Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Free Speech vs. Hate Speech
A Jew finds himself in a neo-Nazi forum
SHOOTING OWLS TO SAVE OWLS?
In an effort to save threatened northern spotted owls, Fish and Wildlife officials are proposing a plan that could involve shooting invading barred owls.
|Barred owl, Fall Creek|
Barred owls have slowly made their way over the past 50 years from eastern Canada and down through Washington to Oregon, where the larger, more aggressive birds have been displacing their spotted cousins in their already shrinking territory.
Federal scientists are proposing a study to determine whether methods like shooting and/or trapping and removing barred owls would improve the spotted owls’ chances of survival.
The study is part of the larger 2008 spotted owl recovery plan. While the Bush administration focused heavily on barred owls as a caused of the spotted owls’ demise, conservationists say that just removing barred owls is not enough, and it ignores the real problem — loss of habitat due to logging.
The competition between the two bird species is heightened by the lack of nesting and hunting areas as the old-growth habitat is logged. Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild says, “If your in-laws move into your house, you’d make your house bigger, not smaller.”
The Obama administration announced in April that it would not support the Bush administration spotted owl recovery plan because the decision-making process was jeopardized by improper political influence. The plan is being reconsidered by the Obama administration with some parts of it being implemented.
The “experimental removal of barred owls for the conservation benefit of threatened northern spotted owls” will take place near Cle Elum, Wash., in Oregon’s Coast Range and southwestern Oregon’s Klamath Mountains.
Fish and Wildlife officials say that the barred owls would be most likely killed with shotguns to ensure the birds are killed, not merely wounded.
The federal government is taking comments on the environmental impact statement for the study. Submit e-mail comments to BarredOwlEIS@fws.gov. Include ‘‘Attn: Barred Owl EIS’’ in the e-mail subject header and your name and return address in the body of your message. Call the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office for more information (503) 2316179. Comments are due Jan. 11. — Camilla Mortensen
AWARD FOR HUERTO
Huerto de la Familia, a nonprofit organization in Eugene providing teaching materials, plants, seeds, gardening materials and subsidizing garden plots for low-income Latino families, has recently won the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award for 2009. The award is given out to organizations that find creative ways to help alleviate hunger and poverty in their community and go beyond temporary emergency services to create a permanent end to poverty. These services can be in the form of physical resources, training or education. The award can fetch up to $7,000, and there are 10 winners for this year’s award.
Two of Huerto’s garden plots are located at Churchill Community Garden and Skinner City Farm, and the gardens grow vegetables, fruit that does not require trees like strawberries and melons, and some herbs and wild plants.
Huerto de la Familia also provides one-time classes on food preservation and health-related issues. There are currently 50 families working at the two Eugene locations and a third location in Springfield, the Youth Farm. According to Sarah Cantril, executive director for Huerto de la Familia, those 50 families represent approximately 200 parents and children. Some families have reported growing between 25 and 200 pounds of produce. Families are eligible if they receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or qualify under Federal Income Guidelines for free or reduced priced school meals.
Cantril says future plans for the prize money will include creating a database for Huerto de la Familia to use in their organization, as well as expanding their micro enterprising project that teaches families how to sell their vegetables to stores and at farmers markets. Plans are also in place to organize a volunteer program to expand Huerto de la Familia’s outreach to the community.The award is named after the late singer-songwriter Harry Chapin who, along with radio talk show host Bill Ayres, started the WHY not-for-profit organization in 1975. — Shuan O’Dell
SPICING UP THE WATER
The holidays are here, and you know what that means: Salmon are swimming around in swirls of cinnamon and vanilla.
Everything people consume, from Prozac to artificial sweeteners, sooner or later flushes back into our water supply. This means that those Christmas snickerdoodles that you’re eating for the next couple weeks are sooner or later going to wind up back in the water.
So far there’s no proof that spicing up the salmon and other aquatic dwellers causes them any harm, and no reports of fish getting high on nutmeg. But scientists at the University of Washington measuring cinnamon, vanilla, all-spice, thyme, rosemary, caffeine and theobromide from chocolate in the Puget Sound say they see the amounts of cookie ingredients like vanilla and cinnamon spike during mid-December — the start of holiday office party season — and drop again after New Year’s Day.
Converting the amount of spices they found in the water to “home-baked cookie equivalents” the UW aquatic organic geochemists found that during the holiday season of 2006 the Puget Sound was getting about 250,000 cookies per day, “roughly 2/3 butter or chocolate chip and 1/3 snickerdoodle or similar cinnamon-containing cookies such as gingerbread.”
The UW team noted that ethyl vanilla, a petroleum derivative, shows up the most in the water. The group has started a nonprofit group, soundcitizen.org that provides testing kits to get Seattlites more involved in how their activities affect their environment.
Eugene’s wastewater winds up back in our rivers after treatment too, so remember that as you bite the head off that gingerbread person this week. — Camilla Mortensen
THE CASE FOR CHANGE IN OREGON
A report from the Obama administration late last month outlines what the impact for Oregon will be if meaningful health insurance reform does not pass. The report is now available at www.HealthReform.gov and is titled, “The Case for Change.”
“Families, seniors and businesses are all suffering under the health care status quo,” says Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services. “Our new reports demonstrate how health insurance reform will improve health care for all Americans.”
Under health insurance reform in Oregon:
• An estimated 715,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 257,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.
• About 378,000 residents could qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.
• Some 580,000 seniors would receive free preventive services.
• About 103,000 seniors would have their brand-name drug costs in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” halved.
• An estimated 58,300 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable.
The report also notes that “if we do nothing, by 2019 the number of uninsured people will grow by more than 30 percent in 29 states and by at least 10 percent in every state. Without reform, the amount of uncompensated care provided will more than double in 45 states. Additionally, businesses in 27 states will see their premiums more than double and fewer people will have coverage through an employer if the status quo continues.”
• The debut viewing of Global Trends — Local Choices, a narrated slide show DVD by Jan Spencer of Eugene, will be at 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 17, at Tsunami Books. The video is a timely look at global trends and what people can do about them, from home scale to bio-region, says Spencer. The free presentation “encourages taking action at home, the neighborhood and community using green assets, models and resources, already available,” he says. “Downsizing will become the defining characteristic of this period of history.” Copies of the DVD will be for sale for $5 at the showing.
• For those who missed the Mad As Hell Doctors event in Eugene Nov. 19, a video of the speakers will be shown at 1 pm Thursday, Dec. 17, on the “Ugeen Seen” program on public access Channel 29. The event was sponsored by Health Care for All-Oregon. More information at http://hcao-eugene.org
• The film Occupation 101 about the Palestinian struggle will be shown at 8:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 17, at Cozmic Pizza. The event is a fundraiser for LCC student activist Michael King, who is one of about 500 activists from around the world who will be traveling to Gaza to join the Dec. 31 Gaza Freedom March. Donations can be made at apps.facebook.com/causes/389302
• The Democratic Party of Lane County is hosting its semi-annual Platform Convention to come together to ratify the local party platform and create the legislative action items that will set the agenda for the party. The event begins at 9 am Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Presbyterian Church, 216 S. 3rd St. in Cottage Grove. Pre-register by emailing your name and address to email@example.com. Voting delegates to the convention must be registered Democrats living in Lane County. Pre-registrants will be able to purchase a lunch for $5 and will be contacted once registration is confirmed. More information at www.dplc.org
• We are sad to hear of the unexpected death Sunday, Dec. 13, of longtime Eugene musician Dan Henson. He was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Henson was a solo performer for most of his career, playing guitar and singing, and packing local venues like the Red Lion, The Grotto and the Doubletree. He was the quintessential karaoke host and comic entertainer and was one of the busiest musicians in town. He also performed on TV shows, around the Northwest, in Nashville and in Europe. His music can be heard and seen at www.danhenson.com Check our blog for additional information as it becomes available.
• It took a real community effort to provide shelter this past week for Lane County’s residents who would otherwise be out in the freezing cold. The Egan Warming Center and two other shelters for youth and families cared for about 200 to 220 people each night. No one institution could have recruited and trained 400 volunteers and provided transportation, a safe place to sleep, blankets and sleeping bags. meals and pet care. Involved were FOOD for Lane County and other nonprofits, churches, the city of Eugene, LTD, veterinarians and many individuals.
We hear from Terry McDonald, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, that the demographics are changing for our homeless population. More two-parent households are seeking assistance this year; out of work and out of money. “They are angry and humiliated and don’t want to be there,” he says. St. Vinnie’s can only accommodate 10 families at First Place, and the waiting list is growing. When times get tough for families, he says, the first thing to go is the food budget, then rent, and then utilities. Food stamps and food pantries help, some rental assistance is available, EWEB and other utility companies help keep the lights on for a while, and laid off workers get limited benefits. But when too many resources are exhausted, families are forced out in the cold. Find out how to help at www.svdp.us
• The long struggle to get the Beam Centre Court project going downtown is a stark reminder that the city needs to abandon its outrageous plans to relocate its police headquarters across the river. The city really needs to keep the cop shop in the city center. This week the city about doubled its subsidies to get half the redevelopment at Broadway and Willamette. The city subsidy now totals about $10 million in loans. Instead of spending $16 million to deliver the worst kick to the safety and vitality of an already down downtown in decades, the city should redevelop its suffering city center with a police headquarters.
• The Register-Guard didn’t report it when Lane County commissioners voted to support marine reserves and protect areas off Oregon’s coast. The R-G also ignored a recent vote to endorse/adopt the “Lane County Precautionary Principle” to provide us with a long-term perspective on human and environmental health (EW 12/3). The R-G missed the anti-hate speech resolution the commissioners passed in October too. But the R-G did devote two news stories and an editorial to criticizing a vote by some of the commissioners to use funds already in the budget for needed part-time assistants.
With commissioners in all-day meetings much of the week, folks can’t get through to them when they have an emergency. Assistants aren’t being hired for the commissioners; they’re for their constituents. Back in June the commissioners allocated money into the budget for an assistant for the DA, two for the sheriff and one for all five commissioners to share. When they re-evaluated the budget, the one position was split into five, with no extra money spent. Kind of like the trumped up jail beds issue, the R-G is creating mountains out of molehills again.
• We confess that football followers are a distinct minority in the EW newsroom. But some of us wonder where Chip Kelly will take the Ducks and the community next after winning the Pac-10 football championship and rolling into the Rose Bowl favored to beat Ohio State. Maybe a winning football team that graduates players at a higher rate than the UO as a whole? Maybe a shift away from the successful public relations strategy that drew attention to the Ducks for their quirky uniforms? Maybe a 2010 showdown with the Beavers that sends the loser to the Rose Bowl and the winner to the national championship game? But first, we better wonder how Kelly will stop the Buckeyes’ power running game in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
• As we go to press this week, we get word that Jeff “Free” Luers has been released from prison, hopefully for good this time. Luers, then 23, was sentenced in 2001 to 22 years and eight months for the politically and environmentally motivated arson of three SUVs at a local Romania car dealership. Luers set the fires to call attention to the roll of SUVs in global warming.
Luers’ extreme sentencing for a crime in which no people were harmed dismayed civil rights activists from Eugene to Amnesty International. He was considered a political prisoner and the long sentence called politically motivated. Lauren Regan at Eugene’s Civil Liberties Defense Center was among attorneys that took up his defense. In 2007, Luers’ sentence was reduced to 10 years. He was given 10 percent sentence reduction in October under a cost-cutting early release plan, but was told only hours after his release that it was a mistake. He was taken away from family and friends and sent back to the Columbia River Correctional Institution until Dec. 16.
Luers told supporters he plans to go back to school and continue as an activist for environmental and social justice. Welcome home, Free.