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President wrong to go back on clean-air pledge

Well it didn't take long for President Bush to find an excuse to show his allegiance to the oil companies he and his family have championed for decades. The president is wrong. Despite his claims to the contrary, the science of climate change is very strong and warrants urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and vehicles.

The Republican way to solve problems is to search for cheap, quick-fix solutions to complex issues, which in the long run are exacerbated by the attempted quick fix. The evidence for global warming is overwhelming. Ignoring the evidence and relaxing safeguards designed to get control of carbon dioxide emissions is a misuse of power.

The justification for the president's action is that he needs to "protect consumers" during an energy shortage. Might I be correct to assume that Gov. Jeb Bush also will rush to protect consumers in Florida who are threatened with extreme water shortages because of overdevelopment and drought?

If the Bush logic is a family trait, then we should put a complete moratorium on any and all development so that the consumers already here in Florida are not deprived of their water, just as the consumers in California are not to be deprived of their energy. I just can't wait for Gov. Bush to announce his decisive actions to protect us consumers of water in Florida. I would love to hear our governor enact a total moratorium on growth until we have solved our water problems.

Henry R. Mushinsky, professor of biology,

University of South Florida, Lutz

Not thinking about the future

Re: Bush: Energy crisis made me break vow, March 16.

Why am I not surprised that President Bush isn't going to do anything about enabling the citizens of this country, and of the world, to have cleaner air?

George Bush in his campaign "promised" to reduce air pollution. Now, I hear: "Sorry folks. We have an energy crisis. We do not want to restrict our power plants from operating just because we have some clean-air worries. In fact, we need more power plants."

And to top this off, he does not want to "regulate" the power industry to control prices. As I recall, the power companies in California almost went bankrupt recently from what they had to pay for energy this winter. What's going to happen this summer? It's not just a problem in California but in other parts of the country _ Florida, for instance.

But this is getting off on a tangent. The point is, doesn't President Bush realize he broke a pledge for promoting cleaner air, something that affects every living thing in this country and the world? Is our generation thinking about our children and their children, about the future? And what kind of example has this great nation just displayed to the world?

I did not vote for Bush. If every vote had been counted, I imagine this situation would have been handled differently by the other president.

V. Paradis, Seminole

Column shows insensitivity to beliefs

I am angry over Bill Maxwell's March 7 column, Cardinal without authority to judge artist.

We are all too familiar with his constant diatribes accusing all white people of being racist. Now he has turned his hostility toward the Catholic Church and Cardinal Egan. The controversy is over the blasphemous photograph Yo Mama's Last Supper at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Maxwell starts off by castigating Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and is outraged that the mayor has proposed a decency commission to screen art museums funded with tax dollars. He goes on to say that Giuliani tried to cut off funds last year because of another exhibit that featured the Virgin Mary dappled with elephant dung. He adds that he expected the mayor to utter something ridiculous, but he expected better of the cardinal.

Why does Maxwell believe that it is ridiculous for Giuliani to speak out against these serious religious outrages that are offensive to all Catholics and other Christians? Why is Maxwell opposed to common decency and unwilling to be sensitive to people's religious convictions?

Maxwell has the gall to suggest that Cardinal Egan should keep silent in this matter, in spite of the fact that he is responsible for the spiritual welfare of 2.3-million Catholics. He states that Egan would do well to listen to some "art critic" instead. Really!

Maxwell goes completely off the radar screen when he asks if the cardinal is part of a vast coverup of crimes committed by some priests. This innuendo is despicable and is the worst kind of Catholic-bashing.

Robert Dunn, New Port Richey

Cardinal has a right to decry photo

Re: Cardinal without authority to judge artist.

Bill Maxwell's diatribe about the controversy at the Brooklyn Museum of Art displays both his lack of knowledge on the issue and his belief that freedom of speech is a one-way street.

Maxwell can spin the meaning of the artwork any way he wants, but the fact is, it was the artist Renee Cox herself who said this piece _ as well as others _ is designed to attack the Catholic Church. Despite Maxwell's misinformation, she is not Catholic. She went to Catholic school until the fourth grade. She now makes statements such as, "The Catholic Church is all about money and big business" and "40 percent of the slave owners during slavery were Catholic." These vicious lies qualify her in many minds as "pathetic."

Maxwell has a certain affinity for free speech when it's coming from Renee Cox but not from Edward Cardinal Egan. Cardinal Egan made his remarks in a homily to his flock at St. Patrick's Cathedral. He has the right, the moral authority and the responsibility to speak to Catholics on this issue.

Finally, Maxwell's dragging the tragic and deplorable cases of child abuse by clergy into the debate qualifies as "pathetic" as well.

Patrick Scully, director of communications,

Catholic League, New York

Judge not

Re: Cardinal without authority to judge artist.

Bill Maxwell is "without authority" to judge Cardinal Egan.

Maxwell has a right to his opinion, of course. And this reader _ who used to eagerly anticipate his columns and paid to see and hear him at several local venues _ has a right to mine, which is that Maxwell has become increasingly biased in the past two years _ and it's getting boring.

But that's an opinion not a "judgment." We're supposed to leave that to a higher authority, aren't we?

H. Myers, Belleair Bluffs

Where is the difference?

As an American-American Catholic, I join Cardinal Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in objecting to Yo Mama's Last Supper and its scurrilous depiction of Jesus, whom millions hold to be the Son of God. It is as objectionable as several other recent exhibitions, such as a crucifix in a glass of urine and a portrait of the Virgin Mary splattered with elephant feces. These, too, were lauded by liberals as "art" protected under the American right of free speech, never mind how offensive to millions of Christians.

Decades ago, a local black activist objected to a mural displayed in a public St. Petersburg building that pictured blacks in a manner he felt was objectionable and degrading. He promptly tore the mural down, was arrested and convicted of a criminal charge. Today, Maxwell and other liberals laud him for using action, rather than words, to object to art the black community now considers demeaning.

Pardon me, Mr. Maxwell, but where is the difference? Why can blacks object to a publicly financed mural that they feel is degrading, but Christians should not have the same right to criticize "art" that equally offends and degrades their core religious beliefs? You can't have it both ways.

Robert R. Loeffler, Port Richey

Posturing deserves criticism

Re: Cardinal without authority to judge artist.

Thank you, Bill Maxwell, for having the courage to stand up for what is truly right rather than posture as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Cardinal Egan did in New York, my former place of residence.

As Maxwell correctly noted, both men have been mum on priests who commit sex crimes. I was living in New York last year during the trial in the Amadou Diallo case, and I don't remember hearing the mayor or the Catholic Church condemn the police officers who fired 41 shots at Diallo and broke that little commandment "Thou shalt not kill." Yet somehow, the depiction of Christ as a naked black woman draws their ire.

To quote a phrase that has become a downright alarming symbol of the crass commercialization of something sacred (no outrage over that, either), "What would Jesus do?"

Douglas Saguto, Tampa

Logic and motorcycle deaths

Re: Bike Week fires its pistons for home, March 11.

After reading your stories on Bike Week, I think you need to send your reporters to a logic course. For example this article states, "Florida repealed its helmet law July 1. . . . Deaths of helmetless riders quintupled."

I would expect a rise in deaths among helmetless riders when the helmet law is repealed. That is common sense! Until the helmet law was repealed, riders were required to wear helmets so the riders who died before the law was repealed were most likely wearing helmets. Even if the same number of riders died the next year but fewer were wearing helmets "deaths of helmetless riders" would rise. It's kind of like saying after you are born your chance of eventually dying is high.

I would think that a more relevant statistic would be motorcycle deaths per 100,000 miles ridden, or some kind of per capita motorcycle related statistic. It is like that old saying, "There are lies, damn lies and statistics."

Rod Howard, St. Petersburg

A welcome to a Greek dignitary

As a reader of the St. Petersburg Times and a member of the Greek-American community in Florida, we welcome today the deputy foreign minister of Greece, Grigoris Niotis, who is celebrating with us the 180th anniversary of Greece's War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The United States and Greece have been linked by strong ties of friendship and shared values over the last two centuries. Our two peoples always stood side by side in wars and peace; and millions of Greek immigrants found on our shores a new home, in which to excel and make their own contribution to this great country.

We salute, in the person of Mr. Niotis, the impressive progress that Greece has made over the last few years. Greece is a stable democracy and since the beginning of this year a member of the most exclusive club of Europe, the "euro-zone." The only member of both the European Union and NATO in southeastern Europe, Greece has served as a model for the emerging democracies of the Balkans and as a major source of trade and investments in their quest for stability, reconstruction and integration into European institutions.

Greece has also become a strategic partner of the United States in that region, providing a leading example of cooperation, development and ethnic reconciliation.

As Greece prepares to host the 2004 Olympics, the Greek-American community feels excited about Greece's potential. As President Clinton said in Athens in November 1999: "We look to ancient Greece for inspiration; we look to modern Greece for leadership and partnership."

Kostas Miliotis, Palm Harbor

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to letterssptimes.com or by fax to (727) 893-8675.

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