Vlogger apologizes for sharing suicide video | Jan. 3
Social media's risk to children
The recent story about vlogger Logan Paul apologizing for his video on YouTube of a body hanging in a suicide forest in Japan has me deeply concerned. As a fifth-grade teacher, I am seeing firsthand the negative effects of this vlogger and other types of social media on our young children.
Much of what children have free and unsupervised access to has led to desensitization of horrific acts, such as suicide, and makes these acts seem normal and accepted. I am seeing a drastic shift in the classroom in the lack of respect, use of inappropriate language, and student conversations on topics they should not be aware of yet at such a young age.
YouTube has its place, and yes, can be entertaining and informative, but parents, please monitor what your child has access to on social media. Schools represent society, and I am deeply concerned for our youth and future leaders.
Mary Massie, Valrico
Leadership absent in minimum wage fight Jan. 4, John Romano column
Benefits of higher wages
Now that President Donald Trump and his Republican friends in the U.S. House and Senate have their coveted corporate tax relief legislation, we in the American workforce are well within our rights to put pressure on our elected officials — both at the state and federal level — to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. With more than a trillion dollars of tax giveaways flowing into American businesses' coffers, can we finally agree that companies can comfortably afford to give their lowest-paid employees a raise?
With a higher wage, workers can lift themselves out of poverty and be less dependent upon public services. With so many on the right complaining that our government spends too much on earned public benefits, wouldn't Republicans applaud a poverty-reducing living wage?
Also, with an above-poverty living wage, workers would afford to move more money through our economy, increasing profits and causing a demand-fueled bull market. Moreover, workers paid a living wage would be healthier, miss work less often, be less distracted by financial hardships, and be less stressed and happier as a result.
To waste the opportunity to rebuild our broken middle class would be a shame.
Michelle Kenoyer, Riverview
Heed climate changes
In light of the tragic wildfires that ravaged Southern California, it's important to take note of a 2015 issue of the U.S. Forest Service's journal, Fire Management Today, titled "Climate Change: The Future is Here."
This publication states that "increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt patterns are increasing the severity and size of wildfires in the West." Concern is also expressed about "the occurrence of fire that is outside the range of our existing experience" and the danger this poses to firefighters and communities.
The Thomas Fire recently became the largest wildfire on record in California, and 14 of the state's 20 largest wildfires have occurred since 2000. It's no wonder that climate change has been called an accelerator of crisis.
Even more troubling, we are experiencing these severe impacts when the Earth has warmed just 1 degree centigrade. Consider the warning from the U.S. National Climate Assessment that, without significant emissions reductions, the increase in global temperature could reach 5 degrees centigrade of or more by the end of this century.
It's crucial for members of Congress to hear the plea from our nation's forests and wildlands and take a leadership role regarding climate.
Terry Hansen, Oak Creek, Wis.
Tweet compares sizes of 'nuclear buttons' Jan. 3
Power of the button
In light of the president's recent alarming tweets directed at an unstable dictator about the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, I support the idea of Congress passing a law to prohibit a proactive nuclear strike without the approval of Congress.
I was raised in an era when we feared a nuclear war every day. We huddled under our desks, pulled off the road and ducked when the civil defense sirens went off. This is not how I want to live now.
Donald Trump's frightening tweeted rhetoric needs to be constrained by some practical legislation putting a check on what he can and cannot do.
Gloria Garber, Naples
Floating pier art has $3M price tag | Jan. 3
There are other priorities
$3 million for a floating art piece made out of astronaut spacesuit material? How long will it last?
How many homeless people could be housed with that money, or sick or hungry kids helped? Teachers are buying supplies for their classrooms because their isn't enough money in the school budget for them. I like art as much as anyone, but this is a ridiculous.
Cheyrl Bowman, Largo
How much to take down?
I have one question. What will it cost to take the pier art down, store it until the hurricane passes, and then reinstall it, several times a year, year after year?
Randall Aebersold, Palm Harbor