Letters for May 19, 2011
It’s all about the oil
Re “Saudi Arabia under siege” (Cover story, by Joseph Marais, May 12):
Mr. Marais nailed it. His observations, while sometimes harsh, are hard to deny. I lived with my family in KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] from 1985 to 1995. One might think that times have now changed, and our experience does not compare. Sadly, the kingdom described by Mr. Marais is the place I remember well, down to the last detail.
Yes, I saw women completely clothed and “swimming” in the Red Sea, as pictured. Odd customs to a Westerner, but one quickly becomes used to it. And if a Westerner can adapt, it just seems natural to the generations who’ve been conditioned to accept such restrictions.
Would you exchange the freedoms of U.S. society if you could virtually retire at age 20? Until the oil money runs out, don’t expect much progress in the kingdom.
Newbury Park, Calif.
A very balanced opinion of Saudi life from an outsider. I think that the difference between Saudi Arabia and other countries is the wealth of the country. If people were really struggling as they are in, say, Syria or Libya, then they would be willing to risk taking it to the streets. But in a society that is the flip side of a welfare state, who wants to complain if it interferes with the “gravy train”?
An excellent article, but I’d like to point out there are all kinds of oppression: We have economic oppression here in the U.S., with gas at $4 to $5 a gallon versus the 50 cents in Saudi Arabia. We can’t fly kites at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds parking lot when it’s empty without having a CHP cruiser drive up and tell us not to. The Stalinist feminists in the U.S. suppress dissent and censor information. Our schools in the U.S. don’t educate, they indoctrinate. And so on.
But I like the Arab idea of walled compounds; it keeps prying, nosy neighbors out of your private life—you know, the gossips who think they own the whole neighborhood.
The author’s complaint about the easy-going Saudi-rich-kid classroom where the teacher is not the oppressive autocrat in charge seems to counter his whole argument, though. He seems discontented despite his high teacher salary—I think he’s just frustrated because he was left out of his exalted place in the academic pecking order such as we have here in the U.S. It’s a different culture in Saudi Arabia; he should appreciate the difference—you know, like in the “multiculturalism” they taught him at Chico State.
Sharing organs, sharing life
Re “Battling to breathe” (Newslines, by Stacey Kennelly, May 12):
Your story highlights the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.
There are now more than 110,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50 percent of them dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.
There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage: give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.
Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.
Anyone who wants to donate his or her organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.
LifeSharers has more than 14,500 members as of this writing, including 1,758 members in California.
David J. Undis
Care for new mothers
Re “Maternal mortality rates rise” (The Pulse, May 5):
The women of California, and the world, deserve much better maternal care. This can be accomplished by using research-based models of care, as opposed to profit-driven care.
The World Health Organization recommends that a country’s cesarean rate should not exceed around 15 percent of all its births. America has a cesarean rate that is currently around 30 percent. Norway has a very low maternal mortality rate, and a corresponding 12 percent cesarean rate. This is not a coincidence.
We need to take a good hard look at the maternal model that is in place, and utilize more resources that will help us lower the maternal mortality rate. Moms who are informed and educated may stay healthier throughout their pregnancies. Moms who are also given continuity of care, like the care given by a midwife, and who are well-supported, perhaps by a doula, will have better maternal outcomes in many cases.
There is a plethora of research that tells us this is so. Let us come together as a state, as a country, and as a species, and put an end to this avoidable ending for too many of our women.
The Measure A debate
Recent mailers say 10,000 people signed the Measure A petition, but the city and county clerk put the official count at 7,760, a mere 1,000 above the minimum needed. And, get this, these mailers came from the so-called Butte Taxpayer Association, which has the same address as Tom Dauterman, the guy who bought the petition at $4 a signature. Official records show Dauterman has spent more than $80,000 on Measure A so far.
These mailers say elections should have never moved to November, even though 80 percent of voters said the opposite. The Butte County Board of Education just voted to hold their elections to November, as do all 36 jurisdictions in Butte County because it saves money and maximizes participation.
The City Council just transferred funds to pay the $151,000 bill for this special election, making it our most expensive election. Proponents argued the election should have been by mail only, even though their published argument states that City Council elections should be at the polls. Vote by mail reduces voter participation by another 30 percent. Before you know it, it will just be family and friends!
Only a few people are promoting and bankrolling Measure A, but a whole list of diverse community leaders, mayors and organizations have taken a stand against this initiative. This includes me, an elected official and former mayor, as one more community voice who says Measure A is unfair and it costs money. Please vote no.
For thousands of years, people all over the planet have been enamored of the idea of living in a community that is self-defined. This is the heart of democracy, and we are rightly proud of it.
We have also learned to look back in shame to times when we have used acts of self-determination to deny participation to members of our community. We have our share of such mistakes: the era of “Jim Crow” after the abolition of slavery, the (still occurring) suppression of Native Americans’ rights, the World War II concentration camps that Japanese Americans were forced into, etc.
In Chico, we now consider our own private act of self-determination whose purpose and effect will be the non-participation of one of the largest groups of our community: students. Measure A, which moves elections to a date that will significantly diminish the number of eligible voters, may seem to be, and even be, an invitation that follows the procedures of democracy. However, passing it would forever remain a stain of shame on our community. Measure A is about excluding members of our community. Passing it is something we will sooner or later regret. Let’s not do this.
Michael J. Coyle, Ph.D.
One notes an increasing level of hysteria, anger and personal vitriol in the latest letters from Measure A supporters. I have to admit I enjoyed imagining the apoplexy they must have suffered when the Enterprise-Record’s front page confirmed the fact that a June election really would cost city taxpayers more.
Let’s review the facts: This is not mainly about the student vote. Three times as many Chicoans voted in November 2008 as voted in June. The difference next year will be similar. The difference is not students, who have a marginal effect in local elections. The difference is that only hardcore partisans and the highly politically engaged turn out to vote in June.
The average person, who thinks about politics only now and then, doesn’t pay attention until fall. Could all those people vote in June? Sure they could. But they didn’t last time, and they won’t next time either.
No matter your politics, anyone who believes in American ideals of democracy likes high-turnout elections. People who truly believe in democracy still believe in it when the election goes against them. People who don’t like the results of an election should look for better candidates or better ideas—not ways to reduce participation.
The Measure A folks don’t like democracy. They want government by a small group who think just like them. Don’t fall for it.
The proponents of Measure A don’t have a lot to support their position. Even the usually stalwart ally of conservative local politics, the Chico ER, reported that changing the election from November to June will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. Measure A supporters’ arguments for changing the rules of local Chico elections seem to be reduced to that they aren’t happy with recent outcomes, they don’t like the people who write letters opposing Measure A, and students can vote absentee.
They do have one thing going for them, however: The conservative voter base can be depended on to cast their ballot each and every election. They are counting on the rest of us to wake up June 8 and realize we forgot to vote.
The solution is simple. Don’t disenfranchise yourself. Register to vote by May 23. Ask for an absentee ballot if you’ll be out of town on June 7. And, get out and vote.
More on gays and churches
Re “Tearing down a ‘big tall wall’” (Cover story, by Jerry Olenyn, May 5):
I don’t think it is logical to lump homosexuality in with the sins outlined in the Ten Commandments, for a few reasons:
1) Loving someone of the same sex is not the same as blasphemy, murder, theft, gossip, infidelity and others outlined there. If it were, it would have been specifically spoken of in Exodus. However, I am sure we could find both hetero- and homosexuals guilty of all of these.
2) In the New Testament, Jesus didn’t get mad at homosexuals; he got angry with money-changers and those who would “cast the first stone.” Actually, he was prophetic, because while folks are complaining about gay marriage being the slippery slope, they are being robbed blind by Wall Street denizens and the politicians in their pockets who spew fear to get votes.
3) Jesus also says, “It is easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” I do not see many gay bashers who have nearly the same anger toward the rich, even if they are specifically condemned by Jesus rather than Leviticus.
4) The biggest “sin” humans commit is elevating themselves to being God by judging others, when everywhere in the Bible it says that is His province alone.
I can’t help but notice that none of those “clobber” passages against homosexuality were actually spoken by Jesus, but come from Old Testament books or disciples. Hardly a week passes that I don’t have to shake my head and ask the question, “Who would Jesus hate?”
Kudos to Jerry Olenyn, a committed Christian himself, for demonstrating that faith is no barrier to objectivity in reporting. I look forward to more stories by him. KHSL’s blundering loss is certainly the News & Review’s gain.
I came out last year to my family and friends. I was torn about my religion and knew it wasn’t accepted in the Catholic community. I have not stepped into a church for over a year due to the thought of being a hypocrite to my religion.
As a reader of the CN&R, this feature story makes very proud of the facts and how the reporter researched various churches within the Chico community. It helped me as a reader think of how I should view my religion and how to come to terms with the Catholic community. Thanks for the continuing work on shedding light on inequality and the acceptance of homosexuality.
Wrong kind of tick
It is good to inform readers about ticks and Lyme disease [The Greenhouse, May 12]. One major problem in this article, however, pertains to the images you used. Those are not deer ticks, and they are not a kind that is involved in transmitting the Lyme disease agent.
Readers should be aware that they can dramatically reduce risk of infection by performing a nightly tick check and promptly removing any ticks found attached. Because not all ticks are equally risky, it is often helpful to save the tick and have it evaluated. Specimens or digital images can be identified rapidly and confidentially by an expert.
For more information about ticks and authoritative identification services, visit https://identify.us.com.
Richard Pollack, Ph.D.