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Byline: The Register-Guard

Students need healthy foods

Thank you for covering the importance of healthy food options in Eugene schools in Jim Wilcox's article "Schools must give students healthy food" (Register-Guard, Feb. 17). As the parent of a first-grader, I am greatly disappointed by the offerings of things such as imitation cheese nachos and "beef dunkers" as entrees.

On Feb. 22, the Eugene School District Wellness Policy Committee opened up the microphones to the community to gather input on recommendations they will be making to the school board. The directive was clear. Everyone who spoke noted the importance of doing the right thing: Give our children healthy options at every school level.

Currently, one in four Oregon children is overweight or obese. The message that came across during the open forum was that we recognize this is a growing problem and we are ready to start the process of change. Under attack were candy given as rewards, the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables and school vending machines that offer limited nutritional value snacks and soda.

Noting the energy and force behind 80-plus caring parents, students, teachers and community members who talked about the need for higher nutritional standards, there is now a clear direction. The Eugene School Board needs to step up to the challenge set before them.



Avoid labels and debate ideas

In response to Steve Hawke's Feb. 28 letter titled, "Liberals in America are looney," I would like to offer this caution.

I thank Hawke for having the courage to bring a conservative viewpoint to the Mailbag. I agree with his stance that letters titled "Impeach Bush now" or a similar derivative appear quite often. The point where his letter loses merit is when Hawke resorts to the easy jab, "Trust me, libs - the president is not looking for the pot plants you're hiding under your stairs or in your cellar."

I may be missing the tone of his letter, but he had a chance to take the high road on the issue of polarization in politics. Instead, he chose to take the bait and resort to the same political name-calling that can be seen on "Scarborough Country."

This is a problem in contemporary political discussion. Ideas are rarely debated. People choose to call someone a bleeding-heart liberal or a fascist conservative because it alleviates the responsibility of thinking. The Mailbag should be a place for people's ideas to be discussed. Does wiretapping violate the Constitution? Why do we say education is a priority but never pass tax increases to support it? Why do many college students view food stamps as a form of government grant?

These are just a few debatable issues. Gloating about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident or other such topics are a waste of print space.



Property owners aren't selfish

To the people who feel that the downtown property owners who don't want to sell to Connor and Woolley are being selfish I would like to ask: "How would you like to give up a part of your pension or inheritance for the good of the city? What about your job or house?"

These business owners have literally put their blood, sweat and tears into their businesses and unless you have owned a business in downtown Eugene, you may not be aware of how much they have already endured for the good of the city. The construction of the bus terminal, the opening of the pedestrian mall and the building of the public library - all wonderful and very important taxpayer funded projects - are finally completed and more people than ever are coming downtown. Downtown business owners deserve the chance to reap the benefits of their sacrifices.



Payday loans need regulation

I've been extremely fortunate thus far and have not had to seek the services of my friendly neighborhood loan shark. Jeff Wright's front-page article (Register-Guard, Feb. 28) on the payday loan industry reminded me of all those less fortunate than myself.

Industry apologists claim that they are merely meeting consumer needs. Drug dealers, prostitutes and casino operators could make the same argument.

The cumbersome process of filing a consumer complaint is rarely undertaken by economically disadvantaged people. That alone best explains the low number of consumer complaints. Thom Shauklas, the trade industry president, claims that some shoppers opt for a high interest loan much like they might choose a preferred cup of coffee at Starbucks. With that kind of absurd logic, a man crawling through the desert, dying of thirst, might shop around for an expensive bottle of Perrier.

Shauklas asserts that interest caps and reforms would effectively eliminate the industry. The oil, tobacco and liquor industries - not to mention used car salesmen - are equally squeamish about government oversight and reform. The last time I looked all of the aforementioned industries were steaming along nicely despite measures of reform and accountability.

That we need a citizen-referred ballot measure to introduce some sanity to the payday loan industry is a testament to the fact that our legislators are in the pockets of the banking and lending industry. As if we needed further testament.



Area needs affordable wireless

Bob Rosen (letters, Feb. 28) has the wrong solution to a real problem, which is the lack of good broadband Internet access for all of the people. We should dump corporate excess profiteers Qwest, AOL, Comcast and Clearwire altogether.

What we need citywide or countywide is wireless access that is affordable to everyone. All of our city and county public servants have dropped the hi-tech ball of the future, which is affordable, fast wireless Internet for everyone. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy should get together with all of the other responsible politicians in our area and work out affordable wireless for all on a sliding scale.

Many other cities and counties have or will soon have free wireless for all or affordable sliding-scale fees for all. This is the single political act that can uplift businesses, schools, nonprofits, families and individuals.

Grab the ball by researching and emulating the many governments that already have successful wireless systems. Our future societal viability may depend on it.



Rights unexercised will be lost

I'm an old man, so everything is simple to me.

I'm privileged to have in my care a few very young people who are starting school, in school, trying out a profession or a job, even having babies and buying houses they can't afford.

I have time now, in my dotage, to ponder the world we are leaving for these who follow us. It is a very important question. The Bush administration holds before us a strange vision: the federal government (in the person of the Commander-in-Chief of Perpetual War) will protect us from all evil, and all we have to do is surrender ourselves to its whims.

This, to me, is a betrayal of the American fundament. America is a nation that believes that freedom is stronger than any other political force. And freedom means, first and foremost, freedom from unlawful intrusion by our own government.

We are not free just because we have powerful influence abroad. We are free because we have unalienable natural rights to assert ourselves against the unwarranted actions of government's minions, including even the president.

If we cannot effectively exercise these rights, then we are not free. So I remind my friends, old and young: The Constitution gave shape to your freedom, but only you in your living can quicken and nourish it.



U.S. still drops bombs on babies

Throughout our history our nation has indiscriminately slaughtered babies. We have dropped bombs on babies in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, South America, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Bosnia and Iraq.

Millions of tons of bombs dropped on millions of babies. It's a form of population control. It's a way to justify massive military spending, a way to get rid of bombs so we can build more bombs. Daisy cutter bombs, 500-pound bombs, cluster bombs, white phosphorous bombs, smart bombs, napalm bombs, atomic bombs - you name it, we build them and we drop them. On babies.

This country is now maintaining its baby-bombing standards in Iraq. We have bombed tens of thousands of babies there. Next up, bombs for the babies of Iran.

Problem is, it is never justifiable, under any circumstance, to drop bombs on babies. Think of one good reason to drop a bomb on a baby. Imagine it is your baby, in your home. Imagine the agony, grief and horror suffered by your family, then give the reason again. Anyone who thinks there is ever a good reason to drop bombs on babies has had their soul twisted and their conscience poisoned by fear, hate, propaganda, greed, indifference and hubris.

Whatever reason is given, I reject, for in the depths of my heart, this heart common to all humanity, I know it is never justifiable to drop bombs on babies. Not coincidently, not by accident, not on purpose. Never! And you know it, too.


Pleasant Hill

There's no excuse for ignorance

While I enjoy reading letters to the editor and often learn from them, I am annoyed by a recurring expression: assertions that anyone who opposes this administration's policies is simply spewing hate against President George Bush.

Stephen Roberts' (letters, Feb. 23) response to John Flanery's Feb. 11 letter states that Flanery failed to offer suggestions to help make the world a better place. Roberts obviously ignored Flanery's final paragraph, which offered a list of issues of paramount importance, encouraging discussion, emphasizing overpopulation as the granddaddy problem to address. Flanery offered a constructive alternative to wasting time hearing Bush's incessant lies.

Letters defending Bush astonish me. If writers read only this newspaper to gain understanding of global, national and local events, they couldn't avoid being outraged by America's hegemonic influence worldwide: the cheapening of life and dignity while claiming to be on the moral high ground; stolen elections (not just here in the United States); the willingness to sacrifice security and deny rights to anyone, anywhere; ongoing atrocities committed by the coalition of the killing in Iraq - an invasion initiated via contrived pretenses by this illegitimate administration; devastation of human and animal habitat worldwide. Opportunistic, corrupt politicians perpetuate the myth that globalization is beneficial to life, yet it's only the multinational corporations led by those guilty of short-sighted chicanery who benefit.

Once we acknowledge we're being duped and abused, we can work together and fight for an ethical world. There's no excuse for willful ignorance. Hate is not the issue here.




Letters received in past week: 202

Letters published: 62

What's on readers' minds: Local topics continued to dominate the letters columns this week. Leading the pack were letters debating the property acquisition efforts by Eugene developers Don Woolley and Tom Connor for a huge downtown project and proposed city of Eugene contributions to a parking garage that would accompany the arrival of a Whole Foods grocery store downtown.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 11, 2006
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