Let's try to keep 'Boot' campaigns
For 56 years, firefighters have been particular heroes of mine, both because of their tremendous fundraising efforts for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and for the bravery they exhibit every time they're called upon.
The St. Petersburg Professional Fire Fighters, Local 747, and firefighters across the country annually conduct "Fill the Boot" collection campaigns to benefit MDA, donating millions of dollars each year, made up of change and dollars contributed by citizens who proudly support their efforts. The St. Petersburg City Council will consider an ordinance to ban street solicitations today. I hope the council will consider proven alternatives to a complete ban that will give the city tools to regulate solicitation based on individuals or organizations meeting specific criteria.
Fill the Boot campaigns in Florida and nationwide have enabled our association to fund critical research that's making dramatic progress in the search for treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases. The money raised has also supported a comprehensive program of medical services through our 230 hospital-affiliated clinics across the country, including our clinics at St. Anthony's Neurological Group and St. Joseph's Hospital, and provided many happy weeks of MDA summer camp for youngsters ages 6-17 with neuromuscular diseases.
A ban on roadside solicitations could have a far-reaching negative impact on MDA's ability to support its programs in your area. May I suggest that a fair compromise be considered that will allow organizations that serve St. Petersburg residents to continue to benefit from roadside campaigns?
The positive response of St. Petersburg residents to last year's Fill the Boot campaign, which raised $30,000, is a strong recommendation for continuation of the program.
Jerry Lewis, Tucson, Ariz.
A new black eye for Israel | June 2, commentary by Dale McFeatters
Criticism misses realities
Dale McFeatters' piece on Israel is off the wall. What would U.S. Homeland Security do with the knowledge of potentially harmful materials about to enter this country? Should we wait until these materials entered territorial waters or take care of business in international waters?
Given the opportunity to eliminate Osama bin Laden using forged passports of friendly nations, what would the United States do?
The Hamas leadership of Gaza was chosen by the "ordinary Gazans." The ordinary Gazans must be deemed compliant in this action, something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should keep in mind as she comments on the Middle East.
McFeatters criticizes Israel for its blockades, embargoes and walls. As a result of these actions, the Israeli economy and, by extension, that of the West Bank have experienced unprecedented growth. We must use this growth, a positive attribute, as a key to eventual diplomatic relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Frank Entis, Tampa
Look for the real story
I am very grateful that I lived in Syria during 2008-2009. I taught English to some great schoolchildren. My experiences there were fantastic! Fortunately, I met a few people from Palestine. One lady lived in Damascus; she was from Acre. She and her family were forced to leave their house.
This past week, some great people tried to take much-needed supplies to the residents of Palestine. They were stopped, some were even killed. I am totally devastated by the actions of a few!
The world needs to let the Israelis know they are not above the law. We can debate politics until we are blue in the face. We need to allow simple and much-needed supplies to reach the Palestinians.
During the war on Gaza, I lived overseas, and I will relate that the war I saw was much different than the war seen here. We have an obligation to read between the lines. The real story is always there, just waiting to be discovered.
Peace is a very romantic possibility to many. I am a believer in peace. We need to give it a shot.
Mark Grantham, Gulfport
Too quick to condemn
It's quite interesting to see the European countries that have so quickly condemned the Israeli commando raid on the Turkish ship supposedly taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Three of these countries have a rather dubious history in their dealings with their own Jewish inhabitants: Spain with its infamous Inquisition and eventual expulsion of its Jewish citizenry in 1492; France with its notorious Alfred Dreyfus treason trial and conviction in 1894; and Germany with its systematic annihilation of hundreds of thousands Jews during World War II.
Sweden's condemnation is particularly ironic. This country should have no standing in the European Union since it refused to take up arms to defend its European neighbors against aggression during both of the world wars that ravaged the continent.
But let's be clear. We know the reason behind this self-righteous facade that prevents these and other European nations from waiting for a full investigation into the flotilla incident. They are all dependent on the continuation of their oil supply from an Arab League that is anxious to denounce any effort by the Jewish nation of Israel to protect itself from the importation of any or all munitions contraband.
Earl A. Myers Jr., Tampa
Supporters of Israel are sorely disappointed in President Barack Obama's failure to support our democratic ally in the flotilla incident. Obama does not seem to know our friends from our enemies. He treats our enemies as our friends as he reaches out to Arab despots.
Norman N. Gross, Ph.D., Tampa
Problematic parenting | May 31, letter
David Caton's preposterous response to a Howard Troxler column regarding the parenting ability of same-sex couples compels me to bring the following points to Caton's attention:
• Custody case transcripts do not in any way constitute scientific research. Anyone can say anything in a court of law, but that doesn't make it science.
• Children's mannerisms change as they get older under a great many influences to which they are exposed, only one of which is their parents.
• Virtually all adult homosexuals were raised by heterosexual parents who served as role models, yet the parents' orientation did not "rub off" on them. Why should the opposite be true?
• The American Psychiatric Association, which has reviewed vastly more scientific research than Caton has, in 1973 declared same-sex orientation just as natural as opposite-sex orientation and removed it from their list of mental disorders requiring any sort of treatment. Studies conducted since then have consistently confirmed all the statements in Troxler's column and not a single one of Caton's contentions.
B.F. Emmer, Apollo Beach
Problematic parenting | May 31, letter
After reading David Caton's hateful letter against gay marriage and parenting, I was reminded of a bumper sticker seen recently. This eloquent sticker said, "Don't worry — my gay marriage won't interfere with your heterosexual divorce." Enough said!
Michelle Moody, St. Petersburg