Letters to the Editor — April 7, 2017

Reader urges others to give ‘gift of life’


Organ and tissue donation are subjects that rarely enter our thoughts — that is, until you have a dog in the fight.

My journey for a lung transplant began about two years ago, when rheumatoid arthritis morphed into an attack on my lungs with lightning speed. It is indeed an ordeal to work through the qualification process and achieve entry onto a transplant list.

In my case, I was fortunate to be listed at two transplant facilities, with a third in progress. When the call came that we thought would never come, my wife and I drove through the night to reach the facility. After a week in the hospital in late February, I was returned to home care and the vagaries of fine-tuning drugs to battle rejection of the new lung.

On so many levels, the process affected my wife and me in different ways: physically, emotionally and spiritually, but all these human characteristics were undergirded by our recognition of the unfathomable generosity by a donor whose identity I may never know.

I can only hope that in some small way, by writing this vignette, I touch in some way a person or family that may be considering organ/tissue donation. Organ/tissue donation is literally a gift of life, tightly controlled by rigid national standards to ensure the highest probability of a successful outcome.

Perhaps the easiest way to become an organ/tissue donor is to register your intentions with the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles. It is the most altruistic act you will undertake in your life and, in doing so, you can change the course of other lives in unimaginable ways.

James Angus


Reader offers information on bells


The citizens of Bethany Beach may have realized that the bells have not been ringing at Bethany Beach Christian Church.

We are located on the conference grounds in the middle of town, and we are a church which meets every Sunday of the year. Our electronic system had major problems and needed to be upgraded after 13 years of use.

The carillon bell system was originally set up as a memorial for my first wife, Mary Ann Fisher.

The bells ring daily at 12 noon and 5 p.m., and there is a call to worship on Sunday. We picked 5 p.m. so that parents would know to expect their children home from the beach when the lifeguards were off duty in the summer.

The new system is on a 100-year calendar and plays appropriate music to match the church calendar.

We manually manipulate the bells on the Fourth of July to play patriotic songs before the parade.

We hope that you like the bells as much as we do. Bethany Beach Christian Church invites all to our service, which now meets 9 a.m. in the chapel on the conference grounds.

We welcome all Christians, all creeds, and we celebrate communion every Sunday. If you are looking for a church, or just a service while on vacation, feel free to visit. Our doors are open.

Enjoy the bells.

Guy Fisher

Bethany Beach Christian Church

Reader highlights NHDD initiative


National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is a national initiative to encourage adults of all ages to plan ahead of a health crisis.

Making decisions ahead of time and putting your wishes in writing brings peace of mind to families. It helps to avoid the difficult situations that are so common when a person becomes seriously ill and the family is left to guess what their loved one would have wanted.

Another goal of this annual event is to encourage health care providers to discuss the topic with their patients.

Understanding the importance of advance care planning, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law declaring April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day. In Maryland, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions related to end-of-life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions.

An advance directive allows a person to select a decision-maker, helps assure that a person receives the kind of medical treatments he/she would want, and gives guidance to those making terribly hard decisions.

Advance directives are free, readily available and straightforward. They may be obtained from Atlantic General Hospital, Supportive Care Services Department, the AGH website, and various online sites. Some good online resources are National Health Care Decisions Day (www.nhdd.org), National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization and Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Over the past three decades, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to legalize the use of living wills, healthcare proxies and/or the durable power of attorney. The U.S. federal government has validated state laws on advance directives through the 1991 Patient Self-Determination Act. And the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down an opinion acknowledging the congruence of the Constitution of the United States with state laws regarding the right to designate future medical treatment.

Advance care planning is not just about old age. At any age, a medical crisis could leave someone too ill to make his or her own healthcare decisions. Even if you are not sick now, making healthcare plans for the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want, even when doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.

Nobody can predict the future. You may never face a medical situation where you are unable to speak for yourself and make your wishes known. But having an advance directive may give you and those close to you some peace of mind.

Research has shown that the benefits of advance directives include: improved quality near the end of life; fewer burdens on the patient’s family and health care providers; and a reduced need for sometimes controversial, life-sustaining treatment.

If you would like assistance in completing an advance directive, call Supportive Care Services at AGH: (410) 629-6892 or email gmansell@atlanticgeneral.org.

Gail Mansell, BCCC, BCPC, FAPA, Director

Supportive Care Services

Atlantic General Hospital

Reader urges EPA reversal on chlorpyrifos


We knew when Scott Pruitt was elevated to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that he was hostile to the agency and the regulations it promulgated to protect the health and safety of Americans from corporate greed.

One of the most egregious and utterly irresponsible actions came on March 30, when Pruitt unilaterally decided to disregard the EPA’s proposed ban of chlorpyrifos on food crops. His rationale is there are still questions about how unsafe this chemical really is, and so he stayed the ban to allow more study. This reversal flies in the face of more than 20 years of EPA’s own study and collaboration with scientists all over the country.

Chlorpyrifos belongs to the organophosphate class of chemicals that were used by Nazi Germany in WWII. It is a known neurotoxin, so it comes as no surprise that chlorpyrifos damages brains. The pesticide works by blocking an enzyme which controls the way messages travel between nerve cells. When that enzyme is blocked, the nervous system can’t send normal signals, and so normal functions are lost.

That is how it ultimately kills the pests it’s used to control. Research shows it does the same in humans. Adverse effects in humans depend on age at the time of exposure, length of time exposed and concentration of the chemical to which exposed.

Human fetuses, infants and children are very susceptible to harm. More than 20 years of study have established that children exposed in the womb are more likely to grow up to have lower IQ scores and poor mental development than those not exposed in utero. Those children also appear to have lower birth weight, even when born at full term; to be born prematurely and to have higher rates of ADHD, psychomotor delays and autism spectrum disorder.

Adults exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos (farm workers who use the chemical and those who harvest crops treated with it) may also show harm. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, memory loss and paralysis. As far as we can determine to date, the harm to adults is usually temporary and slowly resolves when exposure is stopped/lowered so the enzyme needed to metabolize chlorpyrifos can be replenished.

Because of the rapidity of growth in infants and children, and because of so many other variables in child development, assessing the long-term harm to children is difficult. There are a few studies that strongly suggest that in-utero exposure does have long-term negative effects.

It is not widely appreciated that chemicals enter the marketplace without any studies about harm to humans. It is also important to remember that it may take 50 to 60 years after science shows potential for harm before policy begins to catch up — think cigarettes and lung cancer.

The gold standard in science is the double-blind study. However, given that it is against the law to conduct human research using substances known to be harmful, there are always going to be “questions.”

Some highly respected scientists have voiced concerns about some study designs and results. Although the vast majority have shown associations between exposure and adverse effects, the results fall short of proving a link between cause (exposure) and effect (harm). However, the preponderance of evidence supports harm with exposure.

Medical students are taught that if they hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras. Most of us believe that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, the chances of its being a duck are about 100 percent.

These are human beings. There are safer and equally as effective alternatives to chlorpyrifos. In fact, the company that makes chlorpyrifos makes the alternatives as well. In spite of the concern, chlorpyrifos continues to be the most widely used insecticide in the U.S. Many farmers have switched to alternate insecticides. California and Hawaii are the states still vying for first place in volume usage. In some 100 countries, it is still used on more than 50 food crops.

Chlorpyrifos is made by Dow Sciences, which is a branch of the agribusiness giant Dow Chemical. The battle between Dow and the EPA is longstanding. In 1995, the company was fined $732,000 for failing to disclose more than 100 reports of chlorpyrifos poisoning. At the time, chlorpyrifos was the most-used household and yard insect killer; those reports mostly involved exposure in the home. They triggered further research, which resulted in a 2000 EPA ban on home use of the chemical, citing concerns of harm to children.

It is no secret that this administration is hostile to rules designed to protect against unfettered business practices of corporations. Dow and the pesticide industry trade group CropLife America have been pushing the EPA to backtrack on the proposed ban of chlorpyrifos on food crops. A Dow lobbyist was among the first to sign on to Trump’s transition team.

Dow gave $1 million to the inaugural committee. The chairman and CEO of Dow was recently named by Trump to chair the American Manufacturing Council. We have only 60 days to petition for the reversal of Pruitt’s decision. After that time, we have to live with chlorpyrifos use on food crops at least until Oct. 1, 2022, before federal law requires the next re-evaluation of the chemical to determine appropriate use and possible hazards.

Write, call and talk with every person in power and ask that they do everything in their power to get Pruitt to change this utterly irresponsible decision. Share this information with every person and every news source you know. It is way past time to follow the science (and, dare I say it, the money) to get chlorpyrifos out of our food supply.

In the meantime, here is a partial list of the foods often treated with chlorpyrifos: citrus fruits, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, strawberries.

We have some options. The power of the purse is formidable. If supermarket produce managers see order after order of those winter strawberries rot on the shelves, and if we tell them why we are not buying, we will soon have some powerful allies.

We can choose to buy organic or hydroponically grown foods if we have access to them and if our food budget allows. Small farmers either do not use or tend to more carefully follow usage guidelines, so buying locally and only in season are wise choices.

Washing foods and peeling is often suggested to reduce residual level of pesticides. Peeling, however, does result in some nutrient loss. Pregnant women can choose to avoid or significantly reduce intake of these foods.

But the real truth here is that none of these extra strategies should have be taken as we try to feed our families well. The problem with this particular set of concerns regarding food safety can be rectified by banning chlorpyrifos use — sooner, rather than later.

There are effective alternatives that are safer for human beings. This is our children we are talking about! None of us has to do this alone. We can support each other and stand together. We can call, write and talk to get our concerns addressed. We can protest peacefully and often. We can vote more wisely the next time we have that opportunity.

Pat Frey


Reader questions POTUS appointments


Donald Trump has appointed several leaders from the fossil-fuel industry to his team of advisers and cabinet. The White House website’s “Climate Change” page has been replaced with an “America First Energy Plan” page. Trump has frozen grants and contracts at the EPA. There are gag orders and media blackouts.

Trump would like to cultivate the general population like mushrooms — keep us in the dark and feed us bullcrap.

To deal with the extreme weather being generated by climate change, we need a president ready to advocate for and strengthen the considerable projects under way to create a sustainable future — not a president aligned with an industry whose primary concern is quarterly profits.

Michael Lawton

Ocean View

Reader responds to previous column


Regarding the guest column by Perry Mitchell, regarding “Presidential Lies,” I must first note the striking similarities between this column and one recently written by Larry Schwartz, as published on Feb. 7, in the left-wing “AlterNet” site, with a similar theme and the same Machiavellian reference, but which omitted the attack on Trump (http://www.alternet.org/culture/7-biggest-liars-presidential-history). They say plagiarism can be considered a complement, or is it just that one Leftist argument is just the same as the next Leftist argument?

The other striking feature of this article is that the sited presidential lying arguments are incomplete and weakened due to the obvious omissions and failure to also cite the sins of some of the most recent presidents and presidential candidates.

Should I further assume that it could be argued that the failure of this article to include the documented presidential lies by the likes of: Jimmy Carter (Jewish settlements and the Mideast peace process); Bill Clinton (Whitewater to the blue dress and his impeachment); Obama (you can keep your doctors and the health cost rates will go down); as well as the recent “Candidate Clinton” (Whitewater, personal server, Benghazi, Bernie Sanders, etc.), was an oversight, or should it be assumed that the sins of these omissions are justified because including them could undermine his argument and weaken his lie-based assumption and attacks on Donald Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by the Obama Administration, by contrasting those additional proven lies with his “purported” Trump lie?

Clearly the failure to also include in this article the related recent “leak-based” reporting by the Leftist New York Times and Washington Post, claiming the same surveillance that Trump cited must be ignored to support the presented argument and stated premise that Mr. Trump and his administration are lying.

The current position of the House Intelligence Committee, that the Trump team was indeed “surveilled,” was also excluded and must also obviously be ignored to support the lie-based premise argument of this article. The entire failed premise of this article is that Mr. Trump is lying and therefore guilty by association with these previous presidential liars.

Therefore, should it not be argued that the failure to include the above missing presidential lies, as well as not including the events that refute the stated Trump lie, weakens, if not downright refutes, the stated argument that the Trump Administration is guilty by association premise of the article (that the Trump administration is built upon lies as earlier presidents were).

If there was no Trump lie, would there never be the stated potential future obstruction of justice charges against Trump, because there was never a lie to start with?

To accept the premise of the lie-based guilt-by-association premise of this article, the identified news articles, as well as the breaking news from the Intelligence Committee that the Trump transition team was indeed surveilled, must be ignored.

By extension and based on the arguments of this article, should it not be also argued that if indeed Mr. Trump’s wiretapping claim is validated, that the same presidential lie arguments should be made for the prosecution of Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton for the clear lie-based violations of the law and accepted presidential practices?

Therefore, should the article’s closing question regarding the Trump Administration paying heed to history not be directed to and asked of candidate Clinton and former President Obama and be the justification and basis for prosecuting their crimes?

George H. Miles


Reader wants Russia connection investigated


What is truth?

A fact or belief that is accepted as true, the quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

We are now living in a time where truth is inconvenient, unnecessary, unpopular and inconsequential. The leadership of this great nation is determined to dismantle or deconstruct our democracy as we know it.

Have we ever lived in an age where opposition to fundamental principles are at risk? The answer is yes, after the Civil War. The South determined that recently-freed black African-Americans would never be equal to whites in education, socio-economic opportunities or participate fully in the electoral process.

Roadblocks, such as lynchings, economic inferiority and social subjugation were employed to keep them in their place. After the election of 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won by a margin of 1 electoral vote and lost the popular vote by 250,000. The backlash from the emancipation was swift and sure.

The current administration’s lack of truthfulness has hurt his credibility and competence, which damages his effectiveness. The recent healthcare debacle is only the beginning of his undoing. His inner circle is mired in unprecedented controversy stemming from a lack of transparency.

Every day we witness more unjust efforts to eliminate the gains of the Progressive agenda. This legacy is rooted in fear, racism, loss of majority power, war on poverty, voter suppression and the fight for economic justice and criminal reform.

We the people must challenge the media to focus on what’s important and to make a moral stand for the heart and soul of this country. The Russian connection can no longer be ignored, as the stability of our democracy is at risk!

Valerie Reeves

Ocean View