Letters to the editor: December 7, 2011 edition

Please don’t feed the able-bod­ied pan­hand­lers

Every day as I re­turn from a gruel­ing job, I am sub­jec­ted to a tall man on the corner of Grant Av­en­ue and Roosevelt Boulevard. His game is to mingle with the cars and shout, “Got any spare change?”

I have lowered my win­dow to ex­plain that my neigh­bor is sup­port­ing sev­er­al kids by wash­ing dishes. I also said that in my 60 years of life, I have done many things for a liv­ing — all hon­est. I asked him to try work­ing at a loc­al res­taur­ant.

Of course, he be­came in­dig­nant and con­tin­ued to beg. Yes­ter­day, I again lowered my win­dow. I said, “Re­mem­ber me?” He sar­castic­ally said, “Why should I have to wash dishes?” and left me with pro­fan­ity. An­oth­er wo­man works the me­di­an out­side of Mar­shall’s. She uses “Hungry” on a piece of card­board. One even­ing, I caught her talk­ing on her cell phone as her “shift” ended. A beg­gar with a cell phone?

Il­leg­al, and leg­al, im­mig­ra­tion makes many people mad. With “cit­izens” like these with their hands out, no won­der in­dus­tri­ous new­comers take the low-wage and hard jobs. Shame on all who beg, un­less dis­abled so badly that they can­not work. My wal­let is open to blind and dis­abled vet­er­ans. Yet, many par­tially dis­abled people do get up early and work, whenev­er pos­sible.

Able-bod­ied people like these two have no shame. It is about self-re­spect and in­teg­rity. Oth­ers should re­fuse to sup­port them.

Harry B. Bridges Jr.


Out­raged by Ack­er­man

Ar­lene Ack­er­man, how nar­ciss­ist­ic and vin­dict­ive can you be? Un­em­ploy­ment is for those people who are in need and not to be used as one more twist of the knife.

We, as Phil­adelphi­ans, are fi­nally see­ing the per­son this wo­man is deep down. Not for one minute did she ever have our chil­dren’s edu­ca­tion first; it was al­ways about HER and what she could scav­enge from the tax­pay­ers of this city! She was an over­whelm­ingly hor­rendous ex­ample of one of our so-called lead­ers.

Kath­leen Gillespie

Mod­ena Park

Put your money where your aca­dem­ics are

It’s nice to have back­ers for the field of dreams for Fath­er Judge High School to donate $2.8 mil­lion, but where are the dona­tions for stu­dents who want to go to Fath­er Judge for aca­dem­ics but can­not af­ford to go to Judge?

Please stop put­ting sports be­fore aca­dem­ics. With that money, your broth­er school, North Cath­ol­ic, would be alive today. It’s a shame that Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion is a busi­ness be­fore edu­cat­ing young minds.

Joe V. Gilmore Sr.


Lowlifes are hurt­ing our neigh­bor­hoods

It seems like I’m con­stantly read­ing in this pa­per about shoot­ings and as­saults in the North­east. This is what hap­pens when lowlifes move in­to great neigh­bor­hoods like May­fair and Ta­cony.

Driv­ing around the North­east, it’s easy to see which homes are oc­cu­pied by people who just don’t care. Their land­scape is un­kempt, trash is piled in front of the house days be­fore trash day and the house lacks even minor up­keep. My guess is these homes are owned by ab­sent­ee land­lords (Sec­tion 8) who couldn’t care less.

I think the worst part is that their kids will grow up to live the same way. As they say, there goes the neigh­bor­hood.

Thomas Wiser

East Tor­res­dale

Turn­ing Point marks its grand open­ing

Rhawn­hurst Turn­ing Point, a new non-profit cen­ter for youth, opened its doors to North­east Philly on Nov. 12.

We were de­lighted that over 85 people toured our vi­brant cen­ter, which of­fers free home­work help, art classes, ser­vice op­por­tun­it­ies and a drop-in cen­ter for young adults from grades six to 12.

We are es­pe­cially grate­ful to City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill’s of­fice, the SEPA Syn­od of the ELCA, the Pres­by­tery of Phil­adelphia, the Rotary Club of North­east Sun­risers and our hard-work­ing vo­lun­teers for mak­ing this day a huge suc­cess.

For more in­form­a­tion on Rhawn­hurst Turn­ing Point, please call 267-601-5147, send an e-mail to Rhawn­hurstTurn­ing­Point@ya­hoo.com or vis­it us on the Web at www.Rhawn­hurstTurn­ing­Point.com

Rhawn­hurst Turn­ing Point is loc­ated at 7812 Castor Ave. and open Tues­days, Wed­nes­days and Thursdays from 2:30 to 9 p.m.

Cheryl-Ann Es­posito


Hu­man traf­fick­ing – A crime against hu­man­ity

Har­ris­burg Re­port

By state Rep. Thomas P. Murt

The traf­fick­ing of hu­man be­ings is one of the most hein­ous of crimes ima­gin­able. It is fre­quently called “mod­ern day slavery” or “dead bond­age.”

Hu­man traf­fick­ing oc­curs around the world in the most-de­veloped as well as in Third World na­tions. Des­pite our col­lect­ive af­flu­ence as a so­ci­ety, hu­man traf­fick­ing is sadly alive and well in our na­tion, in­clud­ing in our com­mon­wealth.

Hu­man traf­fick­ing is one of the fast­est-grow­ing crim­in­al en­deavors in the world. After drugs, hu­mans are the second most traf­ficked item on the plan­et. It is a $9 bil­lion-a-year op­er­a­tion that uses force, phys­ic­al re­straint, vi­ol­ence, fraud, co­er­cion and threats to force vic­tims in­to vari­ous forms of slavery.

In child pros­ti­tu­tion, more than 100,000 chil­dren are ex­ploited each year in the U.S alone. Across the U.S., more than 60,000 adults are en­slaved as vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing each year. The ac­tu­al num­bers are much high­er due to a gross un­der­re­port­ing of the crime.

This un­der­re­port­ing is due to the vic­tims be­ing kept phys­ic­ally and so­cially isol­ated from the gen­er­al pub­lic. Fre­quently, the vic­tims are mis­takenly be­lieved to be pros­ti­tutes who have chosen the life­style, or simply il­leg­al im­mig­rants whom so­ci­ety has chosen to ig­nore.

Vic­tims are re­lo­cated fre­quently, and even when be­ing res­cued, they are re­luct­ant to co­oper­ate with au­thor­it­ies. They have been taught to fear law en­force­ment and are un­aware that they have rights un­der U.S. law. Sadly, the sup­ply of hu­man traf­fick­ing vic­tims from around the world is seem­ingly end­less.

In our com­mon­wealth, vic­tims of sex- and labor traf­fick­ing in­clude U.S. cit­izens and for­eign na­tion­als as well as chil­dren and adults.

In sex traf­fick­ing, the activ­it­ies in which the vic­tims for­cibly par­ti­cip­ate in­clude crim­in­al-con­trolled pros­ti­tu­tion, mas­sage par­lors, closed net­work res­id­en­tial brothels, and mail-or­der brides. Vic­tims are of­ten ad­vert­ised on In­ter­net sites and placed in ho­tels or truck stops where they are made avail­able to cus­tom­ers.

A re­cent hu­man traf­fick­ing case in Pennsylvania in­volved girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who were forced in­to sexu­al activ­ity at truck stops. Traf­fick­ers usu­ally with­hold pass­ports and im­mig­ra­tion pa­pers from for­eign-born vic­tims, re­quir­ing them to ‘work off’ debts as pros­ti­tutes or as slave labor.

Many wo­men be­lieve they are leg­ally emig­rat­ing from their home coun­try, only to find out when they ar­rive, they owe ad­di­tion­al fees to the traf­fick­er and must work off their in­den­ture as pros­ti­tutes.

Vic­tims of labor traf­fick­ing are usu­ally found in set­tings such as do­mest­ic ser­vitude, ag­ri­cul­ture, nail salons, factor­ies, and in trav­el­ing sales crews selling candy and magazine sub­scrip­tions. In west­ern Pennsylvania in Arm­strong County, 20 males from Thai­l­and were re­cently dis­covered slav­ing away in the mush­room in­dustry.

Pennsylvania, al­though primar­ily a “pass through” state for hu­man traf­fick­ing, is also a des­tin­a­tion.

In ad­di­tion to com­mer­cial front busi­nesses and ag­ri­cul­tur­al op­er­a­tions, traf­fick­ers util­ize the many high­ways of the com­mon­wealth to move vic­tims between loc­a­tions in Ohio, New Jer­sey and New York, and to con­nect with the I-95 cor­ridor, where vic­tims are eas­ily moved along the East­ern Sea­board from New York to Mary­land, D.C., Geor­gia and Flor­ida.

In Pennsylvania, truck stops, es­pe­cially along the “Mir­acle Mile,” are well-known for play­ing host to sex traf­fick­ing.

A le­gis­lat­ive ef­fort is gain­ing mo­mentum in Pennsylvania to ad­dress the crime of hu­man traf­fick­ing, but more im­port­antly, to reach out and save the vic­tims. These bills are de­signed to give our law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion­als more weapons to use in their ef­forts to find and stop traf­fick­ers, and to res­cue vic­tims.

It is tra­gic and heart­break­ing that in a civ­il­ized na­tion such as ours, forms of slavery still ex­ist. It is ap­palling that we have not done more to stop it. It is past time to stop this crime and res­cue the vic­tims.

A hu­man selling oth­er hu­mans in­to slavery is a crime against hu­man­ity and it must be stopped.

Rep. Murt, a Re­pub­lic­an, serves the 152nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict. The dis­trict in­cludes the Philmont Heights sec­tion of Somer­ton and a large por­tion of east­ern Mont­gomery County.

Don’t get zinged when pur­chas­ing elec­tron­ics

A couple months ago, I de­cided to up­grade my home port­able tele­phones. Not be­ing tech­nic­ally savvy, I went in­to the loc­al elec­tron­ic store, told the sales­per­son what I wanted to spend and how many phones I wanted in the unit. He showed me a re­li­able brand name with three port­ables with­in my budget and I hap­pily pur­chased them.

I opened the box when I got home and took out the in­struc­tion book. The print in the book, writ­ten in four lan­guages, was so minus­cule that I couldn’t read it even with my read­ing glasses and a mag­ni­fy­ing glass.

When a friend came over, he was able to hook up the units and get it op­er­at­ing quickly. The prob­lem was that the sales­per­son didn’t tell me about the few im­port­ant things that would af­fect my older phones.

The new units would not op­er­ate with the older phones even though they were man­u­fac­tured by the same com­pany. There were two in each bed­room and the kit­chen wall phone. They im­me­di­ately stopped work­ing. I had to trash the oth­er port­ables and now the kit­chen phone is merely a dec­or­at­ive piece.

The most im­port­ant thing that I didn’t see in the manu­al, nor did the sales­per­son point it out, is that you have to use re­chargeable bat­ter­ies in the phones.

I nev­er used re­chargeable bat­ter­ies and real­ized this fact only when one of the units wouldn’t hold a charge with the dol­lar store AAA bat­ter­ies. I looked again at the manu­al with the teensy print. On the back cov­er in bold print was the in­struc­tion to only use re­chargeable bat­ter­ies!

Shouldn’t something this im­port­ant be in bold print on the front cov­er? I re­membered telling a rather ar­rog­ant boss years ago that if he gave me a manu­al and keys to an air­plane it didn’t mean that I could fly it.

I went back to the elec­tron­ic store where I pur­chased the phones. I brought the manu­al with me. The sales­per­son, not the one who sold me the units, handed me a 2-pack of re­chargeable bat­ter­ies. I thought I also needed some kind of device to put the bat­ter­ies in to keep them charged.

I gradu­ated col­lege with hon­ors but I felt totally stu­pid. All I needed was the bat­ter­ies, and they charge in the phones when they sit in the char­ging units.

Eight­een dol­lars later, I took the 2-pack of bat­ter­ies home, put them in the phone and voila, the dis­charged phone worked again.

Surely some baby boomers or even young­er people have faced the same di­lemma. It will hap­pen fre­quently at this time of year when people are pur­chas­ing hol­i­day gifts.

Please re­mem­ber to ask all sales­per­sons when you pur­chase something elec­tron­ic — “is there any­thing else I need to buy along with this?”

It will save you a lot of ag­grav­a­tion. Trust me.

Janice Jak­ubowitcz


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