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Letters to the Editor 

A Bigger Problem Than Any Hurricane

Yesterday, I watched the NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw introduced a segment calling for national concern over the increase in the number of cases of the West Nile virus in our area. He said that in Isidore's wake, New Orleans will face an increase of infections due primarily to mosquitoes. He cited the amount of money already allotted by the CDC and the federal government to combat this epidemic.

On the same day, The Times-Picayune published an article concerning the rash of homicides occurring in our city. In the 24 hours from midnight Thursday, Sept. 26, to midnight Friday, Sept. 27, there were six murders in New Orleans. Six people killed in one day including a 4-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by his mother's boyfriend in front of the church where he had fled for protection. One of the other murders took place in the morning, normally a time when daylight serves as a shield against the crimes we've become accustomed to fearing in the dark. At 8:30 a.m., while going to work, a couple was carjacked, robbed, then laid side-by-side in their home while one was shot point blank, the other saved only by the jam of a gun. Six in one day. If this pattern persists, our city will claim 2,190 casualties a year attributed solely to murder. Yet Tom Brokaw beckoned the nation's attention to the Southern outbreak of mosquitoes.

In the days leading up to Tropical Storm Isidore, our leaders declared a state of emergency, warning all of us of the potential dangers that flooding and high winds would bring. In the storm's wake, we are requesting millions of dollars to repair the damages, not counting that money already dispersed to fight West Nile. Why can't we demand the same concern over the violence, more damaging than a hurricane, that is ravaging our city? Why is it that we are not alarmed by the poverty, the injustice, the culture that has created an individual who is able to lie two innocent people on their backs, in their homes, point a gun at their chests and then pull the trigger?

How are we able to conduct our daily business, go to work, to the movies, the gym, without demanding focus on this major public health concern, without wondering how and why this is happening? How was it that a little boy was returned to his home again and again after all signs pointed at best toward an unhealthy living situation, at worst a severely dangerous and damaging home life? In these horrible events, it is not only the victims whose lives are lost and futures are destroyed. Two weeks ago, three men were arrested in connection with the stabbing death of a Tulane student. The victim and the perpetrators were all under 30; one will never see 40, the others will do so behind bars.

I have been in this city almost six years. There is no place on earth like New Orleans, no city as captivating, no city as unique. We are at the same time dazzled and haunted by our history, both rich and complex, that has created the present. However, if New Orleans is to survive, if we are to prosper, if commerce is to come and young people are to stay, we cannot overlook (and cannot let the nation overlook) what is truly threatening to destroy us. By the time this is published, all of these events will have happened more than a week ago. How many more people will have died? How many more lives will be ruined? What will the next 24 hours hold? I ask this because in the hours after the storm died down, six people, along with all the rest of us, sighed in relief, took the boards off their windows, let the water drain from their cars, thanked good fortune for saving their city and salvaging their lives. Mother Nature had spared them, but in the hours to come the streets of New Orleans would not.

--Kaiyti Duffy



Whose Responsibility?

Please give me one objective reason why the taxpayers should pay the outrageous medical expenses of someone to have gastric bypass surgery ("Scaling Back," Sept. 17)?

It is not our fault that the morbidly obese person has no self-discipline or self-control to put down the fork. It's just that simple. This total denial of self-responsibility is going to be the downfall of our country. I do anesthesia for a living and occasionally for gastric bypasses. I have yet, in 10 years, to meet a person whose morbid obesity was caused by an underlying medical condition. In 100 percent of the cases, it was simply too much hand-to-mouth of multiple servings of Popeye's.

Don't tell me about how difficult it is to lose weight. I once lost 75 pounds, through diet and exercise and self-control, and have kept it off for 25 years.

--Don Stafford


Liberal Praise

Thanks for shining a little light on the inept corporate media ("Media Blackout," Sept. 10). However, the real story is the fact that all of your examples are liberal issues. News flash for Dikko-heads: liberals do not control the media. Surely, no one would call The Times-Picayune "liberal" in any true sense of the word. The big three networks are owned by GE, Westinghouse and Disney. Fox is owned by right-wing Minister of Propaganda Rupert Murdoch and is a great source of the Republican party line. A recent example would be the globalization debate, which (surprise!) the corporate media hammered with misinformation and made sure to overemphasize a few thugs that were violent. The fact that wages and benefits have fallen, the environment is worse, and Third-World nations are deeper in debt was somehow overlooked. Reporting on the Middle East is a joke; the health care debate was no debate at all; the Florida election result was more a media scandal than a political one. Clinton's foolishness got far more airtime than Reagan illegally giving weapons to terrorists!

These and other uncensored stories can be found on Web sites like FAIR.com and TomPaine.com and a few open-minded, liberal, small journals like, thank God, Gambit.

--Sean Hughes

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