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Olympics begin with celebration of humanity

Re: Ali sheds light on a long night, July 20.

After reading Ernest Hooper's review of the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics, in which he concluded that he needed a raise in salary for having to watch and review an event "dripping with overhype," I can conclude only one thing: The man is overpaid. It is a shame that the symbolism of the evening and that of the entire Olympic event itself so completely escapes Mr. Hooper.

There is significance in the nations of the world meeting together for something besides a war. The 100th anniversary of such a meeting is especially significant and certainly deserving of a celebration, which is exactly what the opening ceremonies on Friday night were _ a celebration.

It was a celebration of the things that unify humanity. We celebrated our universal love of the beauty and grace of the human body, as demonstrated in athletic competition. We celebrated our universal admiration of character and courage as demonstrated by a 97-year-old former (but still able) Olympic athlete, by Dr. Martin Luther King and by a determined Muhammad Ali.

We pulled out all the stops. All the humanities joined in the celebration. Composer John Williams composed an original score that was performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, sung by an awesome choir and danced by hundreds of beautifully costumed dancers. (Sorry it drowned out your TV commentators, Mr. Hooper.) Classical opera star Jesse Norman and pop singers Gladys Knight and Celine Dion gave vocal performances that can only be described as inspired.

It was an inspiring evening. For four hours, in that arena, the world had a visual representation of a joyful world at peace. Certainly, no one is naive enough to think that anything was changed by the evening or will be changed by the Olympic Games themselves, but it was nice to see what the world could and should be like. It moved me, it moved the people watching with me and it moved at least one world leader to tears (though I'm sure journalistic cynicism will have something to say about that).

In the face of a world so dominated by anger and hate, a four-hour celebration of humanity doesn't seem too very long to me. Mr. Hooper, it's not just another sports meet.

Tim Jacobsmeyer, Largo

Accentuating the negative

I stayed up late to watch the opening of the Olympics. Filled with awe and anticipation, I watched and marveled. The 28-foot puppets, the array of colors, the wonderful costumes, the looks on the faces of the children participating filled me with pride to be an American hosting the Olympics. How wonderfully orchestrated, how imaginative, and what incredible planning to accomplish all of this. I loved the ramp and how the athletes came over the rise and down into the arena instead of entering at ground level like always before. What innovation! The athletes from past Olympics, especially the 97-year-old man, were remarkable. I loved the flame rising out of the center of the stage in the middle of the stadium. It made my heart skip a beat. Then my eyes filled with tears at the sight of Muhammad Ali lighting the flame. What a tremendous tribute and honor to such a tremendous athlete.

I didn't care that it was 12:15 a.m. or that I had been watching for more than four hours. It was worth every minute.

So imagine my dismay when I picked up the July 20 paper and expected to read articles that described the wonder. I found instead articles describing how the ceremony was too long and how the torch went the wrong way. I only found one article that was complimentary in nature. There was only one line about Muhammad Ali lighting the torch!

Life is so full of negatives these days. I really wish your writers had focused on how magical the evening was instead of what they perceived was wrong. In reading the July 21 paper, it was noted that the viewing audience agreed with me by noting the sheer numbers who watched.

Eileen M. Meckes, Seminole

Unarmed, but not innocent

Re: Unarmed teen shot by officer, by Susan Clary, July 22.

It appears from the bold headline that Miss Clary was trying to imply to your readers that the Tampa police shot an "innocent" teen when, in fact, the opposite appears to be closer to reality. Crashing an automobile into a police car and then another private automobile is a far cry from being unarmed. Should death have resulted from either of these accidents, I believe, the minimum charge would have been vehicular manslaughter. Do you still consider the punk an "unarmed teen"? Stop trying to portray these criminals as innocent. A more appropriate headline would have read, "Suspect shot fleeing police."

Ric Cornelius, Consumers Radio Network,

Stand Up and Fight, Palm Harbor

Re: Unarmed teen shot by officer, July 22.

The headline for this article would have been more accurate and less misleading if it read:

"Car thief shot while trying to escape police."

Tony Ewonaitis, Largo

Making child care work

Re: In Ginny they trust, by Halimah Abdullah, July 17.

The story in the Floridian regarding Ginny Cannon, a family child care provider, describes a day in her professional life and portrays her ability to meet the diverse needs of each of the children in her care. Ginny is one of over 1,000 licensed family child care providers in Pinellas County who provides care for some 4,000 children.

The article noted suggestions to make child care work. It is important that parents choose a child care arrangement they feel comfortable with. Assistance for this match can be obtained through the Child Care Resource and Referral service provided by Coordinated Child Care Inc. and the Pinellas County License Board (547-5750). The license board also provides file reviews of current licensed providers to further help parents make the right choice.

Thank you for portraying child care as the important, challenging, rewarding profession that it is _ one that serves a critical need in our community.

Gail Robertson, Executive Director,

Pinellas County License Board

for Children's Centers and Family

Day Care Homes, Pinellas ParkKnow your meat, poultry

As a consumer of meat and poultry, I applaud President Clinton's efforts to upgrade the meat inspection policies. It is incredible to me that government inspection of meat and poultry is the same as it was when it first began in 1907! It is about time we use our scientific knowledge instead of relying on the current "sniff and poke" method.

We understand that salmonella bacteria kills more than 4,000 people a year and sickens many more. E. coli bacteria can also be deadly. It was E. coli which killed several children and sickened hundreds of others in 1993.

President Clinton's proposed rules provide for the government and the meat and poultry industries to share responsibility for monitoring and testing meat and poultry from slaughter to the grocery shelf. The program will not cost additional money from the government, but will be implemented with existing funds. The Department of Agriculture estimate the cost to industry about one-tenth of a cent per pound of meat for customers. That's well worth it to me and other consumers!

Jane Silverberg, St. Petersburg

Paging Dr. Kevorkian

In view of Richard Lamm's hopes of being the Reform Party candidate, might I suggest the following: Remembering that Dick Lamm has a philosophy that it is the duty of senior citizens to die, wouldn't it be fitting for the Reform Party to nominate Dr. Kevorkian as a running mate?

David C. Pierrepont, Palm Harbor

"Thrilling days' may return

On July 17, I wrote the following draft of a letter which I would send to you someday soon:

"In the days of Eugene Patterson, the Times editorial pages regularly provided equal space for two columnists presenting opposing viewpoints on major issues. After reading every word on both sides, I'd be better informed, and thankful for the valuable service rendered."

The old Lone Ranger radio program might best express my plea: "Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear."

Then, on July 21, a Times editorial appeared: New avenues for public discourse.

"Something people have always known: Citizens make better-informed decisions when they discuss issues among themselves."

Your editorial and my draft are not precisely the same, but they are close enough to now give me high hopes that those "thrilling days" may return.

Henry Doyle, Pinellas Park

Only in Florida

Re: Car pawn customers fighting back, July 15.

Where consumer protection is concerned, it appears Florida is at parity with most Third World banana republics!

Only in Florida could our "citizen lawmakers" pass a bill allowing title loan companies _ a totally unregulated industry _ to charge interest rates of more than 500 percent per year!

Only in Florida could these same companies "steal" their customers' automobiles by repossessing and selling them for a fraction of what they are worth. Plus steal whatever possessions may have been left in the vehicle _ without fear of recourse from the state!

Although it is apparent that such citizens have been victimized and swindled, they are forced to seek out attorneys they cannot afford and fight the matter in civil court. The state attorney's office could apparently care less, which I notice is the state's typical response when its citizens are swindled.

Within the next couple of years I will be retiring to South America to relax and write a few books. My northern friends inform me I am crazy because governments in that part of the hemisphere are "corrupt with rampart bribery and little regard for citizen welfare." I just laugh and tell them that after living in Florida for over 20 years, I probably won't notice any difference!

Galen O. Ballard, Homosassa Spring

Why Johnny can't read

As a veteran teacher, your capitalization and punctuation errors for the sake of cuteness distress me. The Floridian is the section that many children and teens read. Do we really want them to abbreviate the days of the week, mon, tue, etc? When did we do away with capitals and periods for abbreviations? Shame on you! Remember, kids learn by adult example.

Bobbi Gens, Treasure Island

Hip hip hooray!

As a former registered Democrat, then Republican, and now a happily registered Independent, I can now vote for the man and not the (political) party! This way I can vote for the presidential candidate who will do our country the most good _ for all! I get turned off after watching the distorted, misleading and not truthful TV (political, paid for) ads!

Three cheers for the best man!

S.E. Good, Palm Harbor

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They can be sent by e-mail to letterssptimes.com or they can be sent by fax to 893-8675.

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