Can we leave yet? No | July 21, Thomas Friedman column
Schools bring hope to Afghanistan
After watching the Soviet Union fight for years in Afghanistan and still lose, I would be one of the first to say, "Let's just walk away." However, after reading Thomas Friedman's article about the success of Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea), I tend to agree that the United States needs to stay there.
Even though the military is not "winning" with guns and ammunition, Mortenson is winning with schools and education for young girls. Someone once said, "Teach a child to read, and he will never be a slave again." By teaching these young girls in grades one through six, they will become better mothers and will educate their families. Apparently the Taliban agrees. They "have bombed, burned or shut down more than 640 schools in Afghanistan and 350 schools in Pakistan."
We may win the war on ideas within Islam and bring empowerment to young women who will, in turn, bring about change in the government. Maybe the real change will come with a new generation of young people who are taught to believe in themselves, and who can do it better than young girls teaching first their families and then their own young children. It is wonderful to see something positive happening in Afghanistan.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
U.S. decries video of captured soldier July 20, story
We can't claim the moral high ground
The capture of Army Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl by Islamic militants and the subsequent distribution of the video are condemned by the Pentagon as humiliating and in violation of international law and accepted rules of war.
There can be no question that these characterizations are accurate. The United States has, however, during the Bush-Cheney years, forfeited any claim of moral superiority because of that administration's policies of extraordinary rendition, sending persons to countries where they would be tortured, and engaging in acts of torture (waterboarding) ourselves.
The Department of Defense correctly denounces the video as an act designed to humiliate prisoners; it was not bothered by dog leashes on prisoners at Abu Ghraib or posing them naked in sexually suggestive poses.
President Barack Obama's attempts to restore our international credibility by reaching out to all people of goodwill are the start of a long process to restore our morality abroad.
Jim Stillman, Lutz
A picture is worth a thousand names July 21, story
I am shocked that the St. Petersburg Times used Deputy Mark Eastty's story of arresting Elisur Velazquez-Lopez to highlight the success of the facial recognition software used by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
What on earth could have prompted Eastty to ask the passenger of a vehicle pulled over for an expired tag for his ID and then go so far as to take a picture of the passenger to run it through the system?
Eastty is quoted as saying that no one has ever given him grief on it. That is because people do not understand they still have rights when pulled over by a police officer. We are taught to blindly obey police officers, but every situation does not warrant full compliance. This article was interesting, but this example was utterly ridiculous.
Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park
More guns not a solution | July 15, letter
More limits make no sense
The letter writer's solution to all the problems of crime and violence in our society is to make legal gun ownership much more restrictive for law-abiding citizens, thereby reducing the number of people who are capable of self-defense, as well as reducing the areas in which carrying a gun is allowed by law.
The truth is that since the Florida initiated concealed-carry weapons laws and the 10-20-Life law, which sets mandatory penalties for the criminal use of firearms, our violent crime rates have fallen dramatically.
Criminals surely prefer unarmed victims and gun-free zones. Schools and universities provide a perfect gun-free environment for them. Churches and workplaces provide other mostly gun-free zones. There is no reason to prevent or discourage any qualified and licensed citizen from carrying a concealed weapon in these areas.
To promote less lawful carrying of firearms by properly licensed citizens makes no sense at all, and right now there are more than 580,000 individuals in possession of a Florida concealed weapon or firearm license who most assuredly agree.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
Focus on bigger issues | July 17, letter
Kathleen Shanahan, former chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush, suggests that we focus on the larger issues facing Florida instead of concentrating on the use of state planes by some of our elected officials. Does she think the unethical use of state planes for personal use is a minor issue?
How are we to judge candidates for office if not by their honesty, integrity and ethics? If they quietly take advantage of their position now, what will they do when they get elected to higher office? What about the unnecessary expense to the taxpayer?
I wonder if she felt this way when she was working for Gov. Bush.
Anne Zolt, Sun City Center
The squandered stimulus | July 20, Robert Samuelson column
Fixing the first one
Thank you for this article by Robert Samuelson. You made us all much smarter on what's in the first stimulus bill, why it isn't working, and the political reasons behind it.
His recommendation of redoing the first stimulus if they don't like it makes a lot more sense to me rather than blindly spending much more money on a second one a la Paul Krugman.
Rick Shale, Homosassa
He's all pedals and peace | July 20, story on the Bikini Bicyclist
Curb this coverage
Was this really front-page "news"? The last thing I anticipate reading about when I open my morning paper is some man in Tallahassee riding a bike in a thong.
Why not get back to reporting what the people want to hear about? He's not even in our locale. Let's go back to when the news was news and not stupidity. My subscription is straddling the fence as it is and this didn't help.
Donna Veddy, Pinellas Park