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Hire mercenaries to fend off pirates

U.S. kills pirates, freeing captain | April 13, story

Hire mercenaries to fend off pirates

Kudos to the Navy SEALs who rescued the American ship captain from pirates. The Navy did a great job that was worth the many millions in cost.

A less expensive way to defeat piracy could be to have private security accompany these vulnerable ships to ensure their safety. Firms like the former Blackwater (now Xe) could keep the ships safe at a price much less than various countries' military options. A few heavily armed mercenary types on a ship could help make passage safe again.

Shipowners are reluctant to arm crew members as they are not trained in armed combat, so the security force alternative could be practical.

I think that the Blackwater guys are looking for work now that they are personae non gratae in Iraq. It is something to think about.

James Cocca, Homosassa

Tough tactics

My husband grew up with Ken Quinn, one of the sailors of the hijacked ship, and thank goodness they all made it home (this time)!

I have been listening to the talking heads on television debate the issue of having security forces on our merchant vessels and can't begin to comprehend how there can even be a discussion on this issue. We need to blow these terrorists out of the water before they get the chance to even get close to our sailors. Do this a few times and they will get the message.

I also heard someone stating we need to fix Somalia. My question is why should we have to fix any other country? We need to get tough on the things we can handle, and I am sorry to say but some parts of the world are beyond our help.

Suzanne Vale, Oldsmar

Art falls out of political favor | April 13, story

Public art becomes a political target

So state Sen. Ronda Storms wants to cut funding for the arts. Huge surprise. Readers should take careful note of what she's actually opposing: the tiny percentage of the budget for new publicly funded buildings required to support art — not some sort of direct taxpayer funding of the arts. When the county can't come up with the money to build, the arts get nothing. When it can find the money to build, it must forward a tiny piece of that money to public art.

As the article reports, this program has generated total spending of $11.5 million statewide over 30 years — a grain of sand in the wide beach of government spending. Pretending that this pittance takes care away from abused children is absurd political grandstanding. There are many programs many times more costly and wasteful to trim. For example, although there's good evidence that tax breaks for pro sports do not, in fact, result in a net gain for the taxpayer, I don't see Storms proposing that the Bucs pay their fair share. Artists make a much easier target, politically.

Although most public art is politically neutral, when it does present a point of view (whether actual or projected into it by Storms), it is progressive more often than it is conservative.

If more public art were made up of statues of Jesus sculpted by members of Storms' church, I expect Storms would think any amount of taxpayer support of the arts too little.

Ned Averill-Snell, Tampa

Art falls out of political favor | April 13, story

Keep money here

Bill Iverson, public art manager for Hillsborough County, says that the state art program "provides an economic benefit by providing work for artists."

I could support that idea if the Florida art program would be providing work for Floridians. However, the only public art projects described in the article involved sending our money to Boston and Birmingham, Ala.

The article also notes that the public art projects "have often sparked debate over their seemliness." Those are carefully written words to describe the commonly held impression of many of our citizens that "public art" is little more than an indulgent program that offers licenses to artists to offend the public.

Palmer O. Hanson Jr., Largo

Teen deaths

Missed message

Florida has at last two good laws, the one that requires an adult to accompany 16-year-olds when they are driving at night and the one that requires seat belts be worn. The accident that occurred last Friday night emphasizes in a profoundly heart-rending way the importance of obeying these and other laws that seem so insignificant that we disregard them for the sake of accomplishing the mission.

There has to be a better way of sending a message.

John McFadden, Inverness

5 tried to make curfew | April 13, story

Make seat belts a habit

Only one teen in the car was wearing a seat belt. I don't know if this would have made a difference, but there is a lesson here for parents and teens.

My daughter is a preschool teacher. She has told me about many times when she puts a child in Mom's car and fastens the seat belt and the child immediately takes off the belt. "He doesn't like to wear it," the mom says and allows the child to leave with no seat belt.

Making seat belts a habit from childhood may some day save that child's life.

H. Weiss, Oldsmar

Online comments nasty and necessary April 13, commentary

Anonymity doesn't help

The op-ed by Doug Feaver (formerly of the Washington Post) was interestingly unbelievable for its source. There should be no defense "of the anonymous, unmoderated, often appallingly inaccurate, sometimes profane, frequently off point and occasionally racist reader comments" for any publication!

That together with Oscar Wilde's quote — "Man is least in himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth" — is indefensible! To believe anonymity exacts truth is unfathomable!

Feaver acknowledges, rightly so, "We journalists need to pay attention to what our readers say, even if we don't like it. There are things to learn." However for anyone to say that one learns from "anonymous" readers is definitively illogical. A reasonably intelligent person will listen to and learn more knowing the person talking or writing.

Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg

Hire mercenaries to fend off pirates 04/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 7:00pm]
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