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Letters 6/3/04

Various - June 3rd, 2004
Israel’s war on the homeless

In the past 40 months, the Israeli army has destroyed 3,000 homes, vast areas of agricultural land and hundreds of other properties, making close to 20,000 Palestinians homeless and depriving thousands of their livelihood. Families are forcibly evicted from their homes without prior warning, given only a few minutes to leave their home and not allowed to salvage their personal possessions. “The unprecedented scale of destruction violates fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
In just one weekend, May 15-16, the Israeli army destroyed 116 houses in Rafah, leaving 198 families and an additional 1,160 people homeless “Such massive destructions of civilian property are illegal under international humanitarian law.”
Rantings of pro-Palestinian propagandists? Try Amnesty International and B’Tselem (Israeli Human Rights Group) Special Reports from May 18. www.web.amnesty.org; www.btselem.org
Both Bush and Kerry intone, “Israel has the right to defend itself”
after each and every Israeli incursion. When do Palestinians have the right to defend themselves and to resist? If an army were taking your land, uprooting your orchard and bulldozing your home, how patient would you be? How about if it were ongoing since 1948? But of course, they are just Palestinians and these are just “inconveniences.”

Marian Kromkowski • Suttons Bay

Who’s responsible?
 Where did the “prison abuse“ originate? Was it simply the depraved action of a few misguided guards? The “Special-Access Program“ (SAP) authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fight the war on terror “was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture, if possible, to interrogate ‘high value‘
targets.“ This team of Navy SEALS, Army Delta Force personnel, and CIA paramilitaries were likely the ones responsible for the extra-legal assassinations George
Bush bragged about publically when he said “let‘s just say we won‘t have to worry about these people any more.“
This SAP team developed all the techniques - including the sexual humiliation and torture used at Abu Ghraib on civilian detainees there - that we saw leaked in
photos to the media. While some people argue that such
techniques are “necessary and justified“ to get
information out of Al Qaeda suspects, I doubt than
anyone would vote for the blanket use of these
techniques on innocent civilian “suspects“ arrested
Gestapo style, in the night, during U.S. military sweeps
through private Iraqi homes and residences.
Unfortunately this is exactly what happened at Abu
Ghraib - and at several locations elsewhere in
southern Iraq and Afghanistan. Coalition commanders at
these locations have admitted (to the International
Red Cross) that up to 90% of the people swept up in
these raids (and subsequently subject to possible
abuse and torture) “were detained by mistake.“
What can you do to assure that someday the new Gestapo won‘t arrive by mistake at your door? Demand full investigation of these illegal programs, full accountability from those who authorized them (Donald Rumsfeld must step down), and vote the Bush team out in November.

Jim Norgaard • Petoskey


American crusade

Having initially supported the President and his advisors regarding the efficacy of invading Iraq, certain events began to develop over the ensuing months which disturbed me.
“What is it about this war that seems all too familiar?” I started to think about this and then it struck me, “Of course, we are reliving the Crusades.” I then set out to satisfy myself that either this realization was correct or simply totally wrong or I was trying to find some justification for losing my faith in the President and his policies. Sorry to say, the circumstances surrounding this invasion and its aftermath and the Crusades have striking similarities. From the history of 1,000 years ago, an outcome can be rather reliably predicted.
Suffice to say, the Crusades were based on the pronouncements of Pope Urban II, that the Muslims or followers of Islam posed a clear and present threat to the lives of European Christians; and to save their way of life, these non-believers must be defeated and the Holy City of Jerusalem are liberated.
To do this a coalition was formed and the first Crusade began, engaging the Islamic forces and capturing and looting and pillaging both Muslims and Jews. The Crusades ended in a conquering force which had alienated all people in the region. Finally the Crusaders were forced to withdraw.
So after 1,000 years, the new Crusade launched by the United States as a pre-emptive war, based on a premise which we now know as false -- that of a clear and present danger to protect our freedoms.
Unless we as a government pay more than lip service to the pronouncements that all men and their beliefs are equal, we will suffer the same fate as the Crusaders and our incursion into Iraq will be a dismal failure. Our responsibility is to work with all nations with dignity and true cooperation for the betterment of all. Unless we do this, our resources will be exhausted, our rights will be eroded, and we will be vulnerable in the world, standing alone.

John Walheim • Suttons Bay

Dead doves

It is time that someone set the public straight about the facts concerning dove hunting. Those opposed to dove hunting are basing their position on emotion, not science. Our governor should use sound facts and what is in the best interest of the state in making her decision regarding the dove bill.
The so-called facts that the anti-hunting groups present against dove hunting are nothing more than fabricated statements which are completely contradictory to real scientific evidence. This evidence, from agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows that roughly 70% of the dove population dies each year and that this mortality rate is unaffected by hunting. This 70% will die every year, hunted or not.
The doves that people enjoy watching at their bird feeders will not be killed off, as the anti-hunting groups would like to lead everyone to believe. The doves will be hunted in fields in the wild, not in your neighborhood. The USFWS estimates the annual fall population of mourning doves to be over 400 million. Hunters harvest less than 6 percent of the population each year. It’s hard to equate this to reduced numbers of mourning doves at bird feeders throughout the state.
We’ve heard the argument that doves are too small to eat. This is completely untrue. Are shrimp too small to eat? There are millions of people throughout the state that would say not. Besides, doves make delicious table fare.
Dove hunting would increase revenue for the State of Michigan. Not only from increased hunting license sales but also from additional revenue generated to businesses throughout the state. The last time I heard, Michigan is facing a budget deficit. Wouldn’t the governor want to look at any legitimate means possible to create additional revenue?
We, the citizens of Michigan, elected Governor Granholm to her position to make decisions in the best interest of the state. Our legislators decided that dove hunting would be good for the state. It’s time for the governor to follow suit and do what is in the best interest of our state.

Joseph Ross • Ypsilanti

Keep it in Leland

I urge the voters of Leelanau County to keep the Leelanau County Courthouse in Leland where it has been for 122 years. As the focal point of the county and its predominant building and as the mainstay of the village, the courthouse can best perform its practical and social functions and purposes here.
In Leland, whether in the remodeled existing courthouse or in a newly constructed building overlooking the river, the courthouse will function as a suitable place in which to conduct the business of county government, as a visual metaphor of the institution of county government, and as a place that ties residents to the county.
In Leland the courthouse would overlook the Leland River with a great expanse of shady lawn on which to rest and congregate. The courthouse will contain offices, courtrooms, halls, and public restrooms.
In Leland the appropriately designed county courthouse will best serve its social or symbolic function. Its very form and presence will convey civic authority and civic responsibility, dignity and citizenship. Just as a state capitol signifies association with the union, a county courthouse signifies association with the state.
The courthouses for which people have the greatest passion are those that tell us about place and people. In Leland the courthouse would tie people to place through the use of indigenous building materials and the depiction of local themes in painting and sculpture.
Vote No on August 3 to moving the seat of county government out of Leland.

Kathryn Bishop Eckert (Omoto) • Leland

Long live the MC5

Saw your article on the MC5 in a recent issue of the Express.
It brought back a lot of memories of when I hung out with those guys at their commune house in Ann Arbor and backstage at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit.
I had the great honor of designing the commemorative poseter for their live first album that was recorded at the Grande -- October, 1968.
Years later, in the 1980s, I got involved again doing graphic art work and designing a lot of fliers and promotional meterial for local Detroit punk and new wave bands. One of the very prominent bands of that time was the Secrets. The band’s drummer was Dennis Thompson of the original MC5.
I designed all of the Secrets’ promo gig fliers and the record sleeve for their 45 rpm single, “Ain’t Life a Bitch.”

Matt Radofski (aka Matt Rock) • Beulah

Something fishy

In his article “The Future of Fisheries,“ Harley Sachs included Alaska as a place where fish farming is a practice.  To the contrary, fish farming is against the law in Alaska. The people of Alaska and the commercial fisheries  are determined to keep the fish stock natural. They are very concerned that fish farms operating in Canadian waters will transfer disease and/or escape and spaun with the native fish population.
Mr. Sachs did a big disservice to Alaska and its fisheries by stating fish farming is taking place in Alaska. Alaska promotes its fish and fisheries as being natural and organic, this is part of the State and Fisheries marketing programs. Mr. Sachs should research this and print a correction and/or another article on the State of Alaska‘s efforts to keep their fish healthy and natural.

Jim Toussaint • Anchorage, Alaska and Bellaire

Response: My source for the fish story was a science article in the Oregonian newspaper, which I followed up on the internet. I saw maps that showed where fish farms could be located, which included large areas of Alaskan and Western Canadian waters. - H.S.
(Fish farms in neighboring British Columbia are reportedly affecting Alaskan waters, and are a matter of deep concern there. -- ed.)

Trouble in Tibet

I am writing to express my concern on the state of freedom. Every day now I hear the chant of freedom isn‘t free as an argument to support troops and military force around the world. Yet with all of the freedom we are anxious to FIGHT to uphold, we daily overlook the oppression around the world in countries that have, unfortunately, less political and public interest.
One that I would like to call attention to is the occupied country of Tibet. Fifty years ago communist China took this democratic
Buddhist country by force, and the Tibetan people are still fighting for their freedom. Human rights abuses including torture and
rape have been documented by outside sources, and the issue
continues to be debated within the UN to no avail.
The Chinese have a nuclear facility on the Tibetan plateau where they dump nuclear waste and have admitted to placing the Panchen Lama and his family under house arrest at the age of six (he is now 15). While we have used force in other places to right such wrongs, the world refuses to stand up to China in less violent ways.
I would like to encourage those reading this to learn more about freedom around the world, freedom for every human.
Write to government officials expressing your concern about the state of nations like Tibet, but also your concern with the lack of meaningful action. If you‘re reading this letter, then you know that even one letter can have an impact.

Hope O‘Donnell • Williamsburg



 
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