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Readers sound off on COVID mask mandates, the climate change crisis and being the world's policeman.

Gov. Kate Brown has signed off on a bill where high school students no longer have to prove their proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics over the course of the next five years.

I had to read this several times to make sure I haven't lost my comprehension skills. Essentially kids can show up and get passed through high school. You could have an 18-year-old entering college with basically a seventh- or eighth-grade education.

Education is the backbone of society, were already creating a world non-thinking cheaters with smart phones and tablets that do all the thinking for you. Why learn to spell or use proper grammar when you can just rely on spell check and grammar check?

We used to complain as kids about subjects like history and social studies and how would these classes ever help us in day to day life as adults. It wasn't necessarily the topics but it taught young minds critical thinking, now not only is that getting lost with all the available gadgets, you can officially cheat your way through high school with no repercussions.

Thank you, Gov. Brown for dumbing down society to a whole new level.

James Maass

Beaverton

Time for Oregon's COVID vaccine mandate

Now that Gov. Kate Brown has reinstated a statewide mask mandate, let's go all the way with a vaccination mandate.

Many of us have friends and neighbors who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and have refused to get it, thusly slowing the end of the pandemic and increasing the danger for other citizens. Ask yourself this: Do you want to be browsing for books at the library or bookstore next to an unvaccinated person? Do you want to be shopping for produce next to an anti-vaxxer? Hats off to the bars and restaurants who are leading the way by restricting entry to those who can show a valid CDC vaccination card. Let's do this, elected leaders, or get out of the way. The COVID-19 virus will only leave when it has nobody left to infect. Frank DiMarco Portland

U.S. must stop being world's policeman

As a young boy, I was told by my father that it was wrong to fight unless I was attacked and had no other choice.  He then told me to do my best to make the bully regret that he had attacked me.

For too many decades, the United States has viewed its role in the world as the world's policeman with far too many failures. FDR said after the attack on Pearl Harbor that we would fight until we had obtained absolute and complete victory. Sadly, we have not lived by those words since the end of WWII.

We had justification for waging war in Afghanistan because we were attacked. Why didn't we respond with the intent of attaining absolute and complete victory? To hell with trying to make Afghanistan a democratic state. Democracy doesn't work for all societies.

I am starting to wonder if it is working here after what I see daily occurring in Washington, D.C.

I suggest that we make sure our closet is clean before attempting to clean up other nation's closet.

Gary L. Hollen

Southwest Portland

I don't want to wear a mask anymore

Please don't make me wear a mask again. I'm not an "anti-masker" by any stretch of the imagination. In the early days of the Oregon mandate, I called my pharmacy to complain because they weren't enforcing it. When the manager apologized but politely refused, I reported them to OSHA (the only way one could file a report back then) then moved my prescriptions to a different chain — only to see the story repeat. Now we finally have vaccines! After 50 years, mRNA has evolved into a phenomenal technology (a far better use for our tax dollars than bombing poor countries) with the potential to revolutionize not only vaccines but the treatment of cancer and other illnesses. It's not surprising these vaccines have shown nothing less than a spectacular performance. Until late July, there were 125 thousand breakthrough cases in the U.S., out of 166 million vaccinated individuals — less than 0.08% infection rate.

Furthermore, the chances of vaccinated people ending up in the hospital with severe symptoms are an order of magnitude lower than that. Nevertheless, in a desperate hunt for eyeballs, the corporate media peddles astounding innumeracy that only instigates misinformation, fear, and doubts. For who in their sane mind wouldn't be concerned hearing of 125,000 infections on vaccinated people? Multnomah County has a greater than 83% vaccination rate, higher than any of the original estimates put forward for achieving herd immunity, and has far fewer cases per capita than counties with low rates. These make the decision made by our county officials of bringing back the mask mandate even harder to understand. We make some vaccines required for children to attend school but government officials have not used any of the tools at their disposal to pressure the unvaccinated adult population in this health emergency. The excuses for not getting the vaccine range from quasi-reasonable to rampant meme-based lunacy but, except in the rare cases of those immunocompromised or under chemotherapy, completely misinformed and grounded on fewer facts than a Donald Trump speech. We did our part by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. But since the vaccine is a choice, it doesn't seem fair to be forced to protect these ignoramuses from their demented decisions. Unvaccinated people tend to hate masks, so don't expect them to respond well. We are bound to see some of the previous anti-mask craze return to our screens. Furthermore, these people don't want to be protected by vaccines, masks or other health measures they perceive as an infringement on their so-called freedom. It'll be a repetition of the previous debacle, this time with vaccinated people complying with the mandate and most anti-vaxxers ignoring it. Erasmo Acosta

Northwest Portland

Take climate change crisis seriously

The changing climate is the most serious and urgent crisis facing humanity. Luckily, there are many solutions that can be applied right now, if only governments, businesses, communities and individuals will prioritize them. I have appreciated the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Energy Trust of Oregon and the state and federal tax credits which have helped my husband and me to install solar panels on our roof and buy an electric car. These types of consumer incentives need to be implemented nation-wide. I applaud the Legislature for passage of the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity bills. These bills will help to get people back to work in new good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling climate change and environmental racism, as well as making our communities more resilient in the face of fires and extreme weather. Oregon's climate legislation can be a model for other states and the federal government. Thank you to my U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer for your support of the Infrastructure Bill, and your understanding that beyond this bill, much more investment and a faster timeline are needed. In addition to the bipartisan infrastructure deal, Congress must stop the subsidies for fossil fuel corporations. Congress must invest in climate, clean energy, justice and jobs at the scale that science demands. We must take action. It is our responsibility to our children, grandchildren and all the forms of life with which we share this beautiful planet.

Barbara Krupnik-Goldman

Southeast Portland


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