Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.17.08


The Chinese government’s actions in Tibet have been deplorable and some human rights activists’ calls for the boycott of Beijing Olympics and disruption of the Olympic torch travels across the globe understandable.

However, violations of human rights in Tibet pale in comparison to our government’s violation of these rights in Iraq. Invasion and subsequent five-year occupation, slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, displacement of millions of people inside and outside of Iraq, physical destruction of the country, torture, Abu Ghraib disgrace: All are gross violations of human rights that should be addressed by these same activists.

Where are the calls for banning American athletes from international athletic competition? In the 1970s and ’80s South Africa was banned from all international competition as a reaction to the evils of apartheid. That banning along with the struggles of South African people and international economic sanctions helped get rid of that horrible system.

Maybe we can learn from those lessons. It’s much easier to point fingers at countries thousands of miles away than to look at the mirror and struggle for change in our own back yard.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene



I am very disappointed that a supposedly progressive-leaning newspaper would stoop to promoting blatant cruelty to animals by glorifying “rodeo queens” in a three-page article complete with cover page (3/ 27). I am hoping to see a follow-up article which goes behind the scenes to reveal the callous disregard with which the non-voluntary participants in this violent activity are subjected. A good place to acquaint EW readers with the realities of rodeo can be found at

Barb Lomow, Eugene



On May 20, I will be casting my vote for Vicki Walker in the race for secretary of state. Not only has she been a champion for our children’s education, she has one of the best environmental records among all the candidates in this race.

Sen. Walker has just been named Legislator of the Year by the Special Districts Association of Oregon. In addition, Walker has consistently stood up to powerful special interests for the sake of protecting average Oregonians from state fraud and other abuses. I have seen firsthand her tireless efforts to make sure every person, regardless of economic and social status, has a voice in Salem.

Walker’s record in the Legislature proves she is the best person for the job. She is also the only candidate with a plan detailing her goals as secretary of state. Instead of hiding behind sound bites and vague political rhetoric, she has shown courage by outlining her next four years in office.

My decision is an easy one. Walker is the candidate of choice if Oregonians wish to move this state in the right direction. Visit to read her plan and goals.

Shirley Gauthier, Springfield



With the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, why is it that opportunistic politicians are so ready to remember his legacy? Is it so that we’ll forget about Malcolm X? So that we’ll forget about the Black Panthers? So that we’ll forget about the urban riots of the ’60s? So that we’ll forget about all of the militant resistance that forced the establishment’s hand?

If those who want to end the war and create a sustainable future are to be taken seriously, then they must pose a serious threat to the powers that be. Towards the end of his life, even MLK realized the limits of peaceful protest when he said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” Those words are no less true today than they were in 1967.

Robin Banks, Eugene



I was gratified to learn that Jim Torrey finally agreed to a debate with the three other mayoral candidates at the City Club on May 2. However, I do have some concerns about whether Torrey understands electoral politics. An April 4 Register-Guard article cited Torrey as saying that “he was worried that Piercy’s campaign would plug the crowd with her supporters.”

These are the very people he should be eager to address. How else will he have the opportunity to sway opinions? Since the mayor is not an appointed position, logic suggests that Torrey will have to change some hearts and minds and demonstrate to all of Eugene, even Piercy’s supporters, that he is a better candidate. How better to do this than to face us in a crowded room over and over again for the next several months?

One thing we know for sure is that Kitty Piercy will talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere. This is why Piercy is the mayor for ALL Eugene.

Tina Rinaldi, Eugene



I’ve found a reason to favor Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primary. In early April, Obama announced that, if elected, he would appoint Al Gore as climate czar.

Gore has morphed into a one-man Better (eco)Business Bureau, and he wouldn’t take the job or continue in it if the influence he knows is needed was thwarted by political considerations.

Both candidates have some attractive positives and some dismal negatives. Power being what it is, smaller rather than larger expectations are in order. But with global warming, time has become essential: our enemy if we delay, our ally if we act decisively.

Gore would do that, and Obama has raised the stakes by his pledge. Of course, Clinton could do likewise, restoring my uncertainty of who to vote for. Barring that, I’m going with Barack Obama.

Paul Prensky, Eugene



It is with both sadness and anger that, after 16 years, I have discontinued my ad in EW. I will not continue to support a paper which supports abuse of underage girls by accepting ad money from American Apparel and which supports insults and degradation of many cultures by running the “ÁAsk A Mexican!” column.

“ÁAsk a Mexican!” insults ALL people who have immigrated to the U.S. He has insinuated that everybody “else” had an easy time coming here. Maybe he should look into the fate of some of our ancestors who had pink eye and were denied access through Ellis Island and were sent back to Russia to be shot. Or the boatload of Jewish orphans that we turned back to Germany to be sent to the gas chambers.

American Apparel ads often promote pedophilia with their ads portraying skimpily clad underage girls in sexy poses. It is wrong. I’m told that the ads are justified because American Apparel is a progressive firm which treats its employees well. That is like saying being a pimp is OK if you donate some of your proceeds to a charitable cause. Wrong.

Discontinuing my ad may well cost me a huge cut in income, but if we aging activists don’t put our money where our mouths are, who will? Obviously not EW. I would welcome a change in your editorial policy that would allow me to reverse my decision.

Eric Sprado, Eric Sprado Realty



I am a lifelong Oregon resident and extremely worried about environmental pollution in our beautiful state. I truly believe that John Kroger should be the next attorney general of Oregon, due in large part to his detailed plan for Oregon’s environmental future. Kroger seeks to protect Oregon’s natural resources and environment and this is desperately needed in our state. While great laws exist, currently there is little or no enforcement against environmental polluters. Large companies have no fear of recourse, because the Department of Justice does not have any full-time environmental attorneys. Kroger plans to reallocate a few attorneys and possibly hire a couple attorneys and have them focus full-time on environmental crimes. This will cost little money overall but will have an enormous impact because companies will not be so reckless if they are being hit with million-dollar fines.

I, like many other Oregonians, take great pride in my state, and John Kroger is the only candidate for attorney general who will actively protect our state’s natural beauty and environment. The Sierra Club and environmental leaders have endorsed Kroger, and I urge you to look into his detailed plan for protecting the environment and help elect John Kroger for AG.

Evan Wickersham, Eugene



Advice given to me from the Springfield traffic court judge when I questioned her about my options after receiving my second speeding ticket in the same year: She said I needed to fear my third ticket in the state of Oregon for the next two years since the state has no options (like other states) to attend a class to make amends for non dangerous driving infractions.

I received my second speeding ticket on the same stretch of Hwy. 126 between Veneta and Eugene and was not surprised to hear that others in court that day were cited there.

I hope my letter will be printed, because I would like to apologize to the people who, like me, must use Hwy. 126 to drive to work, etc. If you are unfortunate enough to be behind me, I apologize for going 10 miles under the posted speed limit for the next two years. I cannot afford to be without my car.

If you should find it necessary to honk or even display an obscene gesture as you pass me, I would understand your frustration. My hope is that this letter will reduce your urge to do so.

Tom Piracci, Veneta



In our climate a fungus known as” leaf curl” plagues peach trees. The recommended practice is to spray with dormant oil or other objectional stuff numerous times, but that didn’t appeal to me and doesn’t always work that well from what I’ve seen. After reading an OSU info bulletin saying leaf curl was caused by the cold spring rains, I tried covering them with old, no longer transparent, greenhouse plastic sheeting. (Always makes one feel good to reuse rather than toss, doesn’t it?).

It’s best to cover no later than March before the tree buds swell, but later covering can also deter fungus by raising temperatures. I cover with this translucent plastic draped down to the ground then hold in place by wrapping twine around below branches.

I once even built a translucent roof on posts over one tree, and that worked well also, but for many trees the greenhouse sheet plastic I use is 6 mil UV resistant Tufflite. We use long sticks to pull the plastic over tall trees. Vents need to be punctured in the high points to keep the branches from burning when sunny.

While I loosely wrap twine around the trunk because of strong winds up where we live, it’s best to leave openings around the sides for insect pollination — which is no problem with my torn old stuff. Unwrapping is a judgment call when cold rain is over and must be done gradually and when overcast to prevent UV burning.

This practice has worked well for many years, and once one has the routine down, it becomes easier and the tree remains healthy and productive without the ugly and deadly leaf-curl. Good peach eating.

Jan Nelson, Crow



A curious and likely unforeseen circumstance has arisen in Oregon politics. Oregonians are used to our voices being irrelevant in primary races since our primary is one of the last in the nation, but in this election year the race has become close enough that almost every state is relevant. And people are rightfully passionate about it since the Democratic nominee is likely to be the president.

So a conservative talk show radio host has posited the suggestion that those unneeded Republicans switch their affiliation to Democrat and vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary since she will be the nominee most likely to be defeated by the Republicans in the general election.

Now how would you feel if you went to the polls and were told “Don’t bother. Someone from the other party canceled out your vote”? You’d probably be pretty angry, I suspect. I know that I was. In some states, this is considered voter fraud and is punishable by law. It’s the equivalent of mail fraud or other deceptive practices akin to racketeering.

The privilege of voting in a democracy for the candidate you believe will make your country and your life better, who will guide this nation in troubled times, and maybe make the world a better place, is a sacred, sacrosanct and natural birthright. To try to usurp that right for political or personal gain by using a position of influence to lure others to engage in an unethical, sordid, vile attack upon the opposing party should be illegal.

If anybody else would like to entertain the idea of a class action suit against said radio host in order to rectify this oversight, I’d be willing to pursue this with you.

Davy Ray, Eugene



What good does the UO do in the lives of the very poor and outcast? To the people who end up in jail, sleeping under bridges or in Rescue Missions, isn’t the university just another elitist organization that ignores the problems of the very poor so that money can be made, titles and degrees can be put on office walls and social Darwinism can be the national religion?

To me, the UO is Hogwarts, a secretive organization that pirates the best of the very poor, teaches them to value their new status much too highly and leaves the suffering to understand that they, of the inferior mundane class, simply don’t deserve housing, legal care, medical care, dental care or even a basic sense of belonging. Today, the “college” runs everything, and those who cannot join their ranks are discriminated against at every turn. Look who ends up in prison or on food stamps and you will usually see a “mundane.”

Getting a Ph.D. in sociology or mathematics must be a fascinating exercise in Hogwartian mysticism, but what on earth does that do for the very poor, the despairing, those left on the other side of the town-gown wall?

Just wondering.

Hugh Massengill, Eugene



On May 20 in Oregon’s primary election, many voters will support State Sen. Vicki Walker for secretary of state because she has already increased K-12 funding by 18 percent, the largest increase in the past 20 years.

During financial slumps, we won’t see any dramatic reduction in school funding. Walker will increase public school funding, and will fight to maintain funding in many coming years.

Not only has she been a champion for our children’s education, Walker has one of the best environmental records among all secretary of state candidates.

J. J. Albi, Eugene



Once more the presidency of George Bush has taken the American public down the proverbial “rabbit hole” in regards to the administration’s policy on Iraq. During recent testimony before the elected representatives of the people, Gen. David Petraeus provided the military version of one of Lewis Carrolls’ best oxymorons: “How can I have more when I haven’t had any?” Peace, that is.

The general stated that when the violence increased, more troops were necessary to proceed to victory. And then the general stated that when the violence decreased, more troops are needed to proceed to victory. When the general was asked to describe the victory, he said “history” will be the judge. I’d be willing to change my name to “history” and provide the General with the final analysis and recommendation. The analysis is that this war policy is a total failure; it has raged on for five years, cost the lives of over 4,000 of our citizens, caused an as yet to be evaluated recession in the economy of the world and, simply put, has not worked.

Here is the recommendation: Begin the troop removal immediately by declaring a unilateral fire-when-fired-upon ceasefire, remove the troops using the best and safest means available and begin the dialogue with the neighbors of Iraq to bring about a solution to the withdrawal that does not cause a regional war.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



When I turn on the TV all I hear is negative words. The news stations keep telling you that Hillary Clinton is down and out. But that’s plainly not true. I was at the “Solutions for America” rally for Clinton in Eugene, and the crowds were bigger than ever before, and let me tell you — they were excited!

If you weren’t at the rally, I hope that you saw footage of the recent event with Clinton in Eugene. You would have seen for yourself Clinton’s packed events and enthusiastic supporters.

I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because she has spent the last 35 years fighting for American families and she has real solutions to tackle the tough issues we’re facing. I hope Clinton can count on your support, too!

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



Lately I’ve been spending time reading about places in the Middle East like Dubai, curious as to how such inhospitable places house some of the wealthiest people on Earth, or like Jordan which is located next to Iraq, Syria, Israel, etc.

But what really was crazy is something I stumbled upon called Sofex Jordan (’s hosted by the King and Lt. Col. Abdullah Tahrawi II himself, and happened March 31-April 3. How’s about a nice weekend between private companies from countries worldwide, from Boeing to BlackWater? Haven’t a few of them recently been engaged in the supplying of military offensives/defensives between one another? Yet they share the latest “counterterrorism” and “homeland security” technology and “products.” They sell guns like a baker sells bread, but they all get together and talk amongst themselves how to best put it all to use.

Holy crap.

Jeff Salata, Eugene



Recently we visited our daughter living in Israel and while there we saw what West Bank Palestinians and Israeli Jews refer to as “this wall.” A wall, that at places towers nearly three stories high, a spiritless, disturbing concrete slab. As this wall is going up it slithers along the Green Line. Nothing virtual about this wall; it ‘s real. It offends the mind and the senses. Seeing it pales to the feeling of imprisonment and pain felt by those behind it.

This wall can literally split a Palestinian village or neighborhood in two. Homes are bulldozed — the owners given just 48 hours to collect their life belongings and leave. Homes, generations old and lived in by the same family. No explanation given by the government. None needed apparently. Where the wall goes precisely is determined by geopolitical policy, continually redefined by the government; some say it is about gerrymandering; sometimes where the wall goes is determined by terrain. In any event, access to yesterday’s neighbor or corner store is denied by virtue of the wall. Lives are changed forever.

Moderate Israeli Jews not living in the West Bank recognize the folly, the insanity, the cruelty of this wall. It resolves little; security is minimally impacted and is little more than psychological. Violence will continue. The whole situation is confounding, disturbing and offers no solution.

This wall not only separates the people physically but it tries to break their spirit and the will to find peaceful solutions. Will history describe it as the wall of shame?

Richard and Katy Bloch, Eugene



The argument for tipping the superdelegates now (three scenarios):

1. The primary will run its course and the democratic candidate will prevail in June and the superdelegates will fall in line behind that candidate.

2. The superdelegates will slowly endorse (and have been doing so) their support for the nominee prior to June.

In either of those scenarios, the superdelegates decide this race. Now for the third scenario:

3. The superdelegates wait for the primary to run its course but, in the meantime, Republicans with nothing better to do in the last 10 primaries switch affiliations and vote for the Democratic candidate least likely to win against McCain (I’ll presume most of us agree that would be Hillary).

It’s called party raiding. And in many states (including Oregon), it’s perfectly legal. Many conservative talk show hosts have been advocating this malicious practice. It is not representative of the true will of the people. And that is why I’m proposing that we citizens, the true constituency, not sit on our hands simply because our primary is so late in the game that Repubs have time to do this.

This race has been over for some time and it is clear who the next president will be. Act now. Email the supers with this argument and urge them to choose now (and also ask Gov. Ted to reconsider his position).

If we don’t, our votes in the primary run the risk of being meaningless and Hillary Clinton will be the Ross Perot of the 2008 Democratic primary and John McBush will be your next president.

Davy Ray, Eugene



Our nation, suffering a national administration that provoked the disastrous Iraq War, unprecedented national debt, neglect of protection of the environment and unfair taxation that benefits the rich, has now another catastrophe to lay at its doorstep in the revelation of horrendous rate of sexually transmitted disease among American girls who are victims of Bush’s abstinence-only sex education policy.

Statistics have shown that a program advocating abstinence only has not resulted in any less adolescent sexual behavior than those who have not had that training. In contrast, those with enlightened sex education are more likely to delay intimacy involvement. Also, when sexually active, their use of contraception had led to fewer unwanted pregnancies and less STD.

States that have been committed to realistic sex education, departing from the administration’s abstinence-only program, have been responsible for two-thirds of the decline in U.S. abortions that occurred between 2000 and 2005. They have few or no restrictions on abortion. They include Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Washington and the District of Columbia. They have helped females avoid unwanted pregnancies by making contraception widely available. And thus, there have been fewer abortions.

The fact that one in five pregnancies still end in abortion and the growing incident of STD among youth emphasizes the need to abandon the abstention only program, and to adopt universal enlightened sex education and access to contraception.

Edgar Peara, Eugene



It’s not about changing light bulbs anymore!

When Al Gore’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s dramatic documentaries alerted us to the devastating impacts of global warming, many people went through the ritual of switching from incandescent light bulbs to the compact fluorescent variety. Unfortunately, in the case of global warming, good intentions and switching light bulbs are not good enough.

The most powerful individual lifestyle solution was suggested in a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report found that meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That’s more than automobiles!

Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms and slaughterhouses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools.

Moreover, animal agriculture contributes more pollutants to our waterways than all other human activities combined. Principal sources are animal wastes, soil particles, minerals, crop debris, fertilizers, and pesticides from feed croplands. It is also the driving force in world-wide deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.

The annual observance of Earth Day provides an excellent opportunity for every one of us to help save our planet by dropping animal products from our diet. More details are available at

Edward Newland, Eugene