Medical research

Columnist Llewellyn King is to be applauded for pointing out that there is a crisis in medical research that is not only affecting the future of the health of our nation but also its economic development.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the major funder of biomedical research in the United States. Yet, after adjusting for inflation, the 2013 NIH budget is 22 percent below the 2003 level. Why is this a crisis?

Biomedical research has never been more promising as a way to find real cures for the many diseases that still plague our nation and the world.

We are entering the era of not only personalized medicine but true "precision medicine," using our understanding of human genetics and the consequences of the environment and other factors that lead to diseases.

These discoveries are providing important clues that in turn will lead to new, better and more precise treatments and cures for human diseases.

Along with these new treatments is the positive economic impact that comes from the development of new drugs and other treatments.

But while the scientific community is poised to make these major breakthroughs, the numbers of physician-scientists and basic scientists are steadily decreasing due to the significant decrease in the NIH budget, which also provides funding for the training of these future scientists.

Thus, we are in danger of losing an entire generation of biomedical scientists who are committed to making the discoveries to improve the health of our nation and the world and contribute to the economic growth of our nation.

We are also in danger of losing our stature as the global leader in biomedical research. We have a crisis in medical research that is not only going to affect our generation, but generations to come if we do not repair the crisis in the NIH budget.

Perry V. Halushka Ph.D., M.D.

River Reach Way

Charleston

Feeding obesity

About four years ago I began a personal campaign against the idiocy of SNAP (otherwise known as food stamps). I wrote a piece that was published in The State newspaper as well as Newsweek online. It chronicled the history of food assistance in this country and the terrible mess it had become, pretty much feeding the obesity epidemic.

Bloomberg columnist James Greiff's well-written Aug. 25 commentary on the fraud that plagues the food stamp system calls for another look into the idiotic "supplemental nutrition assistance program."

Why can we not see where some $80 billion a year is spent on public food assistance, funded by the government, to help families eat better?

A government-funded healthy foods program for "nutrition assistance" shouldn't be picking up the tab for candy, soda or ice cream.

We need to see where and on what these funds are being used. In some Appalachian areas, folks have used their food stamps to buy cheap sodas and then turned around and sold them across town for more money. A government program that has this much unaccountability is, without a doubt, inviting this kind of fraud and misuse.

You can't even buy chunky peanut butter on the WIC program (for women, infants and children) but candy bars and ice cream are fair game once your kid turns five.

We are becoming increasingly desensitized to the obesity epidemic. We never question a seemingly good program's outcome but we'll keep paying for replacement knees, hips, medications, and doctors' visits.

It time to re-examine this fundamentally flawed federal program. What we have been doing is not working.

Louis Yuhasz

I'On Avenue

Sullivan's Island

Impressive series

We read your brilliant five-part series on domestic violence with great admiration. We particularly noted the professional editing that went into its preparation. Not a thought out of place, not a hole in the reporting, not a question unanswered.

The carefully chosen words and the tempered tone in the series only served to accentuate the unspeakable horror conveyed in the reporting. That there is only a slim likelihood of meaningful remedial legislation emerging from our shameless General Assembly should not detract from your impressive effort.

We are confident that the Pulitzer committee will take note of investigative journalism at its best. Well done.

Susan Lyons

Mark Bloom

Gadsden Street

Charleston

Setting it straight

I attended the Israel Rally held at Synagogue Emanu-el Aug. 10. However, coverage in The Post and Courier on Aug. 11 was riddled with inaccuracies regarding the Hamas-Israeli conflict, encouraging the worst bias.

The cause of the war between Hamas and Israel was described as an exchange of rocket fire after Israel damaged a tunnel. This is like saying our war with al-Qaida was caused by property damage in Manhattan.

The Gazan tunnels exist for infiltration by armed terrorists into civilian communities with the intent of kidnap and mass murder.

The war began after the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens and more than a decade of attempted mass murder by incessant rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

Another inaccuracy is its citation of civilian deaths. Statistical information indicates that the number of civilian deaths has been exaggerated.

Of 1,900 deaths cited, 1,200 are considered by experts at the BBC, New York Times and others to have been militants. About 700 have been civilians. While the death of one civilian is a tragedy, it does not promote peace in the region to repeat the propaganda canard of inflated numbers.

My Israeli friends, mothers and fathers of IDF soldiers, have repeatedly told me, "We are not at war with the Palestinians. We are at war with Hamas." All express deep sadness at the human cost of war, especially the cost of civilian life.

The liberation Palestinians so desperately require is liberation not from Israel, who would extend peace to them in a heartbeat if security concerns could be erased, but liberation from the talons of Hamas - which by the way is armed by Iran - that they may breathe free and live in peace and dignity with Israel.

As virulent anti-Semitism spreads around the globe, it would seem only prudent to provide more informative reports on the flashpoint that is the Hamas-Israeli conflict, indicating that throughout the hostilities, Israel has transported thousands of tons of food, fuel, and medical supplies to Gaza, taken wounded Gazans to Israeli hospitals for treatment, and made infrastructure repairs.

What other country at war has provided aid to the enemy?

Such reportage would do much to calm the flames of anti-Semitism, not fan them.

Mary Glickman

Embassy Row Way

Seabrook Island

Time wasted

Yes, I am one of those Americans who are war weary. I wish the radicals would stop waging war against us. Lord knows, our president has done everything he can to indicate they can pretty much do anything they want as long as they leave us alone.

But they won't leave us alone. They've been at it since the late '80s with escalating attacks.

George W. Bush told us after 9/11 that the war would go on beyond his presidency, but he was just dismissed as a cowboy. Now, the current secretary of defense refers to a "multigenerational" war.

The American people will respond to leadership when the leaders lay out the objectives and alternatives. This war cannot be fought as a "police action."

The idea of focusing all of our resources on identifying the individual who beheaded the American reporter James Foley is a waste.

Charles Krauthammer made the perfect analogy, paraphrasing here: Charging this guy with murder is like Roosevelt charging the bomber pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor.

Gerald Funk

Horncastle Place

Goose Creek