Again, with feeling: No new drilling | June 11, editorial
Gulf drilling would boost economy
As we head into summer, I long to see oil drilling platforms on the horizon of my favorite Florida beaches.
Why, you ask? Oil rigs mean less unemployment, more dollars invested in America, and more good fishing spots.
The Air Force and Navy have thousands of acres in the gulf to practice bombing. Besides with the extra fuel available from our own wells they can have longer training flights. Let's use our own oil and quit making our enemies wealthy.
Randy Perry, Holiday
Protect our beaches
I'm a Tampa native who spent some time as a child living on the Texas Gulf Coast. I remember the beaches were dark with crude oil, and tar balls floated in the surf. When we went home, Mother had to clean the oil off our feet with turpentine. Dad was an executive with Amoco, and he said spills were fairly normal from the oil rigs off the coast.
The important thing members of Congress and supporters of gulf drilling should remember is that Florida's wonderful, valuable and magical coastal beaches are irreplaceable natural resources. Once they are gone, fouled by oil, it's forever.
However, we know there are alternatives to crude oil production and consumption, many of them renewable. Big Oil can't be allowed to destroy our natural resource so they can sell the world more of theirs.
Andy Bowen, Tampa
VA rules an affront to Navy veterans June 10 editorial
Stick to the rules about 'boots on the ground'
I have to agree with the VA's decision to award VA benefits to only those who served on the ground in Vietnam. I served in an area that was heavily defoliated with Agent Orange. I was exposed to Agent Orange and was awarded VA compensation. I developed Type 2 diabetes at an early age soon after serving in Vietnam. I am 5 feet 10 and weigh 165 pounds, hardly a candidate for diabetes.
I did not automatically receive benefits. I had to go through a rigorous VA screening process and provide proof of my service in a contaminated area, the Central Highlands of Vietnam, as well as provide health records to attest to my condition.
VA policy is not counter to common sense. It is common sense to provide benefits to those military personnel who were only on the ground in an Agent Orange area.
I salute those sailors who served on the ground, but I am reluctant to award costly benefits to those who have a Vietnam service ribbon and were on board ships. "Boots on the ground" is the right decision. I do not support a bill that would award benefits to all Navy personnel. Too many people want to jump on the bandwagon and receive benefits for questionable reasons and use the presumptive VA award for diabetes due to possible Agent Orange exposure on ships in the South China Sea. I was there and it just didn't happen! You have to prove your case to the VA, and rightfully so.
Joe Riggins, Brooksville
Navy's Vietnam vets seek equal benefits June 9, and VA rules an affront to Navy veterans | June 10 editorial
Bay Pines care is top-notch
I am a Navy veteran of the Vietnam era with Type 2 diabetes. I fit the profile of the St. Petersburg Times story and editorial. I applied for benefits after 2002 and was accepted. I am most grateful.
There are many people who complain about the VA health system, but I am not among them. In my experience, the health care I have received from Bay Pines has been outstanding. The system is very thorough and I have not experienced any undue waiting. You can tell when people care about the job they are doing, and everyone I have contacted has gone out of their way to be helpful.
As a former manager, I am aware that working conditions like this do not happen by accident. There are many examples I could give, but perhaps this one sums it up best: I asked the surgeon who performed one of my operations what the difference was between practicing in the VA system vs. private practice. She said nobody questioned her medical judgment. She was "free to decide what was best for her patients without some clerk running a spreadsheet telling her how to practice medicine."
In my opinion, Bay Pines is run very well, and any veteran should feel comfortable receiving care there.
Wm. L. Bassett, Clearwater
Long waits are shameful
My loved one, who is an Army Vietnam veteran, filed a claim for a service-related disability in 2003 and is still waiting for a hearing.
Why was his claim denied? His official military records were destroyed in a government records center fire in the '70s. No records? No claim.
He has a Vietnam Service Medal, Bronze Star and loads of documents about his unit's combat activities that I found on an Australian military Web site. His artillery unit supported the Aussies.
Why must he wait so long and fight this gut-wrenching battle with the government he volunteered to protect? I think the VA is waiting for our older vets to die so they can avoid paying their claims. Shame on the VA! And, shame on us for allowing Vietnam vets to be dishonored yet again!
Deborah Wiss, St. Pete Beach
Empathy is necessary
There have been a lot of comments (by the press, senators, pundits, etc.) about how the administration of justice requires that "empathy" must not be a factor.
This is nonsense. Examples: In the famous 1954 decision that ended school desegregation, the justices made clear that they felt empathy for black children condemned to inferior education.
In the Gideon case in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a conviction that had been obtained in the absence of a defense attorney. As a result, every state is now required to provide a free attorney to any defendant who needs one who has been charged with a crime that might lead to imprisonment. Can anyone really claim that decision did not reflect empathy for an impoverished defendant who had to face the court system with no help from a lawyer?
Lewis Lederer, Clearwater
Job talk is all spin
The president is fond of promising to "create or save" 100,000 jobs or so each month. This is clearly a metric that cannot be measured, yet he keeps trying to pound this preposterous idea home. Under his measuring system he can never be wrong.
You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved unless major employers are calling Pennsylvania Avenue and saying: "Thanks, Mr. President, we were going to fire a thousand people but thanks to you it was only 700."
Whatever. It's all spin and he knows it. If the facts are on your side you don't have to spin it.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
When I was in college my economics professor told us not to take at face value a drop in unemployment figures.
He indicated that such drops often reflected the fact that the unemployed had given up on filing for benefits. That's why I truly doubt the statistics related to the unemployment situation.
Doris Houdesheldt, St, Petersburg
The $100 pantry and Storm cuisine | June 10, Taste section
I usually pay little attention to the Taste section, but The $100 Pantry and Storm cuisine articles are deserving of special mention.
While most cooks keep a full pantry, the staples listed are perfect for novices or those who do not spend much time in a kitchen. The hurricane food kit published in Storms cuisine is useful for everyone in the Tampa Bay area. These two articles provide crucial information for novice and veteran cooks.
Sherri Sujai, Clearwater