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Letters to the Editor: 8-22-2013

WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

Kudos to Camilla Mortensen and Micah Griffin for their scoop [cover story, 8/15] on what’s rumbling through town. After the Lac Mégantic disaster I looked around, too. On tracks off Cross Street, the Carson Oil Co. was filling a truck with ethanol shipped by the Renewable Products Marketing Group, a Midwest distributor. It’s highly flammable. Lots of oil cars were nearby. 

Driving up Bethel Road parallel to a petroleum pipeline laid in 1962, Union Pacific reminds workers that “safety is my responsibility.” A warning sign says “remote control locomotives” ply the area. How remote are the operators? In Québec, the Montréal, Maine and Atlantic Railway run by Edward Burkhardt, CEO of Rail World, has filed for bankruptcy.

Rail World, based in Chicago, buys distressed lines around the world, reorganizing them for profit. Separate lines in Canada, Vermont and Maine were combined to form MM&A in 2002. This vulture capitalism flourishes under neoliberalism. Regulations are constraints on profits. When disaster strikes they file for bankruptcy. Creditors and municipalities line up and foot the bills. 

Union Pacific is larger and older than Rail World. I once visited their Eugene yard and met with Adam Sharp, the headman. I was trying to get an abandoned campsite cleaned up near UP tracks along the Willamette River. They probably aided in the eviction. I was given a 1-800 number to call in Nebraska as the river swelled. If disaster were to strike here, what then?

Chris Piché, Eugene

 

CHEMOPHOBIA B.S.

I’ve struggled to contain my rage at anti-GMO protesters for months, but this is too far. On Aug. 8 in the Philippines, a test crop of Golden Rice was destroyed by anti-GMO activists. This crop is the culmination of over 20 years of work to address the massive problem of death due to malnutrition, specifically from people not getting enough vitamin A in their diets. It is estimated that two million people die every year and over half a million children go blind due to this problem.

The crop was destroyed because of fear. Chemophobia has gripped the world and when we hear the words “genetic modification,” we see Monsanto and Bond villains. This is not the case. GM foods have saved literally more than a billion lives (look up Norman Borlaug).

I am thankful every day I live in America where I can choose to eat organic or not. I’d love to see legislation for GMO transparency, but I will not add to the irrational fear of chemophobia by being uninformed. Before you spread any more of this disinformation from bullshit websites like Natural News, please educate yourself. Otherwise, you’re supporting the rabid ignorance that destroyed that crop. It means you’d rather half a million brown children go blind because of your goddamn convictions.

Jeff Holiday, Eugene

 

SCANT MENTION

Although the recent Eugene Weekly article [8/8] on Lane County Commissioner candidate Jose Ortal was informative, complete clarity on candidate Kevin Matthews’ East Lane County length of residency was missing. 

John Bauguess, Dexter

 

SOUR SLUGS

Why do we show up to watch the SLUG Queen Contest? I, for one, want to see outrageous costumes and hopefully some funny skits showcasing at least a little performance talent. That’s why I was very disappointed by the Old Queens’ selection of Dr. Mildred Slugwak Dresselhaus as our new SLUG queen. It’s nice that she has wonderful credentials in other fields, but alas, her performance talents weren’t on display Friday night. This year she basically did a repeat of her last year’s performance, and it was boring then. 

Meanwhile, the first runner up, Professor Bulbous Slimbuldore, gave a bang-up, hilarious performance, which shows that he has been working hard on his act, and the second runner up, Gloria Slimen, gave another funny, crowd-pleasing performance. 

So I have to wonder just what “bribes” have to be given to get that crown? If this keeps up, the SLUG queen contest will become as boring as the Eugene Celebration has become without the Harlequins and the Rickies.

Joyce M. Gallagher, Eugene

 

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Sept. 20 is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s second and final speech to the U.N. He called off the Cold War and offered to convert the Moon Race to a cooperative effort with the Soviet Union. What would the world be today if this had happened in JFK’s second term? What would have happened if the trillions spent on endless war had been used for peaceful purposes? What are the lessons for the peace movements for this missed opportunity?

The full speech is worth reading at this anniversary since it’s by far the most profound and visionary statement from any president, by orders of magnitude beyond any other efforts.

In early October, we can observe the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s order to withdraw all troops and advisors from Vietnam.

The biggest secret of the removal of JFK from the presidency is not how many gunmen were firing but that the perpetrators knew the American public would largely acquiesce to the coup. There are some disturbing understandings about the nature of the U.S. empire from this recognition, which is why it is not a topic for polite conversation.

I hope the upcoming International Day of Peace will include a focus on these important events and paradigms to facilitate broad understanding. In particular, the anniversary of Kennedy’s support of Sen. Wayne Morse’s efforts to end the war in Vietnam is of special relevance for Eugene.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene