Obama takes lead on hunger | July 10, editorial
Be wary of hunger program
The editorial on the G-8's commitment to food aid should be taken with a grain of salt.
Before getting too excited about the billions being used to subsidize fertilizers and seeds for the 500 million struggling farmers, we should take a closer look at who will be the real beneficiaries of this aid.
It is a lofty ideal to "teach a man to fish," but if these farmers are being "given" patented seed to grow commodities crops that require the use of expensive chemical fertilizers, crops intended not to feed their neighbors but to enter the commodities market for export, then we are doing nothing but setting these farmers up for failure.
The struggling farmers in Africa do not receive the subsidies that American agribusinesses receive, nor do they have the luxury of holding on to their grain until prices increase as they often need money immediately after harvest in order to feed their families. They cannot save seed to plant the next year's crop because the seed is patented, so they must reinvest every year. They often do not have accessible water, and the reliance on rain for seeds that require substantial water is tenuous, to say the least.
If the aid is used for sustainable farming to grow indigenous crops for the direct benefit of the local populations, this would truly be helping the global farming community. It will be interesting to track the $15 billion and see how much ends up in the bank accounts of the few giant seed and fertilizer companies, and how many of the farmers who receive "aid" are still able to work their land at the end of the three years.
Anita Jimenez, Ruskin
Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story
Don't forget the attacks on America
After reading last Sunday's article regarding the conditions at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, it appears the reporting staff at the St. Petersburg Times has forgotten 9/11 and why those terrorists are at Gitmo to start with.
It appears they are provided with "state of the art" medical care (more than most in America can claim today), excellent dining options, religious freedom, exercise equipment, etc. Only the hard-core are detained for 22 hours per day.
I am not sure what Times writer Meg Laughlin was expecting. Perhaps a "group hug" and send them all home.
Gordon Johnson, Palm Harbor
Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story
Thank you for this outstanding article. Once again, Meg Laughlin did a wonderful job of looking beyond the official story and getting to the reality of a situation.
A lot of things were done behind closed doors the last eight years, so I hope to see more articles like this one.
Melva Underbakke, Temple Terrace
Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story
This was an excellent article from an obviously excellent reporter. It could occur only in an independent newspaper like the St. Petersburg Times.
W.H. Warrick III, M.D., Gainesville
Just like Bush
Late last month it was reported that the White House created language in a potential executive order that would allow the Obama administration to hold terrorist suspects indefinitely. The executive order would bypass Congress because the White House fears that coming to an agreement on how to close Guantanamo will not come fast enough.
However, by agreeing to incarcerate alleged criminals without cause, President Barack Obama is embracing the same technique beloved by President George W. Bush of detaining people without charge or trial under the laws of war. It appears Obama will talk the talk, but does not have the courage to walk the walk, and his willingness to renege on American principles could lead to further tarnishing of this country's reputation abroad.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Bilal Farooqi, Tampa
Let's get building
This country is facing monumental problems, the likes of which America has not experienced since the 1930s. We are in need of some fast-acting relief.
The road to recovery will start with getting back to work. No jobs, no recovery. It's not rocket science, it's common sense.
Our government must stimulate the mom and pop businesses. We need to regenerate our manufacturing ability. We cannot be "consumers" buying products from every country but our own.
Wake up, America! "Build me something and I'll buy it" must be the new motto of the American people. Keep U.S. dollars in the United States. Muster the troops and let's get building.
Bill Coleman, Dunedin
Another stimulus? No way | July 9, Chicago Tribune editorial
Clearer heads needed
The Chicago Tribune's editorial published in the St. Petersburg Times assumes that our economy's current failure to grow is a demonstration that the stimulus package has not yet had the desired effect. It does not acknowledge, however, that the stimulus might have played an important role in keeping the current recession from becoming even worse than it has (though, as the editorial notes, the stimulus is still mostly in the pipeline).
The Tribune also rejects the argument, made by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, among others, that our economy needs another stimulus, and offers an unconvincing cooking analogy to make its case. (If you're cooking a turkey that will be done at 6 p.m., you won't eat earlier by putting a second turkey in the oven.) The analogy fails because it is not much akin to the situation we face.
A better analogy might be an ER patient near death because of internal bleeding: If the patient does not sufficiently respond after doctors stem the blood flow and provide a transfusion, a second transfusion may be needed.
I lack the economic expertise to offer an informed opinion on whether a second stimulus is needed and would truly help. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: We need clearer heads to address this issue than those behind this editorial.
David J. Bryant, St. Petersburg
Taxpayers get bill for frequent fliers | July 5, editorial
Let them move
Your editorial last Sunday was spot on. I have been reading about all this taxpayer-provided air travel for our elected/appointed officials in your newspaper.
In my opinion, if you are interested in a state job and your office/duty station is in Tallahassee, then you should move to Tallahassee to perform it, or don't take the job.
What other employers provide free travel for workers? We cannot afford these luxuries.
Thomas Moyer, Oldsmar
Life has its downs and acrosses July 5, Perspective story
I do the crosswords in your paper. I find them stimulating and I look forward to them. However, in last Sunday's Perspective section, I found this article's comparing the ritual of the daily crossword with the sacred ritual of Holy Communion observed by Catholics absurd and offensive.
Of all the comparisons one could make, why would the writer choose this? The reception of the Holy Eucharist is a sacred observance and ritual in my faith and should not be put on the same level of receiving a crossword puzzle.
Jean Brown, Lecanto
Jackson's weirdness part of the story, too | July 10, Daniel Ruth column
Sense at last
I have been wishing for a long time that common sense would make a comeback in your paper's op-ed columns. Friday morning, I actually read Daniel Ruth's column in its entirety. Usually, if I read it at all, I never get past the first paragraph before I move on to better things.
It was such a surprise to see such common sense coming from such an acerbic, radical leftist. He must have some common sense genes tucked away somewhere as he sure put into print what most of us are thinking but can't say out loud lest we be vilified for saying so.
Jackson was a great choreographer and I enjoyed his music. I have sympathy for his children and those who really loved him. But Ruth nailed it with comments about the idolization of Jackson after his death.
S.L. Hutton, Largo