Kerry stands by strategy on Iran's nuclear program | Nov. 11
Iran follows N. Korea's example
The Obama team is negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. Can someone explain to me why a country sitting on one of the world's largest reserves of gas and oil is even looking to develop nuclear power? Especially when the world is moving away from it?
Iran insists on nuclear power for peaceful purposes. The deal we're working on is to have Iran "freeze" its most advanced nuclear program. Meaning: freezing the production of weapons-grade fuel. Sounds peaceful.
The real travesty is we're offering to ease oil sanctions, unfreeze nearly $50 billion in assets, and allow Iran to release a giant stockpile of oil inventory.
And what do we get back? Iran will "freeze" the program — kind of like when I played "freeze" as a kid. That was hardly a long-term commitment to staying "frozen."
The sanctions are working; they've crippled the regime. But I give huge props to Iran for channeling the late Kim Jong Il from North Korea. He played that game of promises broken for money and goods over decades, with every administration.
So good for Iran for taking a page out of another pariah state's handbook, and boo to the Obama administration for learning nothing from history.
David Coreen, Land O'Lakes
Bay area transportation
Region making progress
Despite perception, the Tampa Bay region has made strides in the past five years to address transportation. Trends, revenues and leaders have changed, but the mission has progressed.
Tampa International Airport and the ports of Tampa and Manatee are undergoing ambitious transformations. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit has implemented this region's first premium rapid transit, with fewer stops and faster end-to-end speed.
Transit agencies at both ends of the region are working together, considering how to deliver more efficient service and increase value to bi-county populations.
In Pinellas, there is significant discussion and anticipation of a referendum on a package of transit improvements (bus, rail) called Greenlight Pinellas. And the Florida Department of Transportation is leading the implementation of construction projects and looking to the future with express lanes, intermodal centers, variably priced tolling, and technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Policy advances by the Legislature have led to significant private sector interest in the delivery of transportation services and facilities.
What's the common factor in the progress? It's all part of the region's transportation vision articulated in the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority's master plan. Such an expansive vision for 2050 was never assumed to happen all at once, or neatly. Pieces and elements would come together slowly, depending on demand and funding.
We hear it all the time: Speak in unison, as a region, to articulate goals and priorities. We don't assume to speak for each community and its unique needs, but we do see the importance of regionalism to galvanize voices and move things forward. TBARTA will continue to work with all partners to maintain strategic focus, elevate the importance of regional connections, advocate for cooperation and consistency, and assist in fighting for funding at a regional level.
Bob Clifford, AICP, executive director, TBARTA, Tampa
Affordable Care Act
Most will be better off
I am sorry for those who have lost medical coverage they thought they could keep. However, I think it was naive of them if they thought they could simply continue the same coverage forever.
I remember the president's earlier statement that people could keep their insurance if they liked it. I understood it to mean that ACA would not require a change, and it didn't. Perhaps my understanding was influenced by the time my employer changed insurance companies and coverage three times in four years, and every time I had to change doctors and hospitals when I didn't want to. The government had nothing to do with it.
At this point it appears that a much larger percentage will benefit rather than be harmed. We need to look at the total situation, not individual ones, to evaluate the program as a whole.
Also, medical insurance comes in many different shapes and sizes. Some people who think they have major medical don't. Instead they have a very limited specific service schedule that pays for a few procedures, but not much. Some have very high deductibles.
For three years I paid over $15,000 a year for an individual policy with a $10,000 deductible. It was more like a buyer's club, as I did get some reduced rates. I would have been much better off if the exchange had existed then.
Yes, I do feel sorry for those who lost good policies they liked and any who may pay more for the same or less coverage. Maybe something can be done about that. In any event I am happy for the many more who are paying less for the same or better coverage and for those who are able to get coverage for the first time.
Joe Crites, Clearwater
Savings for taxpayers
Fellow taxpayers on Medicare: It is time for rejoicing. If your Medicare Advantage network of providers has shrunk, if your free Silver Sneakers membership has disappeared, if your co-pays to providers increased slightly or your rebate on Part B premiums has dropped, don't place blame on the Affordable Care Act.
Be happy that the act is working toward sustaining and improving Medicare benefits and preventive benefits and at the same time reducing federal payments (your tax dollars) to hugely profitable insurance companies who sell Medicare Advantage plans. The law is designed to reduce costs over the next 10 years to us, the taxpayers, and improve quality of patient care. Isn't that what we all want?
Marie Cunha, Hudson
Together, forever | Nov. 9
It was nice to read the story of the McGuill family adopting Justice, Jeremy, Max and Randy. Our papers are full of sadness and crime these days, so it was a pleasure to read such a wonderful story about this couple who gave those children a wonderful, loving home and kept them as a family.
Kath Beresford, Ruskin