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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.11.07

MORE FRANKEN-FOODS COMING

I am a food service professional. I am a certified executive and master pastry chef. I am currently employed as a food and beverage director locally. I have studied nutrition, and though I do not hold a certificate in nutrition, needless to say, it is not only an interest, but an avocation. I have spent nearly 30 years in the food service business. I am passionate about both good nutrition and good food.

I have spent most of my adult life honing the skills I need to present fresh, seasonal, farm-to-table foods in both a nutritional and appealing way to enhance people's enjoyment and lives.

Last week the FDA decided that yet another "Franken-food" could be "safely" consumed. To say that I am disappointed would be a severe understatement. Once again, as in so many times in the past, the FDA has caved in to political pressures and dollars from special interests. That this is not the first time does not lessen the impact of the decision they have made. In the interest of political capital and whatever other perks they've been offered, they have offered the health and well-being of not only the people of this country, but indeed the world, to those whose only real interest is themselves and their own enrichment. Consumers have become no more than an afterthought with a wallet.

The animals tested were first generation animals and their offspring. It does not take much intellect to realize that these animals are entirely too expensive to end up on someone's dinner table. No, it will be their offspring for many generations, harboring not only an extremely monochromatic genealogy, but unknown mutations, diseases and possible viruses that at this point we cannot even imagine.

Further, the FDA has decided that there is no need for the public to be informed when they are eating genetically modified (which are now on our grocers' shelves, and unless we eat our own open-pollinated, organic foods, most probably in our pantries) and cloned foods. How is it that the legislators in New York in their infinite wisdom have created a law that bans trans-fats in restaurants because "people have a right to know what they are eating," and yet the FDA is ready to foist questionable foods on the world at large without so much as letting them know that what they are eating is from genetically modified and cloned plants and animals? What happened to the "right to know what we are eating"? I for one would like to make my own studied choice. How can I be expected to trust the FDA when they have so often proven that they cannot be trusted?

Outrage is almost an understatement when I look at the serious miscarriage of the mission to keep our food stream safe. From now on, I'll just figure "FDA" stands for "For Dollars Alone." The FDA should take a hard and serious look at what they are planning to do to the safety of the world's food — and so should we.

Iain L. Stuart, Springfield

 

STAGE HANDS MAGIC

I want to thank EW for their wonderful article (1/4) about the IATSE (stagehands union) members who work backstage at the Hult. I had the pleasure of working firsthand with that crew when I stage managed Willamette Rep's production of Woody Guthrie's American Songbook and OFAM's Crazy for You.

I've traveled to about half the states in our great country on tour with shows in the 1970s and 1980s — playing some of the biggest and most famous venues, and I have never met a crew as professional and dedicated as the crew we have here at the Hult. In just a relatively few hours, they build and learn the rhythm and timing of an entire show. Lights, sound, sets, costumes, props and makeup — everything you see, they touch and apply their magic.

The touring shows from New York City come in with a skeleton crew. They rely on the local union members to execute the set changes, hang and focus the lights, mix the sound, iron, stitch, sew and dress the actors.

The next time you're impressed with a show at the Hult and you see those folks, usually dressed in black, emerging from the alley between the theater and the parking lot, you might stop and say "good show." They had as much to do with giving you an exciting theater experience as the soprano who sang the lead.

Carol Horne, Eugene

 

BROWN EUGENE

Eugene's newest slogan — that it is the "number one green city" in the country — is a wild exaggeration that makes ecological policies more difficult to achieve. Perhaps the city government is the greenest in Lane County although Eugene emits more pollution than the other cities combined. Eugene is number one for formaldehyde (from plywood glue), particulate pollution and pollen — our air is only clean when it is raining. Amazon Creek is polluted with lawn chemicals and industrial waste, and the city may allow its headwaters to be smothered with more subdivisions.

Several other Oregon towns are ahead of Eugene. Hood River banned more big box stores, a law upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court in 2002. In contrast, Eugene is welcoming more big boxes such as Whole Foods (on Highway 99) and Lowe's (in west Eugene wetlands).

Portland has a task force to look at peak oil impacts, something Eugene has not adopted.

Even Washington, D.C., a city not known for environmental policies, now mandates that all new commercial buildings must use "green" features.

This slogan is similar to the embarrassing claim to be the "World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors."

Legal prohibitions are much more effective than public relations at preventing pollution.

Calling Eugene the country's most green city is similar to Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, which had great rhetoric yet neglected to discuss Gore's promotion of NAFTA, the WTO, energy deregulation and a huge expansion of the interstate highway system.

The inconvenient truth is that the shadow government (corporations and the military industrial complex) did not want to deal with climate change and peak oil because the solutions are inherently decentralized and would require relaxation of centralized power control systems.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene

 

ROGUE AGENCY

The Oregon Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is attempting to destroy tens of thousands of acres of Oregon's last ancient forests west of the Cascade mountains as well as the nation's largest ancient forest roadless area on BLM lands, the Zane Grey. The Zane Grey roadless area adjoins the Rogue River Wilderness in southwest Oregon.

In southern Oregon alone, the BLM has currently prepared more than 30 timber sales, with more under way, that would decimate or degrade tens of thousands of acres of ancient and native forest in the Rogue, Umpqua, Applegate and Illinois River watersheds.

This corrupt and rogue agency has been convicted by federal courts of breaking the law nearly a half dozen times in the last 36 months over its mismanagement of forest lands in western Oregon. Yet no one is punished except those who try to uphold the law.

To add insult to injury, the Oregon BLM is attempting to throw out the Northwest Forest Plan as it pertains to their 2.6 million acres in western Oregon to please their Oregon timber baron masters. This sham is being called the Western Oregon Planning Revision (WOPR; learn more at www.oregonheritageforests.org).The only thing that may be able to stop the BLM is citizen pressure placed on Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne via Sen. Ron Wyden and Congressman Peter DeFazio. Tell them that this must be stopped to protect threatened salmon, wildlife, future wilderness and recreation and to help curb global warming.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

FORD'S FALLACIES

As most daily papers persist in giving us lies about the supposed presidential qualities of Gerry Ford, they ignore his main role as a manipulated pawn of the Republican power structure. His pardon of Richard Nixon was no act of courage but a blatant response to pressure of the GOP to remove some of the onus from the first in a series of terrible presidents it nominated.

Ford's unfortunate "insights" are reflected in his having placed in high positions two architects of today's criminal invasion of Iraq: Dick Cheney as his chief of staff and Donald Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense (war).

His pardon of Nixon becomes more of a travesty as it encourages gullible Americans to tolerate illegal actions of George Bush, puppet on the strings held by the same two reprobates who once guided policy for Ford.

It is essential — if our children are to have an understanding of justice that punishes lawbreakers in high places — that Bush and Cheney be impeached. Then they and Rumsfeld should be extradited to be judged by the World Criminal Court in The Hague.

George Beres, Eugene

 

SAVAGE ADVICE

Savage Love is not exactly my idea of "words of pure wisdom." Perhaps that's a play on words. Surely this rag can find something of more value to the masses than Mr. Savage's advice to others' sexual woes and worries. It's offensive. I'd like to see it go bye-bye.

Tracy McGeehan, Eugene

 

WHY I DISLIKE ARSON

OK, let's play ping-pong, Randy (letters, 12/28). First, thank you for giving your point of view on my comments regarding the "eco-arsonists," but I wish you took the time to read me better; one of my first sentences mentioned my disapproving with violence, "especially in the form of arson." Maybe I should have explained more why I don't like arson: It doesn't accomplish anything, it is gratuitous and pollutes, so, in the case of the eco-arsonists, it wasn't smart, I give you that.

Now, there is a BIG difference between the eco and pro-lifers. Every time I read or heard about arson perpetrated by pro-lifers, they hope they are going to torch someone, especially the doctor and his assistants, if possible … PRO-life, yeah right! Don't you remember the guy who tried to murder a doctor back East a few years ago? Do you still believe eco and pro-life arsonists belong in the same cell?

I just wish nobody had to come up with any "last resort" solution leading to violence and arson, and we all have our wish list. For some, it's about getting richer, for others, it's just demanding respect for this awesome planet.

Thanks again for your feedback — I love Eugene for this reason: We can still agree to disagree.

Alby Thoumsin, Springfield

 

STOPPING TRAINS

Regarding the "Purity Test" letter (12/28) by Steve Bouton: I'm not sure how Bouton got a copy of my life history, but it must have been an abridged version. Steve says, "When Vip's crew gets together and stops a military supply train, wake me up." Well, it was a long time ago: While Anti-Authoritarians Anonymous were busy putting their despair-inducing posters on the telephone poles of Eugene in the early 1980s, a bunch of us followed up our federal trials for stopping business as usual at the Trident nuclear sub base by organizing what came to be called the "Tracks Campaign."

Norman Solomon and I nabbed the front line on the tracks in Portland at the first of several mass actions that stopped the so-called "White Train," which carried dozens of nuke warheads from Texas to the still abominably lethal Trident subs. We stood our ground over and over until they hauled our asses away. I'm told that a few cops quit the force after that day; something about what we did was persuasive.

It would be crass, macho and completely beside the point to get into a "Whose arrest record is longer?" contest; don't wanna go there. Activist résumés shouldn't be an issue. We've all walked our talk to varying degrees.

Like Steve, I dig Gandhi's militancy. I prefer the term "uncompromising forcefulness," though. (Why borrow jargon from the war machine?) The science of satyagraha can be chosen from all the forceful options available, and the purpose of my original letter was to once again point out that if you choose any kind of violent means, you're only gonna reap more violence. If that's what you're after, fine — it ain't what I'm after. Nonviolence or satyagraha requires quite a bit more attention and self-sacrifice, but it ultimately just works better … if it's a better world you want.

I am sorry if I came off like I was dissing anybody. (And apologies also to Chris Calef, for singling out his words in my original letter.) Some of those incarcerated are my friends too.

On a social level, Steve and I are friendly. He's a fun guy and I like him. We just probably shouldn't try to build a movement together.

Vip Short, Eugene

 

EXCUSES FOR INACTION

The international traps we continue to dig and fall into are becoming deeper and deeper. In fact, there are no longer any easy methods of escape for us.

"Bring the troops home" is merely a nice-sounding, simple-minded slogan. We will need to go much further than that. With a comprehensive awareness, we may be able to avert the catastrophes looming before us in 2007.

India's nuclear weapons are facing Pakistan's nukes. The U.S. supplies both countries with weapons and technology. The Taliban are retaking Afghanistan. There is a civil war in Iraq. Lebanon is on the brink of civil war. Saudi Arabia supports the Sunnis in Iraq; Iran supports the Shiites; and Russia supports Iran. Hard-line Israeli leaders are determined to crush the Palestinians, and they continue to pressure the U.S. to assist them in aggression against Syria and Iran.

Meanwhile in America, the leaders of both major political parties are clueless about how to stop the bloodshed and prevent a full-blown war that will cascade throughout the region. For our president and Congress, there apparently is no turning back. More troops and more weapons are on the drawing boards for 2007.

But should we place the entire blame on our government? After all, we sustain its arrogance and stupidity by our own actions. For example, do we want our gasoline coming from the bountiful oil reserves of this foreign region, or would we feel better extracting our toxic fuel by way of oil rigs competing for space off the Oregon coast? The answer is essentially meaningless. To make this a better world, we need to go beyond this question, and all other questions.

In 2007, we must focus on ambitious, innovative shifts in our thinking. We can begin by effecting vital changes, and not merely cosmetic ones, within our local communities. There's never a shortage of good ideas, only excuses and a lack of willpower to put them into practice.

Robert Simms, Corvallis

 

THE FLIPPER PICKER

The way Bush (the bastard) will decide what to do with Iraq is: He will flip a coin and then pick which side he likes better.

Jean Butler, Eugene

 

SMITH IS TRYING

I can't say for certain whether or not Gordon Smith's "recanting" of our war in Iraq is truly "opportunistic bandwagoning" or not (Slant, 12/14.) I've never voted for him and I often disagree with how he votes in the Senate. However, he seems to be an honorable, principled man who truly tries to do what he thinks is right. (How many other Republicans have been so active in fighting hate crime? Hell, Matthew Shepard's mother filmed a campaign ad for him.) If someone in Smith's position publicly admits that Iraq is a mess and we need to pull out, I choose to see that as a good thing. Let's at least see what he does next before condemning him.

If we want to start seeing real change, we need to drop the I'm-OK-you're-pure-evil mentality and offer support to people who are starting to come around to our way of thinking. Give someone the benefit of a doubt, and who knows? Maybe they'll return the favor. In the words of the bumper sticker: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Kris Bluth, Eugene

 

CLEAN UP THE MESS

Our invasion of Iraq in 2003 will undoubtedly prove to be one of history's most tragic and disastrous mistakes, with consequences as yet unknown. It was caused by one profoundly ignorant man, propelled by a handful of draft-dodging enthusiasts of war; that it had some obscure origin in a rivalry with his father only compounds the tragedy with pathetic ridiculousness.

We can't turn our backs on Iraq; we must clean up the horrific mess we've made and set things right as well as they can be. How this can be done is unclear at present, but to do it has become our moral obligation, whether we like it or not. It will be very difficult, and the costs will be very high.

What is actually going to happen, I'm afraid, is something quite different: The stage is being set by the Bush people for abandonment of their embarrassing and troublesome problem. (But the oil will never be abandoned: Privatization of Iraq's oil is one of the requirements to be imposed on Iraq in the Iraqi Study Group report.) In my opinion this will only make a grave situation worse — a second fatal mistake. I ask Americans to never forget the names of those who contrived this appalling folly, names of those who caused the deaths and maiming of so many young Americans and of so many more Iraqis, and for whose arrogant, heedless acts Americans and Iraqis will pay a staggering price for generations to come.

Douglas Leedy, Corvallis

 

OVERSEEING THE COPS

Apparently Mr. Bob Cassidy (12/7) has never read the U.S. Constitution. "We the people" are responsible for law enforcement — every aspect of law enforcement. The police, prosecutors, the courts, etc. are strictly authorized and controlled by statute.

What's wrong with "we the people" providing oversight of government functions? We the people have the constitutional authority, the responsibility and the constitutional duty. If we the people don't do it, who's going to do it? The citizens of Eugene have certainly seen what happens when they don't.

Why would the police want to be in a separate structure? This would only be a much more attractive target to some nut. A totally separate police will only add to the paid mercenary mentality that currently exists. And a central location quickly turns into a hang out — which is the last thing you want it to be.

All personnel involved in law enforcement should be permanently housed throughout the community where they are needed. And citizens should be drafted to serve right along side them. A central location for police, prosecutors, the courts, etc., really sucks.

Frank Skipton, Springfield

 

BIASED WORD CHOICE

Thank you for your article exposing the crisis pregnancy centers and their right-wing anti-choice agenda, but sadly, your reporter was co-opted into using the anti-choice wing's own biased word choice. No more than two paragraphs into the article the phrase "saving the unborn" appears and not in a quote or in a joking fashion either. The term "unborn" is the height of bias and it should have been obvious to the editor and the reporter.

Please use accurate terms such as fetus in the future. Language is important, and when you adopt a biased word choice you have already been partly co-opted.

Randy Webb, Eugene