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Nuclear power's risks outweigh its benefits

Nuke power's critical mass | Nov. 26

If writer Jon Gertner thinks nuclear power is a viable option for the United States, he hasn't looked fully at its terrifying ramifications. He is being stunningly shortsighted if he believes that the reasons to go nuclear are that it the easiest way to make electricity and it will contribute to the end of global warming.

He must not have given a thought to the astronomical amount of toxic waste these new plants would produce. Where will it be stored? Underground. This will poison the Earth for generations: It will invariably leak into the groundwater as the Earth shifts and moves. The real estate values around these dump sites will be in the negative.

Some nuclear power plants' on-site storage facilities are full, and the spent fuel rods have to be shipped elsewhere. How will the waste get to its final resting place? By train. By truck. Trains and trucks occasionally crash. The resultant spills will be devastating to the surrounding communities. No, kids, you won't actually get fun mutant super powers, grow a third eye, or become the next Toxic Avenger.

We have recently seen the wasting death nuclear radiation can produce (ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko). Imagine that on a vast scale. Imagine the sharp increase in the occurrences of cancers that would be certain to follow.

Also, there are various nefarious thugs who would enjoy the prospects of pilfering even a teensy amount of this waste to make a modest assortment of dirty bombs. And since there would be many more trains and trucks crossing the country, theft opportunities increase proportionately.

I could go on, but the cautions far outweigh the benefits. I encourage the St. Petersburg Times to write a lengthy column detailing the risks of these spent fuel rods lest readers begin to share in Gertner's fantasy of safe nuclear energy. Economics and ease are not reasons to bring such a risk to the American people.

Sarah Lehrmann, Clearwater

All he was saying, give drugs a chance | Nov. 26

A futile fight

Since Milton Friedman's death last month, I have searched major U.S. online newspapers for opinion pieces about his stand against the drug war and found nothing, except this column by Robyn Blumner.

How can the mainstream media write reams about the successes of his many policy recommendations but ignore this one? Do they believe the drug war is a success, that his stand against the drug war was his one mistake?

No. I think they know the drug war is bad policy, but it has been going on so long that it supports the careers, stock portfolios and campaign contributions of many well-placed people. Simply put, the drug war is too controversial for most columnists, editorial writers and publishers.

John Chase, Palm Harbor

All he was saying, give drugs a chance

Remember alcohol

Robyn Blumner's appeal to legalize drugs has a logical ring to it if you look narrowly at the aspect that she chooses to use as her rationale. Fortunately, those in positions of responsibility have looked at the overall ramifications of legalizing drugs and found her argument wanting.

She doesn't factor into her equation the dramatic cost to our society of the major mind-altering drug that is already legal. Traffic fatalities due to alcohol abuse are one of the leading causes of death in our country. Go to any prison, and the vast majority of those incarcerated are there for crimes committed while under the influence of alcohol. And those criminals include a huge number of minors who shouldn't have access to alcohol but who, because of its easy availability, are able to get it without any problem. Check the instances of child abuse, domestic violence and breakup of the family, and you'll find that alcohol use plays a key role in the tragic statistics in these areas.

Now take into account the lives simply ruined by alcohol addiction. Most of the homeless people on our streets are there due to mental difficulties, and most of those mental problems stem from abuse of alcohol. People who wind up addicted to alcohol don't take their first drink in order to become alcoholics. They take it because it's readily available.

I'm curious why Robyn Blumner chose not to take these clearly negative factors into account before promoting the legalization of any other mind-altering drug.

Terry Kemple, executive director, Community Issues Council, Valrico

God's cheerleader | Nov. 26

Welcome good news

Congratulations! What a blessing to see and read your "good news" on Joel Osteen.

I was taught that "what gets your attention gets you," and I've found it so. Joel Osteen is the great, beautiful example of positive thinking and expression.

There really is a lot of good in our country and world, and I truly believe we need to hear it daily. Our hearts long for it. Here's to more such fine reporting.

Lois Osborne, St. Pete Beach

God's cheerleader

Not cheering

I would expect to find this drivel on the front page of the Tampa Tribune, not in my St. Petersburg Times.

Bill Hodges, Tarpon Springs

Polio's remains strike again | Nov. 25

Keep targeting polio

I want to commend the St. Petersburg Times for publishing an article on post polio syndrome. Your story brought awareness to a devastating disease that has been ignored for too long by the public, leaving its victims to suffer alone.

I contracted polio as a young girl in my home state of Maine. I can still remember being quarantined from my friends and family for several weeks in the hospital.

After decades of good health, I was caught off-guard by the severity of post polio syndrome (PPS) in the past 20 years. Slowly I lost control of my legs, then my shoulders and most parts of my body. The disease has claimed my freedom once again. It takes all of my effort and that of my husband and several health care assistants just to make it through the day.

Where is the research for PPS? How could our health research community turn away from this once deadly disease?

Any research on PPS will be too late to help me, but it will give me hope for the countless people who await the same disabling symptoms I experience. It is my sincerest hope, and that of my family, that your article will help generate interest in PPS in the research community and among those who allocate federal research dollars.

Mary A. Jordan, St. Petersburg

Afghanistan's evolution

Too few positives

As usual, your paper has 95 percent negativism on anything the government tries to do to improve this hell-hole.

I hope a few of your readers read each article to the end in order to get the 5 percent positives.

David Meyer, Bushnell

A lesson in history, vocabulary Nov. 26

The tool at hand

Maybe your editor should attend a class at Heritage Village to learn what a hoe is. That was a lovely picture of a rake you printed beside the article!

Janine Harmel, Clearwater