A healthy start

Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona is right to exhort us to reduce costs and improve life by preventing and better managing chronic diseases (Commentary, May 12). Skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes alone drain our resources and sap our health.

Prevention of obesity and diabetes can begin in the very first hour of life. How? Breastfeeding. Studies defining

breastfeeding

most clearly, without including babies who barely breastfed with those who had mother's milk exclusively, show the greatest gains in illness prevention by breastfeeding.

To promote breastfeeding, we need to make a few changes. Women need to be taught about breastfeeding during pregnancy. Hospitals need to stop giving new mothers "free" formula-containing discharge bags. Families need access to lactation professionals who help mothers and babies get off to a good start and problem-solve when needed. Communities must welcome nursing mothers and babies and support employment practices that allow for nursing or pumping breaks.

Preventing chronic illness will enhance life and decrease health-care costs. It starts on day one.

Debi Ferrarello

Abington

Dangers of coal

The price of coal has doubled and wages to miners in Western Pennsylvania are at an all-time high ("In the black," May 11).

Mining coal is dangerous work and burning it pollutes our atmosphere, causing global warming and illnesses like asthma. But now burning coal and other fossil fuels is causing energy prices to skyrocket to levels that consumers cannot afford. High coal prices mean high electricity prices. Our economy and environment are now endangered by coal.

We must transition to a clean-energy economy. Rather than send the next generation of workers into dangerous mine shafts, let's teach them to build wind turbines and solar panels. That way, their kids will grow up in a safe and healthy world.

Joy Bergey

Flourtown

Terror is terror

When discussing the stalemate in Israel and Palestine, we must be careful in our use of labels, especially when using the word

terrorist

. For example, John R. Cohn says a two-state solution could place "Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in rocket range of a terrorist-ruled Palestine" ("The threat to Israel," May 9).

It is true that the firing of rockets causes terror. But terror occurs whether the rockets are fired from a Hamas rocket launcher or from an Israeli tank. To label all Palestinians as "terrorists," while labeling similar Israeli actions as self-defense, is inconsistent, disingenuous and harmful.

As people of faith, Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to advocate for all victims of terror. Our faith demands that we stand up to governments and groups that sponsor terror, regardless of what "side" we are on.

Terror is terror no matter who experiences it.

Christoph Schmidt

Philadelphia

» READ MORE: cschmidt@ltsp.edu

The science debate

Thanks for Darlene Cavalier's column "A debate that wasn't says much about science in U.S." (Inquirer, May 11), on the missed opportunity for a presidential candidate science debate in Philadelphia. The science and technology policies of the next president will affect health care, our environment, breakthroughs in communications and education, and much more.

That the debate did not happen is a true loss. It is inappropriate, however, to blame the promoters, ScienceDebate 2008, for not doing enough to include "the public." Although the idea was alive on the Internet, I don't believe it received much coverage elsewhere. With more in the news, we may yet see a science debate this year.

Nicholas Sanders

Philadelphia

Playing to fears

It may take two generations to undo the damage President Bush has done with his politics of fear and destruction ("Bush 'appeasement' remark in Israel draws Obama's fire," May 16). When Bush ties appeasers of the Nazis to those who would negotiate with terrorists and radicals, I think about the many innocent Iraqis who lost all they had, including their families, to Bush's radical decision to bomb their country. In Israel, Bush was appeasing the Jewish people while reinforcing his warmongering base.

Monique Frugier

Ardmore