Fair warning? | June 22
Grisly cigarette labels go too far
The war on tobacco and government intervention have gone too far. We all know cigarette smoking causes health problems and, in some cases, death. That is not in question. However, the government should not be able to force the manufacturer of a legal product to comply with its demands for grisly photos on packaging.
If it can do this, then why aren't alcohol manufacturers forced to put labels on their products that show a cirrhotic liver, a failing heart, or a DUI death? And why not demand labeling on nonnutritious, obesity-causing food products? Should a box of doughnuts have a picture of a 400-pound person with limbs amputated because of diabetes?
Where does it stop? People will make their own choices (right or wrong). They always have, and they always will. The answer is not government-imposed demands on manufacturers to comply with the government's idea of what should be on product labels. I don't see this as the government's role.
This is a slippery slope and yet another way in which government is imposing control by picking and choosing which industries will be targeted.
Sharon Stiner, Tampa
Season of strong women | June 22, commentary
Don't denigrate seniors
This column includes a reference to Katie Couric's having "wasted her formidable talents on a time slot largely watched by the Med Alert set."
This is just plain mean. Many seniors face hardships. Advanced age is often accompanied by aches, pains and declining health; the loss of loved ones and friends; financial challenges; and loneliness and depression. On top of that, young people can be impatient with the elderly in public places.
It's not that the golden years can't be golden, but in so many cases we younger folks can be so critical and harsh. How about a little more compassion and respect?
John Nelligan, Safety Harbor
Olbermann wit, form intact | June 21
No raves for his rants
Times TV and media critic Eric Deggans referred to fired MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann as a "wit." That's half right.
No doubt Olbermann will enjoy the same ratings success for his long, loud and obnoxious rants as he did at MSNBC. That is if anyone can find him in the cable guide.
Kenneth R. Gilder, St. Petersburg
Virginia official to lead schools | June 22
Find Florida talent
It seems strange to me that the governor, who says he wants to increase jobs for Floridians, could not find a single qualified person who is a Florida resident and is Florida-educated to head the Department of Education.
If the governor goes out of state to find people to work for him, how does he expect businesses and corporations to hire Floridians?
Deena Silver, Oldsmar
Rep. Hastings faces ethics allegations June 23
Hastings has a history
How could you print a 300-word story about Rep. Alcee Hastings' ethics problems without at least mentioning that, as a sitting U.S. District Court judge, he was impeached by the U.S. House and removed from office by the Senate for accepting a $150,000 bribe?
Why would anyone be surprised to learn he again has ethics problems?
Tom Lewis, Bradenton
Lives on the line | June 18
Tell the soldiers' stories
Thank you for this moving pictorial essay and story. I wish that daily, objective coverage of the experiences of our soldiers in Afghanistan would be displayed on the front page. Perhaps then people would be moved to speak out against our continued involvement in other countries' issues at such terrible cost to our nation.
How many more young men and women, our future leaders, have to be killed in action or injured before we tend to our business at home and stop destroying our economy with these types of involvements?
Jacki Feild, St. Petersburg
Difficult decade | June 23
U.S. presence fuels tensions
Much has been mentioned about the obvious monetary costs of the war in Afghanistan when the economy at home is sputtering at best, but few stories have questioned the validity of the troop withdrawal itself.
The slow withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, although significant, mainly consists of soldiers redeployed from Iraq in 2009, when Barack Obama escalated the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Even if U.S.-led NATO forces have subdued the Taliban and put al-Qaida on the run, the mere presence of American and European forces in the Middle East has sent thousands of would-be recruits into the hands of these terrorist organizations.
Our presence has fueled tensions in the Middle East where the United States has no right to intercede in the sovereignty of another nation. With complicated tribal divisions and a gross domestic product around $25 billion, Afghanistan has little hope of creating a sustainable infrastructure if that has not been accomplished already by U.S. forces and the money that supports them.
The United States has been in Afghanistan for the past 10 years and will always need a "peacekeeping" presence to train Afghan forces, but what have we really accomplished? Once U.S. combat troops leave the country, it is only a matter of time before tribal divisions, a poverty-ridden populace, and outside terrorist interventions rip the country apart.
This nation has done all it can. Now let the Afghans have their own chance at peace.
Joe Tamargo, Tampa
The Republican leadership in the Congress is "playing chicken" with national default as our recovery stumbles. Our taxes are so low that our government is going broke, yet the Republicans will not yield. Blue-collar Americans cannot give more. But there is no excuse for the country club crowd to turn their backs on the nation that has given them such unprecedented wealth.
Wesley Bailey, Thonotosassa