Posing with gun costs his liberty | April 3, story
Gun case poor example of justice
As an attorney for more than 42 years, I have been troubled by the Karim Moussaoui case since I first read about it. Why would a federal prosecutor devote valuable time and resources to prosecuting a student for a photo taken in a shooting gallery, on the tenuous grounds that he was in "possession" of a weapon in violation of the law? Why didn't the judge dismiss the case on pretrial motion, pointing out how this attenuated definition of the term was not consistent with the clear purpose of the statute, designed for worrisome cases where a foreign student was actually in possession of a firearm that could be used to endanger others? Where was the common sense of the jury in swallowing this distorted definition of the term "possession"?
The Times intimated a few days ago that this case may be related to the pending trial of the students who were found with explosive weapons — and that this may have been a ploy by the government to make sure Moussaoui is available as a witness. But surely the government has other, more straightforward legal steps that can be taken to make sure that a material witness does not flee the jurisdiction before his testimony is needed.
Whatever the explanation for this bizarre case, it surely will not be ranked among the finest moments of American justice.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
For weeks, press reports have described a doomed image of our educational system, plagued by drastic budget cuts, crumbling buildings, school closings, shootings, educators' sexual abuse, student conspiracies to commit crime and a low education/promotion level.
Such a gloomy picture would suggest that all socially concerned citizens would be searching for ways to correct this metastasizing malady that is devouring our nation.
Instead, in the midst of this huge educational and health insurance crisis, which afflicts millions of our citizens, state Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, and his ultra-right-wing Cuban-American political views, is pushing through the Legislature HB 685. This bill would effectively prohibit nine graduate physicians and more than 120 U.S. students enjoying full scholarships at the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Havana, and whose sole requirement is to offer their professional services in underserved communities anywhere in the United States, from practicing medicine in Florida.
How can any reasonable person conceive such wickedness, vindictiveness and absolute disregard for the pain, suffering or death of those less fortunate, in someone disguised as a public servant?
Alberto N. Jones, DVM, Palm Coast
A simple health care fix
I have a simple, common-sense approach to health care that incorporates our free-market system. I believe our present system is confusing for the consumer and inefficient for the government and health care providers.
I propose a government or private agency set a standard or level of service. Level 1 for basic, level 2 for medium coverage and level 3 for an excellent coverage health care plan. All health insurance companies would be required to offer a plan in these categories. Consumers could decide what level of service they desire and the insurance companies would compete on price only. A health care provider would instantly know what level of service to provide for any insurance company. The agency could standardize the paperwork for every level of service and every insurance company.
I believe this proposal would simplify things for consumers, health care providers, insurance companies and our government. If you standardize the coverage, you force companies to compete on price only.
Neal Huber, North Port
Murder, suicide laid out in letter | April 2, story
The signs were there
How is it that a man like Oliver Thomas Bernsdorff can go unnoticed in our society? This man had so many problems that people knew of, and yet they would leave two children with him knowing that they were better off on the street. Even Lloyd Davis, father of the slain ex-wife, stated that he thought Bernsdorff was a sociopath. It seems there were signs that this could have been foreseen and nobody did anything to stop it.
Samantha Pollard, New Port Richey
Organ donation gives life
April is National Donate Life Month.
Almost six years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child into our family. He was born a beautiful pink, chubby baby. Two days later, it felt like my world had ended. A specialist from All Children's Hospital came over to tell us that our baby was very sick. Aiden was born with a rare liver disease called biliary atresia. We were told the devastating news that he would not live to see his first birthday unless he received a liver transplant.
Being new to the medical world, I had no idea that there was and is a massive shortage of organs. Eighteen people die each day waiting.
Aiden got sicker and sicker. One night we found him lying in his own blood. He was internally bleeding and unable to clot his blood due to his failing liver. We knew we only had days left with him. On this long list we waited. It was and is a gamble. You never know if your match is out there, and you can only hope it isn't too late.
Just days before Christmas, some family said yes to organ donation in the midst of their grief. On that day, they gave my failing sick baby his only chance at survival. They are the greatest heroes we will never know. They gave us our child.
Playing T-ball, swimming at the beach — all only because of the gift of life. Most people don't know that there are so many innocent children who wait and wait, and even more tragically die too soon. Please consider organ donation.
Lisa Hawk, St. Petersburg
Squeezed truckers rebel | April 2, story
Truckers send a message
Bravo to the independent truckers who parked their rigs to protest the high cost of diesel fuel. Maybe this is the start of organized protests about the looting of the American public by big business and government. Just think what would happen if all drivers parked their rigs for a week. Would Washington get the message?
If prices and taxes are going to rise, then wages and benefits have to rise and not be concentrated in the hands of a few greedy executives.
I hope these truckers have started a revolt that is well past due in this country.
Jeffrey S. Francis, St. Petersburg
Tax windfall oil profits
The best way to rein in the greedy oil monopoly is for Congress to assess a windfall profits tax. Many economists think a barrel of oil priced around $50-$60 would result in substantial profits.
If the oil cartel prices their crude above a reasonable price point, the profits would be directed to mass transit projects. In other words, the oil industry greed would pay for projects that result in commuters using less oil. What an incentive to be fair.
Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg