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From the Publisher

Jan. 6, 2005


'What a bummer'


We had some friends over New Year's Eve, ate Dungeness crab from Captain Zach's and drank some wonderful Briceland champagne made in Southern Humboldt from locally grown grapes. We watched the ball drop in New York on television -- 9 p.m. PST -- and went to bed. It was a good New Year's. I wish I could say the same for the year just past. I wish I could feel more hopeful for 2005. But I don't.

Two sun-blotting clouds hung over all of our holiday celebrations -- the earthquake and tsunamis that hit the day after Christmas, and the tar-baby war in Iraq.

What can we do about the natural disasters that struck Southeast Asia? Donate to relief efforts. Virtually every major news media are publishing lists of reputable relief organizations. The Red Cross is one. Our friends are choosing Oxfam.

In the future, better education won't prevent but it will help minimize the magnitude of such loss. The 11 people who were killed in the 1964 earthquake-produced tsunami in Crescent City died because after the first giant wave struck, they went down to the shore to watch. The water receded and then they were pounded by the second, larger swell. There was a wire story last week that told of an entire fishing village on an island off Thailand -- 181 people -- who were saved because they knew what to do. The tribal chief later explained: Our ancestors told us that when the sea quickly recedes, go quickly to the temple in the hills.

That other cloud -- the war in Iraq -- is looking more like Vietnam every day. It's a conflict launched by our country's leaders on a false pretext (or two). As a nation we are united in our support of the armed forces, but deeply conflicted and divided on the war itself, often friend against friend, sometimes family against family.

The Journal has been consistent in its opposition to the invasion of Iraq, along with roughly half the people in this country. (Our local daily has remained editorially silent these last two years.) We hold President Bush responsible along with every member of Congress who gave him the wiggle room to proceed while arrogantly shoving aside -- even ridiculing -- the United Nations.

I was hopeful beginning the year 2004 that there were enough voters ready to stand up and say this is not the course I want my country to take. This president does not speak for me. Bring our troops home and let's use our wealth and power for good, not destruction. But it didn't happen.

Apparently I am not alone in my pessimism this New Year's. Columnist Molly Ivins asked herself, "Was it really that horrible?" In answer, she wrote:

"Abu Ghraib, the endless trials anent Kobe Bryant and Scott Peterson, war in Iraq looking worse every day, Howard Dean eliminated over a whoop and a presidential race so devoid of joy that the high point was when the president claimed God speaks through him -- leaving us to contemplate the news that God doesn't know how to pronounce nuclear and has yet to master subject-verb agreement. `Performance enhancing drugs' in baseball. Ray Charles died. Karl Rove is Man of the Year. We are all overweight. Swift Boat Liars win the presidential race for Bush. Then just to round things off nicely, a terrible natural disaster. What a bummer."



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