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Re: 'Jottings from Fifth and G: I rode an elephant!; It's past time to shine the light on racism; How to hold Republicans accountable

Re: 'Jottings from Fifth and G: I rode an elephant!'

If you are planning a trip to Thailand or anywhere in Asia, please do not book an elephant ride.

Tourists who pay to ride an elephant or participate in an up-close encounter are responsible for ensuring that elephants will spend most of their lives miserable in chains. Unwitting travelers are duped into believing that their money is going to "help" elephants, but international watchdogs have documented that wild elephants are being captured to perpetuate this lucrative tourist industry.

Thailand is the world's largest promoter of elephant camps where the barbaric Phaajaan ritual is used to break baby elephants and force them to submit to humans. Phaajaan translated means "breaking the love between" (referring to the love between baby elephant and his or her mother). In these training camps, still-nursing baby elephants are dragged from their mothers, bound with ropes and steel cables and immobilized in wooden cages. They are beaten mercilessly for days while deprived of food, water and sleep. Thai villagers gouge them with nail-studded sticks. The babies panic, collapse in exhaustion, defecate in fear, and scream out in terror and pain.

Any facility can call itself a "sanctuary," and many unscrupulous outfits have taken to doing just that, knowing that such a claim brings visitors through the gates. Unwitting tourists buy a ticket, not realizing that their money is often supporting a merciless and mercenary industry. Asia — Thailand in particular —is filled with scam elephant "sanctuaries."

Jennifer O'Connor

PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Virginia

It's past time to shine the light on racism

West Linn's 2008 Brown report confirmed that some officers of the LOPD used the term MILO (Mexican in Lake Oswego) and NILO (racial slur in Lake Oswego) — but not in the recent past. City Manager Martha Bennett said: "The events underlying the allegations outlined in the report took place at least 13 and some as many as 30 years ago. All of these incidents were handled by previous city managers and police chiefs." There is, however, one constant — that being our city attorney. Our current city attorney was on board prior to 2008.

Lake Oswego's human resources department also investigated and in 2009 produced a 241-page report of that investigation. The city has yet to shine the light on the results of the investigation. Nor do we know what, if any, changes were made at the city to address the findings. In 2009, just 11 years ago, the Lake Oswego Review sought access to the report which the City fought tooth and nail. Even after the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office ordered the City to release the report the City sued the reporter and Review to block access to the report. When the City was finally forced to release the report, it was basically not useful because it was so highly redacted.

If the City cannot own up to its past and be transparent about its failures how can we trust that it has changed? If Lake Oswego's culture is to hide behind legal maneuvers hoping to outlast those seeking truth what does that say about us? Our city attorney is here to protect the City but who is protecting our Black and brown community? It's not too late for Lake Oswego to shine the light on its racism and start the healing process.

Terri Kraemer

Lake Oswego

How to hold Republicans accountable

As a psychologist who's often been asked by parents and schools to help teens develop accountable, responsible behavior, I wonder if Senator and school board chair Rob Wagner might also propose a developmental approach to the dilemma of state Republican senators abdicating their oath of office, shutting down our legislative process and crippling democracy. Oregon children are required to attend school. It's their job. Defiant students who cut class or destroy property are expected to make amends and aren't given passing grades during class absence. Students who use bullying, coercive methods to get their way aren't rewarded by being allowed to stop attending class but graduate.

Oregon's elected officials also have a job. No matter the disdain of one congressional faction against the other, grabbing the ball and leaving the field sets an indefensible model for our kids and all Oregonians deserve better. Since these individuals are still receiving pay, can we not compel mandatory service? We can't require good judgement or good will, but road maintenance, sanitation and public works offer another way that Republican members of congress could honor their oath of service to Oregon until they find within themselves the ability to engage in the process for which they were elected.

We expect our children to develop accountability and responsibility as they mature. Should we expect less from elected office-holders? What message does this send our kids? The current walkout models that bullying and coercion are acceptable. Since the walkout mentality is expanding in our government, and is not just toxic but also contagious, it's time to formulate a recovery means that shows our children that adults are held accountable, too.

Zena Polly

Lake Oswego


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