Idle summers dangerous

for bored teenagers

Summer can make or break many teenagers. I've seen some real screwups happen to teenagers over the summer months when they have too much idle time on their hands.

After the first two weeks of school being out, boredom sets in, especially if the kid isn't working, going to sports camps or attending summer school. Idle teens crave stimuli to beat boredom and feel alive. Logic tells me that most teens can trace their start with booze, drugs, sex and petty crime back to the summer when boredom made them feel dead.

I remember my South Philly summers as a teenager. Genteel poverty rescued me. We had no money to buy cigarettes, mill around recklessly in a family car wasting gas or search for romantic interludes. We had to work our tails off. Summer was the time to apply our resourcefulness and enterprise.

We collected scrap metal, painted house numbers on curbs, delivered groceries, washed cars of local gangsters and so on. Maybe there is some benefit to being poor and then being given the chance to be gainfully employed and thus staying out of trouble. I, too, might have given in to boredom if the need to earn a buck hadn't motivated me.

No caring parents can rest easily at work knowing that they have teenagers at home doing nothing during the summer hiatus. Many parents wish that schooling was a 12-month affair.

Planning for a teen's summer often demands creativity, insight and courage. We increase the chances of trouble on the homefront when teenagers are left to their own designs during summer break.

SAM ALFONSI

Diamond Beach

U.S. foreign policy

makes no sense

The U.S. State Department is not highly thought of abroad. Most of my business contacts in Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan and East Africa wonder who or what the administration backs.

As a result, Iran's Quds Force joins with Hezbollah to fight alongside the Syrian army while the United States talks about lines in the sand that are erased daily. Arms and reinforcements from Iran travel across Iraq in trucks and planes. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has come down squarely on the side of Iran.

We give aid to Maliki, claiming he will keep al-Qaida at bay. He is al-Qaida's best recruiting tool because he has marginalized Iraq's Sunni population in government affairs and has arrested his political rivals. The Iraqi army is facing massive desertions among Kurd and Sunni troops, along with Shia soldiers who did not sign up to kill fellow Iraqis.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry continue their support of Maliki. Ayatollah Khamenei continues to support Maliki. This has gone on for years. Has this administration ever owned up to making a mistake or misjudgment?

In weeks to come, when American weapons are found in the hands of foreign fighters in Syria, Hezbollah militants and Iranian soldiers, as well as in the hands of Assad's army, what excuse will Obama and Kerry use?

WILLIAM LEES

Ocean City

Time for president

to show leadership

I have been listening to both sides of the major issues facing our nation. They range from Benghazi to the National Security Agency's data mining and the civil war in Syria.

What I am very concerned about is the lack of statements from our president. As a leader, he should be out in front of these issues, but apparently he has decided to stay in the background and let things go on and on.

I can only surmise that he does not want to do or say something that will not sit well with his supporters. But these issues are matters of concern for both parties. A good leader leads; a great leader guides the way, directs from the front, seeks answers and takes the heat.

I'm now convinced that President Barack Obama is president in name only and the country is actually being run by his senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett. He has a very difficult time speaking off the teleprompter.

Stand up, Mr. President, show us the way and lead us all out of this mess.

ED CELLA

Little Egg Harbor Township

Neocon Republicans

have no credibility left

It's George Orwell all over again as the neocon contingent of the Republican Party takes to the barricades and brazenly forgets they invaded the wrong country a decade ago - and lied America into a losing proposition in Iraq.

President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lost the 10-year Iraqnam war - where no weapons of mass destruction were found. They left us with another 10-year lost war against the Afghanistan Taliban, who had been defeated but came out of the hills to restart terror in their own country. Meanwhile we, the misled, wasted lives and hundred of billions of dollars in Iraq, killing troops and civilians alike while destroying homes and villages with long lasting financial and bloody consequences for America and the world.

A fortune in American taxpayer dollars - we still don't know how much - was delivered to warlords and tribes. The Bush surge sent more Americans into the war-torn country while Cheney's former company grew richer with no-bid contracts.

Embedded journalists and the Fox propaganda machine told us we were winning the war, so Americans repeated the mistake of electing a wartime president.

Now the same party that created the worst foreign policy mistake in history tells American voters who elected President Barack Obama that he misunderstands the terrorist threat.

Some also tell us we must not offend anyone by keeping track of foreigners' incoming phone numbers because it threatens our civil liberties and privacy. Are there any valid reasons for ending this program unless you want to bomb a marathon or subway with help from a buddy from Pakistan or Iran?

JACK DOYLE

Waretown

Open-space preservation

requires funding source

New Jersey has a long, successful history of protecting and preserving open space, farmland and historic treasures.

But with no new funding available, preservation projects across the state will be halted, jeopardizing critical lands that protect our water supply, guard against storm damage and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits.

Today, the state Senate will consider bipartisan legislation that would ask voters to dedicate a small portion of sales tax revenues to renew and sustain funding for the state's Green Acres, Blue Acres and Farmland and Historic Preservation programs.

NJ Keep It Green - a coalition of more than 180 conservation, agricultural and historic preservation groups - urges legislators to support this legislation.

The proposed sales tax dedication is similar to the successful Garden State Preservation Trust Act approved by voters in 1998, but takes a responsible "pay as you go" approach by dedicating one-fifth of one cent of the sales tax to preservation efforts each year.

This would enable New Jersey to continue its investments in keeping our drinking water clean, maintaining and restoring natural flood buffers, protecting our open space and wildlife habitat, and preserving family farms and historic treasures for this and future generations.

NJ Keep It Green looks forward to the Senate's support for this legislation, which will give citizens the opportunity to vote on the funding plan in November.

TOM GILBERT

Chairman

NJ Keep It Green

Trenton

It's wrong to kill trees

just to fix sidewalks

Regarding the June 10 story, "Egg Harbor City neighbors livid trees being axed":

I was saddened and dismayed by the removal of trees more than 100 years old simply to fix a sidewalk, against the wishes of the people who live on that street.

I assume this is not a wealthy neighborhood, or the residents surely would have hired an attorney and gotten an injunction to stop the project. This project is clearly pork-barrel spending, lining a few pockets at the expense of the destruction not just of the street (and probably others to come), and not just of the trees, but also, of course, of the birds who make their nests in those trees. I realize there may be liability for the city due to tree roots spreading, but $400,000 buys a lot of new paving.

I don't live on that street, so perhaps it is none of my business, but I recall a poem by the late American poet, Lorine Niedecker, "Wintergreen Ridge" one of the 20th century's great eco-poems: "women / of good wild stock / stood stolid / before machines / They stopped bulldozers / cold / We want it for all time / they said..."

BILL SHERMAN

Margate