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Day: May 10, 2018

Fostering hope

Six hundred people out of a total of 333,000 doesn’t seem like a lot—actually, it seems like a puny amount, until you realize it is the number of foster kids in all of Marion County.

That relatively small number takes on major importance when we understand that those 600 or so foster children reside in less than 75 foster homes. Total. That means some homes have up to five foster children, a number that most experts agree is too high and does not serve the children well.

May is National Foster Care Month, which brings the foster system to mind. Foster care isn’t just one month, it is every month, sometimes for years.

It is unfortunate that the only information some get about foster care are the tragic stories of abusive foster parents or horrifically unsanitary living conditions. The reality is that for every terrible story there are dozens of untold positive, hopeful, good stories about caring and committed foster parents.  These are the people that become foster providers out of a sense of duty and need.

Another reality is that the system is in need of foster homes. Many more. It is a big ask, but foster homes are needed to serve the many children who enter the system each year. By most measures being a foster parent is not easy, especially if more than one child is placed at one home. Becoming a foster parent is certainly the epitome of unselfishness. In a world that constantly heralds the well-being of our children, it would seem that those who talk should also do some of the walk.

What are the reasons one wouldn’t become a foster parent? Choose one: too busy, too many children already, disrupts lifestyle and on and on.

There are some who should not be foster parents and there are those who see dollar signs when they think of foster kids. The foster care system should not be an entrepreneurial enterprise.

There are many reasons to become a foster parent. Primarily, the need. It is unfathomable that up to five kids are in a single foster home. The daily quality of life for kids who have been through too  much will be greatly enhanced when they share a home with a nuclear family and perhaps only one other foster child.

How does one become a foster parent? First, contact the state Department of Human Services, which oversees foster care in Oregon. The agency will fully inform any interested people on the hows and whys of becoming a foster.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is another avenue to help children in Marion County.  CASA of Marion County advocates for abused and neglected children who need safe and permanent homes. Volunteers are trained to give them the skills and knowledge necessary to advocate for an abused child.

Children are our greatest natural resource and they all need to be nurtured, kept safe and allowed to live a life free from want and pain.

  — LAZ

Spooking the next top spook


The U.S. Senate faces a clear choice as it prepares to confirm—or reject—acting CIA Director Gina Haspel as the permanent head spook.

Confirm Haspel and get a chief who will encourage staff to do their utmost to uncover what they need to know to protect this country. Or, reject her and prepare to settle for a cover-your-behind and keep-your-head-down bureaucrat whose chief selling point is not sticking out.

Of course, Haspel—President Donald Trump’s pick to replace former director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—is in for a lonely slog in her bid to become the rare career CIA officer to take the helm and the first female CIA chief. Trump critics smell blood.

The left has begun to organize an opposition campaign likely to keep Democratic senators from supporting Haspel. Meanwhile, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of 51 GOP senators, has said he opposes Haspel, and other GOP senators are on the fence.

And it’s because Haspel put national security first.

Under President George W. Bush, Haspel authorized the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, which was used on three al-Qaida detainees. She was acting in accordance with Department of Justice memos that found harsh interrogation methods to be legal.

What critics call “the torture memos,” the CIA refers to “as the not-torture memos,” noted former agency spokesman Bill Harlow.

In 2018, the memos are a distant memory and critics breezily can dismiss CIA staffers who were desperate to prevent another 9/11 as torturers.

Did the same human rights activists who found the harsh methods inhumane protest when President Barack Obama, one of their own, stepped up the use of drones? Some did. Others remained more indignant about methods authorized under a Republican president that were painful for detainees than methods authorized by his Democratic successor that outright killed terror suspects.

Haspel’s other big sin is her role in the destruction of videotapes that showed the waterboarding of two detainees. In 2005, she drafted a memo that advocated destroying the tapes. Her boss, then director of clandestine services, Jose Rodriguez, issued the memo and the tapes were destroyed. Investigators under Bush and Obama found no laws had been broken.

To the American Civil Liberties Union, this destruction of tapes that likely would have become a handy propaganda tool for al-Qaida is a bad thing, a denial of “transparency on torture.”

On an ACLU conference call, national political director Faiz Shakir told reporters, “This is an opportunity to demonstrate what the resistance looks like.” The resistance is the term Democrats use for obstructing Trump’s agenda.

The Haspel resistance is all about scoring points—and it ignores the input of a long list of national-security luminaries from both parties who urged the Senate to confirm Haspel. The list includes former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., and Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta.

To be sure, there are senators who object to the use of waterboarding and drones and whose first impulse will be to reject Haspel for those reasons. But it is the fence sitters who will decide, and not necessarily out of conscience.

Former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow warned that if Haspel “goes down, Lord knows who else they would nominate for the job. It won’t be someone as qualified.”

A reporter had an unauthorized question for Daniel Jones, billed as the “former chief investigator and lead author of the torture report” released by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014.

Recently Jones’ name has been linked to Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the so-called “dossier” on Trump’s alleged ties with Russia. On Tuesday, former Trump aide Michael Caputo accused Jones of hiring Fusion GPS to continue its opposition research against Trump after the election.

When a reporter asked Jones, now president of the Penn Quarter Group, about those allegations, the ACLU said the call would address only questions about Haspel. When this journalist reached out to the Penn Quarter Group, no answer appeared. Transparency is a tool they have no problem discarding.

(Creators Syndicate)

Mary Cheney Hancock

Dec. 5, 1939 – May 1, 2018

Mary Cheney Hancock was born in Portland, Oregon on December 5, 1939.  She spent her childhood moving around the state until her family settled in Albany, where Mary attended Albany High School.  After graduating she moved to Salem to work for the State of Oregon in the Revenue Department.  Mary then went to work at SAIF where she worked for 38 years as a clerk before retiring at 53 years old.

M. Hancock

Mary served as a caregiver for the next 18 years, where she met Don.  The two have been together for 25 years, marrying 10 years ago.

When Mary wasn’t working, she enjoyed traveling around her beloved Pacific Northwest, and volunteering at Willamette Valley Hospice and St. Edward Catholic Church.  Mary was a faithful member of St. Edward where she served as the Kitchen Coordinator.  The nurturing and caring nature that she had lasted all through her life in Keizer.  Serving at the parish Mary also started a soup kitchen that served meals for 10 years, headed up the Sunday nursery, and served as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister as well as helping out in many other ministries at St. Edward.  She will be remembered as a kind and loving individual who spent most of her time caring for others.

Mary is survived by her husband, Don; her brother Lee Cheney and his wife, Dawn.  Funeral arrangements are being handled by Crown Memorial Center in Salem.  A rosary will be said at 10 a.m. on May 15, 2018 at St. Edward Church followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m.

Brett Hanson

February 20, 1991 – April 21, 2018

B. Hanson

Brett Hanson (27) was a young man who was full of life. Born on February 20th, 1991 in Medford, OR to Kim and Jeff Hanson, Brett led a magical life full of love, Disney, painting, and science fiction. In 2010, Brett graduated from the Early College to High School program through Salem Keizer School District. With a future goal of more college courses, Brett wanted to eventually open his own gaming shop or, naturally, to work in the wonderful world of Disney. This of course was the perfect dream job for him, because if you knew his kindness and love of helping anyone who needed it, Disney was the place for him. Brett was said to never know a stranger; his gregarious personality is what made that possible.  He was funny, loved animals (especially his basset hound Joise), had a vivid imagination and could fill a room with his smile and laughter. In his free time, you’d find him gaming or painting all sorts of things. Painting was a significant part of his life. He could spend hours upon hours getting every detail exact on all sorts of figurines he collected or other models he put together.

Though Brett is sitting amongst Bilbo & Thorin, Spock & Captain Pike, Lily & James, and his grandfather Roy Worthington, his memory will live on through his parents Kim and Jeff Hanson; his sister Jordyn Hanson, and numerous other family members and friends.

A celebration of life will be held May 19, 2018, at 1 p.m. at Crosshill Christian, 2105 Keizer Road N.E.