Standing up for Arab democrats
After watching the Libyan rebels struggle for months to oust the dictator Moammar Gadhafi, I was thrilled to learn that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other world leaders extended diplomatic recognition to the Transitional National Council. This will allow the freedom fighters to access Libyan money to fight their own war.
This is a step forward for Libya and puts the United States firmly on the side of democracy for Arabs, a welcome break with previous policies in which we alternately propped up strong men such as Saddam Hussein or invaded with U.S. troops.
The United States needs to be on the right side of the history being made in the "Arab Spring."
Arlin Briley, St. Petersburg
Joint strike fighter
Let companies compete
Some in Washington advocate eliminating competition on an intrinsic part of the next-generation joint strike fighter jet — the engine — and instead delivering a $100 billion monopoly to one manufacturer for the next 30 years. That can be avoided if Congress allows work to continue on a competitive engine project already in development. GE Aviation, which employs 385 people in Clearwater, and Rolls-Royce have offered to self-fund the F136 competitive engine's ongoing development through 2012, without asking for any taxpayer money.
It's an unusual offer and doesn't hinge on any commitment from the government now, in 2013 or beyond. We recognize that amid the current environment of fiscal restraint, manufacturers should share responsibility for the development of our military equipment. Competition within the engine program is necessary to ensure we have the best technology for our armed forces, while preserving the $3 billion taxpayer investment already made in the competitive engine.
The competitive engine is already 80 percent complete, and the program is estimated to save taxpayers $20 billion over the coming years, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations has called the GE/Rolls-Royce engine a "near-model program," in contrast to the troubled Pratt & Whitney engine that has been beleaguered by performance problems and has run $3.4 billion over budget.
Without support from Congress, our hands are tied. Our engineers need congressional approval to access the engines, components and testing facilities in order to finish developing the engine. The House has voted overwhelmingly in support of GE and Rolls-Royce's self-funding offer; now it's up to the Senate.
Orianna Barrera, plant leader, GE Aviation, Clearwater
Anthony ends her stay in jail | July 17
The appeal of the absurd
I was channel surfing just after midnight Sunday when I saw a dramatic "Breaking News" graphic, then video from a helicopter of a cluster of five or six cars driving down some road. The reporter announced that Casey Anthony, just released from jail, might be in one of the cars we're seeing. "Might be." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry over the absurdity of it all.
Searching for an answer to our fascination with the Casey Anthonys, Natalee Holloways, Balloon Boys, Octomoms, etc., I picked up Remington Norman's Sense and Semblance: An Anatomy of Superficiality in Modern Society. Among theories including education levels and intellectual laziness, he also speaks of these kinds of things as being a "refuge" from the world's troubling realities.
This leads me to wonder if it's like this in other countries, and second why so many of us have become so hopeless and helpless that we need this kind of media-opium to withdraw into. Norman's main argument is that this superficiality has corroded genuine quality of life, and until we recognize that, there is little chance of stopping — let alone reversing — the trend.
It'll be interesting to see what the next diversion is going to be.
Louis A. Claudio, Safety Harbor
Do your part for children
People continue to say there was no justice for Caylee Anthony and to demand improvements in our justice system. Instead of just complaining, why not do something to help children who need guardians to speak for them?
There are lots of abused children in our court system who have no one to speak up for them. Instead of standing up in front of the courthouse, protesters would be doing more good by becoming guardian ad litem volunteers.
Lizabeth L. Cantos, Tampa
End the oil addiction
The United States is on track to send nearly half a trillion dollars overseas to satisfy our addiction to foreign oil. In the first six months of this year we have imported nearly 2.1 billion barrels of oil from foreign nations with a price tag of nearly $230 billion.
T. Boone Pickens states: "Our addiction to OPEC oil constitutes the greatest transfer of wealth in history and is tantamount to a subsidy for terrorism." In Congress, 184 members of both parties stand with Pickens in support of HR 1380, the NAT GAS Act — New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions. Hundreds of thousands of new and long-term sustainable jobs would be created with the passage of the bill.
Doug McClaugherty, Sarasota
Close the loopholes
Speaking for my senior voting friends (Republicans and Democrats), we are willing to consider cuts in Social Security and Medicare — but after the government closes tax loopholes that allowed 12 U.S. companies to pay zero tax on a combined $171 billion of U.S. income between 2008 and 2010.
Bill Wilton, Tampa
Hacking sinks top cop | July 18
So Britain's Labour Party leader contends that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has "too much power over British life." Is that possible? Can any publication control the thinking of a diverse population that has many other opposing publications?
I believe this kind of overreaching hyperbole is driven by the insatiable desire to blacken the eye of Murdoch's news empire as it is one of the few remaining venues for conservative opinion. The suggestion that any news publication should be "disbanded" for the mistakes of a few is not only irrational but dangerous.
Richard Scott, Clearwater