Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and for persons who have never smoked, chances are much greater of developing lung cancer if exposed to high levels of radon gas over a period of years.

The federal government knows about this worldwide threat, but very few of our citizens know anything about radon gas or of its harmful effects. Testing for radon gas is very easy. Buying a test kit at the local hardware store and conducting a two- or three-day test can determine if a home has high radon gas. If it is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air or higher, it needs to be mitigated, according to the surgeon general. Mitigation is not complicated and can be accomplished in a few hours.

I had no idea what radon gas was and certainly didn't think it was in my house. On February 8, 2006, my husband Joe died of lung cancer. Joe hadn't smoked in 27 years. On March 8, I saw on TV that Dana Reeves, a nonsmoker, had died of lung cancer. Again radon gas was mentioned as a cause of lung cancer. I tested the house, and found the levels of 11.2 and 17.6 picocuries per liter. Needless to say, I had it mitigated.

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. My purpose is to prevent other deaths due to radon by having every house tested for this killer. We can save thousands of lives.


Gloria Linnertz

Waterloo, Illinois



It's Time to Leave Iraq

Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former U.S. ambassador to the UN, has captured the gross failure committed by our nation in invading Iraq: "The war in Iraq is not the disease. Iraq is a symptom. The disease is arrogance."

Only arrogance can explain why the Bush administration thought our troops would be welcomed as liberators. As later admitted by retired General Jack Keane, who commanded the Army in 2003, "We did not see it [the insurgency] coming. And we were not properly prepared and organized to deal with it."

Our men and women on the ground know what a disaster the war has become. In August, the New York Times published a commentary by soldiers with the 82nd Airborne. They wrote: "In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia, and criminal violence."

In October, the Washington Post published a similar essay by former Army captains. "Even with 'the surge,' we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely, and building sustainable institutions," the captains wrote. "Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances."

The captains concluded: "Our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition."

The defining issue of the 2008 presidential campaign is the Iraq war. If we are not careful, it may be the defining issue in 2012.

At the Democratic presidential debate at Dartmouth College in September, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards each refused to commit to withdraw our troops from Iraq by 2013, the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. When the question was put to Clinton, she responded, "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting." Obama dodged as well: "I think it would be irresponsible" to say what he would do as president. Edwards replied: "I cannot make that commitment."

There is an alternative. Bill Richardson unequivocally calls for a prompt and complete exit from Iraq. "Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else's civil war," Richardson states. "So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.

"A struggle between a country's warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life," Richardson adds. I agree. It's time for the U.S. to leave Iraq.


Stephen Cassidy

San Leandro, California

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