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July 23, 2014

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Where I Stand — Mike O’Callaghan: Listen to UNLV thinker

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS has published an article written by Professor Hal Rothman of UNLV. He is an accomplished author and can say a lot with few words.

Rothman's "It's time for a new law of the river" piece is both concise and interesting for people depending on the Colorado River as their source of water. He describes the history and shortcomings of the Colorado River Compact. He calls it the "fiction of the river" and says it's obsolete.

The guts of Rothman's work concludes: "A new compact could take into account urban use, environmental law, new economic activity, fluctuation in water quantity, water quality and countless other contingencies that didn't exist 80 years ago. It could create a Colorado River for the needs of today and tomorrow, not one beholden to a flawed past. Such a step requires the leadership to exercise federal power, anathema to the Bush administration."

Every Nevada decision maker should read the entire article. Rothman should be made a participant in any policymaking meetings affecting the Colorado River.

I contacted Paul Murphy in Colorado after hearing about the Navy now leaving a ship overseas and changing entire crews. The new crew is flown to the ship and the present crew returns home or is assigned to another ship. The Navy calls this Sea Swap.

I didn't serve in the Navy but have often heard sailors speak with pride about "their" ship. Murphy, one of the 317 survivors from the USS Indianapolis, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine the last week of World War II, replied:

"I do feel very strongly that men should remain on the same ship and not change. A sailor's ship is his home. It takes a while to become familiar with it, as it is so large. You take pride in it and want to keep it in top condition. If you know you are going to go to another 'home' in six months or so, you may get the 'who cares' attitude. You will not be as effective as it will take you a while to get accustomed to your new surroundings.

"I am so glad I spent my entire Navy ship experience on one ship ... the most beautiful ship in the Navy ... The USS INDIANAPOLIS. The rest of your life you can argue with other 'sailors' that you served on a ship that was bigger and better than theirs."

A total of 880 men died when the Indianapolis went down. The book "Only 317 Survived!" recounts:

"Approximately 300 men went down with the ship. Some 900 more -- many just partly clothed or naked -- donned kapok life jackets, leaping into the thick black fuel-oil-covered ocean. A handful of rubber rafts provided refuge for some. Others just clung to debris. Many were badly burned. Besides the vomiting and nausea caused by the oil, a number died from shark attacks, which began with the dawn. The men were without food or drinking water for almost five days. The sharks were always there!"

When asked about how he survived the sharks, Murphy says, "They don't like Irishmen."

Let's hope that the God in Me shelter for the homeless isn't closed and that another 63 people are not dumped back into the streets. The problem appears to be centered on a zoning matter. Certainly reasonable people and public officials with some extra time can iron out the problem so the homeless being sheltered can continue striving to improve themselves.

Over an extended period of time, efforts to provide for private affordable housing is the answer. Right now it's not available, so shelters like God in Me are our only humane answers. The homeless deserve both help and understanding from all of us.

The medical case of Jesica Santillan, the 17-year-old who received a heart and lung transplant of the wrong blood type, should raise more than a few questions. For example:

Is the suggested $250,000 cap for pain and suffering a fair and reasonable law for Congress to pass?

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