Summit offers hope for feds’ use of Web social networking

(Regarding “Why Washington doesn’t get new media,” K Street Insiders column, May 20.) I agree wholeheartedly with Chris Battle’s assessment of federal agencies as slow to grasp the significance of social media and Web 2.0 technologies as vital communications tools. However, I do have one example of how this appears to be changing, at least within the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded and helped plan a May 7-8 summit on suicide prevention and new media. The summit brought together over 50 experts on suicide prevention, online safety and social media, including industry representatives (from MySpace and Facebook, for example), to collaborate on ways to integrate suicide prevention into the new media landscape. Other federal agencies were represented, including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Indian Health Service. The event was a great success and resulted in an important cross-fertilization of ideas among people who would never have found themselves in the same room otherwise. The summit was even live-Tweeted to the public by several attendees.

This summit serves as a model that can be replicated by other federal agencies, in concert with relevant nonprofits and constituencies, to determine how to best use these technologies to serve the public good.

There may be hope, after all, for the feds and Web 2.0.

From Brian Altman, director of public policy and program development, Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, Washington, D.C.

My taxes cover Kennedy’s care, but not my child’s

The article “Kennedy’s cancer in remission” (May 19) begs several questions. For example:

What treatment has the man been afforded that might not be available to others?

Why don’t “the rest of us” have our healthcare paid for by our tax dollars?

My own daughter’s health insurance hit the “lifetime” maximum a year ago — the insurance company effectively declared her dead — and her cancer treatment is currently being paid for by the family, out of pocket, to the tune of $1,500 per week.

From Dennis Papp, Decatur, Ga.

Barbour right on GOP future

(Regarding article “In pitch for bigger tent, Barbour calls on GOP to accept centrists,” May 21.) Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour is right: His party does need a new approach to politics.

Barbour knows that, if left unchecked, former Vice President Cheney’s anti-Obama crusade will continue to drive people away from the Republican Party in droves. So much so, the governor must be worried about the GOP tent becoming a small umbrella.

I doubt that’s the kind of lightning rod Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, had in mind when he talked about broadening his party’s appeal to voters.

From Denny Freidenrich, First Strategies LLC, Laguna Beach, Calif.


Equal rights denied

Unless Congress decides to tax only minorities they shouldn’t use my tax money to prop up minority-owned businesses without propping up white-owned businesses as well. This redistribution of wealth is nothing but discrimination against whites.

I guarantee that every one of the minority owners has more income than I do and is worth more than the majority of whites. Therefore, let them prop up their own businesses or let them do the things that every business is required to do to become successful and not be kept in business by taxpayers.

As a taxpayer I’ve had enough. If these minority-owned businesses can’t compete on their own then let them die out like everybody else. The Constitution guarantees equal rights for all Americans. This doesn’t mean special help for blacks and Hispanics.

From Robert Moon, Fort Worth, Texas

Disgusting and divisive

It is disgusting, after the injury caused when ideas of this type were used to bully the financial industry to lend to clearly unqualified borrowers, many in the minority communities, that the same blatant racism continues to be espoused with no one having the courage to condemn it. It’s time for Americans to publicly and loudly denounce and reject the corrosive, divisive and unconscionably racist remarks and policies that form the basis of this article.

From Joseph F. Branan, La Mesa, Calif.