Letters to the Editor for Nov. 22

‘Reversing Progress’

The next two years will more likely see the United States of America move away from a country Of, By and For the People to a Corporatist/Aristocratic state. With Radical Right Republicans (RRRs) in control of both houses of congress, the global environment and the average U.S. citizens will see massive, unfavorable changes. Polluters will be allowed to pollute more, irrespective of consequences, in favor of profit. People in need of affordable health care will more than likely be stripped of what they have gained through the Affordable Health Care Act. Every gain we the people have seen in the last six years will be attacked by RRR congressional actions to undo them. Every effort to protect the environment all of us live in will repealed or weakened. This will happen to protect or enhance corporate profit and increase the top 5 percent‘s wealth. Every reasonable oversight of the financial industry shenanigans and Wall Street gambling will be weakened or removed. Nothing good can come from these actions. But that won’t stop the RRRs.

Some say Obama has an opportunity to work with Republicans in the next two years. Were these same people asleep for the last six years? Virtually every compromise Obama has tried to work out with Republicans over his entire time as President has been has been verbally spit upon. Republicans have given absolutely nothing in return that helps the people of this country or the environment of this finite planet we live on. It does not matter what the Obama Administration has proposed, Republicans have vilified it and rejected it. The hatred people and politicians have expressed for our black president is appalling. No way has this behavior served the good of this country and the average American.

If you are in the middle or lower income bracket, expect and be prepared for the worst. If you are in the top 5 percent, you are probably rubbing your hands in glee.

Gary Fields

Hood River

Science for the benefit of humanity

Every day, when we travel in our cars, stay safe and warm in our homes, buy food at the store, or use medicine, we benefit from the knowledge that science has provided us.

We here in the US are also beneficiaries of the wonderful air pollution science work of the Jaffe Group from the University of Washington, Meiyun Lin of Princeton University, and others. They’ve sampled pollutants and air currents using satellite data, and sites in California, Hawaii, and Oregon. Their work proves that ground level ozone and mercury, which are largely by-products of fossil fuel consumption in Asia, are carried through the air over the Pacific and drop down to the west coast. These emissions, which come from power production, transportation, and industry, are creating more clean air act violations and less healthy air on the west coast. Over half of the recent clean air act violations in Los Angeles would not have occurred without the ozone contribution from Asia!

In this case, history truly repeats itself. In the 60s, Dr. Haagen-Smit, a scientist considered the father of air pollution control, linked vehicle emissions in California, including ozone, as the cause of severe human respiratory damage, massive financial loss of crop production, and even the deterioration of automobile tires. His work led to vehicle emission controls. Clearly scientific work led us away from the dark times of massive premature deaths, and financial loss due to crop damage.

Now, as we face potential lung impairment, bronchitis, and asthma from ozone, and potential nervous system and brain damage from mercury, isn’t it time we use the lessons of science to keep us, and our children, healthy? Shouldn’t we look at our trade agreements with respect to their consequences on air quality? Shouldn’t we stop exporting filthy fossil fuels like coal and oil that come back to us as toxic air? Shouldn’t west coast air pollution agencies plan for the future with Asian emissions in mind? Can’t we, and our Asian trade partners, utilize the gifts of science like photovoltaic panels, which were developed in part by NASA & Bell Labs to improve the air and create jobs? Can’t we use the benefits of science to turn problems into solutions?

Dave Berger


Mosier Fire Dist. reminder

To the voters of Mosier Fire District — As a property owner and fellow citizen of the Mosier Fire District, I would like to remind voters of the following as they prepare to cast their votes in our upcoming recall election.

Recent fires, such as the one from Hood River mountain to the city limits of Mosier and the one this last fire season that threatened Rowena and West The Dalles, display how rapidly a fire can develop beyond the capabilities of local city or rural fire departments. Fire history verifies these type and magnitude of fires will happen again.

Therefore, it is imperative that our District Board of Directors and our Fire Chief have exceptional lines of communication and cooperation established with all local cities and rural fire departments in our region, along with Oregon Department of Forestry and US Forest Service Fire Management organizations.

Open and cooperative communication is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens in our community and our surrounding communities.

If this is currently not happening; then it should!

Ken Huskey


Visit exhibit

A very important Smithsonian exhibit is coming to the Discovery Center in The Dalles: “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964.”

“Braceros” were “guest workers,” mostly from Mexico, who were brought into the US to work in agriculture during World War II. Despite the war’s end and the well-documented abuses of braceros in many quarters, this federal program was not dismantled until the 1960s.

I hope we will all take time to view the exhibit and learn more about the history of braceros in our country. It could not be more timely.

Congressman Walden evidently spoke at a recent Town Hall meeting of the need to address the immigration status of the region’s agricultural workers. One “solution” we must all watch carefully as the debates ensue is that of a new “guest worker“ program, so that the mistakes and abuses of the past are not repeated.

There ARE models of respectable and respectful “guest worker” programs that could be adopted if there is political will, as well as civic demand and keen scrutiny. A great source of information about Ag Jobs, a model that has received broad support from diverse sectors, can be found at farmworkerjustice.org/advocacy-and-programs/agjobs.

May we all demand that immigration policy developments reflect a solid commitment to prevent the problems of the past. And may we all ensure that compassion and appreciation are conveyed in any new program designed for those who plant, harvest, and process the food we all eat.

Tina Castañares


Linfield lesson

I woke up last Sunday morning to the unimaginable. A classmate of my daughter’s had been stabbed to death the night before. I quickly texted her to find out how she was doing. Her reply: He died. I then read the email the President of Linfield had sent parents, informing us of the senseless death of Parker Moore. I can’t describe the wave of panic that went through me when I read the details. Parker was in line at the 7/11 across from campus, while his friend was waiting for him in the car. A McMinnville man walked into the store and stabbed Parker in an unprovoked attack.

Why him? The police in McMinnville are as confused as the people he left behind. When his family should be welcoming their son back for Thanksgiving, they are planning his funeral. It seems like a cliché when you say he was a great person, but everything I have read and heard has been the same description of Parker: he had everything to live for, he always had a smile on his face, a true team player. A top athlete in football, an R.A. in his dorm, and most of all, he possessed a real love of life. When I see his face, I can’t stop thinking: he positively glowed.

What’s the lesson here? I have thought about this non-stop all week. I wish I had a profound message to say. I only know that I’m going to hold my daughter tight and be thankful for everything this holiday season. And I will think of Parker’s beautiful glowing face.

Mary Jensen

Hood River

Apathy, disgust real winners

I don’t think it takes much thought to figure out that the real winners in this November’s election were apathy and disgust. A clear majority of American who could vote chose not to, and for this, Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, corporations, labor unions, and the media can share credit. Most American failed to find candidates they could support, or believed our political process to be so broken and toxic that they want no part in it. If there is any message in this election, it is that we need to change our election processes to restore a functioning representational democracy. A good start might include the following features:

1) Eliminating the Electoral College to have the presidency determined by popular vote

2) Getting rid of gerrymandered congressional districts (we have fair GIS tools to do so)

3) Opening voting registration to all citizens

4) Making vote by prepaid mail universal

5) Creating primaries in which the top two candidates of any affiliation advance to the general election (already law in Washington State)

6) Restoring the rights of Mutual Fund shareholders to stop campaign spending by corporations they own.

7) Making all campaign financing transparent

These steps will not by themselves fix our political system, but they might restore some measure of faith in the process leading to further improvements. Many of the problems we face will demand solutions that transgress the established entrenched battle lines. For some time we have produced much noise and carnage, with little to show for it. It’s time to get better at this.

Ben Seagraves

White Salmon

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