NSA bad behavior

I commend The Post and Courier for its continuing and healthy editorial stance regarding recent revelations of unlawful and dangerous behavior on the part of the National Security Agency.

After 12 years of security policy driven by panicked cowardice rather than prudent caution, it is refreshing to see some glimmer of common sense here and there.

Not so many years ago, shortly after a Christmas punctuated by the overthrow of our Cold War adversaries in Eastern Europe, the free world stood appalled at the scope of internal surveillance formerly conducted by security services, most notably the East German Stasi.

Our abhorrence at this was an affirmation of the fact, of which we were then instinctively aware, that such activity is explicitly antithetical to freedom. It is now particularly disturbing that having witnessed the defeat of that enemy, we are in danger of becoming it.

A little over a year from now, as the Christmas season of 2014 approaches, so too will the 25th anniversary of the revolutions of Eastern Europe. I hope the editors of The Post and Courier, as well as others, will maintain their vigilant coverage and vigorous condemnation regarding this vital matter in the further hope that when that date arrives, we will not have forgotten the stark reminders afforded by the triumph, but may instead claim a renewed affirmation for the propriety with which a government of free people conducts itself.

Will Lasher

Piedmont Avenue

Charleston

Obama’s legacy

After watching Obama’s speech Sept. 10, it struck me how feeble the United States has become under him. We are led by a weak, vacillating and disrespected president whose words ring hollow and are treated with skepticism.

We are led by a president who was out-maneuvered by a former KGB thug from Russia. When a president loses respect at home and around the world, he forfeits his moral authority to govern.

After five years of Obama, our economy fails to provide jobs for our citizens, our debt has reached atmospheric proportions and our foreign policy is in shambles.

If your legacy is what you leave behind, Obama will be leaving behind a sorry mess that we will be cleaning up for years.

Stew Williams

Chisolm Road

Johns Island

Out with Boehner

It has been embarrassing to watch the twisting and turning of our elected officials, including President Obama, trying to present a coherent position on why we should go to war with Syria. This attack seems so much kinder and gentler when Obama called it a shot across the bow.

Obama’s record in Egypt and Libya is not something that he can point to in order to bolster his credibility.

The current Congress is on track to become the least productive in history, having passed only 23 laws this session. And Congress is well on its way to earning an approval rating below 20 percent for the fourth year in a row. Yet for some inexplicable reason it seems that a number of members of Congress seem intent on saving Obama from embarrassing himself with his “red line” warning. The American people do not want any act of war. Congress represents the “people” so why does it rush to live up to its well-earned reputation as a fraternity gone bad?

If John Boehner were a football coach, he would be fired based on his record. His record running the House of Representatives indicates several losing seasons, and the fans need more performance than he is giving.

Siding with the president to go to war for no apparent reason should be the last straw for him.

Don Sealey

Knotweed Court

Bluffton

Kosher pantry

The Post and Courier published on Aug. 28 a riveting write-up on the Charleston Jewish Community Kosher Food Pantry and highlighted the gleaning efforts of our community. While the pantry provides food and supplies to people regardless of their religious affiliation, it is important to clarify that the pantry makes a dramatic impact on the lives of Charleston Jewish community members.

Our clients’ religious affiliations are anonymous to those who document the pantry’s data. Therefore, it is significant to note that dozens of Jewish families every month rely on our pantry for their nutritional needs. The Kosher Food Pantry is a project of the Charleston Jewish Federation.

For more information on the Charleston Jewish Community Kosher Food Pantry and Charleston Jewish Family Services (CJFS), please visit www.charlestonjfs.org or contact Sara Sharnoff, the director of CJFS at saras@jewishcharleston.org.

Sara Sharnoff

Wallenberg Boulevard

Charleston

Lionfish dangers

I read with interest the Sept. 5 article concerning lionfish, since I was a victim of a lionfish envenomation last summer in Mexico.

While I applaud educating the public about this invasive predator, which is now found off our coast, I feel the article and Chef Hedlund’s comment, “I wouldn’t say it’s life altering,” downplayed the potential medical risks of a sting.

When I stepped on a lionfish, two spines punctured the bottom of my foot, which resulted in immediate excruciating pain and faintness. The situation quickly escalated into a medical emergency. I received prompt treatment by a lifeguard and a resort physician who arranged emergency transport to the emergency room. I was eventually admitted to the hospital.

After returning to Charleston, I had significant pain and swelling that lingered for months. Area physicians told me I had long-term nerve damage caused by the neurotoxins in the venom.

The sting typically causes severe pain, redness and swelling at the site that lasts for several hours, with milder symptoms lasting days or weeks. However, reactions can vary depending upon the individual and amount of venom delivered. If the venom spreads to other parts of the body, there can be headaches, chills, cramps, nausea, changes in blood pressure, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, seizures and paralysis. It is also possible to have a life-threatening allergic reaction to the venom.

It is important to know what to do if stung by a lionfish. You should gently remove any visible spines and apply direct pressure to control bleeding. The wound should then immediately be immersed in hot (but not scalding) water since the venom contains proteins that are denatured by heat.

Immediate emergency medical treatment is advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others. A prophylactic tetanus booster is also indicated in any injury caused by a marine animal.

Cheryl M. Steadman

Burning Tree Road

Charleston

Syndrome a gift

The Sept. 9 article “Generous intellect,” about a young scientist with Asperger syndrome is not nearly as generous as its subject. Despite the subtitle “College of Charleston junior turns disorder into world-changing gift,” at no point does the author connect Alix Generous’ diagnosis to her scientific ability.

In fact, no positive feature of Asperger’s can be found in the entire article. The reader is left with the impression that Asperger’s can only be turned into a gift by making it irrelevant. This is a bit like Martha Stewart demonstrating how to repurpose an old birdhouse by setting it on fire.

Ms. Generous disagrees. In April she told a crowd at the College of Charleston that Asperger’s is “why I can make the connections I do in science, to think of things in ways that may not have been thought of before.” She credited her theory of quorum sensing in coral reefs to her Asperger’s, but the article omits that detail. Instead, it says she achieved success “despite a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.” Despite?

People with Asperger’s think differently. This can be painful, but it can also heal.

And if Generous’ research helps heal the reefs that the rest of humanity seems determined to destroy, it will not be “despite a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.” It’ll be because of it.

Jeremy McClellan

Carriage Lane

Charleston