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Winter Forage: A downy woodpecker investigates a rose bush as it forages in Dallesport. 

Bring containers

On behalf of the Hood River Valley Leos club, I would like to apologize for our absence at our monthly bottles and cans event on Saturday, Dec. 5. Due to the new COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to hold the event.

We would like to thank all of our regular patrons for their continued support during this time! We kindly ask that you save your bottles and cans and bring them to our next fundraiser on Jan. 2, 2021.

Jacob Kaplan, HRV Leos

Hood River

Speaking the truth

Hats off to the many staunch Republicans who risked backlash and even personal threats to defend democracy in America by upholding the 2020 election results. It wasn’t easy, but as one said, “I have to speak the truth.”

After four years of seeing their colleagues at all levels of government look the other way, or worse, endorse the actions and lies of Donald Trump, these people were critical in resisting Trump’s fantasy election narrative. Each in his/her own role, together they spoke up to refute conspiracy theories, certify results, dismiss lawsuits, and repudiate a fellow-Republican president.

These people — a Republican city clerk in Michigan, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, a Republican county supervisor in Arizona, Republican-appointed judges in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, the Republican director of the General Services Administration, the Republican Attorney General of Arizona, the Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives, Republicans on a county election board in Michigan, Republican leaders of Michigan’s state legislature — deserve our recognition and thanks for gutting up and doing the right thing.

Holding to their oaths of office and speaking the truth was risky. Anticipating his loss, Trump had started pushing the story of the election being rigged by a hidden multinational conspiracy long before election day. Actions to attack and overturn the vote started within hours after the polls closed, with some Republican appointees and legislators falling in line.

Those who spoke the truth risked their futures in the Republican enclave, and many became targets of threatening emails and phone calls.

Thanks in part to them, we now have a chance to rebuild our democracy, to do better than before, and to hold ourselves to standards of honesty and integrity as these public servants have done.

Rhonda Starling


The femur factor

Anthropologist Margaret Mead was once asked what she thought was the first sign of civilization in a culture. I thought it would have been cave paintings or clay pots or spear tips.

Mead said the first sign of civilization was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. If you are an animal and you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river to drink or hunt for food. You would have been easy prey for predators. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for it to heal.

In those ancient human times a healed broken femur is evidence that someone stayed with the one who fell, dressed the wound, carried him or her to safety and tended their needs through recovery. “Helping someone else through difficulty was where civilization started,” Mead postulated.

We are at our best when we help others. Please honor our governors’ COVID-19 temporary policies. While not perfect and certainly inconvenient, social distancing, masks and lockdowns are civilized efforts to help all to live to see better days.

Chris Connolly

White Salmon

Positive Feedback

I'd like to hear from the people who believe in freedom.

I avoided the hate I received on my return from Vietnam at 19 years old. Now, I am told to stay out of a store because I wasn't buying anything.

I walk everywhere downtown up and down streets plus the stores if it is raining or snowing especially.

The store I was told to stay out of, unless I'm buying something, showed the respect they have for veterans and non veterans, as well as the disabled!

I receive lots of support from almost all of the stores because they saw me before my return as a normal, healthy person, before I started my physical and mental recovery that many veterans and non veterans are faced with. I was also refused renting!

The hateful people, I don't dislike. They also might be where I am and they also need support and don't know how or are afraid to ask.

We are all family!

Steve Cochenour

The Dalles

Foolish experts

The number of self-appointed Constitutional experts is growing as fast as COVID-19 cases. Merely pronouncing the word “Constitution” does not grant one “expert” status. I am growing quite weary of uninformed experts who do not understand the actual Constitution and continue to undermine public health.

The 10th Amendment grants “Powers not delegated to the (federal) government to the states.” The American Bar Association, which governs actual lawyers, interprets this to mean that states can create laws in a crisis which address public health. In simple terms, Governors Brown and Inslee have the legal right to create temporary health restrictions designed to keep us alive.

It is not American or patriotic to refuse to protect your fellow citizens by simply wearing a mask. Long-time Republican and former presidential candidate Herman Cain is dead because he got infected at the White House during an event where no one wore a mask. What did that poor choice prove?

People in automobile accidents and those experiencing other health crises are dying because they cannot get proper care in hospitals because some are flooded with COVID-19 patients. That can happen in our community where we have so few beds available and a 40 percent test positivity rate.

This is not a joke. It is about living or dying and giving healthcare workers a break. People in this community risk their lives daily to keep us safe and healthy. They deserve our respect and assistance more than ever.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Oil disaster looming

Have you ever been to the Caribbean or seen pictures of the clear tropical waters teeming with fish? Now imagine those pristine coral reefs and white beaches coated in a layer of crude oil.

Unfortunately, this horrific possibility is closer to becoming reality than you’d think. Currently, the United States is sitting on the next Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon and no one is even talking about it. I’m not talking about the Trump Administration’s move to sell leases for Arctic drilling two days before the inauguration ceremony, although that is something.

I am referring to a little known tanker off the coast of Venezuela that is slowly sinking. This might not seem like a big deal, but this tanker is carrying 80 million gallons (1.3 million barrels) of crude oil. For reference, the Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska only spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, yet oil can still be found on beaches and in tide pools in the area. This tanker has been in place for years as a stationary platform for oil exports, however it has recently fallen into rusty disrepair.

Due to a sharp decline in demand for oil during the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, oil exports have been on the decline. As a result, the overfilled tanker is a ticking time bomb.

The tanker is located on a remote part of Venezuela’s coastline, home to pristine mangrove forests, important fisheries, and bird sanctuaries. This may be Venezuela’s problem, but the nature of the ocean is multinational. A spill here could threaten the pristine Caribbean waters surrounding Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao.

The US sanctions are scaring other countries away from helping Venezuela rid themselves of the oil and months of stalemates have ensued while the tanker continues to list and take on water. Reporting on the topic has been rare, despite the ability of the U.S. to step in to prevent what could be the next Deepwater Horizon.

Please reach out to your senators and representatives at and implore them to prevent this irreversible environmental disaster.

Rachel Luther

White Salmon

Tariff support

The voters of America in the 2016 election voted against more of the Clinton's sell out of American manufacturing (NAFTA) and the many corporations that moved to Mexico.

I personally don't buy (brands that have moved) as great as they taste. Union busting is part of America becoming a "service" economy, a recipe for destroying a capitalist economy that I love.

I got out of bed every morning and earned my bread and keep. The bible says "if you refuse to till the ground," to work, you are not entitled to eat.

President Trump was an unknown largely voted in to keep (Clinton) out of office.

I love President Trump's tariffs on China. The "dollar stores" were designed by communist China and money-hungry Americans to destroy "Ekco" kitchen utensils and any and all manufacturing in America.

Larry Bakken


Open letter

Dear Governor Kate Brown,

I think I would like to offer my thank you for your reasonable actions when this virus hit back in the spring; fortunately, Oregon was pretty easy.

Now, 2020 has gotten harder with months of riots, property destruction, violence and even murders in the name of progress in your metro area. And it seems our leaders do little to nothing to bring the criminals to justice. What a black eye to our great state.

Next, the virus is coming on strong and with great effort ... you demand your "subjects" cannot get together for a great American holiday, Thanksgiving! If you see your neighbors with grandma, celebrating, call the cops and get them sent to jail.

If I was in your shoes, I would have gotten on my knees in front of my desk, with my mask on, and begged my citizens not to have big get-togethers. I would probably get 90 percent compliance — instead you got defiance and hatred.

I guess we can only hope that in the next election, people in my state will finally start thinking for themselves and give you the boot.

Dennis James

The Dalles

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