Big cat ownership
Act protects big cats and humans
There is an epidemic of irresponsible big cat ownership in the United States that causes unimaginable animal suffering and appalling threats to human safety. Thousands of lions, tigers, leopards and other big cat species are owned by private individuals and unqualified exhibitors. For this reason, the Big Cat Public Safety Act was introduced in Congress to prohibit the ownership of big cats by private individuals and unqualified exhibitors.
Big cats kept in homes and disreputable zoos are part of a terrible cycle of breeding and dumping animals. These big cats are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. Private owners often purchase big cats as cute cubs from breeders and then isolate, mutilate or neglect them when they grow too big to handle. The cats suffer from confinement in cramped spaces, inadequate veterinary care, malnutrition and lack of enrichment.
Furthermore, if and when these pets escape, people can be attacked, injured or killed. In the past decade, there have been hundreds of dangerous incidents in the United States involving big cats, including hundreds of human injuries, maulings and deaths.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a commonsense solution to this dangerous and cruel problem, and it is time for Congress to take action. We need laws for all animals, as we are their voices.
Patti Schultze, Lutz
Health care reform
Is democracy dead?
I want the entire GOP membership of the U.S. Senate to know I am totally disgusted with the way they are jamming through their version of the Affordable Care Act repeal and replace bill. No women. Behind closed doors. No one knows what is in it. No hearings, debates, chances for amendments. Just write it, get the vice president in to break a tie, and pass it before anyone can evaluate it. Are we being run by pirates? Have the Russians compromised the Senate? Disgraceful!
Gloria Garber, Naples
Disabled citizens at risk
The American Health Care Act, passed by the U.S. House and being debated in the U.S. Senate, proposes to cut $880 billion in Medicaid funding. In addition, it proposes to fund Medicaid through a block grant system where states will receive a preset amount to take care of their state's Medicaid population. This means that if health care costs are higher than the amount received from the federal government, the state will either have to make up the difference with state money or cut services or eligibility rules to make the program work with the money received.
As co-chair of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology and a caregiver for a child with disabilities, I know what's at stake for the disability community. For over 50 years, Medicaid has served as a safety net for the approximately 740,000 children and adults with disabilities. Services provided include long-term care, nursing homes and assistive technology helping to maintain or improve the function of individuals with disabilities.
Programs for children with special needs requiring special education are at risk. Cuts to the current Medicaid-matched funding will put Florida's school districts in a precarious position.
The proposed cuts will further reduce payments to providers, resulting in more doctors pulling out of Medicaid altogether.
Florida's disabled citizens deserve better, and our legislators should not rush to implement a law hurting our most vulnerable citizens without weighing the cost in lives.
Karen Clay, Tallahassee
Trump urged to answer for tapes | June 12
Playing games with public
Donald Trump's behavior, and persona, revealed long before his campaign for the presidency ever began, can be succinctly summed up thusly: vile, infantile, imbecile. Of late, his "teasing" Americans about the existence — or nonexistence — of recordings of his conversations with James Comey demonstrates that he cares far more about showmanship than the gravely serious issues America faces due to his grotesquely bad judgment and absence of character.
Adults "put up or shut up." We know he is incapable of doing the latter, and he clearly will play silly, childish games while we wait — in vain? — for him to do his version of the former.
Morry Bornstein, Seminole
Trump's constant turmoil
Since Donald Trump came onto the political scene, the dominating conversation and energy is about his issues instead of our nation's issues.
Fellow citizens, we are wasting precious time. Please send him back to the turbulent private sector where he belongs. America needs stability.
Doug Hicks, Tampa
Chances are slim to none
The chances of Donald Trump testifying about his meetings with James Comey are about the same as the chances that he will release his income tax returns.
Larry Bush, Tampa
Tune in next week
President Donald Trump is treating the presidency like a television show. He issues a "teaser" before former FBI director James Comey's testimony that there might be tape recordings of Comey's conversations with Trump. Then after Comey testifies, Trump adds to the teaser saying Comey lied in his testimony about their conversations. When asked if he has tape recordings of their conversations, he replies, tune in next week, same time, same channel, and you will find out.
When Kevin Spacey was promoting this season's release of House of Cards and was asked how it compares to Trump's presidency, he replied, "We have better writers." Trump seems to have pretty good writers too and knows how to string along an audience to watch next week's episode.
Mark A. Brown, Brandon