HomeNewsLetters to the Editor: August 21, 2013

Letters to the Editor: August 21, 2013

Do not blame vaccines for autism

No, Kathleen Seravalli, autism cannot be caused by vaccines. This outlandish theory was advanced in a 1998 study, and later removed, in the journal Lancet. Luckily, in 2010, the author of that study, Andrew Wakefield, was stripped of his medical license by Britain and was severely castigated by the scientific community following the study’s publication.

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Fortunately, the original research in 1998 has since been discredited by various scientific agencies. In fact, the U.K. Department of Health found no relationship between vaccines and autism; in 2001, a panel of 15 experts from the Institute of Medicine convened by Congress found no connection between the measles, mumps, MMR vaccine and autism; in 2004, the Institute of Medicine found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism; and in 2013, The Journal of Pediatrics published a study of 1,000 children during their first two years of life and found that vaccines did not impact the risk of developing autism during the first two years of life.

Lastly, you may ask, “Then, what is causing the increase in autism?” Indeed, there are various theories that attempt to answer this question. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that most data found that genetic abnormalities during brain development can lead to autism in the womb. Other theories discuss the connection between older fathers and an increased risk of autism in children.

Nonetheless, all these theories rely on scientific research rather than the vaccine-autism theory concocted by anti-vaccine advocates whose lies can permanently damage the health of children.

Kathleen, do not listen to the misleading claims of Jenny McCarthy and, instead, choose reason when making decisions regarding vaccines, which are that vaccines are absolutely essential in protecting against diseases.

Talaial Alina


She is furious with trash pick up policy

I am furious with this trash pickup policy.

We placed our trash out in the early morning due to the fact that we were going to the beach overnight and did not to miss trash day, so we put it out.

We came home to a $50 ticket. We called and the woman was so rude and told us that we could fight it in court, but that would mean taking a day off from work. So either pay the $50 or it would go up to like $300 — come on!

First, we have a very clean neighborhood. During major snowstorms, our streets are not plowed. We can’t even get off our street to go to work and you fine me because I place my trash out not during the correct hours.

Most people who come home from work would like to put their trash out before going into their house for the night — which is way before 7 p.m. I have also seen many homes have their trash out driving home in my neighborhood around 5:30 p.m. Did they get tickets?

I don’t think so, because I have noticed that they do it every week. The time should be changed to 5 p.m. the night before collection day — and stop picking on those who have a nice clean neighborhood and try to go where people don’t take care of their homes, don’t place trash out at all, and it’s just all around the house and yard.

We feel up here in the upper Northeast that we are always targeted.

Joan Cleminski


George Zimmerman was stalking Trayvon

In response to Mr. Polis’ letter regarding the Zimmerman trial being a “slam dunk” for the defense, I would say the misguided person is you, Mr. Polis.

If you think there was no racism involved in Mr. Zimmerman’s action, I think you are living on another planet. You are right, however, that the state could never prove second-degree murder, there was no tangible evidence to prove that. As far as following someone not being a crime, however, you are sadly mistaken.

Florida law clearly states that stalking is a crime, and any felony precipitated by that is punishable. The elephant in the room is that Mr. Zimmerman was stalking Mr. Martin and that he was responsible for any events that followed.

It’s easy to say justice was served in this case, but that’s just flat wrong.

Joe Orenstein


What did Zimmerman mean by his comments?

There’s an expression, “Is there a mouse in your pocket?” which fits nicely when the boss says things like, “We should get this paperwork done.” If you’re the only other person in the room, “we” must refer to him and his mouse.

Mr. Jay Polis, in his critique of my letter, did not address the main point of my letter, which was Mr. George Zimmerman’s reference to “these punks” when he was looking at only one young man. Who were the other punks? Did Trayvon Martin have a mouse with him?

I also seemed to have missed the most important part of the trial, the one where there was a minute-by-minute description of what transpired between the time Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin and the time Trayvon was shot.

Mr. Polis seems to know, and I would be interested in the details, along with his source. According to all reports I’ve read, there were no witnesses for that time period.

No one knows how Mr. Zimmerman got his gun out and managed a shot in the chest with Trayvon on top of him.

At one point, the jury was split 3–3 for a murder conviction, so maybe it wasn’t as clear-cut as Mr. Polis suggests.

As for being delusional, I was a young adult when the civil rights movement was in full swing. Racial hatred just poured out in all its ugliness, from the general public to law-enforcement officials to politicians. I see racism clearly in Zimmerman’s remarks even if people who are not as offended by racism don’t recognize it or prefer to ignore it.

Miriam Levinson


Oprah is wrong on Zimmerman case

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another disciple of Jeremiah Wright injects race into the George Zimmerman case after all experts agreed it was a self-defense issue, and a jury of his peers concurred.

When Jeremiah spouted his, “They say ‘God bless America’ and I say God damn America,” did Oprah voice her opinion on this criticism of the country that’s been so good to her or did she join the Obamas and claim she never heard rantings like that?

Since Oprah’s such an Obama fan, I have to wonder how the “share the wealth” slogan will have her invest in our schools in this country where she made her money first and other countries second.

Sadly, people forget the breaking of Stephen Girard’s will because of the phrase “poor white male orphans only,” which was found discriminatory, and yet the United Negro College Fund, NAACP, Black Student Council and Black Miss America are acceptable.

Jim Laverty


A politician who works for a change

Over a recent weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by Danny Alvarez, the Republican candidate for district attorney.

Naturally, when I see a politician at my door, my first instinct is to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction and keep an eye on my purse. However; Danny was a different kind of politician.

First of all, unlike the “venerable” Mr. Seth Williams, Danny Alvarez took the time to stop by my house. I can’t remember the last time a district attorney candidate did that.

Secondly, he took the time to have a long conversation with me about the neighborhood and the issues that matter to me most. He didn’t shy away and gave me very real, well-thought-out, honest answers. Mr. Alvarez, you have my vote come November — and for many years to come.

Jennifer Fail


We should cherish freedom in America

The passing of summer lets us reflect on fireworks, hot dogs and holidays.

Memorial Day is a day in which we honor those who died and served in war. Our country is still involved in a war.

The Fourth of July enables us to reflect upon our forefathers signing the Constitution. Liberties have had a far-reaching effect. Any one person can buy assault weapons with the intent to kill. A person can access the Internet to find websites that enable them to kill.

Labor Day is set aside to remember child labor and unfair wages. Unfortunately, most of our jobs have been sent overseas.

Yes, America has changed, but we must keep in mind that America is free, and we have the right to voice our own opinion for better or for worse.

Marie Patton

Fox Chase

Give public school kids opportunities

I have had the privilege and pleasure to watch an amazing metamorphosis — one that may be crushed as it only begins to take hold and germinate.

Having worked with Central High School’s robotics team, the RoboLancers, over the last four years, the last two of which I was the assistant coach, it never ceases to amaze me when students begin to really see the possibilities through an exposure to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as conveyed by robotics.

The mission of our team is to spread the importance of STEM among all Philadelphia students. The Philly Robotics Expo (“PRX”), which is hosted by the RoboLancers and presented at Drexel University in the spring, is one of those ways we accomplish our mission, and we do other things as well.

We mentor and help start other robotics teams. We keep an amazing website (robolancers.com), which is available for the larger community. And there is so much more.

Our program tries to present to students, through STEM education and robotics, an awareness of a future filled with possibilities, including higher education and a promising career.

Unfortunately, because of the financial straits of the school district, the stage is set for the RoboLancers to go the way of so many other robotics teams in Philadelphia and cease to exist. Teacher layoffs have devastated the public schools in Philadelphia, so the only outcome can be overcrowding, less experienced teachers in the classroom and less time for teachers to proctor extracurricular activities. No one really seems to be able to conceptualize that, without opportunities and a quality education now, the future for all of us is bleak. Our country is desperately in need of scientists, mathematicians and engineers, yet the future of Philadelphia students, if the present course of our schools is not changed, will be as unskilled labor — or unemployment.

Using the term “doomsday” is extremely appropriate when describing the fiscal situation of Philadelphia schools because that, indeed, is our city’s destiny. That bleak scenario could change in an instant, however, if our leaders step up and do the right thing to provide adequate funding for Philadelphia schools now and in the future. This vision could include the children of Philadelphia with the world beckoning them, better prepared for a tomorrow filled with opportunity and prosperity, if only our leaders would begin to listen and, more importantly, act in all of our best interests.

Katherine M. Conrad


Farewell to the Women’s Club of Lawncrest

What began as an informal gathering of neighborhood women discussing the needs of the young and elderly in the community was the beginning of an institution that would produce 63 years of service to the community of Lawncrest.

It was with heavy hearts the remaining members of the WCLC gathered this past May to discuss the subject that could no longer be ignored, the closing of an institution that has been a part of their lives for decades.

Shrinking enrollment and changing times have taken a toll on what was once the vibrant center of life for so many people in the Lawncrest community. And so it will happen that on Sept. 16, 2013, in the Philadelphia Protestant Home the gavel will fall on our final meeting.

This column is a farewell tribute to every woman who was privileged to be a member of an organization that made community service a daily way of life.

It is impossible to list the club’s accomplishments that span 63 years in a short column but it is important that before the WCLC is put to rest, the work that was done and the example they have provided be recognized.

How do you go about quantifying the dedication and commitment of so many women? To say that they were well meaning, charitable, loving and caring is to state the obvious. To say they were aggressive in implementing their ideas, determined and single minded in purpose with an unrelenting persistence to achieve the goals they had set, gives a better description of their strength of character.

In the 1950s, the entire face of Lawncrest was changing with the talk of construction of the recreation center and the library that followed. The club played an integral part in seeing to it that the recreation center would be utilized to its fullest potential and be of service to all in the community. They showed from the beginning their purpose was authentic and what they set their sights on, they saw through to the end.

The Women’s Club quickly grew in numbers, reaching more than 325 members in its prime. As the membership grew, so too did the club’s capability to do more and, in as much as the primary goal of the club was providing for others, they expanded their reach far beyond their own initial expectations.

They did everything from furnishing the #315 hospital room at Jeanes Hospital to fundraising for kidney transplant patients, donating to educate missionary sisters, donating and visiting the children in St. Vincent’s Orphanage as well as the Sacred Heart Free Home for Incurables, providing the Lady of Confidence School for the Handicapped the money to purchase a recorder and TV for the classroom. Their charity was for all and had no boundaries.

They raised money needed for their charity work through social events that brought together an entire community and created lifetime friendships.

We, the Women’s Club of Lawncrest, take this opportunity to thank the business community of Lawncrest who contributed to our many requests for help over the years. Special thanks is extended to the Northeast Times publication that has partnered with us over the years and advertised our club which, in turn, helped us to help others. We are also grateful to all who attended our fundraisers and everyone who in any way contributed to the legacy we proudly leave behind.

We are put on this earth to make a difference, to leave the world a little better for having made the journey. The formation of the Women’s Club of Lawncrest presented each of us an opportunity to carry out this mission. Our symbol for the club was the lantern of friendship signifying our intent to bring light into the lives of others. Although we must say goodbye to the organization we know as the WCLC, we never have to extinguish our light.

Christine Frisco

Past President, Women’s Club of Lawncrest

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