Mail December 5-11, 2007 

More News On News

For the record, not all Idaho dailies are shrinking (BW, Feature, "Not-So-Big News, Nov. 21, 2007). Here in Coeur d'Alene, our paid circulation has grown five consecutive years, we're meeting aggressive advertising budgets, and I've hired three University of Idaho journalism grads in the past year. Our philosophy is that the papers giving readers what they want will do just fine, regardless of whether that's on newsprint or computer screens.

—Mike Patrick, managing editor, Coeur d'Alene Press

Help Out, Mike

Sen. Crapo has an opportunity to help millions of older Americans in our state and throughout the nation. As a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, he can play a leading role in relaxing unreasonable asset limits that restrict access to Medicare's low-income programs.

Under current rules, millions of low-income rural Americans are denied the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) that pays premiums and most cost sharing in the Medicare prescription drug program, including full coverage throughout the "doughnut hole" coverage gap. Likewise, millions are not getting help from Medicare Savings Programs that pay Part B premiums and, for those below the poverty line, other Medicare cost sharing.

Nationally, almost one of every three people projected to be eligible for the LIS is not getting it. For the Medicare Savings Programs, more than two of every three eligible people are not enrolled and at least 2.6 million of these are in rural areas.

Why do so many fail to get help? Because no matter how low your income, the limits on the amount of assets you can have are rigid and unreasonable. For the LIS, no individual with more than $11,700 in savings, or couple with more than $23,400, is eligible. For the Medicare Savings Programs in Idaho, no individual with more than $4,000 or couple with more than $6,000 in savings qualifies.

You can help by calling Sen. Crapo at 888-839-9889 to tell him to make sure these changes are included in the Medicare bill.

—Joseph Gallegos, AARP Idaho

Cool It

As many of us concerned with the environment have learned, it's difficult to discuss the complex issues of climate change with global-warming deniers because they refuse to deal with those issues fairly and in good faith. Austin Tromberg's letter (BW, Mail, "Cope Makes Me Sick," Nov. 21, 2007) regarding Bill Cope's Nov. 7 column is a case in point.

To take but one example, the UK High Court decision mentioned by Mr. Tromberg actually agreed with an expert witness that "Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in [An Inconvenient Truth] was broadly accurate"—echoing the sentiments of the vast majority of scientists upon the film's release. Justice Burton did indeed find nine "errors," but his comments make clear that most involved differences of scientific opinion.

In the case of the impact of global warming on corals, for instance, Justice Burton noted that "separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult." Yet he acknowledged and clearly agreed with the scientific consensus that "if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adopt or acclimatise [sic]."

Justice Burton's full opinion is readily available on the Internet, and I would urge all interested parties to read it carefully. Despite being ballyhooed by global-warming deniers and the right-wing press in general, his opinion supports the thrust and most of the details of An Inconvenient Truth. To assert otherwise is simply dishonest.

—Grove Koger, Boise

my Phone Tips

Every business you call these days announces that calls are monitored and recorded now, and it is mandatory for you to give your name. I state that my company's "policy" is to only give an employee identification number in lieu of a name. I then proceed to recite a terrifically long and difficult series of case sensitive alpha-numeric characters including the non-alpha-numeric characters. We then can repeat it several times and make corrections along the way until the other person is exasperated to no end. Additionally, you can inform them that your company's policy is to get the person's name that you are talking to and also recite your company's hours of operation and employee roster of extension numbers. It is really quite fun ... and it makes me feel good. I also notify them that the call is being recorded and monitored by my company as well. It is also possible to put them on hold for an extended period of time just to test their patience. For all the readers out there who are responsible for this ridiculous and unnecessary inconvenience, and you know who you are, I sincerely hope we have an opportunity to exchange our brands of foolishness soon.

—Jim Spicka, Boise

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