From prison yard to coma | May 27
Shameful treatment of mentally ill
We are supposedly the most humane, advanced society the world has known. Yet we still jail young and old with mental illnesses, despite knowing that often the mentally ill lack the "stop" mechanism in the brain/mind that keeps the rest of us from carrying out our fantasies or criminal ideas.
I am outraged. A 20-year-old is placed on meds to keep his schizophrenia under control, a situation he was born with, that he didn't ask for, but he is jailed for holding up a Walgreens store with two sticks. He is taken to a boot-camp-type of facility where, applying a one-size-fits-all mentality, he is forced to do strenuous physical exercises in 86-degree weather, despite being susceptible to sunstroke, overheating and, in this case, fighting for his very life. Despite legal provisions for other options for his "crime," the great state of Florida now finds itself facing a huge financial outlay for hospitalization, medications and the possibility of legal sanctions and filings by his family.
Statistics on the mentally ill being jailed are so huge, they are hard to even grasp. To say this is a black eye on our state and on our country is like saying the Grand Canyon is a ditch. Hang your head, John Q. Citizen. Do not think this could not happen to you or to your family or friends. Express your outrage to any publication or person in power, over and over. Even water wears away stone. Had Samuel Joel Dread been jailed because he had muscular dystrophy, etc., the outcry would be deafening. Do not forget "the power of one."
Marilyn Booth, National Alliance on Mental Illness — Citrus County, Inverness
Sudden end to storied career | June 8
It causes great pain to hear the distorted views about Israel spoken by such an iconic journalist as Helen Thomas. Telling Jews "to get out of Palestine" is like telling the Irish to get out of Ireland, or the Greeks to get out of Greece.
Is she totally ignorant of history? Does she not know that Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since at least 1848, 100 years before the founding of the modern state of Israel?
Of course, the idea that Jews should go "home" to Germany or Poland is ludicrous. The Jewish people suffered horribly in those lands, all the while yearning to return to their true homeland. And does Thomas not know that Israel today is home to millions of Middle Eastern Jewish refugees who, after the founding of Israel, were forced from the lands they had lived in for hundreds of years?
Perhaps knowing the true sentiments of such a respected journalist as Helen Thomas provides insight why so much of the world's media seem to support Hamas, a fascist, brutal regime that is sworn to the destruction of the world's only Jewish state — rather than Israel, a successful, democratic country that shares our Western values.
Stuart Berger, Clearwater
"Peaceful" Gaza flotilla in fact tool of terrorists | June 7, commentary
It's government spin
This article by Ofer Bavly, an official of the Israeli government, is what is commonly known as "government spin." Try telling the relatives of the dead (mainly Turkish plus one American/Turkish citizen) that their late loved one was a terrorist and I suspect they would not be impressed.
Ofer says that the ships were given the "possibility of unloading their cargo in an Israeli port." Why should they do this? The blockade of Gaza is unlawful, according to the United Nations.
The Israelis admit that they captured the ships in international waters, an act of piracy that is exactly what Somali pirates do.
Until we get an inquiry carried out by the United Nations (not one carried out by the Israeli government and/or America), we should treat Bavly's piece as exactly what it is: Israeli government spin.
John Starkey, St. Petersburg
Israel seizes ship carrying aid | June 6, story
The futility of force
The article published on Sunday quotes a representative of the Free Gaza group as stating: "What Israel needs to understand is that nothing is accomplished with force."
I find it instructive that I have never heard any of the so-called peace activists saying, "What Hamas (a recognized terrorist organization that has fired thousands of rockets at civilian targets in Israel) needs to understand is that nothing is accomplished with force."
Perhaps if they did, it could be the beginning of a resolution to the situation. However, I would not hold my breath waiting to hear them say it.
Michael Ross, Pinellas Park
The Hamas hazard
If there was a terrorist regime adjacent to Tampa Bay would you want cargo ships to enter unsearched?
Hamas is a terrorist regime whose goal is to destroy Israel. They have launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Aid is allowed to enter Gaza after being searched.
Bombs, rockets and weapons can easily be hidden on a cargo ship.
Why should Israel be forced to allow ships to enter when no other nation would take this risk? Israel must protect itself.
Willie Harris, Safety Harbor
1 cent more tax puts Hillsborough on top June 6, PolitiFact
Worth the price
While it's true that passing the transportation referendum this November will give us the highest sales tax rate in Florida (at least until other communities pass similar measures), the result will be a major upgrade for our economy.
As we become eligible for a local match for federal funding, we will recapture our federal tax dollars that for years have gone to fund similar rail systems in places like Charlotte, Phoenix and Dallas. In this modern era, these communities are our true competition, and they are reaping the benefits of their investments. Each of these communities has seen billions of dollars in private investment along their rail lines, each has a higher overall tax rate than the proposed rate for Hillsborough County, and most are subject to a state income tax.
Our county, unlike others in Florida, would have a modern public transit system that boosts economic development, improves our quality of life, and brands us as a progressive community.
This investment will create tens of thousands of jobs while eliminating the pressure to increase property taxes to fund our transportation needs. A vote in favor of the transportation referendum is a vote to invest in ourselves. By spending this additional penny, we will bring many, many more pennies in return to benefit the residents of our county.
John Sykes, Tampa
A nightmare of a jobs report | June 10
A rejectionist philosophy
George Will's column exemplifies the current Republican approach to problem-solving: "Just say no!" He has perverted the old legal concept that "The king can do no wrong" into "President Barack Obama can do no right."
In another essay, I hope Will enlightens us on how to correct the overwhelming problems brought on by the last administration through the application of his principles.
Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater