Right to protest

We've become almost numb to the international news, perhaps even fooled into thinking that most of the fighting is over and the damages are largely behind us. Well, we've now "avenged" the deaths of those innocents killed on Sept. 11 by the deaths of a larger number of civilians in Afghanistan due to our bombing missions there. What have we to show for this besides our national "pride"? An Afghanistan possibly more devastated than ever. Unreliable warlords and tribal chiefs, some of them demonstrably guilty of corruption and human rights abuses, some leading an interim government we installed and support. Greater instability than ever in central and south Asia and in the Middle East. Allies who conjure up the cliche "with friends like that, who needs enemies?" A rapidly expanding military budget and a thirst for more weaponry. Bellicose rhetoric from our own statesmen and those of other nations. U.S. troops flying to the Phillipines. The principal leaders of Al-Qaeda still missing. And -- looming -- a frightening new loss of civil liberties at home for U.S. citizens --- a loss already felt by many of "suspect" ancestry, color, creed or surname.

It is more important than ever for each of us to stay informed, not just by the mainstream TV news but by more sophisticated and diverse sources, about the policies of our government, the real impact of those policies throughout the world, and the associated risks to ourselves and our loved ones. Activism must follow. It is my civic right, indeed duty, to seek to see such policies replaced by more enlightened and effective ones.

I urge all my neighbors in the Gorge community, of all views, to participate in the community dialogue "Civil Liberties in a Time of War," on Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m. at Riverside Church in Hood River.

Tina Castanares

White Salmon

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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