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mailbag: letters from readers


March 22. 2013 6:44PM
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Media co-opted into altering gun debate


This gun conversation is getting way out of hand. It’s been turned completely backwards! Note the following facts:


The media exposes the details if a shooter has no criminal record as if to support a belief that, geez, anybody is capable of shootin’ up the town. But, when vicious criminals commit terrifying crimes, and they have extensive violent backgrounds, little is said of their history of crime and punishment or lack of punishment. Only a few short weeks ago two men were “capped” outside a Wilkes-Barre bar on a weekday at around 2 a.m. Did these two “victims” have extensive criminal records? What are the backgrounds and criminal histories of the most recent “victims” in Hazleton?


Why doesn’t any conversation ever revolve around the perps of crime? The local radio host, Steve Corbett, rails on and on that corrupt politicians should be locked up en masse for long stretches. But, when a callersuggested locking up gun law violators, Corbett hung up on him and lamented that we “can’t just lock ‘em ALL up!” (Indeed we can and should.)


Instead, Corbett articulates over and over, day in and day out, that we need to control the guns.


Many causes of gun violence have been offered across the media networks. They range from bullying to violent movies, violent video games, and mental health issues, and of course the NRA. But wait just a minute, the conversation really doesn’t include the entertainment industry anymore does it? Or the liberal infested mental health industry? The entertainment/news industry decided that we won’t talk about them anymore. Let’s blame it on the NRA over and over until the stupid Americans are brainwashed believe it is actually the NRA’s fault!


Eric Holder, the main law enforcement minion for President Obama tipped his hand a long time ago when he said he wanted to use the entertainment industry to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” What about the mental health issues?


So, what’s my point? The gun control debate has been co-opted by the media, in particular the entertainment industry and the liberal media complex. They have enlisted Vice President Biden to lead the charge in distracting and misleading Americans from the real issues concerning guns, crime, and criminals. To wit: Biden had this now seldom discussed solution to an incursion of his Secret Service guarded estate, “I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.” Biden actually said that! Later he actually said in a published report, “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”


Remember, he’s leading the gun control distraction and the debate.


Robert Gerrard Tunkhannock

An unhealthy snapshot of life in Luzerne County


Luzerne County again ranks as one of the unhealthiest counties in Pennsylvania, according to the County Health Rankings published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute this week. The County Health Rankings, now in their fourth year, provide a snapshot of the overall health of every county in all states on a range of factors including high school graduation rates, obesity and smoking, children in poverty, unemployment and access to parks.


The County Health Rankings show that the care we receive in doctors’ and dentists’ offices is important, but it is just one part of what affects our health. Luzerne County residents rank relatively well on measures of clinical care, but still the rankings report overall poor health. Health is more than health care.


Why is Luzerne County so unhealthy? Our poor health status reflects unhealthy behaviors; high incidence of smoking, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. But it also reflects the challenges of many of our residents living with low wages, and unemployment or underemployment. Low income and lack of opportunity create stress that impacts health negatively just like air pollution and poor water quality does.


The good news is that we can change our health status. We can do it by changing our health behaviors; not just individually, but together. We need to make the places we live, learn, work, play and pray into places where we can all make healthy choices easily; where the snacks are fruits and vegetables and whole grains, where we have opportunities to be active by walking or bicycling and where kids have recess every day. We need to hold up as role models people who are healthy and balanced in their everyday lives, instead of adult leisure activities that involve drinking alcohol or watching other people play sports. We need to increase use of our assets: wonderful parks and trails and our local fresh produce and farmer’s markets.


Local hospitals and health organizations like the Healthy Northeast Initiative, the local State Health Improvement Partner (SHIP), and Live Well Luzerne have been working to improve local health status. Live Well Luzerne has been trying to help residents make better use of our great places to be active outdoors. Live Well Luzerne coordinates the annual Keystone Active Zone Passport, a program that encourages people of all ages and abilities to get outside and active at their close-to-home parks, trails and outdoor events on a regular basis. The Young Lungs at Play Initiative has helped 27 municipalities to pass ordinances making their parks and playgrounds tobacco free, the highest percentage of any county in PA. The summer Food ‘n’ Fun @ the Park program, a partnership between the YMCA, the Wilkes-Barre City and the Commission on Economic Opportunity makes nutritious breakfasts and lunches available to children in city parks along with safe, fun activities provided by park staff that have been trained to be play leaders. These are all examples of using our local outdoor resources to get people outside, moving and eating healthy.


The Healthy Northeast Initiative’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), released in December 2012, was done on behalf of collaborating hospital and insurance partners. This effort is part of an Affordable Care Act requirement that not-for-profit hospitals assess and then take action on the identified community health needs, like those described in the report and in the County Health Rankings. Healthy Northeast partners will initiate actions to take both in hospitals and health systems and throughout the community during 2013.


Improving health is everybody’s business, not just our hospitals and doctor’s offices. Local funders and public policy-makers also need to think about how the structure and rules of our organizations help or hinder people’s abilities to make healthy choices. Are the streets in your town centers safe for pedestrians and people on bicycles? Does the cafeteria where you work offer healthy choices? Are the children in day care engaged in fun and active play a good portion of the day? Does your school district support local agriculture by contracting with farmers thus providing fresh, nutritious food in schools at the same time contributing to a sustainable, local economy? Do we zone fast food outlets away from schools and economically challenged neighborhoods? Do funders require compliance with recommended physical activity and nutrition standards when awarding grants? We already have rules and make public investments that impact our health every day; rules and financial decisions that have provided us with street and traffic lights, clean water and sewers, police and fire services, and controls on using harmful pollutants like lead and asbestos.


The County Health Rankings are a call to action for Luzerne County. Together we can create a healthier place for all of us to live.


Michele Schasberger

Live Well Luzerne, Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA




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