Landing the big one brings tide of scorn | May 18
There should be laws to protect these sharks
I am a parent of two children and an art teacher in Seminole. I try to teach our children to respect living things, that all living creatures are important and should be treated as such.
I am appalled that Bucky Dennis could be allowed to kill such a beautiful creature just to prove he had "the record." Ever hear of a camera, Bucky?
Everyone knows that many of the shark species are in extreme decline from overfishing, including the hammerhead. Anyone who had any respect for living things could not have treated that pregnant shark with such disrespect and callousness.
What are we teaching our children with an act like this? We are sending the message that it is okay to kill mother nature's creatures as long as something is in it for you. This is not sport. A true sportsman would have taken several photographs and sent the pregnant shark back on her way to have her pups.
Let's create some laws to protect these precious sharks.
If we do not protect these animals soon there will be none remaining. These beings are a large part of what makes the state of Florida so special. If you kill all of nature what will bring people to the state of Florida?
Deanna Johnson, Dunedin
Fighting for her young
While I admire the strength, endurance and tremendous ability it took for Bucky Dennis to catch a 1,060-pound hammerhead shark — which also broke the world record on May 7 — it deeply saddened me to think that not only was this giant shark fighting for her own life, but was also fighting for her young, which she carried within. Even worse yet, it was three days before Mother's Day.
You can count me among those who have no stomach for hunting. Nevertheless, different strokes for different folks. That's what makes the world go round. Indeed, we all move to the beat of our own drummer.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
A defeat for conscience
I wonder if Bucky Dennis was allowed to factor in the weight of the unborn hammerhead sharks that he killed in order to obtain the overall world record weight for his prized catch? Would the mother have weighed as much if she had not been pregnant, and would it have had an effect on his coveted record? Or does he actually consider it a "bonus" that the shark was pregnant?
Bucky doesn't get it. He says "A lot of people want to save the world." Well, Bucky, some of us just want to save what little conscience the world has left, but I guess it's way too late for you.
Mich Sullivan, St. Petersburg
Will there be any left?
Humans have always been greedy and brutal with animals and other wild creatures. A terrible example of this is the catch and killing by "sportsman" Bucky Dennis of a large, female hammerhead shark. He did this for the menial purpose of setting a size record .
He should realize that by doing so he has contributed to the decline of the shark population in the gulf. Many pups were lost when this female was killed. Keep it up, Bucky, and there won't be any sharks left for you to kill.
Charles Blowers, Clearwater
How interesting the uproar caused by the killing of shark "babies" — the word used by your reporter. In the abortion debate the one killed is a "fetus."
Kenn Sidorewich, Oldsmar
Senate rejects Gitmo funds | May 20, story
Liberals are learning what it takes to keep us safe
I'm sorry, I have to laugh. Please tell me exactly why Barack Obama was elected to the presidency. He ran for office on the pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center forever, to stop the torture of terrorists, stop the rendition program, stop "illegal" wiretapping, and to end military tribunals. To date he has decided to keep nearly all of these "evil" leftovers from the Bush era and has been left holding the bag on Gitmo because his friends in Congress have decided it's political suicide to provide funds to close the facility.
Maybe Mr. "Hope and Change" and his minions should admit that President George W. Bush had it right when it came to protecting this country. Bush took untold tons of abuse from liberals all over the world when it came to the above-mentioned issues. But now it's all kosher because Barack says it's "cool."
What hypocrites! We have reached a new, new low in American politics to be sure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the war in Iraq was "lost." Nancy Pelosi called the CIA a bunch of liars. What exactly is wrong with these people? Liberals are now finding out that it takes more than good rhetoric to keep the country safe.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
CIA's not perfect
To all of you castigating the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for saying the CIA misled her, let me remind you of a few things. Does the failure of the Bay of Pigs ring a bell? If not, how about George Tenet, the director of the CIA under George Bush and Dick Cheney, saying that Iraq would be a "slam dunk? Then there was Tenet sitting behind Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations while Powell was speaking of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — information given to him by the CIA.
Just like regular folks, they are far from perfect.
John J. Clark, Largo
Ex-prisoners resume terrorism | May 2, story
Imagine for a moment that you are going about your daily activity and are kidnapped by strangers and sold to the Iraqi army or intelligence for $3,000 as a militant terrorist.
You are imprisoned and endlessly questioned under the most painful and embarrassing circumstances by arrogant power-happy sadists despite your complete innocence. You are made to stand naked, chained to the ceiling for days, weeks, months, in the cold, with a black bag over your head, hearing deafening sound while your wrists and legs swell and suppurate. The only time you are allowed to speak is in answer to questions for which you have make up answers, between sessions of having your head banged against the wall. Your torture continues for seven years.
Then the Iraqis mysteriously decide that a mistake was made and that you are a harmless innocent and they send you home. What will you do next? My answer would be to make them pay, ounce for ounce. I would become the terrorist they bought those many long years ago. I would fight them with my gun and my knife and my teeth and my fingernails until the day of my death. Wouldn't you?
Bud Tritschler, Clearwater
Ex-prisoners resume terrorism | May 2, story
So only 14 percent of the prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay have resumed or become militants. That seems to be a fairly low number, but one must question if the incarceration and torture created militants out of some innocent detainees.
After all, most Americans think incorrectly that everyone incarcerated in Guantanamo was captured by U.S. or NATO forces while fighting those forces. Unfortunately, this is not true. Some 45 to 60 percent of those locked up were captured in Pakistan by Pakistani military or warlords and provided to the United States in return for monetary rewards.
We have no real idea what they actually did or if they were just caught in casual roundups. Some of the remainder were supplied to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords, also for rewards. Some of those were children who have been released. We should stop writing about these prisoners as though they were actual "terrorists" or combatants, because we actually do not know.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
Valdez hit-and-run case
Too soon for a verdict
I couldn't help but notice the obvious attack on the parents of Jordan Valdez regarding what transpired after the accident. I can't put myself in their shoes, but as a parent, had I known that my child had been involved in such an accident I would have been in a total state of shock. It appears from news articles that the parents were not apprised that the accident had taken place until after the driver had already left the scene. I would likely have done exactly what the Valdezes did and contact my attorney to determine the correct legal way to handle the situation.
Further, what none of us know is whether the driver even knew that Melissa Sjostrom had been hit, or mistakenly thought they had struck something else. It was very dark and the victim was apparently thrown 100 feet. The car was later parked in front of the Valdez house in full view. The owners did not try to hide the vehicle.
From another perspective, the parents are doing what their lawyer has instructed them to do. Regardless of what their morals dictate, they are relying on legal counsel in a situation that is legal. I would probably do exactly the same thing.
At this juncture, there are still many missing details. I am not wealthy, but I can't help but feel that even wealthy people are human, and should not be judged at this point for following legal counsel. For those who are quick to judge from your easy chair, please wait until all the evidence comes out before rendering a verdict.
Patrick Knight, Land O'Lakes
The road to regret | May 22, open letter
A family's quandary
The sound advice given to the parents of Jordan Valdez contained in the open letter by the editors of tbt* should be noted, notwithstanding that this is not an open-and-shut legal case.
There should be no question that this family's quandary will cause distress for them all irrespective of the final decision each of them makes in this unfortunate accident. The legal consequences for all of them were precipitated by their own acts subsequent to this accident. It will only exacerbate their emotions if silence becomes their final decision.
Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg
She doesn't get it
Justice was served Thursday with Jennifer Porter having to serve her entire sentence, as small as it is.
Her applying to have it cut short demonstrates clearly that she minimizes her behavior and the accident. For her to expect to serve less than three years' probation when she could have been in jail for 15 years shows her disregard for the leniency granted her in her trial and for the deaths of two children. She is still very immature.
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Where the blame belongs
Yes, Jennifer Porter needs to be punished — for leaving the scene of an accident. Did she mean to "kill" the kids and injure the other two? No. It was an accident!
The mother of the children should have been charged with "child endangerment." After all, it was after dark and she allowed the children to go to a rec center across a busy street. Sorry. What good mother would let her children go to a rec center, or anywhere else, after dark without adult supervision?
Place the blame where it belongs.
Sue Slingbaum, Tampa