Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Hold Putin accountable for downed airliner

The world rightly turned its anger and attention Friday to who should be held accountable for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over war-torn Ukraine. All signs point to Russian President Vladimir Putin. While only a prompt, independent investigation can determine exactly how this tragedy happened, Russia laid the groundwork by fanning the separatist uprising across its border. Russia supplied the rockets and probably the expertise to fire them even if it turns out Ukrainian separatists pulled the trigger. The world should hold Russia accountable for this latest loss of innocent life and work harder on ending a war that is not about liberation but Russia's ambitions.

The jetliner was blown out of the sky Thursday on a much-used and approved flight path from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. In a preliminary report Friday, U.S. intelligence agencies said the attack was carried out using a Russian missile by pro-Russian separatists who control that area of eastern Ukraine. The downing follows two attacks this week by the separatists against Ukrainian military aircraft, including the downing Monday of a military transport plane. The Ukrainian government released what it claimed were audiotapes of intercepted telephone calls between the rebels and Russian advisers in which the separatists admitted to downing a civilian airliner.

President Barack Obama, confirming Friday that one U.S. citizen was among 298 killed in the attack, struck the right note in calling for prompt access to the accident site by international investigators. And he was right to caution against a rush to judgment on who fired at the plane and with what intent. Still, he underscored the larger issue of Moscow's interference with Ukraine's internal affairs. The empathy he showed to the victims and to the concept of self-determination in Ukraine stood in sharp contrast to the attempt by Russian officials Friday to put the blame on Malaysia Airlines for flying over a combat zone.

Whether the fingerprints on the missile launcher belong to the separatists or their Russian handlers is immaterial. This is Putin's war. It was the Russian leader who has bullied Ukraine into choosing between Moscow and the West. It was the Russian leader who annexed Crimea and has sustained the civil war by inflaming and arming the rebel side. Putin has talked peace even as he has used the separatists' military gains as leverage to violate the integrity of a sovereign state. The attack showed one of two things: either a resurgent Russia undeterred by political and economic sanctions so far, or a rebel movement with the firepower and disregard for civilian life that nobody expected.

A cease-fire in Ukraine would create the conditions necessary to bring an international team of investigators to the crash site. The Ukrainian government, the separatists and Russia should work to secure the debris field and the airplane's voice and data recorders. The United States and Europe also need to prepare a much tougher sanctions package than the ones already imposed on Russia. Whoever launched Thursday's attack should pay heavily, and the tragedy should also bolster the world community's resolve to end the war.

Comments
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17