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Risk of gambling addiction is not proven higher in military

Christine Reilly is the executive director for Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, Cambridge Health Alliance

I read with interest the article “Pentagon slots funding troops’ vacation trips” (Dec. 11), which focused on problems of gambling addiction in the military. You conveyed the devastating effects that gambling addiction can have for the individuals and their families. These consequences are tragic; researchers and clinicians need to do everything possible to prevent and treat these problems. However, your readers also should be aware that some of the assumptions expressed in the article are not supported by peer-reviewed research.

There is a growing body of published research, including some of our own, that indicates exposure to gambling does not necessarily lead to an increase in gambling disorders, and it certainly does not lead to a proportionate increase. Some populations seem to “adapt” to the presence of increased gambling opportunities. We don’t yet know if this will be the case in the military. Another assumption that is unsupported by the scientific literature is that there is a higher rate of the most severe form of disordered gambling in the military. Members of the military might be at risk to develop a higher rate of disordered gambling, but until careful research on this population is conducted, we have no empirical evidence upon which to draw conclusions.

Medford, Mass.


Undeserved label

We read with interest Susan Crabtree’s recent article on Republican Party efforts to woo women voters (“Republicans try to win back the women’s vote,” Dec. 20). The article cites Texas Rep. Kay Granger’s efforts, in conjunction with the National Republican Campaign Committee, to “bring more women into the Republican fold.”

The article claims that Rep. Granger is a unique face for GOP efforts, as she is “in favor of abortion rights, [and] applauded the government’s approval of RU486.” While our ranks are indeed replete with pro-choice Republican women, the fact is that Rep. Granger doesn’t fit the pro-choice label. Although true that she did not oppose RU486, her overall record on choice has been far from encouraging. In fact, in four of the five years spanning 2002 and 2006, Rep. Granger received a zero percent on NARAL Pro-Choice America’s voting scorecard.

Nothing would make us happier than the national Republican Party finally aligning itself with America’s pro-choice majority. If that day is to come, however, it may have to find someone other than Rep. Granger to lead the way.

Washington


Congress: Two houses


I just finished reading Walter Alarkon’s article “Democrats say Bush can’t pocket-veto defense bill” (Jan. 20).

I thought you might be interested to know that someone else besides the Congress holds this opinion: the Supreme Court. The administration’s belief holds no water and should be immediately refuted. This is settled case law.

In a 1937 case, Wright vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled on the exact same scenario and confirmed that Congress is in session any time one house of Congress is not in recess.

Quoting from the ruling: “The first question is whether ‘the Congress by their adjournment’ prevented the return of the bill by the president within the period of ten days allowed for that purpose.

“‘The Congress’ did not adjourn. The Senate alone was in recess. The Constitution creates and defines ‘the Congress.’ It consists ‘of a Senate and House of Representatives.’ … The Senate is not ‘the Congress.’ ” ...

San Francisco