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Focus on our children's education, not Mars expedition

NASA photo shows the Perseverance rover being lowered

NASA photo shows the Perseverance rover being lowered toward the surface of Mars during its powered descent on Feb. 18. Credit: AP

Regarding "NASA’S Perseverance rover lands on Mars" [News, Feb. 19], I ask, "Why?!" Why spend billions of dollars "seeking signs of past life" 3.5 billion years ago on Mars when, for a fraction of the cost, our government can unleash here and now unlimited brainpower just by lasering in on our horse-and-buggy educational system and create an affordable, challenging learning environment for all our children, regardless of race, religion or creed. In January, our precious democracy was almost destroyed. Our beautiful Earth is being savagely ripped apart, and there are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the human race many times over. Our only hope is in our children. Give them all the opportunity to be the best they can be.

John Wolf,

Levittown

I was happy to see Newsday’s piece on NASA’s Perseverance landing on Mars. I was disappointed, though, not to see this news presented significantly on the big TV networks. Years ago, it would have been front-page news. Have we become so jaded that a Mars landing is not considered important? Yes, we have the COVID-19 crisis and a governor embroiled in its politics. But this type of science and space exploration is huge. It is a sad day when Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter’s runway appearance is treated better by much of the media.

Donna Skjeveland,

Holbrook

Help sought to clear big snowfall

Reader Elisa Adams wrote that corner-property owners should clear snow from their sidewalks ["Clearing paths for neighbors," Just Sayin’, Feb. 20]. My husband and I are among those who did not do so after the recent major snowstorm. We feel bad and know that we are supposed to do so. We are senior citizens and live by a four-lane main street. We’d have to clear three lanes of snow, then clear it each time a plow comes through. There is only so much snow clearing we can do. We have no family to help. Neighbors have enough trouble clearing their own snow, so we would not ask them. We had paid a service to clear our sidewalk and driveway, but it stopped residential snow clearing years ago. Those we since have contacted do only commercial clearing, not residential. We cleared some of our driveway snow after that huge storm for more than a week, and much of it is still under more recent snow. If Nassau County or the town has a list of people who could be hired to remove snow, for seniors and others who cannot physically do that, it would help greatly, but I am unaware of such a list.

Mary Johnson,

East Meadow

State DEC working to expand reef program

The article about the state’s proposed artificial reef expansion ignores support for the program from commercial and recreational fishing interests and fails to mention the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s sustained outreach to ensure New York’s artificial reefs support anglers’ interests ["Reef plan opposition," News, Feb. 10]. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s artificial reef initiative is already improving marine habitat and stimulating new opportunities for the commercial and recreational fishing industries. To ensure the program’s expansion includes all interests, DEC conducted extensive outreach to recreational and commercial anglers, including the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, divers and other stakeholders through events, meetings, email updates and more. Using maps and data from the commercial fishing industry to minimize impacts to known fishing grounds and maximize benefits to marine life, the DEC carefully crafted the proposed expansion to constitute less than 1% of fishable areas. I’ve also committed to additional meetings to refine the placement of materials on the reefs to make sure every community benefits. The commercial fishing industry is vital to New York’s economic health, and we remain focused on its success. The governor’s expanded artificial reef program plays a central part in these efforts and will continue to benefit the fishing industry for years to come.

Basil Seggos,

Albany

Editor’s note: The writer is commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

MTA toll increase just the beginning

It truly amazes me that after "terminating" all toll collectors, apparently saving millions of dollars in salaries and benefits, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to raise tolls again, a staggering 7% or about four times the rate of inflation ["MTA OKs 7% toll hike," News, Feb. 19]. I believe this is just the beginning. Now with a liberal/Democratic governor, State Assembly and Senate, I predict you ain’t seen nothing yet — get ready for massive tax increases on everything and anything, further exacerbating the exodus from New York.

Stuart J. Pastrich,

Port Washington

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