Wednesday, May 15, 2002
By THERESA NORTH
Special to the News
Does the world feel safer to you today? Do you feel that your representatives in Congress are working to make citizens around the globe admire Americans and our sense of justice?
If you answered yes to either question, you aren’t keeping a good eye on Washington, D.C. With the latest amendment passing both houses on Thursday, Congress has once again demonstrated its short-sightedness and lack of justice in the world of international politics. The amendment expressing support for Israel and its actions during the most recent wave of violence in the Middle East will do nothing to bring the U.S. closer to Arab nations around the globe. And it is difficult to believe that the U.S. looked impartially at the claims of both sides since we give over $1 billion in military aid to Israel and the majority of it is earmarked for weapons bought from firms in Texas. In fact, this gives the impression to many others that we actually have a lot to gain, monetarily, from the conflict. Of course, this simply increases the chances that Americans will be targeted around the world by unhappy extremists and, unfortunately, it is not the only cause for complaint that other countries may consider.
I am always amused by the claims of the John Birch Society. We must get out of the United Nations, they state, because it is compromising our freedoms. Whoever came up with that idea hadn’t brushed up on our foreign policy history. The most telling example of how far from the truth this is, is from 1991 when Nicaragua, a small, relatively powerless country, brought suit against the U.S. in the World Court, the U.N.’s judiciary body. After hearing arguments on both sides, the court ruled that the U.S. had been waging an illegal war in Nicaragua and fined the U.S. government $17 billion. However, the court has no power to enforce its decisions and the U.S. chose to ignore the ruling. More recently, when the U.S. was voted off of the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year, we threatened to withhold payment of $244 million in past dues (money we had already given our word that we would pay). With examples like these, and there are more, it is obvious that we aren’t compromised at all by the U.N.; we use it to do whatever we want.
Why bring up our actions in the U.N. or our congressional record? The U.N. is the body we helped create 50 years ago to work for a more peaceful and just world. Like the playground monitor, it is supposed to arbitrate disputes that arise around the world in an impartial manner. Our Congress members should be representing us within the framework of the Constitution. According to the Preamble, their goals are justice, peace, safety, and liberty. If the U.S. really does aspire to a more peaceful and just world, our actions should affirm those goals. Living in a country that modeled those, we would be safer and more respected around the globe.
Theresa North lives in 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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge