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Corasanti calculation?was very misleading

The jury in the Dr. James G. Corasanti drunk-driving case was apparently impressed by the testimony of forensic scientist David Liske. In comparing Liske's testimony to that of the police, the jury foreman said: "I thought he [Liske] was more professional." Speaking as an expert witness for the defense, Liske stated that his reconstruction of the accident scene showed that Corasanti's car was traveling at 39.9 mph. This number is certifiable nonsense and is an outrageous abuse of what are called "significant figures."

Significant figures is a topic covered in the first lecture of my freshman chemistry classes. There simply are too many variables and assumptions that go into this calculation and the speed will therefore have a large uncertainty, perhaps as much as plus or minus 10 mph. An analogy is hopping on the bathroom scale and reporting your weight as 176.2387 pounds. Too many significant figures. The .2387 can't possibly be taken seriously and there is probably an uncertainty in the 6, as well. What a pity that the prosecution did not expose this meaningless and misleading testimony. Perhaps the verdict might have been different.

If Liske really believes what he told the court, he is incompetent. If, however, he understands significant figures, but was paid to take advantage of the jury's innumeracy, he is not being honest. Neither fall under the heading of professional conduct.

Bill Durfee



Buffalo State College offers good education, great price

The May 29 News article concerning the high cost of a college education overlooked that here in Buffalo a student can get the best possible education for only $6,353 a year. That is the tuition at Buffalo State College on Elmwood Avenue.

Unlike the expensive universities where undergraduate students are taught by graduate students and seldom if ever see a professor, 400 full-time professors and 400 part-time professors teach all students at Buffalo State.
Moreover, our faculty are outstanding scholars in their fields who publish books and journal articles and do exceptional work in our laboratories so that everyone who attends gains the advantages of excellent teaching by scholar-professors for the lowest tuition anywhere.

It is a shame that so many people go into severe debt to attain a degree when right here in Western New York the taxpayer makes a great education available to everyone.

Gerhard Falk

Professor of sociology

Buffalo State College


Turner fails to mention?salient facts about debt

Douglas Turner's May 28 commentary lacks balanced informative context. He states New York has the sixth highest debt per capita, but fails to mention most financial institutions benefiting from the debt are located in New York City and are mighty revenue generators for the state. One feeds off the other.

He says New York's per pupil school spending is above the national average but does not mention New York's average income is also above average. Why no mention of the billions spent on capital projects for almost 700 school districts with about 90 percent state cost share?

These projects bumped up state debt but were rarely related to teachers' efforts to improve student learning.

Turner says manufacturing left New York due to high union wages without mentioning impacts of NAFTA and World Trade Organization global trade agreements. National leaders acknowledged New York's manufacturing industry would be the biggest loser. Why blame unions for extreme corporate profiteering enabled by the federal government?

Turner does not acknowledge New York is a major "giver" state providing more revenue to the federal government than is granted back, even as federal policies seriously damaged New York's economy. Former Gov. David A. Paterson raised this issue and requested equity.

Turner plays the "socialism card." Does he really think the United States economic system mirrors that of Greece or the former Soviet Union? There are almost no similarities. Our federal government encourages the wealthy to get wealthier and ignores most of us.

Turner complains the Obama ?campaign is generating prejudice among the electorate against concepts of private investment, risk taking and profits.

I want to know why the Obama administration has not investigated and prosecuted guys at the big financial institutions who caused the worst economic times since the Great Depression.

Some engaged in documented criminal behaviors. All are unpunished while corporate profits zoom to new heights and financial trickery continues.

Lynda Stephens



Result in DWI case shows?the system's big inequities

I am still so livid over this man's acquittal I can barely type. Money has won again. Was it the doctor's remorse act on the stand that bamboozled these jurors, or his expensive clothes, or his three high-priced lawyers or his address in a wealthy suburb? When I heard that this arrogant, self-absorbed man was going to testify, I thought, "Oh, it's all over for him now." Defense lawyers don't want guilty defendants testifying, but their wealthy client insisted. He vetoed his lawyers' advice. He prepared and practiced his act and somehow it worked! Somehow enough jury members believed him and persuaded the others. I am at a loss for words.

The horrible thing is that if this had been an ordinary poor man driving drunk, hitting and killing a pedestrian then leaving the scene, that man's one and only lawyer would have been a public defender, whose hands would have been tied. The overworked public defender, knowing there would be no money for expert witnesses or private investigators, knowing the state had an overwhelming case against his client, would have recommended a plea bargain so the poor guy would not face a possible 23 years in jail on the combination of charges.

And lo and behold! Just today, May 31, the very day we read in the paper that a jury gave Dr. James G. Corasanti a pass, the young man from Lancaster who hit and killed the boy on the bicycle pled to vehicular manslaughter and faces years in jail!

The rich man walks while the poor man goes to jail without a trial. This is not equal justice before the law. I just can't stand it.

Nancy Fernandez



Bloomberg should focus?on harmful substances

What gall Mayor Michael Bloomberg has. He wants to limit soda portions in New York City. It is expected to win approval from his own appointed Board of Health and quite possibly prove popular around the United States. Well before other mayors, legislators or our president think about limiting what people eat or drink, we the people would like a vote because we the people have some things we would like changed in how our government runs.

We don't put people into office to tell us how to eat; there are many more important issues out there. Maybe they should munch on this:

How about not allowing hormones to be put into the animals we eat, so our little girls won't develop breasts before they actually go through puberty and the testosterone levels of males will go back to where they once were. Doctors are questioning why these things are happening to our children. Well, I'm not a rocket scientist, but I can certainly figure it out.

How about not filling these same animals with too many antibiotics, so that when we get sick, the antibiotics can actually work for us. How about not radiating our meat or genetically altering our vegetables. How about stopping stores and restaurants from using plastic bags or plastic foam containers, so as not to pollute the environment with things that are not biodegradable.

I can go on and on, but you get the picture. If you want to legislate something, pick a better cause than worrying about the size of cola someone drinks, like what bad ingredients are in that drink or food that you are allowing us all to eat.

Lorraine Ceccarelli



Lawmakers should ensure?women have health rights

The Reproductive Health Act, which currently is under consideration in the New York State Legislature, is a common sense measure that should be passed this session.

This legislation will guarantee that a woman can make her own personal, private health care decisions, especially when her health is endangered during pregnancy, without fear that those decisions will be treated as crimes.

Unfortunately, women sometimes become extremely ill during pregnancy with conditions that may result in long-term health consequences. For example, complications in pregnancy can lead to kidney failure and result in irreparable harm and the need for life-long dialysis.

A pregnant woman experiencing a serious medical complication like kidney failure is faced with choosing between protecting her own health by ending the pregnancy or continuing with a wanted but high-risk pregnancy.
Of course, this choice should belong to the woman, with guidance from her trusted medical providers. But because of a troubling gap in the state's law, this complicated and deeply personal decision is compounded with fear of criminal repercussions.

Because New York's criminal code makes it a potential crime to provide an abortion late in pregnancy – even if the woman and her doctor determine that she needs an abortion to protect or maintain her health – women's and health care providers' decisions and recommendations are influenced by factors like fear of prosecution, rather than personal choice, medicine and health.

This state has a proud legacy of policies that prioritize access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Please urge lawmakers to further prioritize women's health by passing the Reproductive Health Act in the remaining weeks of this session.

Jennifer R. Scharf, Esq.

Ambassador, Planned Parenthood