Embryonic stem cell research
An immoral use of human life
As a physician who has sworn to uphold the value of life above all other values, as a liberal member of the American Civil Liberties Union, who is committed to the preservation of all civil liberties, I would like to register my unconditional opposition to embryonic stem cell research, as the ultimate exploitation of the powerful on the defenseless, of the rich on the poor.
Based on scientific evidence, not religious prejudices, embryonic stem cell research destroys human life and deprives unborn children of their most basic civil liberty: the ability to be born. Modern science tells us that what we call life is the ongoing decompression of a unique file contained in the DNA of each individual. Clearly, this process begins at the moment of fertilization.
Irrespective of the promises involved in this type of research, its implementation is tantamount to the use of a human being as spare-part repository for other human beings. Morally I cannot appreciate any difference between destroying an embryo and killing a child to harvest his organs.
The plague of unused embryos is an indictment of in vitro fertilization, not a justification to proceed with embryonic stem cell research. I wish that the judge forbidding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research had recognized the merits of this reasoning.
Lodovico Balducci, M.D., Tampa
Session on oil is quashed | Sept. 2, story
Catering to Big Oil
I am amazed to see that Big Oil has managed once again to tell the leaders of our state legislature to drop any action on the possible drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico. This stonewalling by House Speaker Larry Cretul is so well described by state Sen. Dan Gelber as "political rope-a-dope."
I suspect that BP and friends have made those all-important donations to the right political campaigns to ensure their ability to call the shots.
The timing is interesting, coming just a day before the latest drilling platform accident. Maybe it would be good for some of our state leaders to spend time working on these rigs since they feel they are so safe.
Maybe it is time to force these legislators to wake up to the fact that the biggest checkbook does not represent the interests of the citizens of Florida. It's all too easy to see how instead of serving the people who elected them, our officials are using the election to public office as the road to personal wealth.
Robert Waldrop, Parrish
Here's who voted for this stinker | Sept. 2, Howard Troxler column
Just a little gerrymandering
This is the second time Howard Troxler has accused the Republican-led Legislature of "sneaky trickery" in the language in proposed Amendment 7 which was recently struck down by the state Supreme Court for not meeting a vaguely defined "fair and unambiguous" language standard.
But there was nothing sneaky or particularly tricky about it. It was a deliberate in-your-face political maneuver to maintain the status quo by decisively torpedoing Amendments 5 and 6. According to Troxler and other supporters, Amendments 5 and 6 will produce: "No more gerrymandering."
But upon closer examination, not quite. A portion of the text in proposed Amendment 5 and echoed by Amendment 6 reads: "Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process …"
In other words, this language in the amendments leaves the door open to a just a little gerrymandering as long as you're gerrymandering as an affirmative action tool in order to advance someone's minority or ethnic language social justice agenda.
This is a loophole large enough to drive Kathy Castor's gerrymandered District 11 through and will arguably allow Democrats to carve out additional minority or ethnic language enclaves where the voters will reliably, as is the prevailing political wisdom, support Democratic candidates. But in spite of this interesting little quirk, these allegedly "fair" amendments satisfy Troxler's fair and unambiguous language standard. Ironically, if "fair and unambiguous" is the standard, how about an amendment that prohibits use of the word "fair" in future amendments?
Timothy S. "Mac" McDonnell, St. Petersburg
While riding a tour bus along I-4 from Tampa to Orlando, I had a chance to examine the proposed location of the high-speed railroad. I find it incredible that two tracks and the associated overhead wires and towers can be fitted into that narrow area without expensive changes. It may even be necessary to elevate the many overpasses to clear the trains. Making stops between the terminals would eliminate the possibility of real high-speed operation.
Operating modern trains on the existing tracks from the present railroad station to a connection with Amtrak's north/south railroad could be installed much sooner at a third of the cost. Details and the price of successful equipment used elsewhere were submitted to TBARTA.
Paying CSX or Amtrak to operate trains of that type would be far less costly than establishing an entire new railroad with a large management structure.
It appears that the prestige of having a high-speed train has clouded the practical aspects of railroad operation. The resultant very high costs will burden this area for a long time with minimal benefit to anyone except the high-paid consultants and contractors clamoring to build it.
Robert Stanton, Seminole
Government isn't a business | Sept. 2, letter
It's a monopoly
The letter writer's sophomoric understanding of the government/business relationship is sadly the prevailing viewpoint of too many citizens, of whom too many vote.
Government is a monopoly. Government agencies like municipal water, police and firefighters can't be furloughed for poor performance because there are no competing service providers to take their place. The citizens are stuck with an agency regardless of its ability or inability to provide a quality service or product.
It's not just essential services that government provides, but the scatterbrained projects that suck up taxpayer funds that deserve to be examined for efficacy. Homoerotic "art," bridges to nowhere, and federal studies that examine methane levels in cow flatulence are just a few of the thousands of non-essential "services" that a business would dump but government seems to keep funding year-in, year-out.
Steffan F. Cress, Tampa
Audit for Taj Mahal court | Aug. 31, story
Expose this behavior
Please continue to keep the public informed on this, especially with elections coming up. To take money from the workers' compensation fund to build this courthouse — this is exactly what is wrong with our governing system today. There is no accountability to the taxpayers of where their money is used.
The next thing you will read is that the "workers' compensation fund" is failing to meet its obligations. Okay, employers, cough up more money to fix what we created in the first place.
Does anyone see similarities of government taking from funds and not paying the money back? Does Social Security ring any bells?
We need more public exposure of what these elected officials are doing, and I for one want to be able to fire them if they are not doing what is good for the people of this state.
Christina Ennist, New Port Richey