ISSUE | TERRORISM

Tracking vs. acting

An article in Wednesday's Inquirer ("Europe on Edge") pointed out that "American intelligence agencies had been tracking for months" the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks.

Tracking for months? How long must "tracking" go on before action is taken? How about turning tracking into apprehending, debriefing, and taking a suspected or known terrorist and his companions off the street? How about acting before inaction leads to disaster?

At minimum, the intelligence community should make a serious effort to improve its tracking capability. After all, the mastermind eluded surveillance long enough to lead the Paris massacres.

L.G. Hrebiniak, Bryn Mawr

ISSUE | HEALTH CARE

A simpler system

Thanks to Don Sapatkin for writing about soaring and complex medical bills ("The anatomy of a medical bill," Nov. 15). His conclusion, however, that "with no easy solutions in sight, the best consumers can do is learn - and fight," falls short.

Consumers can also support a single-payer health-care system. State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio (D., Phila.) introduced a single-payer bill in Harrisburg on Nov. 9.

While a single-payer system would not solve all our problems, it would bring the United States closer to other Western countries in terms of per capita costs by cutting out the middle man - insurance companies - and simplifying the process.

There's no perfect system, but single-payer is better than consumers learning about and fighting our broken system. And when we are suffering, there is often little energy remaining to "learn and fight."

Dr. Richard A. Lippin, Southampton, ralippin@aol.com

Hospital honored

There is a relationship between evidence-based treatments and better health outcomes. As the nation's oldest private psychiatric hospital, Friends Hospital understands this relationship.

On Tuesday, we were named a top performer on key quality measures by the Joint Commission, the leading accrediting organization of

U.S. health-care organizations. We were one of 1,043 hospitals to achieve the distinction out of more than 3,300. And Friends is the only inpatient psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania to be recognized four years in a row.

R. John Repique, chief executive officer, Friends Hospital, Philadelphia

ISSUE | DEER CONTROL

Coyotes, bobcats are not the answer

Despite Lee Hall's largely undocumented assertion ("Control deer population with natural predators," Wednesday), natural predators cannot effectively limit white-tailed deer in suburbanized habitat islands such as Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Coyotes were in the park before the National Park Service began to cull deer, yet deer density continued to increase each year. Bobcats live mainly in mountainous areas in the central part of the state because they require strict isolation from human activity. People and dogs are their greatest threats, and both abound in Valley Forge.

Given the situation people have created at Valley Forge and other suburbanized natural areas, culling is the only viable option.

David J. Robertson, executive director, Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, Huntingdon Valley, drobertson@pennypacktrust.org

Culling makes Valley Forge Park safer

It is fantasy to think that coyotes and bobcats will provide natural control of the deer in Valley Forge National Historical Park. I have been running, biking, and hiking in the park since the 1970s. From dawn through dusk, over roads and trails, neither I nor my friends have ever seen a coyote or bobcat. Nor have I seen documentation of deer taken down by these animals.

Introducing wild animals to the park would put children at the adjacent elementary and junior high schools at risk.

The only local predator is the automobile. Weekly, we see deer carcasses alongside roads. How many injuries and deaths have been caused by these animals? The Insurance Journal says that deer accidents cost 200 lives and $4 billion a year.

The park's foliage also has been damaged by the deer.

Culling the herd has improved safety in the park and nearby neighborhoods.

Harry Nothacker, Devon

ISSUE | CENTER CITY PARKING

App gives unfair advantage

This latest move by the Philadelphia Parking Authority is inherently unfair ("New app will feed meters," Wednesday). The purpose of time limits on parking spots for one or two hours is to keep the spaces moving so you can't park all day. Those limits also generate revenue through parking fines.

Now, people with the meterUP app, a smartphone, and a credit card (the wealthier people) will no longer have time limits. They can go to dinner and a show without returning to their car to feed the meter, though they will pay double the rate once they exceed the limit. The rest of us will still get tickets.

The only fair thing to do would be to eliminate time limits for everyone, not just those with a smartphone and a credit card.

Jeff Thomas, Philadelphia

ISSUE | REFUGEES

Christie's stand is disappointing

I am saddened and embarrassed by Gov. Christie's vow to bar Syrian refugees, including orphans under 5, from relocating to New Jersey ("Christie, Toomey join GOP calls to bar refugees," Tuesday).

My grandfather Sam escaped Poland in the belly of a ship bound for America. Our son was born during a war in Central America, and we brought him to the United States. The face of our family would be forever changed had America not opened its arms to the young and the old.

If we do not have compassion for the weakest and most desperate among us, we are not different from those who inflict terror on us all.

Sherry Truitt, Collingswood