Report: Reactors too unprotected | Aug. 16
Security robust at nuclear plants
Security at the nation's commercial nuclear power plants is vastly stronger than depicted in a report written by a graduate research assistant at the University of Texas' Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project. Commercial nuclear energy facilities pose a very strong deterrent to potential threats, and their robust defenses have been widely recognized over the past decade by an array of independent security and law enforcement experts.
Under the oversight of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, nuclear power plants responded decisively to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Well-armed, highly trained security forces were expanded by 60 percent, to a total of 9,000 officers; detection and surveillance systems were upgraded; additional physical barriers and bullet-resistant enclosures were installed; weaponry was enhanced; and mock terrorism exercises were strengthened.
All told, the industry has invested more than $2 billion in additional security enhancements over the past decade. As required by the NRC, every facility has in place measures and procedures to respond to large explosions or a jetliner crash, as well as plant-specific programs to repel attacks by land and/or water.
Because nuclear energy facilities are among the most secure and best protected facilities in the nation's industrial infrastructure, they are well positioned to safely and reliably generate the large amounts of electricity that make them a vital part of the U.S. energy mix.
Scott Peterson, senior vice president, Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington
The truthful telling of how things were Aug. 22, commentary
Move forward to success
While I sat in a mixed-race audience and watched the scenes of racial intolerance portrayed in The Butler, I felt a level of discomfort. How sad that these things happened just a half-century ago. I accept Leonard Pitt's contention that the truth should be told, but I reject his final statement: "And use it to shape How Things Will Someday Be."
I know that there is still racism in our nation just as there is still anti-Semitism in spite of all the graphic portrayals of the Holocaust. Yet, we have an African-American president and many prominent Jewish and African-American leaders in our nation.
Pitts would serve his community better if he focused on the positives and told those children who watched with their families that the doors are now open, and the key to success is education and hard work.
Gary Daniels, Tarpon Springs
$214 million infused into area economy and Study: Oil still lingers in gulf | Aug. 21
Fish and foul
I had to laugh, although ruefully. I read the article about the profits accrued to Tampa businesses from the Republican National Convention by visitors who gorged themselves on local seafood. Right next to it was the article about the BP oil spill and how gulf fish are now deformed.
Those same fish eaters enabled drilling in the gulf and other activities and laws that have damaged the local fishing industry. It's as if Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake!" and then provided contaminated cake flour.
Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa
For a simplified tax code Aug. 19, commentary
Scrap it and start over
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's article ably describes the disaster that is our 74,000-page federal income tax code. That is why the two most powerful committees in the U.S. House and Senate plan to change it.
In his article, the congressman writes, "I understand that any meaningful tax reform cannot be accomplished behind closed doors." He says the two committees have held 30 public hearings and roundtables in the last two years.
But this was left unsaid: A July 19 memo to Senate tax aides, uncovered by Bloomberg News, says that Senate Finance Committee staff "promised that submissions on which tax breaks to keep or jettison … will be marked as confidential and won't be released until Dec. 31, 2064."
That's right: The public won't know until 50 years from now what their elected officials proposed be included in any tax rewrite. So much for no closed doors.
There is only one true solution. Let's repeal the 16th Amendment, eliminate the income tax and the IRS, and return the federal government to collecting its revenues by taxing consumption, not labor and industry.
Washington already has a replacement waiting in the wings — backed by over $20 million in research. It's called the FairTax. It has 70 co-sponsors in the House. It contains no loopholes.
David Leake, Bradenton
Dad, Limbaugh and me | Aug. 22, commentary
Meet him halfway
Ah, Rush Limbaugh. No other words can get the liberal juices flowing. Madeline Janis' article on the political rift between herself and her beloved late father rings true in many relationships. The difference is most liberals have never (really) listened to Limbaugh. That just wouldn't be cool. And why bother; the liberal media will tell you how to think.
In the article, Janis' father met her halfway. It's a shame the liberal Janis couldn't have done the same. So as a tribute to your late father, why don't you listen to Rush for a week. I doubt you'll agree with him, but I'll bet you'll be entertained. Meet him halfway.
Mark Campbell, St. Petersburg
Start with the facts
In the penultimate paragraph of her article, Madeline Janis cites the real problem in today's political discourse: "to accommodate political differences and respect one another across the gulf." The failure to do so among family, friends and acquaintances is the greatest hindrance to reasonable conversation and any compromise.
Indeed, closeness of family and love of country are good places to begin discussion once respect is mutually granted, but we should be able to talk with each other ahead of these givens. Vital too is discernment of fact and opinion in today's entertainment-driven news media. Only in this way can one formulate rational positions on issues and understand those of others.
Wayne Logsdon, Hernando