Mercy on America

Well, I think the time has come for everyone to ask, "Where's the evidence?" We have been bombing a country for over two months now and forcing its inhabitants to starve and freeze. Yet I still have not seen "The Evidence." Remember a couple of months ago when the U.S. government said that there was substantial evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11? Where is the evidence? We have been hearing and reading the name bin Laden so consistently over the past couple of months that most people do not hesitate to attribute the attacks to him, but that isn't proof, that's news blanketing. I want to see the evidence that the government claims to have.

Of course, even proof that bin Laden masterminded the attacks would not justify our actions. If he is responsible, then what is the excuse for bombing Afghanistan? When told that the U.S. believed that bin Laden was the perpetrator, the Taliban in Afghanistan responded in the same way that any good American lawyer would by demanding that he get a fair trial in an international court of justice. That's just plain old due process, innocent until proven guilty, our Fifth Amendment right.

Finally, the U.S. points to the terrorist camps that have been targeted and bombed. The righteousness would probably be more effective on our part if we didn't have our own school for terrorism in Georgia, formerly called the School of the Americas. However, any government with a school that has so many infamous alumni can't really claim the moral high ground.

Why bring this up now when the Taliban is so close to being destroyed? Maybe I write this because, reading all of the Christmas cards proclaiming Peace, I feel sad that the one superpower in the world today can't rule without violence. Some people claim that our military is our might, but most people know that our economy is what really makes the world go round. Or perhaps I mention this now when I see signs everywhere proclaiming "God Bless America" when a more religiously accurate rendition (whether the sign owner is Jewish, Christian or Muslim) would be "God have mercy on America."

Theresa North

Hood River

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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