Flake's comment on Cuba was realistic
Re: the Jan. 26 article "Flake's joke about spring breakers in Cuba falls flat with 1 senator."
Even though I'm a staunch Democrat, I commend Sen. Flake for his realistic comment on open travel to Cuba.
Sen. Bob Menendez's reply that the Castro regime was an "expert on torture" is rank hypocrisy. During the same period that the embargo on Cuba has been in effect we have supported, if not installed, numerous torture experts, including Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Anastasio Somoza García in Nicaragua, Efrain Rios Montt in Guatemala to name a few. Even if he can rationalize as anti-communism the hundreds of thousands slaughtered by them, how would he explain our enthusiastic support for "our favorite communist" Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania or our U.N. support for the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in its conflict with Vietnam?
Finally, can Sen. Menendez name a single significant impact the Cuba embargo has had on the American people other than to artificially support higher prices for sugar?
Being part of the solution
I may be an idealist. I am not a fool and I realize that my small donations to the Tucson gun buyback and the Gabby Giffords / Mark Kelly Americans for Responsible Solutions will never take all the weapons from our streets or out of homes.
But, if I can light one candle, take one gun out of a home where it might be used either by accident or on purpose to kill a child, I have become part of a solution.
Reps should do own income taxes
Most of us have seen articles complaining about congressional privileges and suggesting remedies, such as: Congress should not be allowed to set its own salary; congressmen should enjoy health, pension, and similar benefits no better than that of the rank and file populace, and so on.
I want to add one more: Congressmen should be required to do their own income-tax returns and should provide an affidavit certifying that they have done so. We all complain about the complexity of our tax code; we would soon see some improvements.
Peter P. Ribotto
Retired, Green Valley
Hagel's loyalty should rest with US, not Israel
Re: the Jan. 25 article "Democratic support growing for Hagel."
Prism - a medium that distorts, slants or colors whatever is viewed through it.
News reports state that four Democratic senators will support Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense after they were reassured by his commitment to Israel's security. Hagel does not owe his loyalty or allegiance to Israel. He owes them to this country only.
The prism of support for Israel distorts, slants and colors not only the electoral system of our democracy, but also our foreign policy in how we view and interact with the nations and peoples of the Middle East.
Support for Israel took us into an illegal and immoral war against Iraq which had done nothing to us, nor was Iraq a threat to us. But it was an enemy of Israel that must be taken out. The Iraqis and we have paid a terrible price for that distorted, slanted and colored decision.
We are supposed to be a sovereign nation, not a satellite of Israel.
Marietta D. Luce
Reading skills worth support, praise
Re: the Jan. 27 editorial "Reading skills are an essential investment."
I could not agree more that "investing in third-graders now will pay dividends for the community in the future."
The Reading Seed program of Literacy Connects has been working toward this end for more than 10 years. Trained volunteer reading coaches assist children to advance their reading skills using a research-based one-to-one approach that is not possible for classroom teachers.
Analysis of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, or DIBELS, oral reading fluency scores for 369 Reading Seed first-, second- and third-grade participants last year showed that Reading Seed students' rate of learning was on average 36 percent faster than students in the same grade who did not have reading coaches. As 62 percent of Reading Seed students are designated as needing "intensive" reading intervention, a significant increase in rate of learning is exactly what is needed to get them caught up and reading at grade level! Community volunteers and dollars to train and support them make this progress possible.
Executive director, Literacy Connects, Tucson