ISSUE | FRACKING

Industry needs rules

The fracking industry has effectively controlled recent Pennsylvania budget negotiations, buying its way out of a severance tax by throwing massive amounts of money at state lawmakers - $17.9 million spent on lobbying and $2.8 million on campaign contributions in the most recent cycle. You can follow the money at marcellusmoney.org as you envision handshake deals in smoke-filled rooms.

When will this industry finally be held accountable to the people of the commonwealth? Drillers are fouling our air, water, and land - and they're getting away with it, as the previous administration of Gov. Tom Corbett did nothing to rein in the industry. Gov. Wolf has indicated that he will hold the industry accountable via strong regulations for the oil and gas sector.

Once this budget is done, the first step must be to protect our citizens and communities by enacting strong rules, especially for air quality, and promoting the strictest enforcement of those rules.

|Joseph Otis Minott, executive director and chief counsel, Clean Air Council, Philadelphia, joe_minott@cleanair.org

ISSUE | INTERNMENT

Italians' secret

What this country did to some of its citizens during World War II will always be a stain upon our history. It's wonderful that George Takei is able to bring to life the horrible treatment of Japanese Americans ("Trump no joke to actor Takei," Sunday). But he is wrong that Italian Americans were spared the indignity of internment.

Italian Americans were also forced to register as enemy aliens, and an estimated 10,000 were interned. Particularly along the West Coast, thousands were forced from their homes and businesses simply because they were Italian.

Just as with the Japanese, many of those families had sons fighting for this country while they were branded as enemies at home. Among the Italian community of this country, this treatment is often called il segreto (the secret), because it is not well-known. I am grateful that my grandfather was not one of those interned.

|Michele K. Masterfano, Philadelphia, michele@masterfano.com

Ask Lisa Scottoline

George Takei errs in saying that Germans and Italians were spared the indignity of internment. He and Michael Smerconish should talk to author Lisa Scottoline about the registration of her paternal grandparents, Giuseppe and Maria, as "enemy aliens."

|Glenna Geiger, Paoli, GlennaG52@verizon.net

ISSUE | CARTOONS

Powerful message

Signe Wilkinson's heartbreaking Dec. 3 editorial cartoon on gun violence is a true example of how powerful the pen (and ink) can be in the hands of someone with such talent, insight, and compassion. It recalls Bill Mauldin's image of Abraham Lincoln weeping after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This was her finest - and saddest - work.

|Tim McGrath, Chester Heights

Poor taste

I know political cartoons are supposed to get a strong message across, but the depiction of Dr. Ben Carson by Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News (Monday) was a bit over the top. I consider Carson incompetent and a little batty, and he should not be a candidate for president. But depicting him as a butcher is nasty.

|Mary Phipps, Philadelphia

ISSUE | POPE'S VISIT

Taxpayers have memories - and the tab

It appears that taxpayers were lied to about the cost of Pope Francis' visit in September ("City's share of pope tab: $8M," Dec. 3). We now find out that only $8.6 million will be paid by the World Meeting of Families for costs associated with the two-day papal visit. Mayor Nutter said that was the plan all along. Why didn't he tell the taxpayers of his plan?

To cover the tab, City Council this week will consider transferring $17 million within the budget. The taxpayers could be in for a bigger mess in July, when the Democratic National Convention comes to town. We may be footing the bill for the Democrats to nominate someone who is going to raise our taxes even higher.

|John Mikula, Philadelphia, jmikula19@gmail.com

Mayor misled citizens, wasted money

Once again, Mayor Nutter's petulant rebuke to the citizens of Philadelphia, whom he urged to stop griping about the costs and inconvenience of the pope's visit, has reminded us of his arrogance. The $8 million bill is far in excess of what Nutter insisted would be the final cost. Worse, it was money ill-spent given the so-called enduring benefit to the city's residents.

Just the number of public pools that could have been opened, staffed, and maintained with that kind of money would have had far more impact than the 15 minutes of international and national attention - some of it less than flattering - that the pope's visit brought.

Nutter tried to justify the cost overrun by saying the World Meeting of Families was responsible only for the two days the pope was in town, not the pre- and post-pope days of erecting needless barricades and other expensive accoutrements. Nutter has never let full disclosure stand in the way of his "triumphs."

|Tom Goodman, Philadelphia

ISSUE | GENDER ROLES

Princess fixation: Let it go

My niece approached me, beaming, and exclaimed, "Auntie, I want to be a princess when I grow up!" I smiled and muttered, "That's great, sweetie!" I couldn't help but think, "You have a world of opportunity open to you, and you choose princess as your desired profession?" Her infatuation with all things princess was sparked by watching movies such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid (although her current obsession is Elsa from Frozen).

Children like my niece around the world are being taught that you have to look and act a certain way to fit the label "princess." Through its promotion of traditional gender roles and ideals in its children's films, the Walt Disney Co. perpetuates stereotypes that continue to hold women back in society.

Imagine what our children could become if we encouraged them to dream of becoming more than a princess and if we pressured Disney to adapt to evolving gender norms and roles in society. Maybe then we could obtain that "happily ever after" that we've been promised.

|Rhiannon Schroepfer, West Chester, rs776783@wcupa.edu