Bomb blast shakes Tarpon Springs | April 16
Explosions and Easter don't mix
As a Greek Orthodox priest, I am writing to tell you that explosions and blowing up buildings are not part of the celebration of Orthodox Easter. I would venture to say that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Christians, including those in Tarpon Springs, are appalled by the few people who bring homemade bombs to that church each year.
At our church in Tampa, Easter services are always done with great solemnity and reverence. I believe that the majority of parishioners in Tarpon Springs want their services to be reverent as well. So to those who insist on causing destruction over there each year, please stop! You are giving people the misguided notion that all Greeks and all Orthodox churches are like this, and they simply aren't.
There is a depth and beauty to our faith that is never revealed because articles about the Greek Orthodox Church focus mainly on our Greek festivals, our chaotic celebrations of Epiphany and now a bomb blast during our Easter service.
Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, St. John Greek Orthodox Church, Tampa
Gun permits are a growth industry | April 17
Permit holders and crime
State Rep. Dennis Baxley is quoted as saying, "These permit holders don't shoot people." To the contrary, concealed handgun permit holders do shoot people — a lot of people.
The Violence Policy Center has been tracking non-self defense killings by permit holders since May 2007 using news reports, since this information is not collected in any comprehensive way. We have identified 391 private citizens and 11 law enforcement officers killed by people legally allowed to carry concealed handguns.
The carnage in Florida is nothing less than shocking. Permit holders in Florida have committed mass shootings, two permit holders shot and killed each other in a neighborhood dispute, and innocent people have been killed by accidental discharges of permit holders' guns. And these incidents surely represent only the tip of the iceberg, as the gun lobby consistently blocks access to information on crimes committed by permit holders.
Proponents of lax concealed carry laws need to acknowledge the fact that many permit holders are not the "good guys" the public was promised by the gun lobby.
Kristen Rand, Violence Policy Center, Washington
NRA official criticizes coverage of Martin case | April 17
Rights taken to an extreme
I am a gun owner and enjoy the sport of shooting and hunting. But I do not see the need for a 30-round, armor-piercing automatic weapon to enjoy the sport.
I was appalled by the ranting diatribe of CEO Wayne LaPierre at the NRA's annual meeting. He lambasted the media, the president and then expounded his interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Could we look at what the intent of our forefathers might have been when they drafted this amendment back in 1791?
Did they foresee the advent of such automatic weapons that are now available? Did they foresee a populace so armed that they outgun our law enforcement agencies? I think not.
Mr. LaPierre, rein in your rancor.
Irwin Smith, Zephyrhills
NRA shoots wildly from the lip | April 17, Daniel Ruth column
Part of the Constitution
Mothers, hold on to your children; fathers, lock up your daughters. Daniel Ruth, foaming at the mouth, is on another of his mindless rants. This time it's his favorite target, the NRA.
Ruth's hysterics make Rush Limbaugh look like a tepid amateur. Who says the left can't match the lunacy of the far right?
Angry, bad people will always find weapons. Good people have a right to defend themselves. It's part of the Constitution, Mr. Ruth.
Anthony J. Surmatis, Holiday
Investigation widens in GSA spending case April 17
Finally somebody in Washington gets it and has the courage to state what's been obvious to millions of conservatives for years. Thank you Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., for reminding all in government that it's the taxpayers' money, not theirs. That goes for all levels of government: local, state and federal.
This is what comes from big government. There are simply too many places to hide this sort of scam.
Debra Ford, Tierra Verde
Schools enter testing season | April 15
Tests aren't the answer
There is too much testing for our students. Thank you for the chart to prove it. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test brings out my anger and my heartbreak. I have four children, two of whom are still in the Pinellas County public school system.
My son in seventh grade at Madeira Beach Fundamental is a consistent honor roll student. He has nothing but excellent marks in behavior. However, the FCAT reading test is so difficult, tricky and stress-inducing that he has scored below grade level and is forced to forfeit an elective and take remedial reading. If he scores similarly in math, there goes another elective and remedial math will be required in addition to regular math class.
I worry that if this trend continues, when he is in the 10th grade the FCAT will be the reason he cannot graduate from high school.
My daughter attends Osceola Fundamental High School, and guidance counselors and other administrators are so busy monitoring this overload of testing that the guidance department is unavailable to counsel. They only have time to respond to emails — often from home.
I have yet to meet a teacher who likes the FCAT. I have volunteered for years as a proctor during testing. I wish everyone could see the stress on the students' faces.
Elizabeth Fehr, St. Petersburg
From Obama, smoke and mirrors yet again April 16, commentary
Playing with numbers
At one point in his article Charles Krauthammer says of President Barack Obama, "Does he really think we're that stupid?" I can't answer for the president, but apparently Krauthammer thinks we are.
He says we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world (32 percent) while forgetting to mention that the actual tax rate paid due to loopholes is 12 percent.
Then there is his assertion that raising the taxes on capital gains results in less revenue. Capital gains taxes were raised in 1986 and stayed there until 1996. Revenue grew.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach