Letters to the Editor

Readers write about choosing a safe college, the Kaloko dam breach, authentic shamans, and Hispanic's TV habits.

After faculty role in Duke case, pick colleges carefully

Regarding the Sept. 14 article, "Legacy of Duke case: a rein on prosecutors?" As parents and high school seniors make plans and fill out college applications for next year, they now must consider a different "legacy."

Critically, parents now must look closely at college faculties. At Duke University, fully 88 faculty members signed a petition essentially declaring guilty three white male students prior to a full investigation or trial.

And Vanderbilt University hired away two of this group's leaders.

College choices are difficult, but spending in the neighborhood of $200,000 to place your young-adult child in harm's way may not be a great idea.

Gordon E. Finley
Professor of psychology Florida International University

Collapse of the Kaloko dam

In response to the Sept. 13 article, "Problem dams on the rise in the US," kudos for heightening public awareness of dam safety and the current state of dams across the nation.

The opening statement of this article appears to indicate that a period of heavy rains was the primary cause for the Kaloko dam breach on Kauai Island.

In fact, according to an independent investigation by a special deputy attorney general appointed by Hawaii's attorney general, there were many human-induced factors that contributed to this catastrophe. Lives were lost, and homes swept away.

Dams can be valuable tools, but they are inherently dangerous.

Every dam should be properly rated. Every dam that presents a medium or high risk should be inspected annually for deficiencies, with legally mandated repairs or maintenance being performed in a timely manner.

Further, each and every person whose life and/or property would be at risk in the event of a dam failure should be notified or reminded of that fact on a regular basis.

In protecting their interests, they would more than likely be active in ensuring that inspections, maintenance, and repairs were completed regularly.

Bruce Fehring
Kilauea, Hawaii

Beware fraudulent shamans

In response to the Sept. 13 article, "Sweating out war": I was adopted by a powerful shaman as a 7-year-old. I saw him perform some amazing cures with his rituals. He never allowed anyone to photograph him or his medicine bundles/props or record his voice.

There are many chants and prayers that are offered during a session. Some rituals can last anywhere from an hour to nine days, or longer.

In addition, it can take an apprentice more than a decade to become initiated as a shaman. So not just anyone can become a shaman.

I have to advise people against taking just any native American's word that he is a shaman.

I am Irish/native American, and I have hair to my waist and turquoise earrings. I could very easily gather feathers, fans, rattles, beads, and other props – and fool anyone into believing I am the real deal.

Likewise, anyone can put black shoe polish on white chicken feathers, buy a gourd rattle, burn "sweet grass," and mumble a bunch of incoherent jabber, and make believe they are shamans.

So be very careful. (I am not suggesting in any way that the "shaman" profiled in your piece about veterans is a fake.)

Mike Mullins
Blanding, Utah

Watching TV should be criticism-free

In response to the Sept. 17 article, "Among networks, Spanish-language Univision is now a top contender": The implications of this article suggest that it is Hispanics who are isolating themselves and finding cultural comfort in TV. Another case of blaming the victim, if you ask me. How can we blame these people for being indoors watching something that is friendly and that they can relate to?

J.A. Hernandez

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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