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I can only imagine that Saddam Hussein took great comfort and encouragement from the massive antiwar demonstrations that went on last weekend.
While I'm sure most of the protesters were sincere, I do believe that they have their priorities backward. Rather than directing their anger and protest against the United States, wouldn't it have been more effective to have a massive demonstration against Saddam Hussein, urging him to comply with the U.N. resolutions and disarm? Where are the massive protests against his treatment of the Iraqi people who are tortured and murdered every day in his name?
Does anyone else see the irony in all of this?
-- Angela Nunziata, Seminole
The president is determined to go to war regardless of world opinion. He considers the large war protests here and abroad as insignificant. Does it ever occur to him that just maybe he could be wrong? Is it arrogance, pride or a belief that he is infallible that has him so committed to this action?
The media have consistently reported on this developing crisis as when, as though it is inevitable, rather than if. I consider that as subtly supporting his position instead of objectively presenting the facts. What a shame the lead story in your paper last Sunday wasn't the war protest instead of the article on Hussein.
In Attorney General John Ashcroft's zeal to protect the country, he has become a zealot, shredding the Constitution whenever it interferes with what he wants to do. A senator named McCarthy tried to do that to save us from communism. History has shown Joe McCarthy was an arrogant zealot, drunk on power. Can't help noticing the similarities.
-- Madelyn Lawson, Clearwater
Re: Unite to stamp out axis of evil, letter, Feb. 19.
This letter demonstrates perfectly the fears of thinking people who oppose the rush to war. The letter writer claims the Tampa Bay area was "united" in its support of the Bucs. Uh, no, there were thousands who could not have cared less about a football team that was paying its own way, and whose only concern was whether winning more games would embolden the Glazers in their quest to pick our pockets. However, I'll admit that warmongers and Bucs fans are both noisy and obnoxious, which could lead a less observant person to think the opposition isn't there.
The writer further paints war in football terms, which leads to our even greater fear: Bush and his supporters see an international conflict in simplistic "us versus them" terms, and are incapable of grasping the long-term global ramifications of starting a holy war against a religion that obviously has no shortage of fanatics willing to martyr themselves. How many of us are willing to die for cheap oil? To revenge the insult to President Bush's father? Because war will make the rich richer?
We must take a rational approach to conflict, even if our opponents do not.
-- Brent Yaciw, Wesley Chapel
Re: If you liked Patriot Act I, don't miss the sequel, by Robyn E. Blumner, Feb. 16.
Robyn Blumner deserves thanks for drawing our attention to the rapid deterioration of our Constitution. It's clear that the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 must be stopped, but should it fail, other measures are planned to whittle away our freedoms.
Concerned Americans will want to carefully read Senate bills S.16, S.22, S.45 and S.89. If you are alarmed by what you read, contact your representatives in Washington and let them know how you feel.
Contact your state and local representatives and ask them if they agree with the Patriot Act II's warrantless domestic surveillance, national DNA database, secret arrests and secret trials for anyone that Bush wants to silence. Contact your local police chief and ask if he'll direct his officers to participate in such unconstitutional activities.
For now, at least, you still have the right to remain silent. Please don't. Speak up now to save our liberties, before it's too late.
-- Meredith Tupper, Tampa/Hillsborough Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Tampa
Re: Moroccan gets 15 years for aiding 9/11 hijackers, Feb. 20.
Mounir el Motassadeq is an accessory to 3,066 murders and is given 15 years in prison, and may get out in 10 years? Even the longer term is only about 1.8 days per person murdered!
This is not justice for the families of 9/11. This is a slap in all our faces!
-- Marv Westerdahl, St. Petersburg
Re: A vindictive drug war, editorial, Feb. 16.
President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have enlisted the DEA into waging war against the state of California. The result is thousands of seriously ill California residents being denied safe access to their doctor-approved medicine.
"There is no such thing as medical marijuana," contends Asa Hutchinson, departing director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The testimonials of more than 30,000 registered patients in California and more than 1,000 licensed physicians reveal this to be a flat-out government lie. The suggestion that FDA-approved Marinol can provide similar results ignores the fact that most chemotherapy and AIDS-wasting patients are unable to use oral medications. For many, Marinol is difficult to titrate dosage, and the result is that patients become too "stoned" to properly function in home and job duties. Real marijuana, on the other hand, provides virtually instant relief and is easy to regulate dosage.
Would Bush, Ashcroft and Hutchinson put their own family members in prison for 10 years to life if these same family members elected to use marijuana on the advice of their physician? The scary thing right now is that the answer appears to be a resounding yes. Fortunately, the states of Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut and New Mexico appear poised to join Canada, England and the other nine states of the United States that believe patients should not be restricted to heavy duty, addictive FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.
Floridians who believe likewise should contact their federal legislators and express support for Rep. Barney Frank's States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, which would require federal law enforcement to defer to state laws on marijuana.
-- Stephen Heath, public relations director, Drug Policy Forum of Florida, Clearwater
Re: A symbol of terrorism and racism in the South, by Bill Maxwell, Feb. 16.
Perhaps the small symbol of the Confederate Flag on the Georgia state flag should be removed. I have no argument, since it is of offense to black citizens. (The idea of incorporating small symbols representing a state's history is not unique to Georgia. This may be an argument to retain the small symbol since it is historically accurate; should we try to rewrite history?)
However, Maxwell in his column, chose to pass on a very mean quote from the director of the NAACP's Southeast region: "If it were up to the majority of people in the state of Georgia, slavery would still be legal, and lynching would still be the law of the land." Maxwell has to know that statement is false. Atlanta has had many black elected officials, including a mayor. After all of the great advancements in race relations, are not such statements reverse racism of the worst kind? (And Maxwell accused the Gov. of Georgia of being a demagogue!)
The Times has always been a paper that fosters goodwill -- this column does not measure up.
-- Henry L. King, Dunedin
Re: The road less pedaled, by Jeff Klinkenberg, Feb. 16.
This was a great article that was done with good taste. I am also a serious cyclist and bike commuter. You have surely done much to promote cycling and safety in our area and I recognize the fact. While I don't always agree with what Kimberly Cooper does, I always respect her and appreciate her efforts. It was a pleasure to read the article and see that it was objectively done.
I ride to work every day on my bike in almost the same time that it takes to drive and find parking. I enjoy the fuel savings and health benefits that it gives me. Local errands are also done by bicycle -- a trip back to the grocery is enjoyed instead of frowned upon. I do still own a car and even drive occasionally, but not often. The Metropolitan Planning Organization and people like Kimberly and Jeff have helped raise awareness about the possibilities of cycling at a time when fuel is becoming quite an issue as well as an expense. I hope others will consider bicycle commuting and that our community continues to support it.
-- Ed Fatjo, Pinellas Park