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Our readers speak out

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Purple Heart stamp honors U.S. veterans The new Purple Heart postage stamp will be unveiled at post offices across the nation on May 30, 2003. The stamp also goes on sale nationwide that same day. As you know, the Purple Heart is awarded to American military personnel wounded or killed in action, while serving in the U.S. military. This stamp is issued in honor of those brave Americans.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart in Montana has issued a challenge to every other state to ensure that every one of the 120 million Purple Hearts stamps printed by the Postal Service is sold. There would be no finer tribute than having this special stamp on millions of cards and letters. You will honor our Purple Heart recipients, America's veterans and support our outstanding men and women now serving in the Armed Forces.

We are asking that you publish this letter to ensure this goal is accomplished. To the people of Montana, thank you in advance for purchasing these stamps and making this goal a reality.

Jerry LaFountain

State Commander

Military Order of the Purple Heart

Darci Spitzer

Purple Heart Stamp Coordinator

U.S. Postal Service


Murdoch worrisome for U.S. TV markets I find the May 9 article concerning the attempt by Rupert Murdoch to gain support for a proposed merger allowing for the takeover of DirecTV singularly chilling.

Having been a member of the American ex-patriot community in southeast Asia 1995, I was stunned and disappointed when Murdoch's satellite service, StarTV, "arbitrarily" removed BBC News from programming. Reportedly, this stemmed from China's concern over BBC coverage of news material which it found unsupportive of its developing image in the world. What resulted was the elimination of, arguably, the clearest voice on international issues accessible, potentially, to several billion people. What remained was the pandering sound bytes of CNN International.

That a man who so irresponsibly edits access to free journalism by the majority of the world's population can openly politic for such power in our own market place is a terrifying prospect to all those who value the free and divergent sharing of ideas.

Scott Pollard

Cody, Wyo.

Breaks boundaries must be changed Mike Penfold's criticism of Congressman Rehberg's bill to remove the private property from the Missouri monument is a poorly considered complaint and his commentary in The Billings Gazette doesn't square with ranchers in the Breaks.

The Antiquities Act makes no provision for the BLM to go on a private land shopping spree any time a national monument is declared. In fact, the act only authorizes the president to declare monuments on lands owned by the government.

The BLM says these are private properties that have been or could be for sale, and they want to acquire them. Sorry, the law makes no provisions for private land to be included in a monument simply because it might be for sale someday. And, there is no authority to use private property to form part of the outer boundary of a monument.

Congress needs to be involved and serve as watchdog on this monument business because it is a process that has gotten terribly out of control. Our Constitution designates Congress as the sole authority over federal land. Maybe Congress ought to decide whether 81,000 acres of private land should be included in a national monument, particularly when there are tax-base implications or revenue losses at stake.

Rehberg's legislative proposal to remove the private property from the monument is the right thing to do. Even the Secretary of Interior agrees with that notion and is committed to restoring legitimacy to federal land management.

Penfold's simplistic proposal to sweep the private land issue under the carpet and move on encourages continued wrongdoing and only prolongs the monument controversy. It is time we start doing things right in the Breaks, and Rehberg's legislation is a welcomed step in that direction.

Tom Econom


Gazette prints 'vicious attack' on Leachman With much disdain I read The Gazette's April article regarding the Leachman Cattle Co.. I found The Gazette's motives to be questionable and the timing to be reprehensible. I cannot comment on the alleged financial difficulties Leachman and his company might be having. Certainly, if times are rough, Jim can count himself in the company of many hard working and honest individuals who are struggling to keep their ranches solvent. Indeed, ranchers are a significant part of the lifeblood of our state, and it would benefit us all to be empathetic to their plight.

I can however, comment on the tasteless and malicious attack The Gazette launched on Leachman during his annual bull sale. For years, the Leachman Cattle Co. has hosted scores of visitors from all corners of the world for this prestigious event, I cannot even begin to comprehend the financial impact this annual gala must have on our city, but I am sure it is substantial. The service industries, such as restaurants and hotels, as well as virtually every merchant in the area greatly benefit from the huge influx of visitors. The visibility and publicity afforded by his sale and his generous hospitality benefit us all.

The Gazette chose to viciously attack our friend at the very time of his weeklong sale. Further, to add to his embarrassment, The Gazette chose the front page for this journalistic sortie. I have it from reliable sources that interviews with his creditors occurred months before the actual sale, Certainly, if there is indeed merit to the story, the newspaper could have run the article then or even after the sale. Is there any other reason than utter callousness that the paper chose the week of his annual sale to publish this story with such bravado?

Hal Forseth


Castle Rock students, teacher shine in concert I attended the last band concert of the year at Castle Rock Middle School. Tak Engle directs this band. It was a very delightful event. The students sounded wonderful, and their behavior was superb. In a time of baggy pants and short-cropped T-shirts, it was refreshing to watch students play in their best dress clothes. To end the concert, Engle showed us a presentation that he put together that depicted a typical day and a few special event days in daily band class. It was a very special evening with excellent musicians and a superb instructor. Thanks, Castle Rock!

Judy Jensen


Monument signs best choice for city display The message displayed on a non-conforming highway billboard near the corner of 15th and Grand in our city reads: "Big Sky, Big Ads. They Just Go Together, Think Big!" We learned a few years ago (while reviewing the Billings billboard ordinance, not the sign ordinance) that most city residents believe highway billboards belong out in the country, not along our city streets and avenues. Big Sky and big billboard ads never have and never will "go together" nor should we "think big" about billboard advertising.

Today, more and more Billings businessmen and women are choosing the very attractive low-profile monument signs to advertise who they are, their locations and what they have to offer the public. When it comes to outdoor advertising, let's don't think big anymore. Let's be thinking smaller and yet conspicuous, like monument signs. Then our city will become an even more beautiful place to live and visit.

Jack D. Johnson


Lower taxes will spur economic growth All across the nation, including Montana, "tax and tax more" liberals are criticizing Republicans for wanting to lower taxes when the economy is slow and revenues are down. Republicans support lowering taxes when revenues are less because we understand the very basic concept of economics. When business sales are declining, owners and managers very often lower the prices so as to lure in more customers and increase cash flow. They don't raise prices and expect more customers.

History is very clear; lower taxes will grow the economy. A growing economy will increase tax revenues.

Ken Miller, chairman

Montana Republican Party


Montana should set standards for therapists An ad recently appeared in the Billings Gazette promoting a "massage certification" with a "new career in four full days." I called the toll-free number and was given the Web address. The Web site explained that the course was only 28-hours and didn't waste time on "…irrelevant information such as anatomy and physiology."

I have been a professional massage therapist since graduating from a 1,000-hour certification program in 1993. As a professional, I went a step further to become nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork by passing a national certification exam and joining the American Massage Therapy Association, neither of which is possible for a therapist with only 28 hours of education. Annual continuing education is a requirement for both national certification and membership in the AMTA.

Having just witnessed the defeat of SB358 (to license massage therapists) by staunch opposition (mostly from owners of 100-hour massage schools,) during the Senate committee hearing, I find it ironic that the opposition now find themselves in competition with out-of-state and/or out-of-country massage programs that can now undercut them.

The District of Columbia and 32 states regulate massage. Montana is bordered by three other unregulated states. The trend is toward regulation, but in the meantime in Montana, buyer beware. When shopping for a massage therapist, protect yourself by demanding they meet high standards. For assistance in finding a qualified therapist, contact the American Massage Therapy Association at or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork at Next time you hear about massage legislation in the works, contact your legislators and urge they support it.

Julie C. Adair,


AMTA-MT Chapter


Americans must learn facts about U.S. history The May 15 Gazette contained an AP story about a mass grave of Shiite Muslims, killed by Saddam Hussein in a failed revolt. True, the Iraqi military did indeed slaughter these unfortunate people. But how many people know that the Bush I administration encouraged them to revolt back in 1991 and then, guess what, abandoned them? That's right, the rug pulled out from under after they had been led to believe they would have U.S. support. No wonder the Shi'ites now are incensed over the idea of a government imposed by another Bush

Sometimes a few small facts missing in wire stories would help answer that post Sept. 11 question asked, but never adequately answered: "Why do people of the world hate us so much?"

Paul Whiting