Durham News: Opinion

What you’re saying: Diana García, Nancy Milio, Joe Daly, Shannon Meyer and DeWarren Langley

The symbol of mourning

Black. The absence of color. That is what comes to mind after news of the senseless massacre in Paris.

Black. The symbol of mourning because to celebrate color of any kind would be an insult to the lives of those lost for no apparent reason other than a rampant hatred that continues to simmer in a cauldron of xenophobia and intolerance.

What has happened to our world?

Of course, we live in a time now where terrorist attacks are becoming a daily occurrence. The new “normal” as some like to say. But what happened last week is a turning point in this so-called War on Terror because there are no pre-meditated targets. Anyone’s life is up for grabs.

How will our leaders respond? To what, exactly, are they responding? When 9/11 happened, I witnessed it firsthand. The building we worked in on Park Avenue had a direct view of the Twin Towers from our offices on the 29th floor. What was our government’s response then? And what did it net us?

From where I’m standing, it has netted an escalation in this type of violence, one that does not seem to have any foreseeable end.

The feelings I’m left with are deep, deep sadness and a sense of helplessness. How does one “fight” such radicalized hatred? When did we stop looking at one another as human beings worthy of respect and a right to life?

The absence of color seems necessary right now. As a way to mark this turning point and to stop and mourn our situation instead of mindlessly retaliating at an enemy we can’t even see.

Diana García


Medicare help available

Medicare beneficiaries should know there are significant changes to several Medicare health and drug plans for 2016, and the deadline for most individuals to review their coverage options is Dec. 7. Senior PharmAssist is glad to help any Medicare beneficiary living in the Durham community – regardless of income or age – sort through dozens of plans to make the best selection for that person.

Two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries with a Part D drug plan seen by Senior PharmAssist need to switch coverage to save money. Last year, "switchers" saved an average of $983 on projected annual medication expenses. The nonprofit agency is the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) coordinating site in Durham County and provides unbiased information to help individuals make knowledgeable decisions. Appointment slots are limited, so don’t delay. Call 919-688-4772 to schedule an in-person appointment. Medicare beneficiaries who obtain care at Lincoln Community Health Center should contact the Lincoln pharmacy for a SHIIP appointment.

If you want help over the telephone, Medicare beneficiaries can call the state SHIIP office at 1-855-408-1212 or call Medicare any time at 1-800-633-4227. You can also search options on Medicare’s website (www.medicare.gov). In addition, Senior PharmAssist (www.seniorpharmassist.org) and NC SHIIP (www.ncdoi.com/shiip) have helpful online Medicare information.

Founded in 1994, Senior PharmAssist helps older adults remain as healthy and engaged as possible by focusing on medication access and appropriate use, Medicare insurance counseling, tailored community referral and activating participants to take charge of their own health. For more information regarding upcoming events or Senior PharmAssist call 919-688-4772 or visit www.seniorpharmassist.org.

Joe Daly

Senior PharmAssist

Building peace

It’s hard to talk about peace, especially now, when screens are saturated with violence. The reaction is to use more violence against the perpetrators, which only breeds more of the same.

This need not be so. We are not helpless to prevent this quagmire. We can build peace.

With my fellow North Carolina Quakers, I went to the office of Sen. Thom Tillis in Washington, D.C., recently and spoke with his senior adviser, a high-ranking military man and former Bush official. We presented him with a new set of tools for addressing low-level conflict before it explodes.

This toolkit, embodied in Senate legislation soon to be introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, includes a top-level intergovernmental Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), a single flexible Complex Crises Fund under USAID, and an annual report to Congress by the top intelligence official on countries that are at risk of mass atrocities.

I said Sen. Tillis would be interested in this bill because:

It’s working. Under an executive order, serious turmoil in the Central African Republic was calmed through a decision by the APB to use the Complex Crises monies to support local groups to bring opposing aggressors together. Then, when violence erupted again in the republic, it did not do so in the areas where peacebuilding had strengthened social cohesion.

Secondly, it is relatively cheap: $100 million, compared with any U.S. support for warfare.

Thirdly, it would be authorized by Congress, rather then the executive, and the intelligence chief would report to Congress.

We know that Sen. Tillis cares about vets and would avoid putting military people at risk. These peacebuilding tools are one small way to deal with emerging crises before they get out of control, even though there is much else required to get at the deep sources of conflict.

We are grateful to the open hearing we had at the Senator’s office, and hope he will broaden his military concern to support peacebuilding by co-sponsoring this bill.

Nancy Milio

Chapel Hill

On to the state final

The N.C. Association for Scholastic Activities was thrilled to present the Central and East Regionals for the first ever Just for Kix N.C. Dance Ensemble Competition presented by Fox 50 last Saturday.

In Middle School Jazz/Hip-hop, Wayne School of Engineering of Goldsboro won the East Regional, and Harris Road Middle School of Concord won the Central Regional. Also advancing to State Finals are West Regional Champion Mount Airy Middle School, Brawley, Central Middle School of Gates County, Highland, JN Fries, and Overhills.

In Middle School Contemporary/Lyrical, Parrott Academy of Kinston won the East Regional, and Clover Garden Middle School of Burlington won the Central Regional. Also advancing to State Finals are West Regional Champion Robinson Middle School, Ligon, and Mount Airy.

In High School Jazz/Hip-hop, Wakefield High School of Wake Forest won the East Regional, and Myers Park High School of Charlotte won the Central Regional. Also advancing to State Finals are West Regional Champion East Lincoln, Broughton, Hough, Northern Durham, Northwest Guilford, Northwood, South Columbus, and Wayne School of Engineering.

In High School Contemporary/Lyrical, title of East Regional Champion is shared between Broughton High School of Raleigh and Wayne School of Engineering. Central Regional Champion is Hillside High School of Durham. Also advancing to state final are West Regional Champion Hough High School, Brunswick Early College, East Lincoln, Northern Durham, Northwood, Parrott Academy, and Wakefield.

The State Final will be held Dec. 5 at Wakefield High School in Wake Forest.

Shannon Meyer

Associate executive director


MLK award nominations open

The Durham Community Martin Luther King, Jr. Steering Committee Inc. is accepting nominations for the 2016 Keeper of the Dream Award. Nomination submissions are due by Friday, December 18, 2015.

The Keeper of the Dream Award is a public recognition of individuals, organizations, or institutions for outstanding leadership and/or service to improve the quality of life for all citizens and work toward racial equality, human rights, peace and economic justice for all people. Annually, the MLK Steering Committee acknowledges one individual and one organization.

Nominees must be a resident or previous resident of the Durham Community, of any age, demonstrated outstanding leadership and/or service to improve the quality of life for all citizens and work toward racial equality, human rights, peace and economic justice for all people and not have recently received honors or recognition for this act.

The individual and organization selected to receive the 2015 Keeper of the Dream Award will receive email notification of their selection. The Award will be presented during the 2015 Annual Religious Service Jan. 18 at Peace Missionary Baptist Church, 2608 Apex Highway in Durham.

For information or to obtain a nomination form, visit, www.durhammlkcommittee.org or contact DeWarren K. Langley at secretary@durhammlkcommittee.org.

DeWarren K. Langley


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