National borders at root of unrest
Most of the Middle East national boundaries were not established by its inhabitants. Britain and France secretly decided how the Middle East was to be divided up as spoils of war and to secure oil reserves. This was approved by the League of Nations as a mandate in 1920. France got Syria and placed a minority Alawite Islamic sect in power over a Sunni Islamic majority and another minority group of Kurds. King Faisal I, a Sunni, was exiled.
Britain then placed King Faisal I on the throne in Iraq as well as placing Sunnis in key government positions to rule over a Shiite majority and a Kurdish minority group.
Establishing minority rule is a recipe for disaster. To expect otherwise was foolish. Insisting on maintaining these boundaries that were established without consideration of the prevailing demographic is only asking for continued violence.
Jordan is 90 percent-plus Sunni Islamic and stable. Syria and Iraq need to be allowed to subdivide into four demographic, autonomous areas.
George Ellsworth, Dade City
Duke is caught in TV ad crossfire | Aug. 26
A choice of scoundrels
Who is the bigger scoundrel when it comes to Duke Energy's fleecing of its customers, Charlie Crist or Rick Scott? I am not sure. They are probably both equally guilty, but that being said, the fleecing is happening on Scott's watch. He and his administration had a chance to stop this and didn't, so my vote for most reprehensible scoundrel goes to him.
Nancy Parker, St. Petersburg
Blame the Legislature
I agree with recent letter writers bemoaning Duke Energy's latest incident of increasing revenues on the backs of its consumers. But Duke is only doing what is legal. Our Legislature is the real culprit. At some point they said, "Sure, you can charge your customers for a power plant that will never be built" and allowed other financial shenanigans to benefit these monopolies.
So if you go to the polls and vote the "same old, same old," that's what you'll get. In addition to increasing your insulation and planting trees, you have the power to right these wrongs and be charged a fair price for the power you use — but only if you pay close attention to whom you vote for.
Janet Bibber, Seminole
Duke gets the cash, you get the shaft Aug. 24, John Romano column
For publicly owned power
In reference to John Romano's challenge on what we are going to do about Duke Energy playing its customers for chumps, he has pointed out in past columns that many of our politicians run unopposed, and when they do run against a candidate, that person is often another politician who has pledged "loyalty to corporate bigwigs and out-of-state interests instead of the folks back home."
Although thankfully I am not a current Duke Energy customer, I want to make a bolder, more radical and perhaps utopian suggestion than merely demanding answers: Let us start a movement to find a way to boot Duke Energy out of Florida and start a publicly owned utility in its place.
Dan Corson, Riverview
Judge upholds map revisions | Aug. 23
Draw impartial lines
Judge Terry Lewis is wrong. Those slight tweaks to our congressional districts are no more constitutional than the original. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's delight confirms that fact.
Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court can overrule Lewis and can find this charade unconstitutional. It can also find that the Legislature is incapable by its very structure of creating impartial districts. By its nature it's a political body. You can't expect it to act nonpolitically. It never has.
But who can do an unbiased job? The court can direct the Legislature to delegate three impartial circuit judges to design unbiased districts. Choose them from around the state. Make the new districts effective 10 months before the 2016 election.
Bill Cooper, St. Petersburg
Tampa bracing for boom of bikes | Aug. 24
Traffic and bicycles
Tampa's Channelside shopping center has a new, successful owner; the majestic River Walk is almost complete; and young people are rapidly moving into the downtown business district. And now there will be more than 300 bikes available to downtowners to rent and navigate through the bustling, chaotic traffic.
This concept works in bustling Manhattan, where vehicular mayhem is a 24-hour-a-day occurrence. And perhaps it's also doing well in the other 35 cities offering rental bikes by the hour. However, I don't believe it's a concept that is ready to be widely accepted. I wish the promoters luck, and as a supporter of downtown growth, I hope it doesn't become another failed albatross like the trolley.
Mike Merino, Tampa
Bank of America let off too easily Aug. 25, editorial
Government is culpable
In the spirit of going after every financial institution that contributed to the mortgage crisis, the next target of the U.S. Justice Department should be the federal government.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two private companies at the time, pushed banks hard to underwrite mortgages for people who could not afford them. They then wrapped up these mortgages for willing Wall Street firms.
Today, both Fannie and Freddie are owned by the federal government and turn over almost $100 billion per year in profits to the U.S. Treasury.
Perhaps the first person who could be "punished individually," as the Times suggests, is former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who before the financial crisis resisted further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs