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.

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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