The missing peace | April 22, commentary
Turkey lacks moral authority to lecture Israel
I found the article by Turkish President Abdullah Gul striking. He believes the missing link to peace in the Middle East is the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Setting aside the fact that none of the protesters seem to be stating the treatment of the Palestinians as their reason for revolting against their leaders, he needs to be called out for his country's own gross human rights violations.
Gul needs to look at the way his country treats the Kurds, ruthlessly oppressing them for decades, forcing over 1 million of them to be relocated after revolts in the 1920s and '30s. An estimated 14 million to 19 million Kurds live in Turkey, constituting about 18 percent of the population. Turkey routinely violates the rights of its own inhabitants, has killed thousands of them, and ruthlessly oppresses them.
Gul has no moral authority to call out Israel for its treatment of anybody.
Bob Tankel, Dunedin
Israel undoubtedly will welcome Turkey's expressed readiness "to use our full capacity to facilitate constructive negotiations." Unfortunately, President Gul fails to mention Hamas' and Hezbollah's absolute refusal to recognize the state of Israel.
Only when Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their objective to delegitimize and destroy the state of Israel can meaningful and final negotiations begin to establish peace.
Lawrence S. Greenfield, Apollo Beach
A legislative assault on women's rights April 23, editorial
Focus on the economy
There is an all-out assault on women being led from Tallahassee. Legislators have targeted women's reproductive health and rights with no fewer than 18 bills, including an attempt to weaken women's privacy rights in our state Constitution. These bills are among the most extreme in the nation — many lacking exemptions for women facing threats to their health or coping with fetal impairment, rape or incest.
Many candidates were elected promising to create jobs and balance the budget; instead they are dismantling women's rights and attacking women's health.
Elected officials should roll up their sleeves and tackle the budget. The session is short. Let's stop wasting time and focus on nursing the economy back to health instead of attacking women's reproductive health.
Mark Ferrulo, St. Petersburg
A party gone astray
I have been a Republican since I voted for Gerald Ford in 1976. The Florida Republican Party in particular and the national party in general have forced me to re-evaluate.
A few examples of shameful conduct and missed opportunities: national attempts to cripple unions; Gov. Rick Scott canceling high-speed rail and not joining the Transocean lawsuit; attempts to control or cripple the state Supreme Court by splitting it; taking pay from teachers in one of the most poorly teacher compensated states in the country; cutting education funding; and, most egregious, attempting to ignore voter-endorsed constitutional amendments for sensible redistricting.
The only members of society the Republican Party represents are big business and the rich. Shame on my party.
Michael M. McCarty, Valrico
Obama birth certificate
I don't know of any other president who had to show his birth certificate. There are some nasty undertones here. Evidently there are some who will stoop to any level rather than accept that an African-American is president. Maybe our country hasn't progressed as much as we are told.
Mary Sims, Tampa
War against the voters | April 26, commentary
As a former social studies teacher, I spent a career encouraging students and others to vote. I taught that votes should be based on issues.
The Tallahassee Republicans seem intent on creating more regulations to discourage and limit voting. If they thought the people really supported their issues, they would encourage everyone to vote and they would draw competitive districts so that votes cast would truly endorse a specific platform of ideas.
Instead, they would rather use Big Government to hinder voters and limit competition.
Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs
Keep lodging competitive
As a bed and breakfast owner in Pinellas County, I understand the importance of tourism to Florida's economy. House Bill 493 prevents another new tourism tax that would harm businesses and tourists alike.
This legislation is needed because it will ensure that travelers visiting Florida do not end up paying more in taxes and that smaller, independent hotel owners are able to remain competitive.
We need to do whatever it takes to keep visitors coming to tourist destinations all across our state. Lodging establishments cannot afford to lose out on critical business, and we must remain competitive by not creating or increasing taxes.
David Roy, Dunedin
Drive down costs
A letter writer suggests that Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to revamp Medicare is cowardly because it grandfathers people 55 years and older into the current program. I am in that age group and am prepared to accept that the Ryan plan should apply to me and my fellow senior citizens.
The Ryan plan puts more control over health care expenditures into the hands of elders, which is a better way to drive down health care costs than by imposing price controls.
Ryan's plan would require Medicare recipients with higher incomes to pay higher premiums. I would probably be among those paying higher premiums, but it would be a sacrifice gladly made to ensure that the Medicare program still exists for future generations.
Donald Wheeler, St. Petersburg
Changing their tune
How ironic is it that the Republican congressional majority wants to privatize Medicare using the exact methodology President Barack Obama used in the Affordable Care Act, i.e., insurance companies can't discriminate, there will be a menu of companies and prices from which to choose and the government will help with subsidies.
The first thing the Republican majority in the House did was repeal the act, and now it wants to foist it off on seniors 10 years from now. This is just another way to pay off insurance cronies.
The real tragedy is the money supposedly saved from this action will not go to lower the deficit but will go to the top 10 percent in the form of yet lower taxes.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater