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Letters: Staggering New Alzheimer’s Statistics; Rallying Democracies; Supreme Hypocrisy; Opposition to Casino

Staggering New Statistics Spotlight Ongoing Alzheimer’s Crisis in PA

The Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report illustrates the continued burden of Alzheimer’s in our country, and in Pennsylvania.

An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, including 280,000 in Pennsylvania–a number expected to increase to 320,000 by 2025. Across the commonwealth, 401,000 caregivers, often friends and family members, provided more than 642,000,000 hours of unpaid care, valued at more than $10 billion.

The report also shines a light on the alarming lack of familiarity of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease. Many Americans confuse MCI with normal aging. MCI can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease affecting 12% to 18% of individuals age 60 and older. And, 77% of primary care physicians report MCI due to Alzheimer’s being difficult to diagnose, with 51% who do not feel comfortable diagnosing the disease.

The report underscores the urgency for our country and state to further its investment in Alzheimer’s research to advance treatments that can alter these trends.

We must also advance public policies, expand support programs, and bolster the public understanding of MCI and Alzheimer’s to help those impacted by the disease.

Clayton Jacobs,
Executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter

Rallying the World’s Democracies

How can anyone say President Biden is weak on Russia? In his words and actions, he has met the moment, helping to create unprecedented global unity against Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The 141 countries of the UN have reaffirmed Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and are united in demanding Putin immediately end his unconscionable war.

Biden’s focus on international alliances and shared values reinvigorated NATO, which doubled its active forces—troops, planes and ships—in Eastern Europe and is now providing Ukraine with massive military aid and humanitarian assistance.

Biden led the global financial world in imposing crushing and historic sanctions on Russia designed to punish Putin—and create domestic pressure on him to end this war.

Biden led meetings last week in Brussels to create a network of energy resources so that Europe can finally end its dependence on Russian energy.

President Biden has more foreign policy experience than any president in U.S. history—and it shows.

According to polls, the majority of Americans approve of his clear-headed handling of the crisis in Ukraine, from his decisions to provide weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, to not sending in U.S. troops, to refusing a no-fly zone because of the risks of starting a nuclear war.

President Biden is dancing on a tightrope. Let’s stop the partisan bellyaching and armchair analysis and come together to support him and his advisors in confronting a despot, standing up for democracy and rallying a worldwide response to Putin’s criminal actions.

David Lembeck,
State College

Supreme Hypocrisy

Anyone watching the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, surely noticed that four Republican members of the Committee focused on one narrow issue.

Senators Cruz, Hawley, Graham and Cotton repeated unfounded charges that Judge Jackson had been unusually lenient on defendants convicted of viewing online child pornography.

Fine. All Senators should assert their views, and this point was clearly made in just a few minutes, making the quartet’s one-track focus look like petty gamemanship.

On the fourth day of hearings, expert testimony regarding Judge Jackson’s qualifications was presented by a panel established by the American Bar Association, which unanimously rated Judge Jackson “Highly Qualified,” the highest rating available.

Can you guess which four Republican Senators were absent from that session?

For his part, Senator Cruz pontificated on how it was his duty to ask the nominee “tough questions” regarding her judicial philosophy. But this same Senator spent an outsized portion of his questioning time with Amy Coney Barrett chatting about her piano playing skills.

Senator Hawley repeatedly asked Judge Jackson, “Do you regret” your decisions. We might ask the same of him. A former appointee who worked with Hawley on his human trafficking task force during his days as Missouri’s attorney general penned an op-ed in January of 2021 saying Hawley “sought TV cameras, not justice.”

It seems pretty clear that Cruz, Hawley, Graham and Cotton were actually performing for QANON conspiracy theorists and workshopping their midterm campaign platform.

Ed Satalia,
State College

Citizens Want to Defeat Casino

Public comments regarding the proposed casino at the Nittany Mall began to be posted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) around the time of the initial public input hearing about the casino on Aug. 16, 2021.  As of April 4, 2022, a total of 510 messages from 350 individual contributors have been posted in opposition to the casino, while a total of only 57 messages from 47 individual contributors have been posted in support of it. The margin of community opposition to the proposed casino has been increasing steadily since feedback began to be accepted; it currently stands at a ratio of nearly 9:1.

The following charts illustrate the level of feedback received in support and opposition to the casino over time:

All of the public comments that the PGCB has received about the casino are available on College Township’s Casino Information webpage.

No public officials from the State College community have yet spoken out to protect our community from the increased gambling addiction, severe financial impact on families, and increase in crime that the proposed casino is expected to bring to Penn State and the surrounding area. The casino would also bring pawn shops, payday loan and check cashing stores, physical assaults, increased arrests and other undesired chaos that has previously been uncommon in Happy Valley.

Our community’s opposition to the casino would undoubtedly be stronger if several courageous public officials would step up and lead the spontaneous grassroots opposition to the disastrous proposal to develop a casino at the Nittany Mall. However, we will defeat this casino even if none of our public officials has the courage to stand with us. Most of us who oppose the casino are doing so to protect the people we love – our families, neighbors and friends – and we are determined in our opposition, as is clearly evident to anyone who actually reads the publicly posted community opposition feedback.  We are voters, and we will not forget those elected officials who could have spoken out but instead chose to remain silent.  We also will not forget those elected officials who do eventually find the courage to stand with us to protect our community.

Please stand with us now and help to protect our community by sending your opposition to the proposed Nittany Mall Casino to [email protected].

Andrew Shaffer,
State College

The Shoulds and Should Nots of Proposed Casino

We SHOULD be sympathetic to Penn State President Eric Barron and his Board of Trustees who cannot speak out to protect our community from the proposed Nittany Mall Casino.  They could incur the disapproval of Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republicans in the state legislature if they did, and that could affect their social status and the prospects for the Pennsylvania-based businesses that some of them own.

We SHOULD NOT draw attention to President Barron’s past statements about the harms of gambling addiction or e-mail Penn State’s leadership at [email protected] or [email protected] to ask for them to get involved.

We SHOULD be grateful that a new casino will provide students with an alternative recreational activity to binge drinking – one that will be especially effective in distracting students from the new bar that will be built in the casino itself!

We SHOULD NOT be concerned that college-aged adults are 6 times more likely than the general population to become addicted to gambling, or that the $116 million that the Nittany Mall Casino is projected to extract from the local community each year is 100x more than the impact of most bars.

We SHOULD be thankful that the new casino will create jobs.

We SHOULD NOT be concerned that the people who fill these jobs will be unavailable to work at other area enterprises that are economically productive and which produce needed goods and services at a time when Centre County is in the midst of a historic labor shortage.

We SHOULD be thankful for the tax revenue that the new casino will generate.  College Township does not need the additional revenue, so the Township can use this money to fund new social services and support programs for individuals and families who are impacted by addictive behavior disorders.

We SHOULD NOT consider that the overwhelming majority of the new casino’s patrons will be our neighbors, or that whatever they spend at the casino can no longer be used to support other area businesses that have been operating in our community for years.

We SHOULD be thankful that the new casino will revitalize the Nittany Mall. The casino could easily attract a pawn shop and a payday lender to the end of the mall where the casino will be located, and the mall will now be able to afford more security guards. Our area’s counselors, therapists and psychologists will also enjoy increased demand for their services in treating gambling addiction and family breakdown!

We ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT ask any questions about why the Nittany Mall’s occupancy rate is only 45% while the strip mall located across the street from the mall has an occupancy rate of 95% despite both locations being subjected to the same changes in consumer preferences and covid restrictions.  It is obvious that only a new casino can address the root cause of this discrepancy.

Please send your opposition to the proposed Nittany Mall Casino to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at [email protected].

Justin L.,
State College