Monday, January 16, 2006
Civil liberty at stake
The United States has had more than 200 years of peaceful transitions of democratically elected officials; a feat unprecedented in human history. This success is only possible because of the Constitution of the United States.
It recently came to light that President Bush has authorized the wiretapping of international telephone calls made by American citizens, without a warrant, clearly in violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This revelation transcends political spin as evidenced by a recent letter, signed by both Republican and Democrat Senators (including our own Ron Wyden), asking for an immediate inquiry into the allegations.
President Bush has admitted the authorization and defends the actions by saying how useful the illegally acquired information has been in thwarting terrorists. The ends do NOT justify the means, particularly when Americans’ civil liberties are violated.
The importance of this issue cannot be understated. I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen of the United States, whether Republican, Democrat or other, to call their elected officials to task when there is an assault on the Constitution. I believe that time is now. But don’t take my word for it.
Please read the Constitution again and decide for yourself.
Contact your Congressmen!
Gordon Smith (http://gsmith.senate.gov/)
Ron Wyden (http://wyden.senate.gov/)
I really must address the letter written by Mr. Peter von Oppel (Dec. 24).
I believe that he, as well as many other people in our community do not understand the recent debate over, and subsequent rulings around this intelligent design controversy.
The recent ruling to bar intelligent design from being discussed in public high school science and biology classes was not a ruling that was made on a national level, but by the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania.
The ruling does not bar the discussion of intelligent design or any other theological perspectives from public school curriculum outright. It was banned from being taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.
In fact, the judges stated that they would encourage discussion of an “intelligent designer” and other aspects of and spirituality only, where it belongs: in an elective class.
It was decided by this body that the concept of an intelligent designer was not one that had significant scientific bearing, and therefore had no place in a science or biology classroom.
Furthermore, Mr. von Oppel’s statement that this ruling is an attack on Christianity was quite offensive to a person such as myself, who has a deep and profound belief of God, but who is not of the Christian faith.
Islam, Judaism, and the like believe in a Creator, an intelligent designer, if you will.
The whole argument that this crusade for intelligent design to be taught in classrooms was not to promote Christianity is squashed when somebody like Mr. von Oppel states that this ruling was an attack on Christianity. Because according to the proponents of the intelligent design movement, they are simply trying to promote a different approach to answering some of the questions that our scientist cannot answer conclusively. Questions like, how life began.
And furthermore, Mr. von Oppel is just plain wrong in his assertion that Christianity is being singled out and shunned in favour of other faiths in out school system. I went to our public schools and he did not.
At no point was I actually taught anything about any religion. I made it out of our Godless school system with my faith unshaken … and some handy math skills as well.
January M. Vawter
Take arts tax break
This is the time of year when many of us consider charitable gift giving. I would like to remind you that if you make contributions to cultural nonprofits you can double your gift to culture by making a matching donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust and receive a 100 percent tax credit in the bargain!
The mission of the Cultural Trust is to build cultural participation across Oregon by building a permanent endowment fund and through statewide grant programs.
The Trust supports everything from Symphony concerts to bluegrass and jazz festivals, Chautauqua lecture series to projects in local libraries, historic preservation projects, and productions of classical, contemporary and children’s theatre. The Trust supports and provides access to cultural events that make our community a great place to live, work, and raise families.
Taking advantage of the tax credit is easy! First, make a charitable contribution to a local cultural nonprofit such as the Columbia Art Gallery, CAST, Arts in Education, etc. Add up all your contributions to these groups in 2005 and then make a matching gift to the Oregon Cultural Trust, up to $500 per individual, $1,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $2,500 for corporations. Your gift to the Trust is a 100 percent dollar-for-dollar tax credit applied toward your Oregon State Income taxes.
To learn more call 503-986-0088 or visit the Web site at:
Please remember, in order to take advantage of a tax credit in 2005 you must donate by Dec.31!
Letters to the Editor confirm that humans view things differently.
But no one denies hope ... and Christmas is all about hope and love.
To amend rules in behalf of human values is worthwhile. To change a peace-offering greeting, that has been the hope of the world, is an attack.
An attack by those who do not believe in the Prince, who brought only good will to earth.
If dissedents are truly democratic in their hearts, they would not amend or destroy the traditional greeting that stands for goodwill.
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Christians celebrate this day with Merry Christmas.
It isn’t a season’s greeting where the leaves fall, the weather gets colder or it’s snowing.
On a son’s birthday we honor him with Happy Birthday. We do not say “Happy Holiday or Season’s Greetings”.
If anyone thinks this letter is undemocratic, untrue or unbelievable, they don’t have to come to the birthday party. Merry Christmas.
Go hear Gorge Jazz
With the Gorge Winds Christmas concert completed, I’d like to interest you in the final musical event of the season.
On New Year’s Eve, there is a gala dinner and dance to benefit the Civic Auditorium in The Dalles.
The Gorge Jazz Big Band will play dance music from the 1940s and 1950s, so please come to dance and listen in the beautiful Civic Auditorium. Tickets are available from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Civic, 298-8533.
Sam Grotte, director
White Salmon, Wash.
Beware of poker
Our State’s ridiculous yet feverish endorsement of gambling for all these years has helped lead us to the edge of a very dangerous cliff. It’s softened us to this horrible disease that’s now approaching epidemic.
In my humble opinion the gateway drug of all gateway drugs is Oregon Lottery Scratch-It games. Sure “It does good things” like school funding and economic grants for business.
But all the school funding does little good once they’ve entered college and they’re playing poker online, or in the dorm, or the frat house, or in the garage with a table purchased from a cascade avenue discount store.
While standing in line to pay for my stocking stuffers I counted two large poker tables being purchased by friendly parents, laughing with their kids, looking forward to some healthy games of Texas Hold’em over the holidays with that schmuck Uncle Bernie visiting from Montana. “We’re gonna clean his clock,” was the phrase I remember most.
I’ve lost friends to gambling. I’ve seen them lose farms, wives and their lives. Committing suicide in college because of gambling debts in on the rise nationwide. So teach your children well. When they leave for school, talk about their gambling. Sure it’s entertaining, but it’s deadly, too.
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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