Accord a road map to change | Dec. 13
Work on climate begins at home
The U.N. Climate Change Summit provided a landmark occasion for world leaders and their staffs to complete a new global climate agreement. From Paris to our own city, we have a responsibility to encourage our local and national leaders to take bold action that measurably reduces the worst contributors to and impacts of climate change.
Some continue to argue that the evidence attributing climate change to human behavior is disputable. Even if this were the case, we know that some human actions lead to a far more sustainable environment for future generations. Let's err on the side of sustainability and choose such actions.
I look forward to 2016 and the opportunity for our Tampa Bay chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA to host discussions about and support actions that contribute to a carbon-neutral world of clean energy. The United Nations is a key ally in the effort to reverse global warming. Yet only by grass roots actions in local communities — concrete steps citizens and leaders must take to secure a prosperous and sustainable future — can we accomplish globally the United Nations' clarion call to action.
Mark Amen, president, United Nations Association-Tampa Bay Chapter, Tampa
Sheriff: Good guys with guns may have to stop bad ones | Dec. 9
Gunfire and confusion
I was surprised to read that we are being asked to arm ourselves as private citizens. There are enough people running around "carrying" as it is. Can you imagine more road rage, more shootouts, more "stand your ground" alibis?
What would happen if there was a person firing into a crowd and citizens responded with their own gunfire? This could lead to "friendly fire" casualties. Then when law enforcement arrives, officers are not aware of what they face except for what the dispatcher transmits, which most times is sketchy. They may face a person with a firearm who is the "perp" or the protector. Now the decision has to be reflex on their part. So we could read about how an innocent person was gunned down by overzealous police because he wielded a gun at the scene.
Frank Rigiero, Clearwater
Rubio shakes up Obamacare | Dec. 11
Rubio's misplaced priorities
Sen. Marco Rubio brags that he "saved" the taxpayers $2.5 billion on Obamacare. That was money that was planned for and voted on, and that helped millions of taxpaying, middle-class Americans. At the same time he has supported continuing the excessive import duties on sugar. According to Bloomberg Financial, that costs American consumers $3.5 billion a year in increased costs. That higher cost amounts to a bailout for a small number of well-connected, billionaire sugar families.
The agricultural industry news source Agri Marketing estimates that these same well-connected sugar families have contributed $400,000 to Rubio's presidential campaign so far. Am I the only one who sees a pattern here? Maybe if the middle-class citizens of America banded together, chipped in and "paid to play," there would be more laws helping us.
No wonder we see story after story about the collapse of the middle class and the growing disparity in income and wealth between them and the protected, coddled super-rich. Unfortunately, Rubio isn't the only politician operating with these severely misplaced priorities.
Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa
Scalia bases claim on unproven theory Dec. 12, PolitiFact
Justice Antonin Scalia is halfway correct in his theory of Fisher vs. University of Texas. The half he is correct on is that most of today's students, not just minorities, would be better served in slower-track schools. The misguided theory that every student must go to college to succeed is wrong. The burden society has placed on all students is backfiring; all it does is place a giant financial weight on both the students and their families. If schools like the University of Texas are so great, why is our tech industry crying for more visas for quality programmers from India? Why are so many of our doctors and nurses from India and the Philippines?
One other thing Scalia's comments show is that maybe we should have term limits on justices. In 1789 being a justice for life made sense, but our world has changed since then.
Robert Spencer, Dunedin
Fear of the fallout | Dec. 9
Making personal contact
I read with great interest this article about Muslim-Americans. When I saw the picture of the man from the bakery in Temple Terrace, I decided to drive over to lend support.
What I found was a gentle, kind man who welcomed me into his bakery. We spoke about our churches. I mentioned that mine, St. Mark's Episcopal, looks like the world, with a very diverse congregation. He replied, "Our mosque is the same way. We have people from all over the world and many different races." He told me that Temple Terrace is 20 percent Muslim.
I bought some of his excellent baklava, enough to share with the choir at St. Mark's.
As I left, I gained more than I gave. I found a gentle, holy man. My thinking was once again confirmed. People are people. We must talk one-on-one with each other. We ought to share a meal together. We ought to discover how much of a difference kindness and love can make.
The Rev. Thomas L. Shanklin, Tampa
It's gratifying to read letters discussing the parental side of the equation in the Times' series on failing Pinellas County schools. The dreadful situation in these and other schools is not the real problem; it is a symptom. The disease is an increasing number of children, of all races, who are not being raised by a family that fulfills its responsibility (to their children and to society) to parent children with love, support, structure and discipline.
The real question becomes: To what extent are we going to rely on, and require, our government to become surrogate parents?
Gordon Stevenson, Tampa