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March 5, 2004

We lost some more good ones last week. Willard Andrews, a truly gifted craftsman, and Dayle Lynch, a retired educator, both passed away after debilitating illnesses. Velma Moore also left us, and she was part of a passing era.

Willard was a Perry-born artisan who had few equals in decorating homes or serving as a general construction contractor. He took special pride in the new Country Club building and he was a devoted golfer on the links. Dayle has been away from here since he graduated from Perry High School in 1943. For the past several years he and his family have been living in Nowata, where he retired as a teacher and administrator. Before that he had taught classes in the Billings school system. He was well regarded there and he had been named Billings school superintendent just before Nowata lured him away. At different times Willard and Dayle were key members of Coach Hump Daniels' highly successful Maroon football machines. Both were team players, family men and civic-minded citizens. Each of them leaves a hole in their communities. Their kind is hard to find.

Velma Moore served local citizens in different ways. Many of us remember her as the local person in charge of the Annex Movie Theater on the east side of the square. She was a hard-working employee in a time of emerging female workplace leaders.

Several friends have been kind enough to mention that they enjoyed reading the recent Stars & Stripes comments on the status of Al-Arablya as providers of legitimate information. It is the belief of some that the Al Arabya are mere tools of the Iraqi resistance. According to some, if that were true, the U.S. challenge in Iraq would be easier than it is. In fact, the channel merely reflects as well as drives the common Arab and Iraqi opinion about the U.S. and the occupation— which is mistrustful, misinformed and often antagonistic. Censorship will only reinforce such biases while driving up Al Arabya's viewership. The only effective way to attack the problem is to offer an alternative — or many alternatives— that give Iraqis and other Arabs access in quality programming and credible information provided by professional journalists who are independent of the governing authority. This ought to be something that an American administration can get right. That it has not done so after months in power, is an inexcusable failing.

So there you have another aspect of an argument that is liable to swirl for several more months — at least until the November elections.