June 30, 2004 11:00 pm

Time to speak up

To the Editor:

I never wanted to write this. There are so many issues I would rather write about, like ideas for tourism in Union County or supporting American manufacturing jobs.

I can, however, no longer remain silent after hearing the news about Abu Ghraib.

Right now I am ashamed to be an American. Most of my adult life I have worked to reduce and end sexual violence on the personal scale, only to find that my government is committing sexual violence on a global scale. My government is carrying out sexual torture on prisoners in Iraq. This is so wrong I can hardly speak the words.

Last year for the first time I traveled outside the United States. One of the places I visited was Dachau, in Germany. When Americans liberated the prison camp they were so horrified and outraged by what they found that they marched the citizens of the town through the camp. I saw the film clip of the hard faces of American GIs and the ashen faces of the town's housewives, who knew something was wrong but didn't know exactly what.

These townspeople were forced to know, forced at gunpoint to walk by the piles of rotting corpses. The world forgave them neither their ignorance nor their silence.

So, this is for the good and proper and Christian housewives of Dachau, who

couldn't speak out. I can, and I must. We must end what is going on at Abu Ghraib, immediately stop sexual torture of prisoners, and end the practice of hiring private contractors to carry out interrogation.

We cannot even plead ignorance, and we must certainly avoid silence. Please join me in speaking up. The world, and our own future generations, will not forgive us our silence.

Danae A. Yurgel

La Grande

First lady deserves coverage

To the Editor:

I am very disappointed in the Portland television stations, especially KATU channel 2, in their coverage last week of the visitations by Sen. John Kerry and our first lady, Laura Bush.

Kerry's visit was covered from the time his plane landed until his departure. Nearly the entire Monday news hour was devoted to Kerry's visit and again some time was devoted Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday I saw three segments of news on KATU of our first lady, totaling probably 90 seconds.

True, Kerry is a presidential candidate but until he wins this presidential office, he is just a senator, one of many. There are 100 senators in our legislative branch of government. On the other hand, whether Republican or Democrat, we only have one first lady at any given time and she should have been given the honor, respect and accolade due her.

The news coverage given our first lady by the Portland news media was a slap in the face, and Portland television stations should offer her a humble apology.

David Larson

La Grande

Focus becomes service

To the Editor:

On behalf of CISU — Citizens In Support of Union — I want to express my appreciation to the citizens of Union for standing up to vote for what is best for our city. Many CISU members contributed hours of research and hard work in getting information out to the public. They did a great job and conducted themselves with dignity.

We hope now that our group, the TOTAL group and all the citizens of Union can put the past where it belongs and work together to reunite our city and to work through and resolve any problems that do exist. Several council members have assured me they will do their best to be more responsive to and to work with the citizens to resolve issues.

There are several ideas we have heard that will be presented to or by the council to promote citizen involvement and participation and to achieve civic improvements.

To that end CISU is changing our name to Citizens In SERVICE to Union and we have transformed our Web site into an online community billboard. We hope this will encourage more and open communication and generate ideas and projects for Union. Our Web address is www.cisunion.com and we welcome input from everyone.

Hank Rodman, chairman



Scandal overblown

To the Editor:

The letter from the person who was "ashamed to be an American" because of the Abu Ghraib prison photos is a prime example of how our media is able to brain wash some of the people.

They have made the scenes depicted in these photos sound like the meanest form of torture. Stupid, and humiliating, to both the Iraqis and the Americans involved, best describes that prison fiasco. There was no doubt some physical discomfort in addition to the humiliation, however, equating this to Dachau as the letter writer did is way off base.

Comparing this "scandal" to Dachau is like declaring that the burning of a book of matches is equal to a 10,000-acre forest fire.

The magnitude of the horror and carnage at Dachau even dwarfs Saddam's prison practices where he cut off hands, gouged out eyes, cut out tongues, and routinely chopped off heads. I suspect that if you could get an honest answer from the average Iraqi man on the street he would tell you that the former prisoners of Saddam, among them, are laughing at us for what we have labeled as torture. They could tell you what real torture is.

It would serve the cause of peace more if the media would rant about the beheading of Mr. Berg instead of spending countless hours rehashing the stupidity of those acts in that prison. To literally tear a man's head off by hacking it loose with a dull knife is far more horrendous than causing people to lay in a pile naked and have their picture taken.

The nearest experience to what happened to Mr. Berg would be to lie helpless while some wild animal starts eating you alive. I do not see anything in any of the Abu Ghraib photos comparable to that.

Gary Poole


Report accidents

To the Editor:

Last night we had another hit and run accident on May Lane in La Grande.

That was the 20th accident in a year and a half.

Of the 20 accidents, 18 have been hit-and-run.

Now, hit-and-run is a very serious offense, and when people finally get caught — someone usually sees these accidents happen and reports them — the fines and punishments are dramatically increased.

It is not worth taking the risk of getting caught in a hit-and-run by any measure.

So, folks, just a kind word: when you have an accident, even if nobody is around and it's late at night, just leave a note with your name and phone number, and when you get home call the police and ask if you need to report the accident.

Then you are covered. You won't have to go to court or jail, your car insurance won't go up astronomically and you'll feel much better in your heart.

Nicholas L. Smith

La Grande