Cell phone towers
Fear of cell towers is baseless
I have spent a career of 45 years in the microwave industry, including a pioneering effort in measuring safe levels of electromagnetic radiation. I am compelled to comment on the hysteria around cell tower radiation.
First: The level of radiation from the hand-held cell phone greatly exceeds the level of radiation observed from the cell tower. I wonder how many of those who are protesting allow their children to use cell phones.
Second: Electromagnetic radiation surrounds us all. The levels from TV and radio towers exceed that of the cell phone. In your home, most people use portable phones, which also emit microwave radiation. Every major TV station and the nearby airports have powerful radars that sweep over us several times a minute. Satellites circle over our heads providing weather radar data, communications and navigation (GPS) data.
I am not aware of any qualified studies that show a link between electromagnetic radiation and cancer. Some studies have attempted to show a relationship between excessive use of cell phones and brain cancer, but the studies lack control data. (Anything held up against your ear 12 hours a day may not be good.)
The only danger from microwaves is that excessive heating can occur from high levels (microwave oven for example) in excess of 10 milliwatts per square centimeter.
George Pate, Dunedin
Kids with phones abound
Here's a question for those parents who are so adamantly opposed to cell towers at schools. Does your son or daughter have a cell phone, iPod, or watch video games — all of which have been questioned for health issues? If the answer is no, I don't have a problem with you advocating more research on cell towers.
But for those of you who answered yes, you should know that there would not be a need for more cell towers if kids from elementary to high school were not given cell phones!
The article Tuesday (How safe is cell tower at school?) points out the parents' "experts" offered advice on possible health risks with cell phones, not towers.
Tell me why your kids need a cell phone. Safety? I see kids almost hit with cars while texting and talking as they cross streets. A previous article talks about kids texting in class or sending nude pictures to friends.
As long as parents give junior the phone to carry around 24/7, there will be a need for cell towers to carry the signals. What would happen if, gasp, you pay your $50 monthly cell bill only to have calls dropped or additional roaming charges added due to lack of cell towers? You would be the first ones calling your cell carriers to complain.
E.A. White, Odessa
Where health care decisions are really made
Our national debate over the issue of universal health care has raised many questions. These questions include cost, access and the decisionmaking process to determine the health care provided. The argument against universal health care most often cited is the claim that "we do not want the government making the decisions." Do you know who makes those decisions for you now?
You should read your health care policy. I just did. In the definitions section is included "Medically Necessary." My policy states:
"Medically Necessary means, in the opinion of BCBS, a specific medical, health care, or hospital service is required for the identification, treatment or management of a medical symptom or condition.
"In making its decisions, BCBS may rely on the opinion of a physician selected or approved by BCBS."
Here is the most important part, which addresses who is making the decisions about your health care:
"The fact that a service or supply is prescribed or otherwise ordered by a physician does not necessarily mean it is Medically Necessary."
This is not intended to single out BCBS as a provider. Most health care providers have the same or similar definitions. Now ask yourself again, who is really making your health care decisions?
Martha Williams, Dade City
Vet gives up on surgery at VA's Haley Feb. 26, story
VA succeeds, too
It is sad that shortcomings at VA health care facilities generate substantial negative publicity. My sympathies go to Robert Fields. He should not have to suffer for any missteps of the VA system.
Also unfortunate is the lack of reporting of the VA's many treatment successes. I had successful brain surgery at James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Furthermore, Bay Pines VAMC treated me successfully for kidney cancer. The jury is still out on "cured," but testing continues to reflect no evidence of any active cancers.
Does the VA system have problems delivering health care to veterans? Absolutely. Do they need to be highlighted? Definitely. Does the negative publicity deter veterans from seeking VA care? Good question. I know veterans who believe VA care is a last resort.
My hope is the VA makes good on its obligations to Mr. Fields. Yes, the VA system is carrying a heavy load, but perhaps more diligence may prevent problems like that of Mr. Fields and other veterans from becoming crises.
Jack Power, South Pasadena
Do more to fight soldier suicides | Feb. 13, editorial
We at Veterans for Peace, Tampa Bay, are pleased that you have brought this serious problem to the attention of your readers. CNN reported that 24 service members killed themselves in January. In the wake of four suicides in a Houston recruiting battalion, the Army secretary ordered a Feb. 13 stand-down of the Army's entire recruiting force and a review of almost every aspect of the job.
We are not surprised at this tragic situation. It is the culmination of years of continuous deployments and general stress that the armed services have been put under because of an invasion and subsequent occupation that should never have happened. In spite of all the professional medical and therapeutic expertise that has been assembled, no one has been able to help our soldiers come to terms with combat experiences.
Veterans for Peace members will be asking our congressional representatives and senators to discuss these suicides and how the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the deaths. We want them to move more toward human-needs spending in order to reduce soldier suicides.
Dwight Lawton, Veterans for Peace, Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg
The first step in any ethics case is a citizen Feb. 26, Howard Troxler column
Not many results
First and foremost, kudos to David Plyer for seeing something wrong and wanting to right it.
In Howard Troxler's column he notes that in 2008 the ethics commission took action on 208 cases. Further on in the column it is noted that in only eight cases "the commission reached a settlement involving a fine or other punishment." That's less than 4 percent of the cases taken.
Taking note of who appoints members of the commission, it reminds me of the story of the fox watching the henhouse.
Maybe the commission should be renamed the "wink-wink-nod-nod commission" or the "doing business as usual commission."
William Shanley, Dunedin
Rays' first pitch is to city | Feb. 26, story
Your article referring to the Rays' new spring training facility in Port Charlotte states, "The cost was shared by the state, Charlotte County, and the team …"
But that's 87 percent by the public, and 13 percent by the team. Shared? Give me a break!
Howard. G. Olsen, Safety Harbor
Our policies have failed
What do we have after 25 years of listening to prohibitionists? Lots of overcrowded prisons and taxpayers shouldering the burden for more than 10 million Americans who have been arrested for marijuana. Despite all the science and statistics (safer than alcohol or cigarettes), despite the majority of Americans being opposed to adults being hunted down and caged for mere possession, it still happens today.
If we started regulating the production and distribution of marijuana, here are some benefits:
• There could be substantial sin tax revenue from Florida's No. 1 cash crop. Our economy would literally grow.
• Children won't be buying or selling it— who would risk losing their lucrative license by selling to or hiring minors?
• Street gangs will go bankrupt. Maybe then more than 75 percent of Florida's children will make it through high school.
• Drug cartels will stop filling our gated communities with grow houses that make tempting targets for armed robbers.
• Responsible adults who want to do it, already are. At least these harmless individuals won't have to risk losing their jobs and families at a significant detriment to our local economy.
• People who really need help with addiction problems can get it, without having to wait in line behind a bunch of people forced to go for treatment because they were caught using (not abusing).
Kurt Donley, St. Petersburg
Every time I fill out an application to an insurance company or a contract of any kind, whether it is in my personal or business life, I am angered by the complex language and phrasing that is incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't have a law degree. Whenever I sign any type of contract, be it a cell phone agreement, a software agreement, mortgage, loan, etc., I am met with this unintelligible garble.
Persons without a law degree should not be expected to understand what they are signing in these situations and therefore should not be held responsible for anything contained within the document. These companies that issue such agreements/contracts have to know that most people do not understand what they are signing and I believe they count on that to some extent to take advantage of people for their own benefit.
Case in point: It is outrageous to me how the banks, the lending companies, the CEOs and some of the elected officials are blaming the common people for the mortgage crisis when it was those persons who were educated in these matters who told the people signing these mortgages that they could afford it. If the people were educated enough to putter though all the verbiage and could compute the numbers, they would have realized they couldn't afford what those money-mongers were convincing them to buy!
There should be a law that unless the government is willing to fork out enough money for all of us to attend law school (or for all of us to have our own personal lawyers for every legally binding contract we have to sign) that everything we sign should be written at a third-grade reading comprehension level (considering this is the average American's comprehension level last I recall).
Elisa Horton, Largo
The death beat | Feb. 22, Floridian story
Telling human stories
I enjoyed Stephanie Hayes' article on obituaries. I am often moved by the stories of peoples lives. The work you do (and what we do when we compose an obituary) is hugely important. A well written article is really our last chance to tell a story of a person we loved. The world does not mourn over "regular people" as they did when John Kennedy or Dr. Martin L. King Jr. died. But the family hurts. And this is the way they can scream out, "Someone I loved is gone."
There are many people who avoid placing an obituary in the St. Petersburg Times — for whatever reason. But they miss out on the very personal guest book submissions and the phone calls from friends they have been disconnected from. They grieve alone, but only because no one knows. When our towns were small, people everywhere knew a person had died within hours. That is no longer possible. So the work you have been doing is a real service to people. And most all family members who read the St. Petersburg Times are content knowing they have told the story of the life that is suddenly gone.
I wish Stephanie Hayes good luck in her new assignment. No doubt, it will be different than obituaries. But not more important!
Jim Rudolph, president, Veterans Funeral Care, Clearwater
USF students teach lesson in integrity Feb. 25, editorial
Before we condemn Dr. Abdul Rao out of hand, some questions need to be answered:
1. Is there a history of bicycles being abandoned on the USF campus?
2. The woman who borrowed the bike and left it at the loading dock claims to have locked it. Investigators noted that a cable was found near where the bike was parked. Was the cable cut? Did it have an external or built-in lock? If external, was it cut? The answers to these questions are critical to the prof's story, which is that he believed the bike to have been abandoned.
The bike's owner is the victim, so he is in control. But one has to wonder whether this is not an example of the powerless taking advantage of an opportunity to bring down the powerful — sticking it to the man, as it were. How did it serve him to upload the surveillance tape to the Internet and then to YouTube? This goes way beyond seeking justice.
If the whole matter had been dealt with in-house and USF had not been embarrassed by national exposure on cyberspace, this mountain would have remained a hill. Even if he misappropriated the $100 mountain bike, it was returned. Censor him, maybe, but fire him? A bit much by anyone's standards, don't you think?
David A. Highlands, St. Petersburg
The dismissal of Dr. Abdul Rao
Please explain why a man, captured on video taking a bicycle, would be paid $50,000 to quit a job. This man was paid nearly $400,000 annually. Why should he be paid an additional $50,000?
I come from a family of teachers. When my father became a teacher he was required to sign a morals clause, as he was supposed to set a good example for his students. In the last couple of years I have read where teachers are having sex with their students, selling drugs, leaving classrooms to go to prostitution "dates." Maybe it's time to bring back the morals clause to teachers contracts.
I am in no way condemning all teachers, because I know that teachers are underpaid and now, with the additional cutbacks, they have no help in the classroom except through volunteers. I just have a very hard time condoning this situation.
Sally Jo Morrison, Tampa