Letters to the Editor

What You’re Saying: Aaron Nelson, Geoff Durham, Julie McClintock, Robert Grillo, Laila Elsherif, April Perry and David Schwartz

Legislature changing the rules

Having led our respective communities’ successful ballot initiatives that enabled the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project in 2011 and 2012, and having worked with various stakeholders throughout its development, we are disappointed that the state legislature is changing the rules for fair partnership again.

The Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project is important for regional job growth and economic development, and regional business leaders will continue to work with our local, regional, state, and federal partners to advance Durham-Orange transit and other forward-thinking transportation initiatives.

Aaron Nelson

Geoff Durham

The writers are the presidents and CEOs of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and the Durham Chamber of Commerce respectively.

Farming is not conservation

In response to the news story “These long horns aren’t longhorns. How an NC farmer is sustaining a rare cattle breed,” (May 24), I’d like to offer my rebuttal:

The animal-using industries are continually inventing new language intended to create positive associations with noble, moral or altruistic causes. One of these powerful narratives is called livestock conservation. And one variation on animal exploitation as “livestock conservation” is the notion that so-called “rare” or “heritage” breeds must be preserved or risk extinction.

Here’s my counterpoint: Domestic animals are intensively engineered and only exist because we bred them into this world for the purpose of commodifying and killing them in their infancy or adolescence. They never existed in the natural world to begin with, so it is impossible for them to go extinct in the conventional way we apply this term to native species. Slaughtering the vast majority of these animals and retaining a small population for breeding purposes is called running a farm; it is not a conservation effort.

Perhaps former pig farmer Bob Comis puts it best when he writes, “Livestock farmers, no matter what kind – from the largest, most cynical, and inhumane factory farmers to the smallest, seemingly most ethical pasture-based farmers – traffic in death. It is death that is our aim, our purpose. Death is the end. Life is the means. Money the reward.” In other words, farming is the flipside of conservation. Let’s not get it twisted.

If you want to delve more deeply into this topic, check out my letter to the editor, Why Rare or Heritage Breed Farming is Not Conservation at bit.ly/2J7qoUd

Robert Grillo

The writer is the executive director of Free from Harm in Chicago, Illinois.

Recalibrate our transit future

In response to your article “Could this state move put the brakes on the Durham-Orange light-rail project?“ (May 29)

Bus rapid transit and more frequent bus service will mitigate auto congestion on U.S. 15-501 and other major Orange County corridors. Mobility study shows 15-501 won’t be moving in 2030 without serious help and the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project won’t alleviate this traffic. Let’s view this funding problem as an opportunity to recalibrate and put the funds and the transit where the people live in Orange County.

Julie McClintock

The writer is a former member of the Chapel Hil Town Council and founding member of the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town.

Screen on school entry

Passing laws to regulate our gun culture as a means to stopping school shootings is a lengthy, difficult and complex process. However, the problem of securing school buildings as one part of the solution to stopping school shootings is a relatively easy one once school systems approach the security of the school building in the same manner that airports approach keeping airplanes free of weapons. This requires three simple steps: single entry, screening of bags and scanning people.

Children, teacher and employees enter through one entry in the morning. All other doors are automatically locked for entry and throughout the day. Every bag is individually searched or scanned. Then they proceed through a metal detector. Once in, the doors are locked. Any person entering throughout the day after that goes through the same process prior to being allowed to enter.

Getting in will take longer in the morning. But once put in to place people will adapt to the process in the same manner that we have adapted to the airport screening process. The children and their parents will feel the process adds to their sense of security and as a result their anxiety about going to or being in school may be reduced or allayed. Policies and procedures could easily be developed over the summer and installation of the required equipment occur prior to the start of the school year in the fall. It is imperative that schools be allotted financial and human resources to secure their buildings.

April Perry


A thousand cuts

Regarding the news story Could this state move put the brakes on the Durham-Orange light-rail project?

This death by a thousand cuts is excruciating. Please, N.C. General Assembly, just go ahead and pull the plug on Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project and get it over with, so Durham and Orange residents can start spending our transportation dollars on improved bus transit and other more cost-effective alternatives to light rail.

David Schwartz

via www.heraldsun.com

Why Palestinians in Gaza protest

Israel controls Gaza’s sea and air space and has been enforcing a blockade over the area, with assistance from Egypt, for over a decade. The blockade severely restricts people’s movement in and out of Gaza as well as what goods are allowed entry into the area.

To be clear, this is not economic sanctions, boycott, or divestment; it is much more draconian. The blockade is widely recognized as collective punishment for the 2 million people who elected Hamas to their government, and are now incarcerated in a 141-square-mile squalid, open-air prison. Imagine if control of U.S. airspace and sea access went to Canada and our entire population was punished with a brutal blockade by neighboring countries for electing Trump. The blockade caused unemployment and poverty rates to soar to 45 percent and 80 percent.

Despite its status as the densest population concentration on Earth, Gaza is considered uninhabitable because of water contamination (over 90 percent of drinking water is impotable) and lack of sewage treatment. Gazans generally have access to at most four hours of power per day to cook, clean, study, and connect to the outside world. Hospitals are unable to meet demand for medical necessities and schools are operating morning and evening because of overcrowding and meager resources. Those who lost their homes during the 2008, 2012 or 2014 assaults by Israel cannot rebuild because crucial building material are banned from entry to Gaza. Over the past decade, other banned items have included musical instruments, notebooks, crayons, lightbulbs, mattresses, thread, wheelchairs, batteries, fishing rods, steel, cement, glass, wood, and electrical wiring.

I have family who left Gaza because their children were traumatized by the 2014 bombings. Other family members left because of deteriorating health and inadequate medical care for chronic illness. They are considered very lucky that they escaped with their lives and avoided permanent disability. Many of those still in Gaza want to leave but can’t or have no place to go. Golda Meir, the first prime minister of Israel, once said “we Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs; we have no place to go.” Palestinians in Gaza, even if they could leave, also have nowhere else to live. The blockade on Gaza has to be lifted. The constant incursions, bombings and executions of civilians should stop and international observers and humanitarian aid workers should be granted immediate entry into the area.

Laila Elsherif

The writer is a Palestinian-American living in Chapel Hill with family members living in Gaza.

Let’s hear from you

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