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Editorials from around Oregon

August 28, 2019

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:

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The Medford Mail Tribune, Aug. 27, on how consumers can prevent scams:

Robocalls are annoying at best, and potentially costly at worst. And they’re becoming more frequent. One call-blocking company estimates Americans received 48 billion robocalls in 2018.

Government agencies and phone companies are responding to consumer frustration by vowing to take meaningful action, but that will take time, and it may never eliminate all unwanted calls. Consumers must take action themselves to avoid falling victim to scams.

Automated phone calling systems are getting more sophisticated, for instance, by making it appear the call is coming from a government office such as the Social Security Administration. Other illegal marketing calls appear to come from a local number or one somewhere else in the state, when the real source may be overseas.

If you have a smartphone, you already have some tools to protect yourself. If the number isn’t in your saved contacts, you can just ignore it. If it’s a legitimate call_say, from a physician’s office or a business notifying you that your order is ready_the caller will leave a voicemail message. If no message appears, you can reasonably assume it wasn’t a legitimate call.

If you answer the call and it’s a scam_a recorded voice telling you you’ve won a free cruise, for instance_you can hang up and block the number from ever calling you again. Scammers get around this by using different numbers, but at least it slows them down.

If you have only a land line, and you don’t have caller ID_which is true of many seniors_it’s tougher to combat the scourge. The best recourse in that situation is to simply hang up. Never give anyone your address, Social Security number or other identifying information over the phone.

A rash of scam calls pretending to come from the Social Security Administration has local residents on edge. Mail Tribune reporter Damian Mann described the sophisticated scheme in a story on Monday: Callers claim to be Social Security employees, and the calls may appear to come from the Social Security office of the inspector general’s fraud hot line. But that office says its employees do not place outgoing calls from the toll-free hotline.

There is hope on the horizon. Last week, 12 telephone companies announced an agreement with all 51 state attorneys general aimed at combating robocalls. The companies will provide free call-blocking technology to customers, implement technology to authenticate calls and monitor networks for robocall traffic.

You can be sure the scammers will respond by coming up with new ways to evade this technology and continue to prey on unsuspecting consumers. That’s why it’s essential that everyone becomes their own best defender: Just hang up.

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The Bend Bulletin, Aug. 26, on the language used in Oregon’s death penalty:

The Oregon Legislature bumbled a change to Oregon’s death penalty. Gov. Brown needs to stop delaying and call a special session of the Legislature to fix it.

Oregonians were misled about what the law would do. That must be corrected.

The issue is the language in Senate Bill 1013 and the related SB 1005. SB 1013 fundamentally diluted Oregon’s death penalty by narrowing the definition of aggravated murder.

Aggravated murder is the only crime in Oregon qualifies for the death penalty. The law restricted the definition to acts of organized terrorism that kill two or more; premeditated murders of children young than 14; and premeditated murders of correctional, probation and law enforcement officers. It would also apply to convicted murderers who kill another prisoner in jail or prison.

Legislators said the law would not be retroactive. Brown said she did not believe the law was retroactive. Benjamin Gutman, Oregon’s solicitor general, has written recently he believes it would be for cases that are being retried or pending.

Brown opposes the death penalty and had already put in place a moratorium on executions in Oregon. She is having her staff do more research before making a decision about what to do about the law.

Let’s help them. Legislators told the public they did not intend for the law to be retroactive. Brown did not believe the law was retroactive when she signed the bill into law.

If she doesn’t call a special session to clarify what the law does, it will critically undermine the integrity of the Legislature and Brown. Call the special session, governor.

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The East Oregonian, Aug. 28, on a lawsuit filed against Tillamook Creamery Association:

We remember when we found out that our favorite chocolate chip cookies weren’t made by elves in a hollow tree.

Had we not been 8 at the time, we might have hired a lawyer and taken the folks at Keebler to court for falsely suggesting it was elven magic that made the cookies and other snacks so good. Such a case would have been thrown out of court.

But that lawsuit would have had more merit than one filed last week against the Tillamook Creamery Association by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is even more without merit.

The dairy cooperative is accused in the lawsuit of unjustly enriching itself and violating Oregon trade practices law by touting small family farms with pasture-raised cows when most of its milk is sourced from the “most industrialized dairy factory farm in the country.”

About two-thirds of the creamery’s milk comes from 32,000 dairy cows raised at Threemile Canyon Farms’ facility in Boardman, “where cows are continuously confined, milked by robotic carousels, and afflicted with painful udder infections,” the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint claims that while the company advertises its dairy products as being produced in Tillamook County with “small-scale traditional farming methods,” it’s heavily reliant on a distant “mega-dairy” that’s large enough to be “visible from space.”

Tillamook is a farmer-owned cooperative. The sale of cheese, butter and ice cream on a national scale benefits those farmers.

Unlike Keebler, which specifically claimed its products were made in a hollow tree by elves, Tillamook has never claimed that all its products are made in Tillamook or all the milk is sourced from its members.

That Tillamook sources milk from Threemile Canyon Farms and other large dairies outside Tillamook County has never been a secret. It has been reported widely for nearly 20 years, not only in the East Oregonian but other statewide media such as Oregon Public Broadcasting and The Oregonian/Oregonlive.com.

We’re not sure what “traditional farming methods” consumers imagine are utilized by co-op members who have appeared in Tillamook advertising. With the exception of scale, many of their methods are similar to those employed at Threemile Canyon.

Milking carousels — robotic or otherwise — are common on the dairies of farmer-owners in Tillamook County. No commercial-scale dairy milks by hand.

“Painful udder infections” occur on small family farms too, even on organic dairies. Beef cows get them, too. Dairy producers take great care to prevent the infections and to treat them once they appear.

In 2012 PETA sued the California Milk Advisory Board claiming its popular “happy cow” promotion was false advertising. A judge threw that case out, ruling PETA couldn’t back up its claims.

An Oregon judge should do the same with this case.

(In the interest of full disclosure and to avoid litigation, we admit to leading readers on a bit. We thought Chips Ahoy were a lot better than the Keebler cookies, but the Nabisco advertising campaign didn’t fit our narrative.)

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