Letters - June 4

Care about Darfur

Dear citizens of humanity:

What would you do if someone told you that 500 people a day were being murdered in Darfur? Let me give you some options.

A) Sit there and do nothing.

B) Think to yourself, “That’s horrible,” and continue eating your dinner.

C) Pass this letter by and go to the comics.

D) Pay attention, be curious, and ask questions.

Average Americans choose one of the top three options. I don’t think this is anything to be proud of. Today I am asking you to step out of your everyday lives and pay attention.

Right now in the region of Darfur, Sudan, there is a worldwide human rights tragedy. There is genocide, ethnic cleansing and murder. So do any of these words grab your attention?

Open warfare started in Darfur in early 2003 when a government-backed terrorist group systematically began raping and murdering the black population. Two years later, the Janjaweed militia has killed over 400,000 people. Nobody is immune; anybody can be a victim, including babies, children, elderly, men and women.

This is one 19-year-old girl’s story:

“I was living with my family in Tawila and going to school when, one day, the Janjaweed came and attacked the school. We all tried to leave the school, but we heard noises of bombing and started running in all directions ... The Janjaweed caught some girls: I was raped by four men inside the school ... When I went back to town, I found that they had destroyed all the buildings. Two planes and a helicopter had bombed the town. One of my uncles and a cousin were killed in the attack.”

Why isn’t the United States doing anything about this? No one can argue that we don’t have the resources and the compassion. Is it because we are already involved in Iraq? Is if because Sudan has no oil? It’s oil vs. human life. We need to make the decision as to what’s more important. I don’t understand how anybody who claims to be a caring human can put politics ahead of something like this. This genocide can be stopped. After Somalia, we said “Never again.” After Rwanda, we said “Never again.” Yet here we are.

To anyone who read this letter all the way through, congratulations; you are now more informed than most Americans. Now what are you going to do?

For more information please go to www.darfurgenocide.org.

Erin Draeger

Appleton, Wash.

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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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