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Byline: The Register-Guard

Mining reform urgently needed

The excellent five-part series by Diane Dietz about the mining industry's rape of Oregon reminded me of this passage from Jared Diamond's must-read best-seller, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed":

"The hardrock mining industry is the prime example of a business whose short-term favoring of its own interests over those of the public proved in the long-run self-defeating and have been driving the industry into extinction... To claims of toxic problems at mines, the mining industry routinely responds with denial. No one in the oil industry today would deny that spilled oil is harmful, but mine executives do deny the harm of spilled metals and acid."

An industry with such a history of failure that then whines about government regulation seems similar to a teenager with a history of alcohol problems and traffic accidents complaining that his parents won't give him the keys to the family car. If chronic polluters want the government - also known as "we the people" - off their backs, then they ought to stop poisoning Oregon and then charging us taxpayers for the privilege of cleaning up their toxic messes.

In the big picture, this series on mining affirms the message from Al Gore's excellent and popular movie "An Inconvenient Truth," which for some reason ended up in our local art cinema instead of at our mainstream theaters. Gore points out there is hope if the people act together, urgently, to defend our families, our nation and our planet from our own short-sightedness.



Police support gun trace limits

The recent editorial about the Firearms Corrections and Improvements Act of 2006 (H.R. 5005) titled "What you don't know...," (Register-Guard, June 24) was misleading.

The bill guarantees that only law enforcement agencies, when investigating a crime in which a firearm was used, will have access to manufacturer, wholesaler and dealer records that trace the ownership path of the firearm. Congress has limited the release of trace information in this manner in annual legislation for several years, and H.R. 5005 will make the limitations stronger and permanent.

Contrary to what the editorial claimed, police officers will not be subject to "felony prosecution" for improperly divulging trace information. H.R. 5005 creates no criminal penalties for such information sharing.

Furthermore, because H.R. 5005 limits the release of trace information, it protects police officers' lives and preserves the integrity of the investigations they conduct. For that reason, such limitations are supported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The approach you advocate, making trace information public, would tip criminals off when they are being investigated.

It is clear from the editorial that The Register-Guard supports groups that would like to obtain firearm trace information for political purposes. But the firearm tracing system, paid for by American taxpayers, was established as a tool for law enforcement. It was not established to help anti-gun groups promote their views.


Washington, D.C.

Sex crime Web site outdated

The state of Oregon has published a searchable Web site for sex offenders in Oregon: http://sexoffenders

My main criticism of this service is that the information is old and unreliable. I am unable to find any offenders with convictions later than the year 2000 in Lane County.

Because the information was not current, as I searched through the lists of offenders in Lane County I felt that I didn't understand how to determine if the offenders listed were a current threat to my family or friends.

The site also has a mapping site so you can search and map offenders within one mile of a given address. I found this service to be unreliable as it failed to map an offender less than a minute walk from my church and its adjoining private school.

As the published information is old and unreliable, I believe it does little to protect our community.



Time to regulate all smoking

Tobacco products are legal substances and it is lawful for those who meet the age requirement to purchase and use tobacco products.

As is well known, tobacco is the only legal substance that, when used as directed, sickens and kills. Therefore, those who choose to chew, smoke or snuffle tobacco are taking risks with their health. As the recent Surgeon-General's report (Register-Guard, June 28) on the health effects of secondhand smoke makes clear, tobacco smokers are also forcing health risks on non-smokers.

To protect non-smokers of all ages, the smoking of tobacco should be confined to those places where only the smoker will be inhaling the smoke they are generating. Yes, I am saying that smokers should not be allowed to smoke anywhere other than inside their own homes or their own vehicles with the windows rolled up and if there are children in that home or vehicle, they must arrange to smoke in a place that does not affect either the children or anyone else.

The facts that tobacco use is legal and that individuals are free to choose to smoke do not justify smoking where the effects of this risky behavior are foisted onto others who have made better decisions or who are unable to protect themselves from the risks being shifted to them. Smokers protest that government should not regulate their smoking. However, there is a precedent in the regulation of the use of alcoholic beverages and certain prescription drugs. These, too, are legal substances.



Pick best home for foster care

The Arkansas child welfare board tried to ban homosexuals from becoming foster parents. Arguing for the Department of Health and Human Services, attorney Kathy Hall is concerned for the welfare of children "in a home where unmarried sex occurs."

What? I wonder where all of the children needing foster homes came from in the first place. Model homes? How many of the children came form gay parents? How many from single-parent homes, with mom's boyfriends in revolving doors. Sexual abuse. Drug abuse. Domestic violence. Dad in jail, mom in jail. Perpetually unemployed.

Let's review child-rearing options:

Plan A (gay household): Stable home, dinner at five, quiet evenings of homework, participative reading, a safe, warm, quiet bed, weekend hiking, the same school year after year. OK, you can keep the kitten.

Plan B (heterosexual household): Restraining orders, unfulfilled work-release programs, court dates, eviction notices, broken-down cars, yelling matches, hitting, loud TV, frozen pizza, half-siblings, step-siblings. Get me a beer.

Choose one. Of all the gay people I know, not one has a gay parent. Not one! If a child has the misfortune of entering the foster care system, allow them the best chance at a nurturing, safe, loving home environment, not limited to the narrow-mindedness and uninformed bigotry of Kathy Hall and friends. What does Kathy propose to do with gay children in the foster care system?



Let's find our common ground

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read "The road to hell is paved with Republicans." What does that mean?

I am no different than you. I have feelings, I bleed, I want a good education for my children, I want to see the less fortunate given a helping hand. How is this different from being a Democrat?

The fact is that we all have different ideas about how to solve the country's problems. If we all had the same ideas, we would be nothing but clones of each other.

I don't care what you're up to, life is about compromise. Husbands and wives, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers often have to meet somewhere toward the center. This works the same way with Democrats and Republicans. The problem is that many have staked out positions that won't allow for flexibility. This is not realistic.

I have to say that this has been the worst six years of my political life. I am called a hater, I am going to hell, I have no compassion.

I challenge everyone to find someone from the opposite party and try to find some common ground. I think you'll be surprised. We all want the same things. Let's build on the similarities we find. That's what life is about.



Real issue is health care costs

So, let me get this straight. Eugene Water & Electric Board is paying its line technicians more than $74,000 a year, plus they get 13 days paid vacation to start - up to 25 days after that - and 10 paid holidays?

And, more than a million dollars is budgeted for overtime? EWEB employees pay $205 out-of-pocket medical expense monthly, and that covers medical, dental and vision.

Hmmmm. I wish my $410 out-of-pocket medical expense monthly paid more than just medical. I really need a new pair of glasses and some dentistry work. I would also enjoy a paid vacation.

Logically, I don't see how EWEB can be held responsible for the high cost of health care, and I would protest them doing so and would resent my rates rising because of it. The EWEB employees should count themselves as fortunate.

EWEB has been more than fair with its compensation. It seems to me that the real culprit here could be the incredible medical insurance costs that are a concern and problem for all of us, and our time would be well spent finding ways to correct that situation.



Israeli flag motive ominous

I did a double-take recently as I drove past the Church of the Harvest on Fox Hollow Road. Atop a new 50-foot flagpole was the banner of Israel - a blue Star of David centered on cloth of white.

It is beautiful. It also has ominous implications, as I learned when I spoke with a man in the church office. I was told members of the church fully support display of the flag because the Old Testament of church scripture has roots in Judaism.

Fair enough. Then he said it reflects support of Israel "taking full control of Jerusalem," necessary in fundamentalist lore to allow for the "rapture" of the Second Coming.

On the surface, that may appeal to some backers of Israel. Those who explore further recognize such support serves priorities only of evangelical Christians. They long have asserted - though not openly to Israelis - that if the rapture comes, Jews must choose to convert to their brand of Christianity. If they don't, they will be damned to hell with the rest of us who do not accept faith-based extremism.

Hypocrisy exists openly when it's at the top of a flagpole.


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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 8, 2006
Previous Article:Twisting the truth.
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