46 lawmakers win by default | June 21
Solution is in the voters' hands
The fact that one-third of the Florida Legislature won their seats because no one opposed them prompts the question as to why that happened. Perhaps the answer is that the parties have gotten so good at reading "the handwriting on the wall" that they will not risk scarce treasure on a race that is likely unwinnable. The problem will persist — or get worse — until Florida voters wake up.
John Chico, St. Petersburg
Netanyahu: Hamas is behind kidnappings June 16
The Hamas threat to Israel
On June 12, three Israeli teenagers, including two minor children, were kidnapped in the West Bank. The United States has condemned this action.
Israel is engaged in a complex operation to return Naftali Frenkel (16 and a dual American-Israeli citizen), Gilad Sha'er (16) and Eyal Yifrah (19) to their families.
It is possible that the operation, which includes action against Hamas' infrastructure in the West Bank, may take time. However, while acting in a determined manner, Israel is taking considered and responsible steps.
The international community should continue to unequivocally condemn Hamas' kidnapping of innocent Israeli teenagers. Human rights activists and organizations, including those involved in protecting children, should also make their voices heard in condemnation of this attack on three young people.
Hamas, which has a long history of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and has as part of its charter to kill and destroy Jewish people, abducted the three teens. The organization is based on an extreme religious ideology and is as committed to jihad as its Islamist counterparts now carrying out terrorist atrocities in Kenya, Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere.
Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the fate of the abducted teens under the Fatah-Hamas pact. The kidnappers came from the territory under its control and returned there. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' recent statements should be judged according to the efforts made by the PA to return the teens to their families.
The Fatah-Hamas pact opened the door to wider Hamas activity in the West Bank. The pact intensified the threat that Hamas will take control of the Palestinian Authority, just as it did in Gaza. Instead of abiding by his international obligation to disarm Hamas, Abbas embraced Hamas, lending legitimacy to terrorism.
Mitch Drucker, Steve Schwersky and Brian Taub, co-chairs, Jewish Community Relations Committees of Tampa Bay, Tampa
Florida ranks low in long-term care | June 19
State works hard for seniors
The Times reported on a long-term care scorecard by AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation in which Florida is given an overall ranking of 43rd. The mission of the Department of Elder Affairs is to foster an environment that promotes well-being for Florida's elders and enables them to remain in their own homes and communities as they age.
The department works closely with 11 Aging and Disability Resource Centers to provide long-term care and other services at the local level. Services include assistance with the activities of daily living, in-home health assistance, information and referral, and long-term care program education, to name a few.
Florida also has resources to support families affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias through 15 Memory Disorder Clinics.
The AARP report does not reflect a truly comprehensive examination of the long-term care industry in Florida. In addition to the fact that many of the data cited were several years old and collected for a different purpose from how it was used in the report, it also fails to highlight the state's successes at serving the elderly, individuals with disabilities and caregivers. We have a robust aging services network in Florida, and this report does not even begin to scratch the surface of it.
Charles T. Corley, secretary, Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Tallahassee
Do your part to stop deaths
A local television station did a segment last week on the Hillsborough Animal Services shelter being so full that surrendered animals were at a high risk of being euthanized.
I volunteer at the Citrus County animal shelter and work with the shelter cats. The sad fact is that at shelters around the state and the nation, cats and dogs are facing the grim prospect of never making it out of the shelter. Please consider adopting a shelter cat or dog. And please spay and neuter your pets.
Leslie Ramalho, Homosassa
As clock ticked, a final argument | June 21
Respect for unborn life
Whatever else one may think of the herculean efforts of defense lawyer Baya Harrison to save the life of convicted murderer John Henry, the case does illustrate the extreme care our system of justice purports to take before taking a human life. But not in all cases.
Last year, 71,000 preborn children's lives were taken in our state abortion mills. This in the face of considerable medical evidence and public opinion in support of the humanness and reality of the unborn child, certainly enough to constitute a " reasonable doubt" about the opposite conclusion.
In matters of life and death, should not doubts be decided in favor of preserving life? In fact, the very existence of uncertainty calls for the protection, not the destruction, of life. But not in cases of abortion, apparently.
For the 71,000 there were no defense lawyers, no efforts to eliminate reasonable doubt, no appeals, no voice. Only death. Surely we can do better.
Norman Dusseault, St. Petersburg