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Binge drinking nothing to toast


UR REGION’S problem with binge drinking – as highlighted in a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – tends to be treated here as if it were trivial, something to be snickered about between co-workers or turned into tavern joke material. Too bad more people in Northeastern Pennsylvania can’t see binge drinking for what it truly is – a contributor to our crime troubles and a considerable health threat. Binge drinking ruins lives. Binge drinking destroys relationships and careers. Binge drinking kills. This subject deserves the attention of area residents in discussions beyond barroom banter, and for reasons other than delivering punch lines. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region ranks fourth in the nation for its percentage of admitted binge drinkers, at 21.4 percent, according to the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data. Its assessment is based on a 2010 telephone survey, which got input from residents of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties. The CDC classifies a binge drinker as a man who has five or more alcoholic beverages in a single occasion or a woman imbibing in four or more drinks. College students often are guilty of the reckless habit, but the behavior extends to adults of all ages and income brackets, as reported in a series of articles Sunday and Monday in The Times Leader. In many cases, a binge drinker doesn’t have an alcohol dependency but instead abuses it several times a month

NIPPING THE HABIT ❏ Get help. Find the area’s alcohol-abuse treatment programs and support groups by contacting Help Line. Call 1-888-829-1341 or visit ❏ Learn community prevention strategies. Read recommendations from the National Institutes of Health at ❏ Consider campus solutions. Read “Binge Drinking on America’s College Campuses,” a Harvard School of Public Health study. Go to cas_mono_2000.pdf.

for other reasons. Binge drinking is a danger to your health; it’s associated with, among other maladies, alcohol poisoning, liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke and poor control of diabetes. Consider, also, the all-too-frequent, drunken episodes involving car crashes, falls, burns, shootings, stabbings and fistfights. Women’s health advocates and others should be equally alarmed at binge drinking’s role in these societal woes: unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence and sexual assault. Another casualty: children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. And, of course, don’t overlook binge drinking’s costly impacts in terms of nuisance crimes, property damage, emergency treatment, police effort and squandered tax dollars. All told, it’s time that more people in Northeastern Pennsylvania take a sobering look at what can be done to discourage binge drinking.

QUOTE OF THE DAY “I gotta thank everybody in England that let me come and trample over their history.” Meryl Streep The actress offered her appreciation Sunday after earning her eighth Golden Globe Award, this time as dramatic actress for playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”


Don’t add abuse to horror of war


ANY AMERICANS are indifferent to the continuing war in Afghanistan. The decade-long conflict is happening in a place most citizens couldn’t point to on a map. Because the public isn’t interested in the details of such wars, it takes something unusual to capture people’s attention. When a video of four U.S. Marines apparently urinating on dead Taliban fighters showed up on the Internet, there was an immediate and visceral reaction – disgust. There is little sympathy for Taliban soldiers among the American public, but there always have been expectations of how EDITORIAL BOARD

U.S. troops should behave, even when it comes to dispatching the enemy. The abuse of a corpse is something no military, religious or ethical precept sanctions. The incident couldn’t come at a worse time for U.S. foreign policy. The Obama administration wants to work with the Taliban to end the war. Wars are not about fair play; they’re about killing the enemy. But even warfare has certain rules of decency. If the Marines violated them, even after doing their lethal duty, they must be held accountable. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PRASHANT SHITUT President and Interim CEO/Impressions Media MARK E. JONES JOSEPH BUTKIEWICZ Vice President/Executive Editor Editorial Page Editor




Young people can work to create own success


t is good to know that teens such as Katelyn Pierce, whose letter to the editor appeared on Jan. 12, “Student worried about future job prospects,” are working diligently in school despite some pessimism about what awaits them. As young people think about the future, I would implore them not to expect anyone to “fix the economy” or to have jobs waiting upon graduation. What is clear is that the vast majority of good-paying jobs will require even greater levels of education and more flexibility; as Ms. Pierce noted, opportunities might be more prevalent in Japan or China than at home. The competition for jobs and for capital to create new products and services truly has gone worldwide. The bar to win jobs or secure investors is thereby set higher. And many more jobs will be created by young people forming small endeavors than by large companies again hiring en masse. The upside of all of this is that young people can start businesses even faster and collaborate with colleagues around the world – an exciting prospect. But this does mean that we have to know more about the world and be able to solve problems and create opportunities, rather than filling a pre-prescribed role in a “job.” Ms. Pierce and her friends should get back to dreaming about the future. They should not let economic and social problems created by previous generations (like mine) deter them from great things and lives lived in the pursuit of wisdom, enlightenment and happiness. Katelyn’s letter shows not only worry, but careful thought and a readiness to contribute, for which I thank her. Greg Emery Pastor associate Wyoming Valley Presbyterian Parish Wilkes-Barre

New teen-driving law seen as unnecessary


new Pennsylvania law was passed in late 2011 with rules restricting teendriving privileges. The law states that a new, junior driver younger than 18 can have only one passenger who is not an immediate family member in their car without having a legal parent or guardian in the vehicle. That law is completely unnecessary. And another part of Act 81 states that drivers younger than 18 who have had their junior driver’s licenses for more than six months can have up to only three passengers, not including immediate family. This rule also is not needed. In 2008, the majority of teen drivers were not involved with fatal crashes, so

SEND US YOUR OPINION Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number for verification. Letters should be no more than 250 words. We reserve the right to edit and limit writers to one published letter every 30 days. • E-mail: • Fax: 570-829-5537 • Mail: Mail Bag, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 1871 1

why must the rest of the safe teen drivers suffer at the hands of immature drivers? Act 81 is both unneeded and unwanted for teen drivers. Jack Walsh Fairview Township

Writer predicts nothing but trouble for taxpayers


he economy at the local, state and national levels will not begin to recover until more money is available to the private sector, because it spends money more efficiently and productively than government. Due to the run-up in the Luzerne County deficit and the need to start paying down this debt, the local portion of this recovery will be decades away. The disenfranchised citizenry largely stayed home this past election. Young voters were nowhere to be seen. Establishment hacks were out voting in force. To their credit, surprisingly, the outgoing commissioners handed the new county council a budget with no tax increase. Unfortunately the new council voted to open the budget to renegotiation. The majority of the council also has learned nothing about the misdeeds of the past when it comes to transparency, and under the guise of “professionalism” has tried to keep the names and qualifications of manager candidates secret. Once again the taxpayer is going to take one for the team. If I’m wrong, I’ll jump out of an airplane. I have no doubt that most of the new council members are sincere in their efforts to end the nepotism and cronyism. I have no doubt that they will attempt to rein in our debt. The only problem is that it will be done on the backs of the taxpayers. The new council is chock full of the usual suspects who will ensure that the inefficient county government will remain fat and happy, while the rest of us pony up to pay for past misdeeds. The council does not hire or fire under the charter; the executive does. What will this council do to an executive who trims government? Fire him? Or will they just ensure an executive is hired who fits their agenda? When will the people of this county wake up? Apparently, not until they are all taxed out of their houses and living in concrete block apartments reminiscent of


what I’ve seen behind the former Iron Curtain. Then, of course, it will be too late. Tim Mullen Kingston Township

New W-B Twp. officials should lead, not follow


ew Wilkes-Barre Township council members Katie Krutski Arnone and John Jablowski Jr., here’s some advice. Be independent thinkers, not followers. Take politics out of the equation. Don’t be a bobblehead for Mayor Carl Kuren, who is only a guest at meetings. Thank goodness for the voters who ousted Councilwoman Mary Yuknavich. Good riddance. The new council has to make new decisions and move in the right direction. You have been elected by the people; now represent Wilkes-Barre Township as it should be done, not with politics or fear of retribution. Have courage. Check expenditures, account for all money. Lone Democrat Mike Wildes: Be strong, represent your constituents and hold them in the highest regard. Joseph Naperkowski Wilkes-Barre

Ailing new mothers can consult docs, LactMed


ou begin to feel unwell and your physician recommends a prescription medication. Now you wonder, can I take this medicine and continue to breast-feed my baby? In most instances it is possible to find a prescription that will, in fact, be a beneficial treatment for the mother while breast-feeding continues. There are many resources that health care professionals can consult for the latest information regarding the transfer of drugs into human milk. Any consumer of health care may access, at no cost, information regarding a specific drug through the online service LactMed, maintained as a part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Share your questions and concerns regarding the transfer of drugs into human milk with a physician and pharmacist you trust. Make them aware of your desire to receive treatment and continue breastfeeding. Referral to additional resources with information on this subject is available from a lactation specialist. For more information and direction to breast-feeding help and support, contact The Luzerne County Breastfeeding Coalition at (570) 808-5534. Karen L. Shaw Member Luzerne County Breastfeeding Coalition and Greater Pittston La Leche League Falls

Times Leader 01-17-2012  

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 01-17