Out of work and out of luck | June 20, editorial
Bad news made worse
What a "downer" it was to read this Times editorial.
Certainly the headline story on the same day, Jobless pain deepens, about the almost depression-like unemployment statistics locally, was bad enough. It was made even more painful by your editorial commenting that the Republicans who control the Florida Legislature refused to accept some $444 million from the federal government for unemployment benefits. Perhaps they regard that as a "courageous" defiant gesture of rebuke to President Barack Obama?
Your editorial aptly points out that politicians can't stop economic downturns but "should have the courage to provide immediate help and the vision to plan better for the long term."
When many of us look at Florida's current crop of mostly self-serving politicians, we see very little courage or vision.
And where is our "feel good" governor while all of this is happening? In between convenient photo-ops while signing relatively meaningless bills, he tries to keep his head down while he runs for the U.S. Senate.
Tony Branch, Madeira Beach
Oil money no boon | June 16, letter from Sen. Bill Nelson
Senator overlooks hardship brought by higher gas prices
Sen. Bill Nelson continuously puts Florida's tourist business above all the other 49 states. It isn't enough that the recession and rapidly rising prices are causing more hardship on everyone, particularly low-income people and seniors. We also have the price of gas adding to the hardship.
Nelson keeps talking about the ruination of the state's economy and environment, scare tactics he constantly uses to win votes and keep people against drilling. Gas prices affect everyone — government at all levels, all businesses, as well as the general population.
We have traveled many times along the Mississippi and Louisiana coast and, in spite of dozens and dozens of oil platforms off New Orleans, the beaches — especially around Biloxi and Gulfport — are beautiful. In fact, certain birds breed annually on Biloxi beaches.
Bill Nelson can afford gas at any price. Most of us can't.
Norman Elzeer, Largo
Trying to scare us | June 19, letter
A flawed petition
A recent letter writer, a 73-year-old chemical engineer, quoted from the Petition Project to debunk the reality of global warming. This petition, signed by more than 30,000 "scientists," originated in 1998 and was based on an article purported to be endorsed by the National Academy of Scientists.
In fact, the NAS had nothing to do with it and stated that it was contrary to the conclusions of the NAS. Also, anyone who had a bachelor's degree in science could sign the petition. It even includes signatories with divinity degrees from Oral Roberts and Bob Jones University. It's been estimated that just over 10 percent of the signatories are actually climate researchers.
So it seems that the petition has been signed by 30,000 or so, likely fewer, folks with science degrees, or folks that at least said they had science degrees, based on evidence that was denied by the organization that was purported to have provided it.
Bill Tetzlaff, Ocala
VA's backlog of claims is approaching 1 million | June 20, story
I am an Army Vietnam veteran who filed a claim for service-related disability in 2003. Since then I have had several claims processors assigned to my case. Each time it took months for the processor to review my file and become familiar with my appeal.
Finally, in June 2008 I requested a hearing with the board. Since then, my case has again been given to a different claim processor. I have called him twice for a status report and each time am told he "isn't familiar with my file" and he "will get back to me within a week."
I have never received a call back. Backlog or not, I feel this is horrible and disrespectful service. In 'Nam we had a phrase for this type of bungle — but it isn't printable in the newspaper.
Robert G. Gammon, St. Pete Beach
Yorkies lapped up | June 19
Remember the other dogs
I was thrilled to see that the Yorkies confiscated from the backyard breeder were all adopted. Dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders absolutely deserve a good home.
What troubles me is that people rush to wait in line for hours to adopt a "rescued" dog, but dogs who are in the shelters for months at a time sit and wait and sometimes never get adopted.
Think about the dog that was in a home for possibly years and for whatever the reason is now sitting in a shelter with no family. It is much more devastating to a dog in that situation to be in a shelter than one who probably never knew what being in a family was like.
I volunteer in a local shelter and know this to be absolutely true. Many puppy mill dogs take years to adapt socially and some never do. Dogs that have been surrendered by owners and some strays adapt sometimes before they even leave the grounds of the shelter. You can see them just strut to the car with their new families, so proud and happy that they were picked. All dogs, whether rescued or surrendered, deserve a good home. Let's come forward not just when there's a media blitz.
Maureen Henderson, Pinellas Park
Obama and the fly
Florida Voices for Animals would like to comment on President Barack Obama's fly-swatting incident that occurred last week on television.
There has been controversy over this issue, and FVA would like to clarify a few points.
First, we envision a culture that acknowledges the inherent value of each individual animal (beyond dogs and cats to include all species), a goal, indeed. Second, we also acknowledge that none of us should be exempt from extending compassion to all other species, regardless of rank. Third, and most important, we in the animal advocacy community work tirelessly to raise awareness that making compassionate choices in our daily lives is not only feasible, but has benefits that ripple into all parts of our society.
The unintended deaths of animals (when we drive, walk, garden, etc.) are inevitable in the natural world due to human enterprise and the way we live — we all understand that. Rather, we focus our energy on ending gratuitous killings such as hunting and sadism, the confinement and abuse within the animal agriculture industry, and the needless torture of animals in research, entertainment and breeding facilities.
We don't condemn — we provide alternatives to cultivate a civilized and compassionate society that will reflect our true values. After all, being mindful of others is a quality we are taught to embrace. Logical steps are just a click away: visit www. FloridaVoicesForAnimals.org.
Nikki Benoit, Tampa