mean to 'despise' our neighbor? How do we despise our neighbors? Is it when we don't consider them worthy or don't think they have anything for us that we 'despise' their presence? Solomon described that as 'sinning'. What did Jesus say about it? Read in Matthew 25: 31 thru 46. Would Jesus have said, "Cut off their foodstamps and let them go hungry, maybe they will go to work? What does our Bible say about praising the wealthy and rewarding them with more wealth?

Perhaps those of us who claim to be Christians need to think about those verses of Scripture. Is it any wonder that many who don't follow or identify themselves as Christians, think we are hippocrits, when we want to take the bread away from the poor, or, when we want to ignore their health care needs?

Does God put the crooked or incompetent politicians into government positions? Or does he just allow us to make our mistakes? Does God cause us to sin or do we just choose to sin?

Voice of Moderation

Basehor, Kans. - William Galston, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, lately has been a voice of reason and moderation on the opinion pages of the paper. To wit...

His 6 November piece titled "In Defense of Food Stamps" articulates many of the lame-brained, ideological reasons for eliminating or drastically reducing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka Food Stamps). For example:

Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, macroeconomic trends account for 65% of the increased spending in the food stamp program. A combination of higher food prices and lower beneficiary incomes accounts for an additional 15%. The temporary increase in benefits included in the 2009 stimulus bill accounts for the remaining 20%, and that increase ended as of Nov. 1. Over the next decade, according to CBO economic projections, the number of food-stamp beneficiaries will fall by about 30%, to 34.3 million. Annual outlays will fall by $10 billion in current dollars, and much more when inflation is taken into account.

So what is the fight about? Congressional and other critics of the program complain that standards are lax and that only individuals at or below the poverty line should be eligible. Even if this argument were accepted, CBO calculates, outlays would fall by only 4%. Second, say the critics, too many individuals become eligible "categorically" through their participation in other programs rather than through income tests. This is another distinction that doesn't make much of a practical difference: Eliminating categorical eligibility outright would reduce the number of beneficiaries by only 4% and outlays by only 2%.

No bull about climate change

I, for one, am grateful for Salina Journal editor Roshana Ariel's comments and research. Agree with her or not, she is direct, honest, self-revelatory--and offers many new perspectives for consideration. Most importantly, she doesn't pretend to be chief surfer on any ideological wave.

Her October 19 column had a lot of meat on it, and in it. Plenty of food for thought, from the Hamburger Project's future lab-produced meat to Allan Savory's TED talk, where he claimed we can save the world from becoming a desert--and even mitigate global warming-- through better livestock grazing. That's one tall order.

Especially because beef has always been problematic. Many argue that the most direct protein delivery is straight from plant to stomach, bypassing all the energy and cost, in dollars, water, and calories, to raise cattle or other livestock. Yet steakhouses proliferate, and many fast food chains are still thought of as 'hamburger joints,' even though they serve chicken strips and salads. There is no denying the appetite for beef.

In pursuit of this appetite, staggering acreages are planted to water-thirsty and input-hungry corn, much of which goes (after our other addiction, automobile ethanol) to feed cattle. Far-too-cheap permits for livestock grazing on federal lands remains controversial and contributes to habitat destruction.

Compounding those negatives is the demand for greater and greater production of bigger and bigger cattle.

Perhaps the ugliest example of this trend taken to extremes is the new Belgian Blue. Anyone asking, "Where's the beef?" need only google "Supercow" to get an idea of what the beasts look like. Their sculpted, heavily muscled appearance, known as "double-muscling, " is a heritable condition which results in increased numbers of muscle fibers. It is One. Big. Ugly. Cow. So big it can barely stand on its own. Although leaner (a virtue, for some producers), the beef yield per cow is huge.

This big cow trend, however, has come into disfavor among some cattlemen who have been inundated by large dollar requirements for grain, antibiotics, and other inputs. Back even in 2010, the Kansas Rural Center hosted a Kansas Graziers Conference to investigate raising smaller animals. As presenter Kit Pharo then said, "(Many) Western Kansas ranches were put together and paid for with 350-lb. calves, and now those same ranches are struggling to make it with 600-lb. calves."

So, in the midst of all this doom and gloom for the cattle industry, comes Allan Savory, whose news is, well, savory. At its heart, Savory's recommendation is for 'rotational grazing,' which utilizes moving cattle to different pastures, whether permanently fenced or with mobile electric fence, or moving them by cow herders. All this controls grazing impacts for the health of the land, the animals, and the people who raise and eat them.

I first became enamored of Savory because of an email from Tim Hobson. Tim, now deceased, was one of the most persistent researchers and evangelizers in the Resilience Group. One day last year, he sent out Savory's TED talk to the group for discussion. Savory grabs attention particularly with his claim that wise grazing practice can not only reclaim deserts, but likely reduce spreading deserts, thus combatting global warming.

Other farmer/cattle raisers echo his claims, though not focusing on the climate change argument. Kit Pharo practices rotational grazing. Joel Salatin, featured in recent food films "Fresh" and "Food, Inc.", grazes rotationally. As he states on his Polyface Farms website: "This natural model heals the land, thickens the forage, reduces weeds, stimulates earthworms, reduces pathogens, and increases nutritional qualities in the meat." A former college colleague of mine, now full-time farmer/stockman Dale Strickler, regularly has a graziers' forum at the Kansas Rural Center. When I phoned, he confirmed his long-term and beneficial use of the moving-paddock practice.

Heartening news, all round. Certainly, reclaiming desert land is a goal few would reject.

But the rub comes in Savory's claim that this can be a solution to climate change--not to mention his added claims of increased productivity, water infiltration and utilization, nitrogen availability and carbon sequestration (two possibly competing claims).

As some scientists pointed out in our Resilience discussion, peer-reviewed studies reject such sweeping claims. Convincing as Savory's TED talk is, gripping graphics and swelling music do not a convincing argument make.

It's good to seek solutions. It is, however, unwise to pin our hopes on any magic bullets. Savory or unsavory, the only way to work our way out of world-wide threats to our existence is by working together intelligently, not savior-seeking. And that's no bull.

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This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in November 2013. These are listed from newest to oldest.

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