Letters to the Editor

04/25 What You’re Saying: Lawrence Trost, Josh Ravitch, Wayne Drop, Lou Meyers, Karyn Traut, and Lielle Elisha

A horrifying crime

I found your report of the murder of local restaurateur Hong Zheng horrifying.

Had his murder been a random act of crime, it would have been chilling and sad, but possibly attributed to bad luck, a case of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” However, the systematic way in which he and his family were targeted by criminals over a period of years is particularly disturbing. The apparent failure of the city of Durham and local law enforcement to bring the criminals to justice or to keep him and his family safe is both frustrating and scary.

At a time when we are rightfully questioning and debating an individuals right to own and carry firearms, I’m left wondering what else this man could have done to protect himself and his family? His safety and security and that of his family were entirely left to him. His family had no choice other than arming themselves, and even that wasn’t enough to keep him safe.

Lawrence Trost


Condemn anti-Semitism

During the April 16 Durham City Council Meeting, a Nation of Islam member refered to Jews attending a “Synagogue of Satan” and accused Jews of having “an inordinate amount of control” over local politics. Mayor Schewel condemned the outburst, but the council has had no official response to date.

These classic anti-Semitic slurs have no place in a city that prides itself on its diversity and tolerance of all minorities. This incident occurred during the open comments preceding approval of a letter stating the council’s opposition to police training with any country encouraging military policing techniques. This vote came about as a result of a petition submitted by a local anti-Israel extremist group demanding that Durham not exchange police training with Israel.

Even though over a dozen countries from Argentina to Uzbekistan have police exchange programs with the USA, and even though Police Chief Davis stated in writing that the Israeli program did not involve military training, only Israel was singled out by name in the council letter. Programs in Israel are meant to keep Americans of all backgrounds safe from terrorist groups like ISIS, not to teach officers about community policing or crowd control.

The petition and the resulting letter from council are discriminatory and divisive. The campaign leading up to this decision shamelessly exploited long standing concerns about the policing of communities of color in Durham and America as a whole. Police brutality preceded the existence of the Jewish State of Israel, and continues without any influence from counterterrorism exchange programs there. Suggesting that Israel and Jewish organizations are to blame is hateful, and derails efforts to promote accountability and justice in our communities.

A campaign to delegitimize and discriminate against the homeland of the Jewish people brought out the worst in some local residents. This must serve as a clarion call to the City Council to publicly condemn all forms of anti-Semitism, and start the process of reuniting all Durham citizens.

Josh Ravitch

Chapel Hill

Use water wisely

Every ounce counts. It's one of our favorite sayings at the City of Durham Department of Water Management. You know what else counts? Your pledge!

Every April, we celebrate the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation – a friendly competition among cities across the country. All of us here at the City of Durham – from Mayor Schewel to the Water Management mascot (that's me!) – encourage our residents and customers to take the pledge on behalf of Durham.

Challenge yourself to make simple changes and use water wisely. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Use a refillable water bottle (and fill it with tasty Durham tap water). Fix leaky fixtures around your home and workplace. Now through April 30, visit https://bit.ly/2quE9E9 and take the pledge on behalf of Durham. It only takes a few seconds to complete, and you can enter to win some great prizes for yourself and the charity of your choice – the grand prize is a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

Using water wisely is something we all can do, and SHOULD do, and little changes really do go a long way. Remember the saying – every ounce counts – and take the Mayor's Challenge today, Durham!

Wayne Drop


The master chessman

Who is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell really trying to protect? Is it President Trump or Vice-President Pence?

By not allowing a vote on bipartisan legislation to shield the Mueller investigation from Trump’s worst instincts, McConnell seems to be setting up Trump, who he loathes, for the kill. Trump is finished if he pulls the plug on the Russian collusion probe. He won’t withstand the public outcry. McConnell knows this. The master chessman has no interest in saving Trump from Trump.

Trump’s move on Mueller would clear the way for McConnell’s boy Pence to take the presidential reins. No more Mueller investigation inching it’s way toward a complicit Pence. ... No more Trump wreaking havoc on McConnell's beloved Republican establishment.


Lou Meyers


Protect Global Fund

An investment in global health is an investment in our future, and we hope that our Senate leaders would agree. Right now, our members of Senate are in the process of deliberating over the president’s FY19 budget proposal. This proposal calls for substantial reductions in the foreign aid account, which, if passed, would be woefully detrimental to all of the progress made thus far in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic on a global scale.

The president’s FY19 proposal plans to slash The Global Fund, a U.S. program that has proved itself essential to providing life-saving treatment for tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria to our world’s poorest citizens.

The Global Fund’s work against AIDS, TB, and malaria has already proved itself essential and successful, with its programs offering antiretroviral access to over 8 million people worldwide; HIV infections in children have declined by 58 percent since 2001, with treatment costs at just 1% of what they used to be.

Such great strides in global health have led global leaders to predict an end to the AIDS and tuberculosis epidemic by 2030, as delineated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. However, this universal goal can only be achieved if global health funding remains a priority in the FY19 budget.

We at the Duke Engage chapter of the Partners in Health organization implore our Senate representation, Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis, to protect the Global Fund and support the right of all human beings to live healthy lives.

Lielle Elisha


Smoking statue

Regarding “With roots in tobacco, Duke to go smoke-free”: I’m so pleased to read that Duke, the university that so many died of lung cancer to build, is going smoke free on “all Duke property and grounds starting July 1, 2020.” Hooray to President Vincent Price and all who made the decision.

However, I find it interestingly congruent with the current statue controversy. Will the statue of James B. Duke, standing confidently, cigar in his left hand (presumably lit) be allowed to remain in the grass area entrance to the Duke Chapel? Or will it be moved to a museum for historical edification? Or perhaps a plaque be added at its base clarifying that a founder of the beautiful campus and excellent (now smoke-free) academic institution was a businessman who expanded his fortune by offering free cigarettes to high school students? Or perhaps the cigar itself will be covered or removed from the statue?

Then again perhaps Mr. J.B. Duke will be allowed his last (symbolic) cigar for old time’s sake.

Karyn Traut

Chapel Hill

Speak up

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