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<b>Relevant inquiries</b>

EDITOR: My first reaction to Honora Russell's letter ("Irrelevant questions," Thursday) was anger. And because I read the paper daily, there is no doubt that almost every letter about the Andy Lopez shooting agrees with what she says. Not all of us agree with Russell.

We who have to hear and read about the shooting almost every day deserve to have all of the answers, even if they're irrelevant to some. The questions we have aren't about what happened; they're about why it happened in the first place. To find out why, questions about Andy's schooling, behavior and parents' citizenship are completely relevant.

R.L. HERMAN

Windsor

<b>Recognizing heroes</b>

EDITOR: I stand to correct Dennis Tobin ("Jaded accolades," Letters, Tuesday). Armistice Day is not what Veterans Day is supposed to be. And heroes are not always praised. Veterans Day is a day to honor the men and women, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers who leave their loved ones and postpone their lives to protect us all.

Please tell the 90-year-old merchant marine ("Survivors on the seas," Monday) the hangnail joke. I guess that's what it was. Or tell it to all the nurses, doctors and combat medics who put themselves in harm's way to save lives, the clergy who risk their lives to save a soul and the combat engineers, the Red cross workers, the police officers and firefighters. Tell them and the families who hope they come home that they deserve no recognition. Recognize that they are all heroes. Please just give it a try.

JOE TRACY

Petaluma

<b>Jobless and forgotten</b>

EDITOR: Paul Krugman's Nov. 10 column ("True cost of our economic self-mutilation") should be required reading for anyone concerned about poverty and unemployment in our country. He does a great job of explaining how our government has followed a policy of reducing employment opportunities in the name of deficit reduction.

The net result is that we reduce our rate of economic growth and then reduce jobs for our grandchildren. He points out that long-term unemployment — people out of work for six months or more — is four times what it was before the recession. As he points out, these numbers translate into millions of human tragedies in our country.

I find it outrageous that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats talk about this as a national tragedy. Probably the most troubling part of Krugman's column is the realization that President Barack Obama and many Democrats have accepted the Republican argument of long-term deficit reduction at any cost.

Where is the concern about the enormous number of poor and unemployed who have little hope in our society? Where is the outrage? I hope the president finally wakes up and starts talking with some passion about these people in need and articulates the steps we have to take to produce more jobs in our country.

TOM MONPERE

Ukiah

<b>Questionable benefit</b>

EDITOR: The July 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association reported: "Fluoride incorporated during tooth development is insufficient to play a significant role in caries protection."

The Centers for Disease Control stated in 1999: "Fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children."

The CDC repeated this position in 2001, affirming that "fluoride's predominant effect is post-eruptive and topical."

These conclusions strongly contradict the notion that fluoridated water fights dental caries during the development of tooth enamel in childhood. There is evidence to suggest that fluoridated water may have a host of negative side-effects, but we do not have definitive science on these topics because they have not been studied properly in the United States.

If you're going to fluoridate the water, get your facts straight; the current research on the topic of fluoridated water indicates that it may be more of a health menace than a health benefit.

BRENT GUDZUS

Windsor