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Letter: Increase text penalties for all

I read that part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's legislative agenda is to take away the licenses of young drivers for a year if they are convicted of texting while driving ["Texting could cost young their licenses," News, Jan. 5]. That would double the suspension, from six months, for drivers under age 21.

Where is the scientific proof that individuals on the first day they turn 22 are safer "texting drivers" than individuals on the last day of age 21?

To me, there is no difference whether you are 21, 51 or 81. Texting while driving is dangerous, and the penalties should be the same across the board.

James J. McCormick, East Northport

Florida ready to overtake New York

The article on Florida approaching New York in population suggests that it's mostly about people moving to warmer climates ["State's population shows modest gain," News, Dec. 31].

Perhaps the New Yorkers who fled took the outrageously high taxes and the crippling regulations into account as well.

Memo to those who repeatedly vote for the same politicians: Keep it up, and we will be dead last.

James Coll, Seaford

Forst inspired a young journalist

I was saddened to learn of the death of Don Forst, one of the people who influenced me, more than 50 years ago, to pursue a career in journalism ["A Newsday leader on LI, in city," News, Jan. 5].

In the late 1950s, I took a class in journalism at Lafayette High School. Our teacher, Mal Largmann (who went on to be the first principal of the revived, renowned Townsend Harris High School), assigned the class to interview a reporter. I chose a New York Post reporter whose byline I was familiar with: Don Forst.

I wrote him a letter, which he answered with a telephone call that my mother received. She told me he said he'd be happy to meet with me in Manhattan.

Along with a classmate, I spoke with him at his apartment, where he brought out a plate of cookies, and answered all my questions about getting into journalism.

Decades later, after working for newspapers, magazines, corporate public relations departments and public relations agencies, I still recall that first encounter with the real deal.

George Haber, Jericho

Rebuild Oceanside nature study area

We are a group of sixth-grade students in Oceanside, working on the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. Together, we must work toward making a change in our local environment.

We chose to help rebuild the Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area after it was severely damaged by superstorm Sandy ["Hobbled by storms," News, Dec. 3]. This is a beautiful, 52-acre preserve for wildlife that is dedicated to a healthy environment.

Preserving Long Island's marshlands is very important, and we want future generations to learn of their importance, too. While visiting this "outdoor classroom," people can learn about the marshland and marine and estuarine life. The indoor classrooms at the study area, unfortunately, were damaged beyond repair.

We want to see these replaced so more children can learn that the saltmarsh is not only important to wildlife, but for the humans living along the banks. For this project, we are the Sea Janitors.

Hunter Gross

Matthew Minelli

Daniel Strianese


Bills could prevent horse slaughter

I don't know how it can be that while more than 70 percent of Americans oppose slaughtering horses for food, we're faced with the possibility on U.S. soil for the first time since 2007.

How did this happen? Two years ago, three members of Congress removed language from an agriculture appropriations bill in a sneaky, late-night maneuver. Sen. Roy Blunt (D-Mo.), Sen. Herb Kohl (R-Wisc.) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) have managed to pave the way for this industry. Since then, six facilities across the country have filed for permits to slaughter equines, and three have been granted in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa.

Lawsuits pending against the Department of Agriculture and the slaughterhouses are preventing them from opening.

Horses, unlike livestock, are treated with medications and drugs not approved for use by humans and specifically banned for human consumption.

In the past year, there have been scandals across the globe where horse meat was knowingly and criminally mixed in chopped beef in countries where horse slaughter is legal. Such a scandal in the United States would have a catastrophic impact on the beef industry here.

The surest way to keep horse slaughter out of the United States is to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (S541/HR1094). Both New York senators and all Long Island representatives have co-sponsored these bills.

Nancy Watson, Northport

Editor's note: The writer is a board member of Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, an advocacy organization.