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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Question mammography

I recently received a joke via e-mail, the punch line of which included several sadistic preparations women might undergo to ready themselves for their next mammograms. They included having a friend back over their breasts with a car while they're exposed on an ice-cold garage floor, and slamming them in the refrigerator door repeatedly. I passed it on to many of my middle-aged women friends; we shared a good laugh and discussed our experiences.

Since my last mammogram, I have carefully followed the debate concerning their value. During that mammogram, my breasts were crushed so painfully I'd have to describe it as the most severe injury they have ever been exposed to. I have to wonder if exposing the tissue to that sort of crushing trauma and then irradiating it can increase one's possibility of contracting breast cancer. My experience also included a follow-up visit that I'd have to liken to awaiting a death sentence. I can't imagine the stress if they reported a false positive, which happens as often as 30 percent of the time.

I devoured The Register-Guard's April 1 article, "Mammogram still the best test," in which it is suggested that there is no definitive reason to submit oneself to the anxiety, pain and expense of a mammogram because there's no real proof it can save your life. Consequently I was confused by the headline until I remembered deep in the article, reporter Tim Christie reported, "mammography is a multibillion dollar business."


A partisan lawsuit

The Coos County Board of Commissioners' recent decision to contract with the blatantly partisan Pacific Legal Foundation in a lawsuit challenging Western snowy plover habitat (Register-Guard, April 4) makes all Coos County residents, regardless of their disparate political views, unwilling dupes for the very wealthy and secretive far-right special interests that create, bankroll, and direct such shill organizations to further their nationwide "wise use movement" con game.

For Commissioner John Griffith to vote so ought to be expected, but that Commissioners Nikki Whitty and Pete DeMain would abandon their principles and constituents to join him in committing the entire citizenry to so blatantly partisan a lawsuit is an unconscionably arrogant disregard of the overwhelming local opposition that was expressed in the single public meeting on this issue they permitted.


Transfer was compulsory

On the subject of Palestinian refugees who have been ejected from their homes and forced to live in refugee camps: Lewis Parker wrote (letters, April 10) that "the Israelis really had nothing to do with the creation of these camps." He goes on to declare that any statement to the contrary is a "blatant lie."

Apparently Parker does not know his history. First of all, when hundreds of thousands of Jews immigrated to Palestine and established the state of Israel on more than 50 percent of the land area of Palestine, it is a struggle to believe that they had nothing to do with the displacement of the Arab population.

In the first Arab-Israeli War, during the period of mass Jewish immigration, it was Jewish policy under David Ben-Gurion to exercise "compulsory transfer" of the Arabs. The goal of the Jewish settlers was to expel the Arabs in order to clear the way for the creation of a Jewish state. The Jewish security forces engaged in numerous tactics to terrorize the population, forcing Arabs to flee to areas that were still predominately Arab.

Parker writes that the Palestinians were ordered to leave by neighboring Arab countries to clear the way for the pan-Arab invasion following the establishment of Israel. But in reality, this fiction was mainly created by Israel in order to justify their policy of barring the readmittance of Arabs who had fled their homes. In fact, most of the abandoned villages were subsequently razed in order to make room for Jewish settlement, which only exacerbated the refugee problem. In effect, the Palestinians were driven from their homes by force and intimidation in order to make way for the creation of a Jewish state. Since then, the Palestinians have continuously fought the persecution they face in the occupied territories with the hope of returning their homeland - sound familiar?


Examining all sides

As a senior at South Eugene International High School, I find Tom Cronin's accusation (letters, April 11) that IHS is a "Hamas recruiting center" both insulting and ludicrous. IHS gives students an international perspective, including points of view different than the American ones. (I assume this is what Cronin was referring to.) IHS classes are often a forum for debate on international issues. They are not America-bashing sessions. In discussions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I've heard students supporting both sides.

Cronin stated that Yasser Arafat "wants every Jewish man, woman and child to die a brutal death." How can anyone expect or hope for peace while holding on to these kind of prejudiced views? Arafat is not a saint, but he is a human being. Perhaps he hates Israelis for taking his homeland, but I sincerely doubt he wishes them all painful deaths any more than Cronin wishes brutal death to every Arab. We need to remember that hate and violence are not confined to either side.

The role of the United States should not be to withdraw support from Israel, but to remind its leaders that further violence is not the answer. We should firmly insist on cessation of the current military operations and the release of Arafat. Arafat in turn should condemn terrorist action.

What I've learned from IHS is basically this: Look at all sides of every issue. If that makes my fellow students and I terrorists, then so is every man, woman and child who has ever questioned American policy.


First names fine in classes

I respect A. Warren Herrigel's right to go by whatever name he prefers (letters, April 11), and understand his annoyance at strangers using his first name. However, Herrigel makes an unwarranted leap from his personal preference to claims about the role of first names in the classroom.

I was a "little child in school" not too long ago, and I used first names when addressing teachers. We had Babs, Nancy, Frank and other good teachers who were comfortable with first names. The teachers seemed more caring, and students learned in an inviting environment. Social skills concerning peers are more important than teachers' nomenclature categories.

In Roosevelt Middle School, one of the best schools in the state, teachers go by first names. Respecting students is an important part of being a respected teacher; going by a "respectful" last name is not. First names let students and teachers be colleagues, or at least mutually respectful, allowing valuable history and math discussions.

First vs. last names is all about power. In early years, teachers didn't need surnames to differentiate themselves. They were big. In high schools and universities, the situation is more complicated. The quality of teaching and preferred forms of address rarely correlate. Herrigel feels disempowered because he didn't invite first-name usage. This differs greatly from teachers, already empowered, who request that we use their first names.

Herrigel should remember that teachers teach best if they're also friends, and that parents should give love, not just "rules and guidance." That's what children need.


Defining terrorism

If we are truly engaged in a possibly perpetual war against terrorists, we should certainly have a clear definition of terrorism. But do we have one?

Some proposed definitions are much too broad. One proposed definition by our government includes political acts causing only property damage; unfortunately, this definition would redefine the Boston Tea Party as a terrorist attack. Another way to define terrorism would be to equate it with any attacks, by governments or by private parties, intended to kill or maim civilians. However, judged by this definition, the United States has the dubious distinction of having perpetrated the two largest acts of terrorism in history - Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

President Bush apparently defines terrorism as occurring when a weaker power attacks a stronger one. So when Palestinians blow up Israelis, they are terrorists. But when Israelis fire tank shells into Palestinian civilian areas or bomb police stations or shoot children who get too close to their windows, they are not terrorists. And little attention is paid to what Israel might have done to provoke acts of terror. The complete oppression of the Palestinian people, and the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on what remains of Palestinian land, in violation of the Oslo accords, are judged not noteworthy.

Unfortunately, issues of good and evil, peace and justice, are even more complicated than the difficulties of defining who is, or is not, a terrorist. If we are to avoid unjust and endless war, we will need to acknowledge that.


Managing feral cats

Trapping, neutering and releasing (TNR) are the most effective means of reducing the number of feral cats. Prevention of TNR or the use of lethal methods, on the other hand, allows the population to continue multiplying.

A survey of feral cat caregivers found that every caregiver who implemented a TNR program saw their colony stabilize or decrease in number. After caregivers at Stanford University started a successful TNR program, the campus cat population reached zero population growth almost immediately. Today, through natural attrition and the adoption of tame cats, the colony has decreased by more than 50 percent.

In contrast, at Georgetown University, school officials trapped feral cats and took them to the local animal control agency where the cats were killed. Less than six months later, 10 new unaltered cats and 20 kittens appeared on the campus.

In addition to being the most humane, effective and healthy option for controlling feral cat populations, TNR is also the most cost-effective. TNR and colony management by compassionate individuals is accomplished wholly at private expense, while trapping the cats and taking them to animal control agencies requires taxpayer dollars for intake, housing, handling, feeding, killing and disposal.

If any of this information can convince a human that killing strays won't solve the problem, then the Oakridge City Council and the citizens of that community will be on the way to learning a positive solution to their feral cat situation.



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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 15, 2002
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