Letters to the Editor 6-30-2016


The June 23 EW provided a striking example of how humans compartmentalize nonhuman animals: Some species are treated as companions, while others are viewed as mere resources for human use.

A two-page spread (plus cover photo) involved lovely photos being used to increase the adoption rate of pit bulls. Subsequent pages included two large promotions for the “Black Sheep Gathering,” celebrating an industry that is anything but innocuous.

Most people mistakenly think that wool production doesn’t involve animal cruelty and believe that shearing sheep is doing the animals a favor. But since shearers are paid by volume, gentleness is ignored in favor of speed. It’s a rough process, and manhandling these gentle animals is the norm.

Shearing wouldn’t be necessary but for the fact that modern-day sheep have been manipulated to grow massive amounts of wool, unlike their non-domesticated relatives who grow hair that naturally sheds.

People are surprised to learn that sheep are born with tails, normally cut off without anesthetic soon after birth. Males are castrated (again, without anesthetic) and lambs killed for meat are slaughtered at six months. Sheep used for wool are slaughtered once their productivity wanes, usually at around five to six years. During their abbreviated lifespan, they often suffer from skin infections, foot rot and joint problems from being weighed down by their constantly growing wool coats. They’re also affected by weather; if sheared in early spring, they are left naked and susceptible to the cold. Those not sheared are subject to heat stroke. Look around at the sheep dotting fields around Eugene — the vast majority have no shelter from the elements.

Sheep are just as worthy as dogs of not being used and abused. As society becomes more educated about animal sentience, it will come to realize that farmed animals are no less morally relevant than companion animals.

Barb Lomow, Eugene


In response to Janet Bevirt and Bonny Bettman McCornack’s use of DTURD as an acronym for Downtown Urban Renewal District [Letters, June 23], “DURD” would be the appropriate acronym since “downtown” is one word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Inserting the “T” into this acronym is not an accident and what it insinuates is clearly crass and unproductive.

But City Council passed the debated funding measure, so whether it’s a DURD or DTURD is a moot point now anyway, isn’t it?

Anya Dobrowolski, Eugene


The recent takeover of Agate/Trillium by Centene raises serious questions with respect to the Affordable Care Act.

Given the lofty cash reserves and $109 million payout to the shareholders of Agate/Trillium, the question that is begged is: “What percentage of their revenues were actually spent on patient care?”

In an amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) written by Sen. Al Franken, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 now mandates minimum Medical Loss Ratios of 85 percent for the large group market and 80 percent for the individual and small group markets. Insurers that do not spend 80 to 85 percent of their premiums on patient health care costs must now issue rebates to those that paid premiums to them.

I would encourage the state of Oregon to do an ACA audit of Trillium to see if they met the spending requirements on patient services, given the seemingly large amounts of cash reserves on hand that made them so attractive to Centene.

Oregon should take their lead from Washington, California, New York, Missouri and Massachusetts, which have successfully secured premium refunds totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of rebates from their respective health insurers back to the consumer.

Mark Hudson, Eugene


In response to Steve Boggs’ letter [Letters, June 23], I, too, went to the Voivod show. I was happy to see a band that I have listened to since I was a teen (43 now). All the openers were good, but my only qualm was the crowd.

The Eugene metal community can be hit or miss at times, unless it’s a big name or a more well known name. The half-empty floor made me wish more people showed up for such a great band such as Voivod. Yes, Voivod is well known to the hardcore fans, but maybe not as much to others. I just hope this doesn’t sway other big names to skip Eugene to go to PDX instead.

Jason Gast, Eugene


Christopher Michaels [Letters, June 23] will be happy to learn that there is currently a campaign to bring ranked-choice voting to our neighbor Benton County. They need volunteers and donations to get it on the ballot and pass it! The backers intend this as a start toward bringing it statewide. For more info go to betterballotbenton.com.

Alan F. Zundel, Eugene


Well, I feel very sorry upon hearing of the tragedy at Orlando. But as I took up my Bible, I opened at the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After re-reading chapter and verse, I can’t help but think God is giving us an example of his punishment for perverts and deviants. You cannot escape the eye of the Lord!

Lon Miller, Drain


What’s with the continual pit bull love affair that EW seems to have [“Puppy Love,” June 23]? With all the angst spewed about firearms in virtually every issue (deservedly so in some instances), I would feel much safer in the presence of a firearm than a pit.

In fact, the only way I’d feel remotely safe around one of these “bear traps with a body attached” is with a gun at easy reach. Naifs like Sophie Gamand can try to rehabilitate the image of this dangerous breed ’til the cows come home, but it won’t change the fact that society’s best interest would be served by complete eradication.

I’d be happy to provide the flowers for the funeral celebration.

Karl Stout, Eugene


Wow, we have a new American record, at least 50 killed in a mass shooting by a sick, ignorant man with allegiance to ISIS. Certainly a portion of the Jewish and Christian world will now find more reason to hate Muslims, but before they do, they themselves must understand they share responsibility.

Yes, all you self-righteous Christians, if you are going to waltz around this planet and tell everyone they are going to burn in hell if they don’t worship your version of God, you must share the blame for the hate.

Furthermore, all of we Americans that consume more than our share of the planet’s resources, must also acknowledge some of the responsibility. Our economic engine is partially fueled by the production and sales of weapons. Who do you think made that fucker’s assault rifle? You know, good old Bernie describes himself as a socialist-democrat, and it would serve humanity well if the big three religions could describe themselves as Buddhist-Christian, Buddhist-Jewish or Buddhist-Muslim.

John Wilson, Eugene


I saw Vaxxed twice during its run in Ashland, and I encourage all Eugene parents to see this important documentary telling how fraud and corruption has permitted an unsafe vaccine to remain on the market and cause great harm to tens of thousands of children.

In February 2004, Dr. Thompson (CDC whistleblower) expressed concerns about the MMR study’s findings in an urgent letter to Director Dr. Julie Gerberding about the upcoming Institute of Medicine (IOM) meeting on immunizations and autism. He wrote, “I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of the MMR vaccine and autism.”

Dr. Thompson was removed from the IOM speaker schedule just days before the meeting, and the subsequent IOM report, which omitted his findings, was cited in the Omnibus Autism decision that denied more than 5,000 families compensation for vaccine injury claims. This report, based on fraudulent data, continues to be widely cited to exonerate vaccines’ role in causing autism. Dr. Gerberding left the CDC in 2008 and became president of Merck’s multi-billion dollar vaccine division, a position she still holds today.

Vaxxed is not anti-vaccine — it advocates safe vaccines. See for yourself at the David Minor Theater through June 30.

Liz Schmidt, Ashland


In his comments concerning the conviction of John Sharlow in the assault of a handcuffed prisoner, Police Chief Pete Kerns said, “Abusive and criminal behavior by an employee of this department is not tolerated.”

This gives little comfort to those who have been assaulted by members of his force without cameras present to record the crimes or to those black, brown and poor people yet to be attacked.

Whether it is a lie or an indication that Kerns has lost control of his force, his statement indicates that he is not qualified to be police chief.

I will be surprised if Sharlow, after being rewarded for his crime with 16 months of paid vacation — “paid administrative leave” — will receive any jail time. It is likely he can convince a judge to grant probation if he expresses his fear of being thrown in with the general prison population along with other criminals and innocent victims of police brutality, who have been charged with resisting arrest for being beat up.

Steve Hiatt, Eugene


My husband and I would like to show our appreciation for all who, even though it was not legal, have given a gift to all who travel past the I-5 bridge, to show them we really are good people.

Individuals walking by seem to have stereotyped us as the typical homeless camper. I know that most don’t like the campers around here because they leave trash. We are homeless, but not by choice. Our bishop has agreed to help us out with move-in costs, only we have to find the apartment to move into.

My husband is on SSI/SSD for mental disabilities and is needing a hernia repair by his belly button. I am in the process of getting my ID which, after five-and-a-half months and requesting my marriage license, I finally was able to get my Social Security card and, if necessary, can finally work to help out. We have applied to all wait lists and are waiting, which puts us on the street. Our case manager with options is in the process of helping out with placing us on all the lists, and we are on the CWL list with Catholic Community Services for the chronically homeless of a year or greater. We have now been homeless one year and one month.

To show our appreciation, we adopted the I-5 bridge, set up our tent for the night and cleaned its garden area from some menacing weeds smothering the plants that were planted there.

One day a heavy-set gentleman with two dogs, one white and the other black, was purposely messing up the area and throwing trash over to the river area to make it look like we were doing it.

Other patrons of the North Bank path had witnessed it with my husband, but we were getting blamed, stating that we camped there and threw trash everywhere. When we broke down our tent every morning, out of respect, we cleaned up our mess and other trash that was there.

This is our gift to all who tolerated our presence there. Thank you!

Sky and LuAnn Davini, Eugene


Senator Bernie Sanders has stated that a $15 minimum wage would affect 53 million workers. The approximate increase in wages would be more than $60 billion yearly. It will be spent on food, rent, etc. That would stimulate the economy. All this new money would be taxed (FICA), and that tax money would go directly to fund Social Security and Medicare. The effect of the increased wages would reduce the expenses of the federal and state budgets by lowering the cost of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Food Stamps and Medicaid.

So what are the downsides of all these good benefits?  Employers — such as Walmart — will have an increase in taxes. They pay half of the FICA taxes. Some people think that some people may lose their job or that some businesses may have to close. They do not have good research on that opinion, but if it does happen, that would be a downside.

So what we need is a national minimum wage of $15 now, not phased in over years. And it should be coupled with an annual increase for the cost of living adjustment (COLA) as the Social Security recipients now receive. We really need this for our city employees. They should not have to be getting by on food stamps.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene


Can anyone explain to me how the cost of beer in the supermarket is inversely priced in relation to the distance it has traveled? How can local brews sell for $10-$12 a six-pack when you only pay $6-$7 for a six-pack from the East Coast, Europe or Mexico?

Maybe I need to drink more in order to understand this kind of math.

Now I know that new microbreweries can always use a financial boost, but it seems the worst offenders, mathematically speaking, are actually those established and with good distribution networks.

Well, sorry peeps, but I’m buying from Outer Mongolia until the price drops.

Peter Tildesley, Eugene


As I see it, we are all sitting in a darkened Greek amphitheater. It’s about 300 B.C. and we are watching a Greek tragedy. It’s somewhere in the second act.

The hero is the Republican Party, an upstanding guy, well respected in his community and of a long and noble lineage. However, for, well, more than a few years, he has provided a safe political home for bigots of many different stripes, anti-government terrorists (Ted Cruz, et al.) and various other extremists. Other characters in the play are the Bush family, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Paul Ryan. They are all friends of RP, have obliged him in his misdeeds and have profited enormously from their connection with him.

But now the day has come. The antagonist is DT, an egomaniac and a demagogue who, like all demagogues, has an aura of inevitability about him. He is completely out of control and as such is a perfect instrument of Fate.

The denouement, luckily for us, takes place off-stage. My guess is it will be Mitt Romney who delivers the speech giving us the gory details. Towards the end of his speech he will be moved to tears. After all, this was the party that brought an end to slavery, that fought Big Business, that stood up for the environment. It was the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Romney’s own father, George Romney, one of the last great liberal Republicans.

And we, the audience, will all be moved, some to tears. The Greeks called this catharsis and, though it is hard to believe, we will be the better for having watched this tragic tale.

John Kiely, Eugene


America has been promised a “no holds barred” presidential election — apparently nothing is “off the table.”

Aside from what Senator Ted Cruz mentioned, there hasn’t been a single peep in the media about Trump’s alleged mafia connection. Isn’t this newsworthy?

Serious documentation of “Teflon” Donald’s mob ties already exists, so why have the Democrats not revealed that history?

Don’t all “serious” candidates (Republican and Democrat) need to be fully vetted by the FBI by now?

Glenn Jones, Eugene


We learn that a small group of local insider investors made huge profits in last year’s sale of Trillium Community Health Plan. Their profit was huge because they inflated Trillium’s value for potential buyers by hanging on to government Medicare money instead of spending it on health care for low-income people in Lane and Douglas counties. With the glaring ethical issues involved, it is no wonder these investors fought to keep their names out of the newspaper. Should we be surprised to learn that one of them is small government conservative Jim Torrey? He waddled up to this government trough for $2.5 million while many low income residents were struggling to find basic health care.

Wayne Ferrell, Eugene


It never ceases to amaze me how often highly educated people are quick to present logically misleading arguments in support of censoring or preventing an individual’s right to obtain as much information as possible, particularly when that information can have lifelong consequences for the health of their child or themselves, and particularly when that information calls into question alleged government fraud or cover-up.

Alice Callahan’s recent guest opinion is a great case in point. In her attempt to dissuade parents from getting information about the dark side of vaccines and the questionable validity of a government-sponsored study on vaccine safety, Ms. Callahan barely touches upon the facts presented in the documentary. Those facts include hearing the recorded phone calls of a CDC senior scientist admitting that the study’s protocol was not followed, in order to exclude relevant data that was troublesome to the CDC. Unfortunately, the CDC is responsible for promoting our nation’s vaccination program as well as verifying its safety. There’s an easy conflict of interest to identify.

Like a carnie looking for a mark to play Three Card Monty, Ms. Callahan resorts to the standard arguments intended to persuade by deflection, distraction and distortion of the truth; ad hominem character attacks against the director of the documentary, a resort to authority; “trust your pediatrician,” and misrepresentations of fact. Despite Callahan’s claims that vast sums of money are being wasted studying a “thoroughly debunked claim,” the sad truth is as a result of the fraudulent conclusions of the DeStefano Thompson study on the MMR vaccine and its relation to autism, the very same study that is the focus of the Vaxxed documentary, since 2004 there have been no further studies conducted on the relationship of the MMR vaccine or any other vaccine to autism.

You should never trust any government agency when it comes to vaccines, but rely upon your own ability to judge information. This is ever so important when you consider pertaining to the polio vaccine, the government stated in a final rule published in the Federal Register in 1984, that “any possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine cannot be allowed to exist in view of the need to assure that the vaccine will continue to be used to the maximum extent consistent with the nation’s public health objectives.”

Parents, don’t be afraid to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. Investigate and know the ingredients used in vaccines. See the movie Vaxxed and judge for yourself whether the CDC has known since 2001 that the MMR vaccine includes a risk of causing autism.

Bob Snee, Oregonians for Medical Freedom, Portland


Parents who choose not to vaccinate according to the U.S. schedule share the same concerns as last week’s guest opinion writer, blogger and LCC instructor, Alice Callahan. That’s part of what makes Vaxxed a film that we should all see. This film does not spurn science, but instead can help us make our science better, and can help restore the scientific process to our research.

Callahan is right in one sense — some studies exonerate vaccines from association with the declining health of America’s children. They always will if those associations are never studied, or worse, are burned in trash cans, as in the story told in Vaxxed.

If the CDC did destroy evidence, shouldn’t we subpoena the whistleblower discussed in the film? If it didn’t, shouldn’t scientists and consumers alike need to know? Evidently not.

Callahan chooses to attack director Andrew Wakefield rather than the argument in this film, which should be a red flag to consumers. All vaccine consumers should look for arguments that attack an argument rather than a messenger, attack it in relation to other research, and pay attention to the central points of the argument rather than small details. They should not assume that findings that contradict their worldviews are wrong.  Unfortunately, Callahan’s argument does not follow any of these standards.

It astounds me that we aren’t united in the quest to root out scientific fraud in our public organizations nor to continue improving vaccines.

Further, being trained in immunology shouldn’t be a prerequisite for talking about public policy or fraud in public organizations; in fact, it may be a detriment as these issues are interdisciplinary, crossing political, historical and cultural issues as well as epidemiological ones.

In the end, Callahan is right — let’s not look to celebrities. Let’s look to science. Plenty of physicians question this science so let’s make it more robust. Let’s do real peer review, funded independently. Let’s get conflicts of interests out of our universities, off our journal boards and out of public agencies. Let’s test vaccines against inert placebos, for synergistic effects, and long-term, like other drugs. Let’s let the injured have their day in court. Let’s really protect the vulnerable in our communities. On that, we can all agree.

Dr. Jessica Share, Eugene


The attempt by the estate of Randy California to extort money from Led Zeppelin over an alleged purloined guitar riff is less “Stairway to Heaven” than “Highway to Hell.” Apparently, while you can’t buy a “Stairway to Heaven,” you can litigate one. These “Dazed and Confused” attempts to extract rent from common artistic expressions is a “Heartbreaker” and sign of the cultural apocalypse. All culture is derivative. Every human expression, from storytelling to songwriting to painting to movie making, flows from and is influenced by previous works.

This is the very definition of how culture functions. However, now bottom-feeders from large transnational corporations like Disney to the families of deceased artists, enabled by a particular class of lawyer (if you catch my Henry VI) “Desire” unearned riches. Art has always been a commodity and people deserve to get paid — for their actual work — but if we validate these “Wanton Song” suits, culture’s “Levee Will Break” and our “Rock and Roll” will get “Trampled Under Foot.”

Ted M. Coopman, Eugene


While participating in the various humanistic groups devoted to the betterment of our entire human family I have seen many examples of advocacy for people who may fall outside the range of the “average person’s” experience. One very common, but often overlooked member of human society is the drug addict. I’m talking about the strung out, wigged out, tweeked out, cirrhotic, alcoholic or junkie, not the occasional beer, pot or psychedelic consumer.

This personality type is quite common, and anybody can witness it during the course of any day. These people might not always be readily seen, but they are still a fact of life and oftentimes an important part of ours. Many spend much of their lives on the streets. This is because most who are addicted can have problems integrating their daily need for substance maintenance with socially accepted behavior necessary for indoor living among other “normal” people. It is all of these misfits who I advocate for and, even though unelected, wish to represent.

The cops, D.A.s and judges need to actually benefit the community instead of terrorizing some of its most vulnerable members! I will add: There is simply no excuse for anybody to steal or otherwise painfully inconvenience another member of society. This being said, if mind-modifying plants and drugs were legally available, no one would have to resort to such desperate measures.

To those who decide these matters: Provide treatment if requested and otherwise don’t treat a health issue as a crime.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene


This evening, the train pushes a few verses down the tracks inside my head.

I’m sitting on my porch in Eugene, Oregon — in my hometown — listening to the train whistle sweep across the valley like a ghost. A holy ghost singing baritone in the tabernacle choir.

The train whistle is like baptism. It’s a priest that holds all the secrets I whisper under its booming cloak. It washes down the grey-green mountains to make each of us clean again. It carries all the guilt of our carelessness and every cruelty we have ever performed on another human being.

It chug-a-chugs our westbound sins past ghettos and garages, past fields, through forests, past my childhood home on what used to be the edge of town, the outer rim of industry. Each quiet pain I’ve held inside, clothed in laughter and wry humor, or else birthed into a demon-child to torment others, all is muffled by the horn.

The horn and the whistle. Solemn and forlorn.

I know that a few hours hence the bourgeoisie will rise in their spacious homes, frowning in their yoga pants at sunrise. They want to rid the valley of the noise. They want to shut down my confession. They want to cut the legs off my confession and lay silence down to sleep on the bloody tracks. They want to turn down the dial. They want to shut it off like a faucet.

Yet tonight I unbuckle and unbelt, knowing full well that the train will carry on this evening — and at least a while longer — belting up the evening through every loop.

Steve Coatsworth, Eugene


A recent episode of RadioLab discussed advances in science and awareness and went on to state that “we have learned enough to know that we know a lot less than we thought.”

For Neil deGrasse Tyson [“Look Up,” June 2] to emphatically state that “applying the methods and tools of science” should close the book on any further “immature” and “child”-like ideas on how and whether the universe affects our lives, is the ultimate form of scientific arrogance and irony. Here’s a scientist who studies the universe and our universal connection to “space stuff,” yet implies a spiritual “disconnect” as certain fact, although anyone familiar with science would understand that science is not a “correct answer” to anything. If anything, it is a best guess, a set of hypotheses, which have been constantly challenged and updated since the very beginnings of science itself. This is how we come to better understand ourselves while simultaneously deciding what, for each individual, is our connection to a highly complex universe.

From author Haruki Murakami: “It’s a waste of time to think about things you can’t know, and things you can’t confirm even if you know them. In the final analysis, that’s no different from the slippery slope of hypotheses.”

Sean S. Doyle, Corvallis


Bully — this word is feared by many students of all ages. Bullying is still a very real problem in many middle and high schools, whether you are gay, transgender, have scars or just don’t look like everyone else. I myself have been on the receiving end of insults and many other unpleasant occurrences. Each time I was told that I was the problem, and I would sit in my school’s office and get told that if I just tried harder or had more friends that these things wouldn’t have happened.

This is not just my story but the story of many others around the United States and even in other countries. Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, academic and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, and these issues may persist into adulthood, according to stopbullying.gov.

What can I do? I am only one person, and how can I help this growing problem that schools seem to have swept under the rug?

The first step is talking with teachers, principals and even other parents about teaching our children that no matter how people look, no matter how they dress or how that act we are all human, we all deserve to feel like we belong and not like an outcast. So I ask — no — I plead you lead by example because, truly, children learn from watching their parents. Teach your children acceptance, not hate, for if we lived in a world where we accepted each other, then we would live in a world of peace, and all it takes is one person to take the first step: the first step of accepting others, the first step to peace.

Justin Oleson, Eugene

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