Football safety takes a hit | Nov. 19
Take gridiron injuries seriously
Hats off to the Times, the University of South Florida and everyone else who is finally trying to bring attention to and education about potentially devastating football injuries.
As a sports medicine physician with more than 30 years of sideline football coverage under my belt, it is my hope that the information you are providing is taken seriously by parents, coaches, administrators and athletes. The scientific studies being carried out now confirm what those of us who care for these athletes have known for a long time: Multiple and sometimes even single episodes of head trauma have devastating consequences. No real secret here. Hopefully, the good work of USF and others will help pound this home.
But we live in a society that is infatuated with football at every level. Emphasis is on winning at any cost, from the 6-year-olds who can barely move with full pads to the professionals who wear as few pads as possible, risking life and limb to be a split second faster.
I have three suggestions:
• Require basic education dealing with prevention and immediate treatment of head and other common sports-related injuries for every adult who has any involvement or responsibility for any of these young athletes. This would include coaches, officials and the people responsible for organizing competition.
• Blow the whistle! There are no real consequences for infractions of rules meant to prevent head injuries in football. A few yards are soon forgotten, but expulsion for a number of plays or from a game or games will show results. Officials must be immune from any actions as a result of officiating and enforcement of rules. The "zebras" need to know that they can and should make needed calls with no fear.
• Require proper protective gear that is inspected on a regular basis. Ill-fitting helmets and other equipment do little to prevent and may contribute to injuries.
As long as the infatuation with the collision sport of football exists, there will be head and other injuries, so we must do all we can to protect our children.
Dr. John W. Kauzlarich, Largo
Israelis debate deal for U.S. jets | Nov. 16
A bad bargain for U.S.
I was saddened to read that our leaders in Washington are asking Israel to accept $3 billion in military aid, including a gift of 20 F-35 stealth fighter planes, in exchange for halting construction of Jewish settlements for 90 days.
The deal requires the United States to support Israel's position at the United Nations to block recognition of any unilateral Palestinian move to declare independence. Israel already receives $3 billion in annual aid from the United States, much of which is spent on military equipment.
With the biggest deficit in history, how much more can we afford to give?
We have previously asked Israel to stop building on land that the Palestinians are hoping for, and our requests have been ignored. The Palestinians deserve a home; this is just another stall.
Joseph Zaine, New Port Richey
North Koreans need food aid | Nov. 21
Don't help the despot
The article on the need in North Korea for food and other humanitarian aid is very touching, but I am sorry to have to say "send no help." North Korea is a sore spot on humanity, and to send any aid would be a tragic mistake.
Sadly, the people who need it would never see it or benefit from it. The regime of Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, would confiscate any humanitarian aid for itself and the military.
Amazingly, this report was on Page 17A while a story on Page 3A informed us of the unveiling of a new nuclear plant in North Korea. Obviously, Kim has more concern for building up his military power than providing for his starving people.
Let them take care of themselves. Don't waste our tax dollars or aid for a regime that will only confiscate it for itself and its military power. I know this sounds harsh and heartless, but we must take care of our own before we send one cent to this despotic nightmare called a country.
Daniel J. Moran, Clearwater
St. Louis is most dangerous city | Nov. 22
You ran a brief article reporting that St. Louis is the most dangerous U.S. city of over 75,000 population according to a CQ Press study based on FBI violent crime data (2009). What you curiously failed to report is that St. Petersburg ranked 31st in that study and ranked as the most dangerous city in Florida. Is there a reason for this omission?
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg
Remember the soldiers
Next time you hear someone complain about the horrible ordeal they went through while getting a patdown or being scanned at an airport, think of our soldiers around the world who are fighting terrorism 24 hours each day (and the thousands who have been killed or maimed to protect us).
I see it as my duty to do my small part in keeping myself and my fellow citizens safe. These "protesters" sound more like "whiners" to me.
Jim McKenna, Tampa
Supping with the new chief at $25,000 a pop Nov. 23
Scott's grand style
Kudos to Daniel Ruth, who expressed the feelings many of us must have about the "peek" into Rick Scott's style. Candlelight dinners for the rich because it's quaint. Candlelight dinners for the poor because they can't afford electricity.
At $25,000 per plate, what a grand way to celebrate the future unemployment of hundreds of state workers, while supporting the elimination of extended survival benefits for the currently unemployed. And the $180,000 consulting fee for the "jobs plan" would cover a lot of weekly unemployment checks.
Before even taking the oath of office, the governor-elect has signaled his reverse-Robin Hood approach: take from the poor and give to the rich. Maybe he will leave us some candlelight dinner table scraps.
Robert Mathews, St. Petersburg
Bolivia's leader tells U.S. to butt out | Nov. 23
Early in life we learn that you can't buy friendship. Why can't our leaders learn this lesson? We continue to give millions of dollars to countries that hate us and are uncooperative.
We give $70 million annually to Bolivia and it tells us to "butt out." Why don't we stop all of this foolishness and start paying down our national debt with these dollars?
Rodney Mitchell, Spring Hill