Donations to help

oil spill area

Those willing to help in the effort to save wildlife caught in the BP Gulf Coast oil spill may mail any of the following items to the coast:

Rubber gloves (as for dishwashing, any size); surgical or examination gloves (any size) (local vets may be willing to donate); paper towels; towels (any size); rags and soft brushes (as for babies' hair). Send these items to the following: Patti Hall, Director, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, 1204 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542.

Other items needed are hand-held GPS units and cheap digital cameras. Send these items to the following: Casi Callaway, Director, Mobile Baykeeper, 300 Dauphin St., Suite 200, Mobile, AL 36602.

These supplies are sorely needed and will make a difference. Your donation could save a wildlife victim of the spill.

Elizabeth Gerteiny,

Westport

Original thinking

about diet

I wonder how many of the dedicated volunteers who helped saving a pelican from the deadly gulf oil have other birds for dinner or at a local fast-food outlet.

They are not alone. Most people are appalled by the devastation of animal life by the gulf oil spill, yet subsidize the systematic killing of other animals for their dinner table. They know that meat and dairy harm the environment and their family's health, but compartmentalize this knowledge when shopping for food.

And it goes beyond dietary flaws. We tolerate the killing of innocent people when our government and media label them terrorists; We ignore the suffering and starvation of a billion people, except when our government and media tell us to care because an earthquake or tsunami has struck.

Our society would benefit greatly from more original thinkers, and our personal diet is a great place to start.

John Ornest

Norwalk

`It is about the lives and health of our children'

I've been observing with great interest the position that senate candidate Linda McMahon has been taking with respect to the dangers of anabolic steroid use. McMahon has indicated on multiple occasions that she believes that there is no conclusive evidence that steroids are dangerous. Her views are wildly out of touch with the scientific evidence and reality.

My youngest son, Taylor, died from his use of anabolic steroids at the age of 17. He was a high school baseball player whose coach told him that he needed to get bigger in order to play baseball. To meet the coaches guidance, he began injecting hardcore anabolic steroids. (Later we learned that roughly half of the other boys on the team were already doing steroids when Taylor started using.) Seven months later he was dead.

I know firsthand that anabolic steroids are dangerous.

Taylor's tragedy is not an isolated problem.

Experts agree that steroids damage various parts of the body to the extent that overall life expectance is shortened. The wrestling profession is a perfect case study for this truth. The death rate among these wrestlers, a group reputed to be heavy users of steroids, is 7 times higher than the general US population. A professional wrestler is 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than the average American. It just so happens that the heart is the organ in the body that almost all medical experts agree that is under heaviest attack by steroids in addition to the liver, the kidneys, and other organs.

Adults, especially our leaders, have a profound responsibility to be sending the clearest of signals to our youth that steroid use is profoundly dangerous and can be deadly. Instead, to protect her political flank, McMahon is trying to hide behind a false contention that we're really not sure about the risks of steroid use. These sorts of messages, combined with the widespread use of steroids among a group of role models (wrestlers), is a recipe for disaster.

About 4 to 6 percent of our high school students nationally admit to using anabolic steroids -- about 800,000 to 1 million kids. And this number does not include those kids that are unknowingly ingesting anabolic steroids via the unregulated supplements that they are buying at the health food stores. (About 20 percent of bodybuilding supplements pulled randomly from the health food store shelves have been found to contain anabolic steroids.)

All this is to say nothing about the fact that the use of steroids for these sorts of purposes is against the law. These drugs are Schedule III substances under federal law and under most state laws. They are illegal to possess without a legitimate medical purpose -- and using them to bulk up to wrestle is not a legitimate medical purpose.

McMahon has responsibility to the youth of our nation that transcends her need to take a position that protects the interest of any business, including her husband's, and her political candidacy. Every time she makes a statement questioning whether these illegal drugs are dangerous or not, another group of kids get the message that it's okay for them to play with these drugs.

These arguments are much larger than any political race. It is about the lives and health of our children.

Don Hooton,

President of the Taylor Hooton

Foundation, an organization fighting the battle against the use of

appearance- and performance-

enhancing drugs by the nation's youth.

Frisco, Texas

Fourth of July safety

This Fourth of July, Americans will toast the country's independence with friends, family, and fireworks. Before these celebrations get underway, Dichello Distributors, Inc. reminds adults to show their patriotism by designating a driver or skipper to keep everyone safe. You'll join the millions of American adults who have been a designated driver or designated skipper, or been driven home by one.

Here are some additional tips for safe celebrating during the holiday weekend:

1. Buckle up. Ask everyone to wear a seat belt or a life jacket.

2. Be an attentive driver. Always be in control and aware of those around you.

3. Don't speed. Resist the urge to speed by making sure there's plenty of time to reach your destination.

4. Drink responsibly. Adults who choose to drink should make responsible choices about when, where, and how much.

Dichello Distributors, Inc. is committed to keeping our nation's roadways and waterways safe. We offer programs to encourage the use of designated drivers and skippers. Thanks to efforts like these and increased law enforcement, drunk-driving fatalities during the Fourth of July holiday period are down 40 percent since 1982, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

We can all do our part to make sure everyone has a fun and safe holiday. Remember, responsibility matters.

Tony Lota,

Alcohol Awareness Coordinator,

Dichello Distributors Inc.,

Orange