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Christmas Special December 23rd

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Letters to the Editor Policy

All I Got Was This Lousy Tee Shirt

Jokes at the expense of Tiger Woods make me laugh. In my case, rather drôle to relate, it is a guilty pleasure. I too have done stupid things.

Some people, I’m guessing, still chuckle once in a while over my “pennsyltucky” tee shirts. And yet, the lady in charge at Gift-n-More on Main Street in Susquehanna sold three. What’s more, somebody even inquired about them. By the way, that little pocket screwdriver she gave me comes in handy occasionally.

.. oh, yeah, I did consign one “pennsyltucky” with the lady in charge of Hayne’s also on the same street. It might still be there.

There’s one tee shirt I would love to see being worn by Senator Joseph Lieberman. And the logo inscribed on it would read like so: “I went over the cliff for AETNA. And all I got was this lousy tee shirt.”

Eventually, as I read my tea leaves, the Democrats in the Senate will tinker with the rules of debate and legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from the Nevada municipality of Flashlight dislikes antics, perpetrated by a “turn-coat.” The end result will be Senator Lieberman’s vote with regard to overhauling this nation’s health care will no longer be necessary.

What’s more, the Senator will be booted off the committees that formulate legislation, and barred from the Democrat(ic) caucus. Oh, he’ll still have a vote on the floor of the Senate. But he’ll have no voice in drafting law. Senator Lieberman might think he’ll find a home within the Republican caucus. If so, he’ll have another think coming.

Yes and yes again, I look forward to seeing that tee shirt. Whenever I see some make-shift canister with an appeal to help some family defray outrageous medical expenses, that only intensifies my longing for that aforementioned tee shirt.


A Alexander Stella

Susquehanna, PA

Mammograms: No Or Heck No, Part I

You followed the best medical advice to avoid cancer. You had a yearly mammogram, were screened for colon cancer, you even had a full-body CT scan to detect early warning signs of cancer. But the distressing truth is that you did nothing at all to prevent cancer. In fact, your efforts only puts yourself at greater risk of developing exactly what you were trying to avoid: cancer.

X-rays by their very nature are physically destructive. You may have them for the best of reasons, even for unavoidable reasons such as a broken bone or for a dental procedure. Though the benefits at times may outweigh the risks, it never eliminates them.

But specifically, what about X-ray mammography?

Mammogram X-ray machines were first used in 1966. A screening exposed a woman to 7 rads of radiation. It was known for more than a century that X-rays were harmful. But the best medical advice was that the benefits of an annual mammogram to detect nascent cancers outweighed the risks of exposure to radiation. As we shall see, they were wrong.

Seven rads are equivalent to 100 chest x-rays, a considerate dose. But it would take more than three decades to discover that this yearly exposure significantly increased the chance of contracting breast cancer. However, in the intervening time, efforts were made to reduce the amount of radiation.

Today, a mammogram takes only 0.16 of a rad, 43 times less than three decades ago. The risk to this low-level radiation exposure is minimized by medical practitioners. Nevertheless, there is no safe level of exposure to X-rays; they are merely less harmful. Women continued to be encouraged to get an annual screening.

Guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2002 recommended that all women over 40 should be screened every one to two years. Seventy percent of women 40 and over took their advice. But it was the wrong advice. This time it took “only” eight years to discover that they were wrong.

Revised guidelines issued this year by the same Task Force reversed their position. They no longer advise women in the 40's and older to get routine mammograms. But ten years ago several large-scale studies argued for the discontinuance of yearly mammograms.

The Canadian National Breast Screening Study-2 followed 39,000 women over a period of 16 years starting in 1985. The investigators concluded that while screenings did reveal early development of breast cancer, the discovery did not improve survival rates. In other words, an annual mammogram had no benefit only risk.

Mammography is big business. It grosses more than $37 billion a year in the U.S. But many highly credentialed doctors, with no such vested financial interest, opposed mammography almost from its inception.

As far back as 1974 authorities such as Malcolm Pike, professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, wrote, “giving a women under age 50 a mammogram on a routine basis is close to unethical.”

Charles Simone, M.D., at the National Cancer Institute said, “Mammograms increase the risk for developing breast cancer and they raise the risk of metastasizing an existing growth.”

In 1995, “The Lancet,” England's most prestigious medical journal, wrote, “The benefit [of mammography] is marginal, the harm caused is substantial, and the costs incurred are enormous.”

Five years later “The Lancet” wrote, “Screening for breast cancer with mammography is unjustified.” The authors go on to say that mammography causes six times more deaths than it prevents.

John Gofman, M.D., PhD., author of “Radiation from Medical Procedures,” wrote in 2001, “50 percent of the death rate from cancer today and over 60 percent of the death rate from heart disease today are X-ray induced.”

In 2001, the massive Cochrane analysis of seven different studies that included a total of 500,000 women found that for every life saved there would be another women who would undergo unnecessary procedures because of false positives.

This concludes Part I. Part II will continue with a discussion of false positives and their consequences, the danger of breast compression during a mammogram, misleading statistics used by the mammography industry, and cancer prevention.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Goat Giveaway A Hit!

On behalf of the minister and vestry of Christ Episcopal Church on West Main Street, in Susquehanna, I want to thank publicly all the kind people in our community that helped make our second annual winter coat giveaway a great success. “Coats for the Community,” a joint project with the American Legion Gardner Warner Post 154 in Montrose, allows us to give back to the community by distributing warm winter coats, hats and gloves free of charge. Many members of the Susquehanna community donated warm clothing that we gave to the hundreds of people who visited our parish hall, including many small children. The clothing that we did not distribute was picked up by the American Legion for distribution in other communities here in Susquehanna County.

Christ Episcopal Church has been serving the Susquehanna community for over 120 years. We welcome everybody to join us each Sunday at 9 a.m. for a beautiful service of worship and music and on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m.


Janice Carpenter

New Milford, PA

Good News!

There is irrefutable evidence that the unemployment rate will drop by three quarters of a percent in the spring! The government is going to hire 800,000 temporary workers to do the census (let’s hope that there are not too many ACORN workers among them). Real job growth may be a different subject.

Putting together the macro picture of our economy, one has to note several disturbing issues confronting job growth in the private sector (it is widely known that government job growth is doing well). For one thing, with 10 percent unemployment and big credit card balances, Americans are paying down their debt, not buying stuff. And if they were, try and buy something that Americans build. And even if we try and build things, government rules, regulations, EPA, unions and taxes make it pretty difficult to do. Add to that, our national debt is out of control and the specter of hyperinflation lurks in the wings. Not to worry - the projected 1.4 trillion dollar deficit budget working its way through Congress provides for a two percent wage increase for all federal workers. Most of us would be happy to find ourselves and our neighbors just with a job.

Oh well, the government takeover of the nation’s healthcare system will certainly lead to more federal workers with a two percent wage increase. Maybe you can be one of them. If you are successful, don’t forget who’s your Daddy come November (or else).

Where does all this leave us? Looks like there will be an increase in the number (now 40%) of citizens dependant on government largess in one form or another (read: control by politicians and bureaucrats) for their survival. Again, not to worry. We have been foisting the cost of our prosperity for the last several decades on our children and grandchildren. We’ll just continue to do so. Besides, Socialism isn’t that bad - you won’t have to worry about thinking any more.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Joe McCann,

Elk Lake, PA

Not An Ordinary Season

Hi everyone! My name is Elder Michael D. Roberts. I'm from sunny California. This will be my first official white Christmas. I'm so excited! Right now I'm serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love being a missionary and I am so happy to be here in Susquehanna.

At this special time of year, I cannot help but light up, especially with all the delightful Christmas decorations. They are so full of life, color, and symbolism.

One of my favorite holiday traditions back home was driving around with my family and checking out the sea of bright lights. I loved the stark contrast of the brilliant-Christmas lights sparkling against the dark-starry sky.

Christmas is not an ordinary season. It is an extraordinary season of light. There are lights everywhere - from the streets to the trees and everything in-between. It is amazing how all of these radiant lights remind us of the true meaning of Christmas - our Savior Jesus Christ - the Light of the World.

Another one of my favorite holiday traditions is studying both the scriptures and pictures that beautifully illustrate Christ’s birth. Recently, a painting depicting the wise men’s unique journey caught my eye. As I looked at it, I tried to flashback and imagine what it must have been like to be in their sandals, to be eye-witnesses of that extraordinary amount of Divine Light, the new star, the angels singing, and the Son of God. What a sight His light must have been!

I love Jesus Christ and this wonderful time to celebrate His life. It is so cool how His one of a kind glow only grew throughout His ministry. I’m so grateful for His supreme example of selfless service. He was always giving. He constantly gave, and gave, and gave, and then gave some more. He came to serve, not to be served. His atoning sacrifice is the greatest miracle. His teachings are the greatest truths. He is the world’s greatest gift. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (St. John 3:16). He showed us the way back to our heavenly home. I love when Jesus powerfully proclaimed, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (St. John 8:12). I have come to know that this is true. I know that living His gospel is the only way to find pure and everlasting happiness. It makes me beam!

It is so interesting to me that Christ taught that we “are the light of the world,” and that we need to “let [our] light so shine before men that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). During this Christmas season may we always remember its true meaning. May we show our love to God by always giving and forgiving. May we not seek after the spotlight, but more importantly, draw the attention to the Light of the World - the highlight of the season.

Thank you for sharing your light with me through your Christmas decorations and smiling faces. Have a delightful Christmas. Shine on Susquehanna!


Elder M. Roberts

Susquehanna, PA

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