Re: More fuel-efficiency is needed, editorial,
The auto industry has spent millions fighting fuel economy standards. Of course, auto executives are scared because instead of being technologically innovative, they have merely been innovative in marketing. Automakers make a huge profit from SUVs, which are nothing but fancy interiors stuck on top of the same old truck chassis they have been making for years.
Instead of using old-fashioned American know-how to go forward in safety and fuel economy, SUVs literally drive us backward. The public ends up paying for this, as the excessive need for oil puts us in harm's way. The tailpipe pollution doesn't help either. Contrary to what car company executives would have you think, the American people want trucks and SUVs that utilize fuel-saving options.
Fuel-efficiency standards would create jobs because we would manufacture and install new fuel-saving devices. More important, American automakers could catch up and even lead the way in selling fuel-efficient vehicles. Also, the less we spend on gas, the more money we can save or at least spend locally.
If we send out troops and jeopardize the lives of American soldiers, the auto manufacturers should show respect, be responsible and start making vehicles that the folks at home can drive with pride and patriotism, too. The Bush administration should require them to do so if that is what it takes.
Laura Cardona, Tampa
The patriotism of transportation
Re: Evangelicals ask, "What would Jesus drive?" Nov. 16.
What we drive is the most important question we as American citizens need to ask ourselves. We may be entering a deadly war to quench our thirst for oil and at this seminal moment we must evaluate how our choices influence the demand for oil. We need to look at the type of cars we drive and ask the auto manufacturers to sell more types of cars and even SUVs that get better mileage. By doing this we are protecting our lands and reducing our dependence on oil.
Demanding fuel-efficient cars is one of the most patriotic things we can do because our insatiable need for oil is causing much more harm than we realize. Instead of protecting our communities we will drill in America's wilderness areas and risk the lives of our soldiers in the Middle East.
These are moral questions that face us as citizens and stewards of the earth, but also coincide with practical and responsible choices we can make as consumers. The auto industry should show the same type of thoughtfulness and sell more models of fuel-efficient cars that we can choose from.
As for the question, "What would Jesus drive?", something tells me it wouldn't be a Hummer or a Ford Excursion.
Ciara Jalandoni, Tampa
Stop government snooping
The Defense Department is developing a computer system that threatens to turn us all into "suspects" by providing the government with the ability to snoop into all aspects of our private lives _ without a search warrant or even suspicion of wrongdoing.
The Pentagon's new Office of Information Awareness is building a system called "Total Information Awareness" that would provide government officials with immediate access to information about our financial records, purchases, prescriptions, school records, medical records, travel history and personal communications, including phone calls, e-mails and Web searches.
Our entire lives are about to be cataloged and available to the government, which will simply collect data on everyone so as to be able to investigate any one of us if and when it decides to do so. But doing so would make us all suspects and in effect eliminate our personal privacy.
While promoters of this Orwellian program claim that such snooping should be accepted as part of the "war on terrorism," the Pentagon's program makes a mockery of privacy and threatens the judicial and congressional restraints that have protected the public against domestic spying.
Law-abiding people should be protected from government snooping. It has been a hallmark of American democracy that individual privacy is protected against government intervention and snooping as long as we are not suspected of wrongdoing.
We must not sacrifice our freedom in order to prosecute the "war on terrorism." As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our constitutional rights and freedoms. And we must make every effort to promote and enlarge our privacy rather than sacrifice it in a time of anxiety and concern.
This is all taking place with little public outrage. Take action to stop this program by calling or sending a fax to President Bush urging that he end this new effort to invade our privacy.
If you wait, it may be too late.
Howard L. Simon, executive director, American Civil
Liberties Union of Florida, Miami
Re: You are suspected by the government, by William Safire, Nov. 15.
It is not often that Safire and I see eye to eye on anything, but his column on Adm. John Poindexter's plan to supersnoop on every public and private act of every American sent chills down my spine. Combine this with Attorney General John Ashcroft's assaults on our civil and political rights and you begin to wonder what will be left of the liberties we are trying to protect from the terrorists.
Garry Fullerton, St. Petersburg
Give peace a chance
To all those who jumped at the chance to chastise the courageous writer of the Nov. 13 letter, We should seek peaceful ways to solve problems, I wish they would just "give peace a chance." Let chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix and company do their job now. Let's wait and see if there is not some way to disarm Iraq before we unleash the terrible dogs of war, who are straining at their leashes as we head toward the Christian holy season. Maybe at Thanksgiving we can take time to thank France, Russia, China and, yes, even Syria, for saving us from the awful prospect of the second Gulf War in a little over a decade.
But, if not, I am sure those letter writers are ready to volunteer their services, or those of their loved ones, to fight in Iraq to help our beloved leader carry out his crusade. To those who do not understand what is wrong with our country waging pre-emptive war I commend a reading of the U.N. Charter, which our country drafted, signed and forced defeated nations to accept.
Bob Hare, Seminole
In making war, we make more enemies
The St. Petersburg Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) must speak out again for each beloved child of God as our nation continues to make war. Let us remember the suffering already existing in Iraq, where five children die every day from lack of food and medicine. The devastation of most of the infrastructure of Iraq came at the hands of the U.S. military, which enforces the sanctions against Iraq. How can it be right to bring even more destruction to "the poorest of these"?
By making war, we make more enemies around the world, while leaving our own citizens without adequate health care and economic security. By making war, our government enriches the coffers of the military-industrial complex and diverts our attention from serious domestic problems here at home. How is it that war rather than the good of our citizens has become our government's most important priority?
There are countless numbers of people crying out to our government for peace. We know that war and violence of any kind can never create security. We must find ways to make peace with each other or we will live in a world constantly at war. Quakers are not alone in calling on our government and each one of us to turn from darkness and bring our actions into the light.
Jan Dahm, clerk, Religious Society of Friends,
Feel any safer?
Re: U.S. now runs airport watch, Nov. 19.
We should all feel safer now that we have federal screeners from the Transportation Security Administration searching middle-aged ladies at our airports. No wonder we can't find Osama bin Laden!
Vicki Glow, St. Petersburg
The question of armed pilots
Re: Armed pilots.
Most pilots are well-trained military pilots who have flown every type of aircraft and were fully trained in the ability to use sidearms if they had to.
Let's assume that there are two aircraft on the tarmac awaiting passengers who have a choice of boarding one plane or the other _ one being with the pilots armed and one without arms. It would sure be interesting to see which plane would fill up first.
I think that you would find that one plane would be almost empty, and I don't think I have to tell you which one. Times readers: What's your opinion?
Carla Kennedy, St. Petersburg
Congress cares little for the jobless
Re: Jobless benefits may run out, Nov. 16.
Buried at the bottom of Page 5A, was this bit of congressional arrogance regarding the 820,000 laid-off workers whose benefits will end three days after Christmas: "The Senate and House agree another extension is needed to help families get through the holiday season, but neither appeared willing to budge on competing plans before the session ends next week."
This means no further aid this year. Is it possible that those blue-blooded snobs in Washington (who, by the way, just voted themselves a pay hike) can't imagine the devastating effects of unemployment? Getting through the holidays? What about paying rent, medical bills and feeding the family? It's not about getting through the holidays, stupid, it's about getting through life!
Judy Morris, Palm Harbor
The value of friendship
Re: Harry's Nine, Nov. 10.
Harry Joubert was a rich man. How fortunate he was to have nine people care so dearly about him. Some people aren't lucky enough to have even one person hold their hand during a rough period, let alone when they move on.
The placement of Leonora LaPeter's article about Harry's nine was perfectly timed. Society's sell-sell-sell, buy-buy-buy more useless crud to go in debt over, backed by George W. Bush's crush-kill-destroy administration makes for a sorry-looking way of life.
Harry's Nine stated the truth: compassion and friendship. Who could ask for anything more?
Kath Madden-Moxon, St. Petersburg
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