Opinion

11/03 Your letters: Vicki Ryder, Claudia Mangel, Gov. Roy Cooper, Eunice Brock and John Toffaletti

Crisis in Yemen

For more than three years, the U.S. has been funding a bombing campaign in Yemen carried out by a Saudi-led military coalition. Yet, Congress has had no debate and no vote authorizing our involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

Without consent, our taxes are being spent to supply and deploy military weapons now killing thousands of innocent civilians in their homes, schools, hospitals, and places of worship. Besides the thousands of civilians killed by Saudi bombs and U.S. drones, widespread destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure – including its roads and hospitals – has created a massive famine denounced by the United Nations as “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

Every 10 minutes, a child in Yemen dies of preventable causes such as malnutrition and what has become the worst cholera epidemic in human history. When asked how to end Yemen’s suffering, the director of UNICEF said simply “Stop the war.”

Last week, a bi-partisan bill was introduced by four U.S. congressional representatives, including North Carolina’s own Walter Jones, to force a debate and a vote on ending U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war on Yemen.

If you agree that your tax dollars should not be used to create more suffering in our world, especially when we have so many un-met needs here at home, then I urge you to speak out and urge your own representative to support H.Con.Res.81, the bill that would put an end to our unauthorized complicity in this horrific bombing campaign.

You can reach your congressional representative with one quick call to the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Vicki Ryder

Durham

A public health crisis

The opioid crisis is real. People’s lives and our economy depend on strong and decisive action. In North Carolina, we have seen a 1,000 percent increase in opioid-related deaths since 1999. The opioid epidemic has cost our country and our state too many lives already, and this week, I voted to send the president a robust set of recommendations for action the federal government can take to combat this crisis.

Among many other items, we recommended actions to stop the flow of deadly heroin and fentanyl into the United States, including harsher penalties for trafficking and the use of additional detection technologies. We also urge that federal agencies require prescribers to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to prevent doctor shopping, as we have done here in North Carolina with the bipartisan STOP Act.

But perhaps most importantly, our report highlights the critically important issue of health care. One in five adults with an opioid addiction is uninsured, and in our state, there is a correlation between areas with a large uninsured population and rates of addiction. Making health care more accessible and more affordable helps people currently struggling with substance use disorders and those who are at-risk of developing addictions. North Carolina should expand Medicaid and federal representatives should abandon plans to slash health care funding and instead find ways to get more people covered.

This is a strong report and it deserves the full attention of Congress and the White House. I urge the president and Congress to follow through on our recommendations and allocate significant federal funding for this public health crisis.

Gov. Roy Cooper

The governor is a member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Memoral mistake?

Kudos to Tammy Grubb’s excellent interview with the Chapel Hill mayoral candidates! In response to Ms. Grubb’s important question, “What was a mistake that you learned from and how do you think that will help you if elected?” I was disappointed that Mayor Hemminger did not mention her conduct regarding the Cemetery Memorial in 2016.

A modest, dignified and ever so meaningful Cemetery Memorial was installed in February 2016. According to the December 2015 Meeting of the Cemeteries Advisory Board, review of the memorial intent and design, approval, funding and installation of the memorial had gone through the established administrative process for addressing issues relating to the town cemeteries. The Cemeteries Advisory Board was established to provide citizen input to the Town Council regarding the town’s cemeteries.

A month after its installation, Mayor Hemminger and the town manager dispatched town employees to the cemetery to yank the memorial out of the ground and hide it away in a storage facility. Prior to ordering immediate removal of this memorial, Mayor Hemminger and the manager did not seek any input on this issue from the town attorney, the Town Council or the Cemeteries Advisory Board.

The understated and elegant Cemetery Memorial, installed by the duly established Cemeteries Advisory Board, was offensive to no one. There was no imminent harm to residents resulting from installation of the memorial which would have justified the failure of Mayor Hemminger or the town manager to consult (1) the town Attorney; or (2) the Town Council; or (3) the Cemeteries Advisory Board, prior to their summary removal of the installed memorial.

Additionally, removal of the memorial from the Cemetery may have violated state law.

Did Mayor Hemming even consider the 2015 state law regarding historic monuments before she ordered the Memorial to be removed? Read more here: bit.ly/2z8pEtL

What did Mayor Hemminger learn from her conduct regarding the Cemetery Memorial?

C.P. Mangel

Chapel Hill

Honoring the U.S.

I recently had the honor of giving a talk at the Caribbean Association of Medical Technologists (CASMET) meeting held in Georgetown, Guyana, but my talk on some clinical laboratory topics is not important. CASMET had an opening ceremony of great substance with a group singing the National Anthem of Guyana, and three very soulful performances by a saxophonist, a singer, and three local dancers.

The Guyanese Minister of Health made a short speech. But what touched me intensely happened at the start of the ceremony.

The Guyanese police in formal dress brought in the flags of many Caribbean nations, naming the country and allowing applause for each flag as it entered. This included Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Curacao, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St Lucia, Trinidad, and several other Caribbean countries. The last flag they brought in was not of a Caribbean country, but a nation they hold great respect for. It was the United States flag.

With the seeming popularity of criticizing the United States via the national anthem protests by football players and celebrities in our country, I was overwhelmed with emotion, tears, and gratitude that this organization of mostly relatively poor Caribbean nations chose to honor our nation in this simple but meaningful way. It is noteworthy that the entire organizing committee and about 90 percent of the audience were black people. After the ceremony, I told an organizer how much I appreciated them bringing in the U.S. flag. He replied very matter-of-factly that they always do that and they see the United States as their friend.

If all Americans could experience this respect that many nations have for the United States, our citizens might better appreciate the enormous good that our country does.

John Toffaletti

Durham

An angel and a devil

When I was a student in history it was expected that the professor would teach the whole truth of an individual or event to be taught, not simply those facts that he or she wanted to convey. You got the whole story.

In a Nov. 1 opinion piece, a UNC history professor hand-picked facts about Julian Carr who was one of the speakers at the dedication of the “Silent Sam” monument; the governor of North Carolina delivered the dedication speech. The opinion piece emphasized Carr’s racist record but left other facets of his life unmentioned. Yes, Carr was a racist, but he was also a philanthropist. He gave 82 acres of land for the founding of Duke University and contributed financially to other North Carolina colleges, including UNC, and what is now North Carolina A&T.

He supported Susan B. Anthony for her work with the Equal Suffrage League and was noted by her for his support. Carr is a good example of the angel and devil in all of us.

Recently, I was at a gathering of about 135 UNC alumni where the UNC official historian spoke about possible future changes on McCorkle Place. Understandably, she could not comment on Silent Sam. However, during the question and comment period following her remarks a question was asked how many there supported keeping the statue where it is on McCorkle Place. Most of those present raised their hands.

We forget that Silent Sam belongs to the people of North Carolina. The statue was paid for by alumni, other citizens of the state and the university itself, and it is land owned by its citizens. I might add that there are 139 other Confederate monuments in North Carolina. Should we take them down too?

Many of us read “1984” by George Orwell. You may remember how “Big Brother” suppresses history and manipulates truth in order to control the people.

I am disappointed in some of UNC’s history and law professors. I always thought they supported the "whole truth," but it seems they are choosing only what facts they want us to know.

Eunice Brock

Chapel Hill

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