Energy boon in our own back yard | Oct. 20, commentary
Pipeline threatens water, wildlife
Dale McFeatters assumes that we will continue to burn through oil supplies and that, therefore, this pipeline will be built, now or later.
Some realities he ignores:
Tar sands developments are already wreaking havoc on both people and wildlife in the region. For aboriginal peoples, the mining reduces local water supplies and increases exposure to toxic substances.
In addition to the extraction impacts, the proposed pipeline would stretch 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada, to Texas, threatening to contaminate freshwater supplies in America's agricultural heartland and increasing refinery emissions in already-polluted communities of the U.S. Gulf Coast.
He also ignores the most basic solution: moving away from the use of fossil fuels through massive conservation and efficiency efforts. If we choose this direction now, instead of building pipelines, we may be able to avert the worst of climate change devastation and help our communities become more resilient in the face of spikes in oil prices.
Mary Ann Holtz, St. Petersburg
Ignoble end for Gadhafi | Oct. 21
Following the dramatic events in Libya on Thursday, I watched TV interviews on Fox News and CNN with four Republican U.S. senators: Marco Rubio, Charles Grassley, Lindsey Graham and John McCain. In each case the reporters asked whether President Barack Obama deserved any credit for an operation successfully carried out by the Libyan people themselves, but which was heavily supported by U.S. air and missile support and NATO aircraft as well.
To a man, they basically congratulated the British and French for their heavy involvement in the NATO effort. When pressed regarding Obama's actions, all four insisted that what he did was appropriate but should have been done earlier so that more Libyan lives would have been saved.
Obviously, the four responses were grudging approvals for Obama's conduct of a mission that cost the lives of no U.S. soldiers or airmen but nonetheless resulted in the eventual removal of a brutal dictator. I believe these four senators should be congratulated for their ability to successfully coordinate their identical responses in anticipation of their upcoming interviews. I wonder what their responses would have been if the same actions taken by Obama had been taken instead by George W. Bush?
Frank Soos, St. Pete Beach
Photos in poor taste
While I normally consider the Times the best newspaper in the area by a long shot, I have to say that your competition showed far more tact with their front-page treatment of Moammar Gadhafi's demise.
While there is probably near-universal agreement that the world is a better place without Gadhafi in it, the decision to display a closeup of his corpse, as well as another picture of the bodies of three of his supporters, was in extremely poor taste.
Paul Hermes, Tampa
Occupy the classroom | Oct. 21, commentary
Let the children play
I appreciate Nicholas Kristof's article regarding the importance of early childhood education.
The young child from birth to 7 needs time for self-initiated, imaginative play. This is what kindergarten once was — a garden for the young child to have time to develop physically, socially, emotionally and mentally according to nature's own timetable.
Today, kindergartens are what first grade used to be. Everyone, it seems, is on the fast track of early, premature academics. No more playhouse corners, no extended time outdoors, no napping — just directed "play" and worksheets.
Advocacy groups are working to restore play for children. These groups are speaking out about the damage being inflicted on young children whose educational experience is largely cognitive, with little time for the true play of childhood.
This is a situation that deserves the full attention of newspapers, educators, business people and parents alike.
Children are not just heads to be filled with abstract information. Children must be educated in a whole way — head, heart and hands.
Barbara Bedingfield, Largo
Incomes down, but not for richest | Oct. 21
Thank you for this story about the increasing income gap separating the rich from the working people.
Since the "occupy" efforts began, I've been thinking about what my own priority would be for most urgent change needed. The excessive compensation paid to the executive class, I decided, would be first. The ratio of top executive to worker pay is about 50-to-1 or less in most other countries; it's almost 500-to-1 in the United States, partly because those very executives choose the board members who decide on their income.
Think what could be accomplished if even half of that excess were pumped back into the economy. We could repair infrastructure, restructure schools, increase jobs and retraining, and lower taxes.
Eileen O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg
Biotech firm is coming to USF | Oct. 21
Shuffling, not creating, jobs
When a state or local government pays $1.2 million to a company so it moves to our county or state from another place, it is a perfectly legal "incentive." If a business pays an "incentive" to government for the opportunity to do work here, it is a bribe.
How many new jobs are actually created in America? Too many "new jobs" are touted as economic growth instead of counted as simply relocated, causing a loss of jobs elsewhere.
Even highly profitable companies manipulate our governments into paying "incentives" just to move across the county line. They should ask their shareholders to make the investment, not struggling local taxpayers.
Terry Hammonds, Dunedin
Bill seeks to make license rules simpler Oct. 24
They finally feel our pain
So, a couple of state legislators got caught being average citizens recently when they tried to renew their driver's licenses, and now they want bills passed so they won't be inconvenienced anymore.
Maybe they should do that with their pensions, their medical insurance and their jobs. Then they might pay attention to what ordinary citizens have been complaining about for years.
Victor Carr, Largo