May 24, 2004 11:00 pm

Dismaying change

To the Editor:

A truly dismaying change has occurred in America since the election in 2000. America has turned its back on its traditional relationship with the United Nations and other nations.

I lived overseas many years. I know how America was respected by other countries. We turned our back on the great traditions that earned this respect. In the past we did not bully less powerful states. Our policy was to extend a hand in friendship and offer to help.

This administration has mired America in a long and increasingly cruel war. We squandered the admiration and respect of most nations. We are increasingly isolated as we create more mortal enemies, with a war others see as humiliating to a great religion, an attempt to establish ourselves as another conqueror in the Middle East. Arab people have long memories and sadly many innocent Americans will pay a terrible price in the future.

We violated international laws and the charter of the U.N. We ignored these violations so must expect others to remember and to retaliate. We should not have decided unilaterally to overthrow Saddam Hussein, as wicked a tyrant as he was.

We were told by those with on-the-ground experience that Iraq had no capability to make war against us or any of its neighbors. They had no weapons of mass destruction, and were not harboring terrorists. Our own intelligence establishment told us that. The administration decided for war and determined to have one by using intelligence selectively.

We see the result each day — flag-draped coffins coming home and no end in sight.

David Bishop


Dance team counts, too

To the Editor:

I have been on the La Grande High School Dance Team for two years. This last year we have improved, therefore I was looking forward to a third and fourth year — which won't happen now with the budget cuts making the dance team history.

On May 12, I went to the budget meeting. There my mother and another dance member spoke in support of the dance team. I didn't speak because I didn't know what to say, until now.

One of the main reasons for the dance team being cut, so I have been told, was the small number of girls on the team. However, there are other sports teams at La Grande High School that are just as small as the dance team. I'm not saying they should have cut them also. What I am saying is there must have been another real reason why the dance team was cut.

Yes I know we weren't the greatest team but no team ever is perfect. This past year we were starting to improve ourselves and we were ready to take on the challenges for next year.

The reasons why we love dance team is the experience to learn dance skills, to perform, do competitions, and doing something we all love. Isn't that something worth fighting for?

Shannon Stickney

La Grande

Nice to be appreciated

To the Editor:

I work at one of the New Day Enterprises group homes and last month my co-worker and I took all our folks out for dinner.

We always have fun doing this despite the fact that a lot of the time other customers act as though they wish we weren't there. There is always "the look" on someone's face.

This time we went somewhere we don't normally go, and there was an older couple seated next to us. When they left, unknown to us at the time, they paid for our entire ticket — for seven people — because they appreciated the way we were with the folks.

We couldn't believe it, and we just wanted to say how wonderful it made us feel to know total strangers appreciate us doing something we love and have fun doing. It's nice to know people care. They made our day.

It's very inspiring to know there are people out there who care how our folks are treated.

Sharon Hancock, Christina Clemons

La Grande

Election year ploy

To the Editor:

About the abuse of prisoners in the prison in Iraq, this abuse was and is against the Military Uniform Code of Justice as well as the Geneva Convention. The fact that these men and women may have shed American blood does not change the law.

According to Major General Taguba, who brought this to light, this Reserve military police brigade was the poorest trained unit he had ever seen, and its Commander, Brig. Gen. Karpinski, a reserve officer, had no training at all in prison management. General Taguba learned of this from an officer in his chain of command who learned of it from an enlisted guard at the prison.

As a former army officer, let me clarify something. No officer above the rank of lieutenant colonel commanding a battalion of 1,000 men ever knows the exact level of training of any unit under his command. It is simply impossible. The next officer up in a chain of command must depend on the reports of junior officers in his command. This is true all the way up to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Because of this Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld could not possibly know the extent of the training of this MP Unit. If he could not know, how in the world could the president with 2 million military under him as commander in chief be expected to know?

This blaming the secretary of defense and the president is just an election-year political ploy.

Roy Hills

Island City

Credit score affects rates

To the Editor:

I just wanted to voice my concern related to the use of insurance credit scoring by insurance companies in quoting of auto and home insurance rates.

This is a concern for any person who is on a fixed income such as retirement, disability or any other situation where you have limited funds for daily living. Nationally, approximately 92 percent of all auto and home insurance companies use credit scoring in determining your insurance premium. If you are wondering how this affects you, let me explain. For example:

This example is based on John Doe, a 40-year-old single male, driving a 2000 Chevrolet 2500 4x4 extended-cab pickup, living in La Grande, with the following coverages — liability 100/300/100, comprehensive 100 deductible, collision 250 deductible. Typical coverage on many vehicles.

John Doe No. 1 — One speeding ticket in the past three years, two speeding tickets four years ago, one accident five years ago, two DUIs five years ago. Insurance credit score of (850 or above) using Choice Point Credit Filing Report. Six-month premium: $536.

John Doe No. 2 — No tickets, no accidents, no claims in the past 20 years, never established credit, paid cash for his cars and other purchases. Insurance credit score of (no score) using Choice Point Credit Filing Report. Six-month premium: $734.

That's right. The example shows you that John Doe with the perfect driving record with no claims cost to the insurance company, will pay $198 more per year simply because of his insurance credit score.

Considering that auto insurance is a mandatory requirement in Oregon, it should be better regulated as to how the premiums are determined.

Murry McEwen


Violence part of teachings

To the Editor:

Shortly after the destruction of the World Trade Center our president declared war on terrorism. What we are fighting is the radical faction of the nation of Islam, not the Iraqi people.

Representatives of this faction are in every country that has a mosque within its boundaries. The militant arm of this religious group is the Jihad, and the Koran is their Bible. Every Moslem man is commanded by the Koran to involve himself in Jihad, or holy war.

According to the Koran, every Jew is to be killed, as is anyone who supports their beliefs. Jesus is recognized as a prophet, but His deity and his death on the cross are denied by their doctrine. They also believe that any Moslem who dies while fighting with Jihad will go directly to heaven, and these Jihad men are the only persons who are assured of their place there.

It is because of this teaching that they participate in violence against others. They are taught by their faith, just as the six Moslems captured in Portland, and the lawyer, Mr. Mayfield, whose fingerprints were allegedly found on material at the site of the train crash in Spain, were taught to fight.

Some of the Jihad warriors captured by our military have valuable information, if they can be convinced to divulge it. This information, without a doubt could save the lives of many of our military personnel. Our president was correct when he said that this conflict could go well beyond two terms.

This type of violence is the only kind of war these people understand, and they have no code of ethics. If you would like to learn more about their beliefs, you can check out a copy of the Koran from the public library.

John Petersen

La Grande

Research, understanding needed

To the Editor:

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that affects over 6 million Americans. Causes and cures for this disease are still unknown and effective treatments vary from individual to individual. It is believed to be closely associated with chronic fatigue syndrome — another mysterious disease.

There is a long list of symptoms for fibromyalgia. Some of these include widespread musculoskeletal pain and tender points in specific areas of the body, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, restless limb syndrome, cognitive, memory, and concentrations problems.

Patients with fibromyalgia may be able to lead normal lives, or they may be completely bedridden and unable to get up without assistance.

Education for this disease is needed for physicians and the public at large. Oregon Health and Sciences University is one of the leading researchers for fibromyalgia in the United States. I ask that we all support efforts being made in this research.

Pamela DuCharme

La Grande

Time to get library built

To the Editor:

Was very relieved to see that our city council has named the new library as its top priority for the upcoming year. Seems this has been a priority for a couple of years now. Hopefully this will be the year to finally break ground. People have been waiting a long time.

The elevator no longer works and it is so old that no parts can be found, which means that people with disabilities can no longer use the facilities. After having two hips replaced I could not negotiate the stairs and no elevator so I had to rely on my best friend and my husband to keep me supplied with library books.

Our wonderful librarians also will deliver books for those who cannot get up those stairs. I do not think this is in their job descriptions.

Another question I have is why all of a sudden we need a fundraising committee? As I understand it they have had the money to build for some years now. I do not recall having any fundraising events for the new fire station.

Also, if we are so short of money why are we giving away buildings such as the old fire station and now talking about giving away the old library? Wouldn't selling them make more sense and bring in much-needed money to help the community?

Judy Blevins

La Grande

Right person for the job

To the Editor:

An open letter to Martin Birnbaum:

In all of my experiences and exposure to political campaigning — my first experience was campaigning for Bobby Kennedy while I was still in grade school — I can't seem to recall a campaign that was less effectively run than was yours, Martin. At a recent chili cook-off here in cattle country, you showed up with a vegetarian recipe. You displayed conscience —a huge political blunder — when you called your opponent to give her a heads up about her public record being published. You failed miserably in plastering the landscape with Birnbaum signage, as I only saw a few, and you forgot to beat us over the head with hourly radio campaign ads.

The problem with you, Martin, is you are lousy politician, and that is one of the main reasons I supported and voted for you. I am very pleased to see that a solid majority of Union County also recognized that what we need in the DA's office is compassion, experience and leadership qualities, and not good political skills.

As the dust of the campaign settles and the work begins, we are fortunate to have an experienced, working DA at the helm. Congratulations on your victory and thank you for choosing to serve Union County.

Rich Zinzer


Reconsider dance team decision

To the Editor:

The La Grande High School dance team was cut because of the budget problem, but they should really reconsider.

This year has by far been one of the best years for us. Our coach told us this was the best team she has had in five years. We were very close to second round and we wanted to improve so we could make it at state.

We get up early Monday through Thursday for practice each week. This last year we have had lots of different fund raisers and haven't asked for much help from the school. The school allows us to perform at football and basketball games and at pep rallies.

There are a lot of us who wanted to go to state our senior year, so we could have the chance to get a scholarship. If I could I would do another sport, but there is a difference between a lot of people and me. They are not legally blind, and I am.

It isn't easy knowing you have a vision problem and wanting to play sports at the same time. I can't play sports that I could enjoy because I can't play too many sports with balls flying at my head. Dance is one of the sports I am good at and I enjoy. I will also have less chance of getting injured.

Everyone on the dance team gets along with each other and works hard so we can earn money for our costumes and other things needed like money for hotel rooms.

I ask that they please reconsider this and bring back the dance team. Everyone on the team has one thing in common, and that's that we all love to dance.

Rosie Strandberg

La Grande

Extremists still out there

To the Editor:

I read David Bishop's letter in the May 17 Observer. There are several points that I would like to debate.

Here is a comment on one of his points regarding the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found:

Who needs weapons of mass destruction? They just hop on one of our airliners and fly it into one of our buildings.

And these extremists are still out there trying for an opportunity to do it again.

Angela Eytchison

La Grande