Israel, Hamas expand strikes | Nov. 19
Simple truths in the Gaza crisis
Among all the complexities of the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, a few simple truths stand out.
First, the conflict will continue until Hamas and Arab nations, along with the Palestinians, acknowledge Israel's right to exist. Their refusal to do so, indeed their determination to destroy Israel, justifies Israel's efforts to ensure its survival.
Second, Israel does everything possible to avoid, or limit, civilian casualties in the targeted Arab areas, going so far as to give advance warning so that noncombatants can take cover.
Finally, in contrast, Hamas and its terrorist allies deliberately and despicably place their weaponry in civilian locations — schools, hospitals and population centers — so that surgical strikes by Israel, intended only to disarm and eliminate hostile personnel and offensive weapons, must necessarily be directed to areas where noncombatants are located.
Morry Bornstein, Seminole
The political element
We have been told that the White House made only one change to the original talking points, prepared by the CIA, about the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack. The White House admits to changing the word consulate to diplomatic facility.
We also have testimony by David Petraeus, under oath, saying that the CIA knew right away that it was a planned terrorism attack, not a spontaneous mob uprising and not a response to a video. So the question is, how do you advance from the initial talking points that Petraeus was involved with to the final talking points supplied to Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations?
The conclusion has to be that the president is ultimately responsible. If he was not fully aware of all the changes to the Benghazi talking points, then it is more evidence of a disorganized, mismanaged White House.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein does not think there were political reasons for the talking point changes. I beg to differ. The past performance of this president would greatly suggest that this was very political. When one of your major re-election foundation points is that we got Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida is on the run, it would be hurtful, so close to the election, to have to admit that al-Qaida was on the rise and responsible for the deaths of four Americans.
Barry Farber, Gulfport
Dooley convicted of killing neighbor Nov. 20
'Stand your ground' lessons
Trevor Dooley's conviction for killing his neighbor is a sad story of how the "stand your ground" law can be misinterpreted by citizens of our state. I was sad to see Dooley claim that the conviction was "racially motivated." I believe that we need to take responsibility for our actions regardless of our backgrounds.
So many similarities about this case can be made with the George Zimmerman case. Both men were in their own neighborhoods. Both men appeared to be upstanding citizens in their communities. Both men were involved in a close-contact encounter. Both men left an innocent dead in their wake. Both men claimed "stand your ground."
We need to change this law or educate people in how it is intended to work.
My husband and I both have concealed-weapons permits. We believe in the right to protect ourselves and our home. However, we do not believe that you take a gun to a neighborhood dispute (unless you live in Afghanistan).
Yvonne Woods, Tarpon Springs
Not so fast on camera snooping Nov. 19, editorial
I don't understand the Times' reticence in the use of these cameras for public observation. Cameras like these are in use in thousands of communities across our country and prove useful in fighting crime and in times of national emergency and public safety.
I don't hate Big Brother, because I have nothing to hide. If one more criminal can be put behind bars and taken off our streets, then use these tools.
Bruce Fournier, St. Petersburg
Pot laws are no laughing matter Nov. 13, John Romano column
Destructive drug war
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri's statements quoted in this column are an appalling example of the kind of thinking that keeps this country locked in a pointless, destructive drug war.
He talks of logic but then makes the highly illogical implication that legalized marijuana would somehow be easier for kids to get their hands on. As it stands, violent cartels have flooded our streets with all manner of illegal narcotics, and they certainly are not checking IDs.
Putting marijuana in the hands of legitimate, law-abiding entrepreneurs would at least give us some measure of regulation and control.
Of course, the overall joking tone of the article accurately depicts the situation in this state. As long as we have an entrenched, conservative Legislature in Tallahassee and a committed drug warrior like Pam Bondi for an attorney general, any discussion of ending prohibition will always be a laughing matter.
Charles J. McBrearty, Hernando Beach
Watch for motorcycles | Nov. 19, letter
Safety works both ways
I agree that we should watch for motorcycles. However, some of the people who ride them need to watch out for cars. Almost daily I see motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds like it's the Indy 500. Also, many riders wear no helmet and some don't even wear a shirt.
Excess speed and no protection increase the likelihood of an accident with serious injuries. That said, I will continue to watch out for them.
Carl E. Graham, Clearwater
Socialite not a fit for Tampa society | Nov. 18
A matter of priorities
If it's any consolation to Jill Kelley, I'm so far removed from South Tampa society, I didn't even know it existed. Guess that's what I get for living ITT (in Temple Terrace) instead of SOK (south of Kennedy).
It's difficult from the article to see the appeal that would drive Kelley and her husband to spend money they don't have in order to join the club. That ambition would be laughable if there weren't so many more important issues commanding our attention. For example, we learned last week that 49.7 million Americans live below the poverty line. Somehow that seems even more inappropriate than tuxes at the Cattle Baron's Ball.
Marcie Finkelstein, Temple Terrace