In Pakistan, religious talk can prove deadly | July 24
Allies should share U.S. values
This article about how Pakistan, our purported ally, is exercising sharia law in a manner that led to a woman being sentenced to death for "blasphemy" and to the murder of the only man who spoke up to defend her is a good tale, but it raises other questions begging for an answer.
The United States has long befriended those who are strategically useful to us. In my lifetime alone there has been Cuba, South Vietnam, Iraq and the mujahedeen (now the Taliban) to name a few. Before that, Russia and China. In time, all but one of these turned against the United States. Why? Because these countries only accepted our friendship as long as we met their strategic use.
They accept us because of the money and aid we bring, not because of shared values. In the end, our assistance has only served to strengthen the opponents of freedom and democracy. Isn't it time to choose our allies for what they stand for instead of for whom they stand against?
Thomas R. Cuba, St. Petersburg
Doc drain in Florida may grow | July 25
Physician supply at risk
As a medical student at the University of South Florida, you can imagine my concern regarding potential budget cuts. The idea of Florida being an "exporter of doctors" isn't new. But now there may be an exodus of medical students because of their inability to take necessary residency training.
Here are some quick facts from the Florida Department of Health:
• 26.5 percent of our physicians are over age 60.
• More than 35 percent of Florida's actively practicing physicians are older than 55.
• 23 percent of Florida's family physicians are older than 67.
• 13 percent of Florida's physicians report their intention to retire in the next five years.
• Most disturbing is the fact that while Florida is the fourth-largest state in the country, we are 43rd of the 50 states in the number of residency training positions relative to size population.
Forty-third! We have three times the population of Massachusetts but roughly 2,000 fewer residency training positions.
Here's the takeaway: Physicians in Florida are older (and soon retiring). Our physician supply is at risk.
Florida has responded to the impending shortage by increasing the number of graduates. Yet with a frozen number of residency spots, the only option is to leave the state with a documented low chance of returning here to care for our ever-growing population, one that has the second-largest senior population.
Many of us don't want to leave but will have no choice. Any reductions in Florida's already shortchanged residency training capability will further exacerbate our physician shortage and access to care for all Floridians.
Alicia Billington, St. Petersburg
Taken over by corporatists
I used to "get" the tea party. Small government, lower taxes and "keep your hands off my Medicare" seemed to pretty much sum it up. They were wise, if somewhat crotchety, patriots, out to save our democracy from overspending Democrats with no common sense.
But who are these congressional tea party Republicans? Does the tea party really want to destroy our credit rating and sink our economy so that tax loopholes for the same corporations shipping jobs overseas may be preserved?
Are tea party members really all about the wealthiest in society and making sure that they pay not a penny more in taxes to the country that has been so good to them? And forget, for a moment, raising taxes. Apparently the tea party believes that even cutting subsidies to the wealthiest and most profitable companies in the world is a bridge too far.
Sounds like the tea party patriots have been taken over by the Republican corporatists.
William Adams, St. Petersburg
Sen. John McCain railed against "bizarro" alternative budget plans put forth by "tea party Hobbits." I don't think that's fair. Hobbits are renowned for their intelligence, courage, tenacity, sunny disposition and for having a positive impact on their society. The tea party Congress members can't claim any of those traits.
Jeff Cutting, Brandon
Standing up for elderly, disabled | July 28, editorial
Lost funding hurts elderly
It was encouraging to see our governor doing something proactive to protect our elderly in assisted living facilities. Too bad he and the Legislature turned down $30 million-plus in federal funds to help keep the elderly at home, among loved ones. That would have be an even more humane way to protect this vulnerable population.
Bonnie Sklaren, Gulfport
Residents fuming over pool disparity July 24
Back to the 1950s
I thank your reporter Elisabeth Harper for revealing the truth about the disparities and inequalities of Tampa city pools. Many of us have dealt with the "out of sight, out of mind" stance during the last four years of the Pam Iorio administration and now under Bob Buckhorn.
As I told the City Council recently, it appears the parks department is returning to the 1950s approach of separate and unequal. Government-sanctioned race and economic discrimination is and has been alive in the city of Tampa.
Robert Pete Edwards, Tampa
I would rather die and A good short life's lessons | July 24
Medical assistance needed
These articles underscore our government's refusal to provide citizens with an option on when they would like to end their lives. I applaud Dudley Clendinen for his courageous and public-spirited plan to end his life before amyotrophic lateral sclerosis reduces him to a "motionless, mute, withered, incontinent mummy."
But "timing is all," and why should he (or anyone) have to go through the ordeal of killing oneself? Our government should face the fact that we all must die, and it should provide humane medical assistance to end one's life.
Elliott Swift, Ph.D., Treasure Island