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Letters to the editor deadline for March 15 election
The deadline for letters to the editor pertaining to the March 15 election is Feb. 19. Any letters published after Feb. 25 will be printed only if they are in direct rebuttal to another letter.
After listening to the Republican debate Jan. 28 and reflecting upon the qualifications, views and nuances of the candidates aspiring to be our next president, my most scintillating observation is this: We are in deep doo-doo.

Good statesmen put national interests ahead of the party lines. That seems to be lost in recent presidential elections. As a moderate, the possibility of any of the leading GOP contenders winning the Republican nomination gives me the willies - particularly Trump and Cruz, who make editorial cartoonists’ jobs a cinch.
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Whoever invented the judgmental book review should be made a saint, and then shot. Or at least condemned to some form of ignominy. For hundreds, nay, thousands of years, the task of reaching an opinion of any given book was left to the reader. The Roman orator Cicero could open up a new biography of Mark Antony and feel free to say, “This is great!” or “This is offal!” No one told him what the book was about, or whether it was worth reading.

Then one day, perhaps in the Dark Ages, Mulvania - the mistress of King Egbert of Wessex - said to him, “Kingie, I’ve written a book of poems. Could you ask the London newspapers to tell the world about it?” Which he did, thereby launching the book review industry as we know it today.

Book reviews are mostly a blessing. A concise, well-written, objective review can be as worthy a piece of literature as can be found anywhere this side of Facebook. A review can save a reader time, money and the agony of using his/her own critical faculties (i.e., actually thinking) to judge a book. Book reviews allow you and me to persuade ourselves and others that we actually know what in God’s name is happening in this nut house we all inhabit.
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When Bernie Sanders hits rival Hillary Clinton for taking humongous speaking fees from big banks - notably the $675,000 Goldman Sachs paid her for three speeches while she eyed the Oval Office - he struck Clinton’s Achilles heel. Both the former secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have cashed in since they left the White House in 2000. The New York Times reported last year that the Clintons earned $139 million from 2007 to 2014. The Clintons’ focus on accumulating wealth clouds their judgment.

Start with a basic political fact: Many voters believe Wall Street got off too painlessly for its role in the financial collapse of 2008. Many Democrats blame big banks. So if you know you are going to run for president in the Democratic primary, you probably don’t want financial giants paying you five times the American median household income for one speech. It makes you look beholden to fat cats, because - earth to Hillary - most human beings are grateful when someone gives them six figures for a talk.

“You don’t think they expect anything in return?” “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Clinton on Sunday. “Absolutely not,” Clinton answered. She said she took on the big banks as a U.S. senator.
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Monday, January 26
Had a modern Rip Van Winkle who happened to be a Republican fallen asleep 20 years ago, he might think that he had awakened now in hell.

His choice in the 1996 party primaries for president would have been among a 10-person field including Bob Dole, the senator and eventual nominee; Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, Gov. Pete Wilson of California, and former Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, all of them firmly mainstream.
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I feel sorry for Chris Rock, the talented standup comedian. A month from now - on Feb. 28 - Rock, who is black, will host the 88th Oscars awards. For the second straight year, none of the nominees for the major award categories is a black person. As I begin this column, plans for a boycott of the award ceremonies, by both blacks and whites, are well underway.

How will Rock handle this ticklish situation? On the one hand he is famous for fearlessly sticking needles into the hides of the rich and powerful. But on Oscars night he will be paid a large fee for (hopefully) sending the viewing public, and the attendees at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, home with a positive view of the motion picture industry. It may take some fancy tap-dancing for Rock to toe the line between being a one-night employee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences while still maintaining his reputation as an intrepid entertainer.

A few years ago Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres said, “If it weren’t for Jews, gays and blacks, there wouldn’t be an Oscars night.” Or words to that effect. Which could lead a cynical observer to ask “If black actors fail to make the grade as Oscar nominees this year, shouldn’t we have gays eliminated next year, and then Jews the year after that?” Of course, the response to that notion would be that Hollywood is not famous for logical, equal-opportunity prejudice.
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Monday, January 19
OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE - David Bowie is dead, Rick Scott is alive, and the whole idiocracy is back in town, hell-bent on pimping for polluters, arming students, and destroying Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

Legislators don’t think you should trouble your pretty little head over what they’re doing with your money.
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As we head into the semi-home stretch of the presidential campaign, I keep waiting for someone to put forth these questions: Are people who want to occupy the White House mentally stable? Why would anyone in his/her right mind wish to spend four years in a war zone? Don’t these candidates read the newspapers or switch on their TV sets?

Okay, before we go on, let’s look at the bright, or brighter, side. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently listed some of today’s good news. The latest FBI reports show that violent crime was down, not up, in 2015. A year ago the Ebola plague was killing thousands of West Africans; today the epidemic is only a memory, thanks to a miracle vaccine. Fifty years ago only half the women of the world could read and write; today their literacy rate is above the 93 percent mark. To these pluses can be added the U.S. unemployment rate, at 5 percent. And so forth. Indeed, blessings are there to be counted.

But this fact remains: the Oval Office, while the most powerful post in the world, is the hottest governmental seat anyone could dream of occupying. It wasn’t always that way. Warren Harding and Cal Coolidge couldn’t truthfully moan, “This job is killing me.” (Come to think of it, however, Harding’s death was blamed on a heart attack, but we can’t be sure, since his widow vetoed an autopsy.)
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God help me. I have come to appreciate why some Republican voters like Donald Trump. It’s because he embodies New York in all its ostentation and swagger. When punched, he punches back. He owns his anger. He looks as if he is having a blast.

At Thursday night’s Fox Business Network GOP debate, Trump readily admitted that he had begun to question whether rival Sen. Ted Cruz is a “natural born” citizen because Cruz was closing in on Trump in Iowa polls. He’s shameless, yet you cannot help but admire someone who butts heads with the way politics usually works and who leaves the political establishment woozy and seeing stars while he happily straightens his tie.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Trump’s sound-bite policy about banning Muslims from entering the country runs contrary to the national interest. As former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush noted, the next president will need a coalition of Sunni Muslims and Kurds to destroy the Islamic State group. Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants - many being “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” - should come back to haunt him if he wins the GOP primary.
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Monday, January 5
Republicans fulfilled a popular campaign pledge Wednesday when, by a 240-181 vote, the House passed a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood. The bill, already passed by the Senate, now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama, where it surely will be vetoed.

Just when, I have to ask, did my Grand Old Party’s idea of victory become passing bills that won’t become law? What’s so glorious about fecklessness? The GOP House put an awful lot of work - it has voted to repeal Obamacare 62 times - into passing something that cannot become law while Obama is president and there are not enough Republicans to override a veto. Yet I see progress.
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Community Calender
• Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
Bay Pines Lutheran open house
SEMINOLE – An open house will take place Sunday, Feb. 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Bay Pines Lutheran School, 7589 113th Lane.

Attendees will have an opportunity to tour the facilities, meet the staff, and see what spiritual, academic, social and physical blessings Bay Pines can offer. Reservations are required. To RSVP, call 397-3204, email mary.dryden@baypineslutheran.com or visit goo.gl /99gW3o. ;

Bay Pines Lutheran School will be accepting new student school applications for the 2016-17 school year.
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Brass Tap grand opening
ST. PETERSBURG – The Brass Tap, a craft beer bar and restaurant, will bring its curated selection of local, regional and national brews to Pinellas County when it opens its doors Sunday, Feb. 7, at Tyrone Square, 6901 22nd Ave. N.

The Brass Tap will celebrate the new location with a grand opening celebration on Saturday, Feb. 13. The event will feature live music, giveaways and specialty tappings from local breweries including Cycle, 3 Daughters, St. Pete Brewing, Pair O’ Dice and Green Bench.

Once open, the restaurant will offer visitors a full and unique food menu, 60 beers on tap, weekend brunch, a full liquor bar, daily specials and more.

For information, visit www.facebook.com /BTTyroneSquare.
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Corey Sunday Market
ST. PETE BEACH – The popular Corey Avenue Sunday Market is open Sundays, October through May, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The market, features 50 to 80 vendors who sell a variety of locally produced and homemade items including produce, plants, take home foods, ready to eat lunch bites, hand crafts, eco-friendly and fair trade products.

This season will be the second that Tampa Bay Markets has managed the market in conjunction with the Corey Avenue Business Association.

For more details, visit www.TampaBayMarkets.com or on Facebook at Corey Avenue Sunday Market on St Pete Beach.

The market is located on Corey Avenue between Boca Ciega Avenue and Gulf Boulevard.
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Honeymoon Island guided walks
DUNEDIN – Guided walks will be offered Oct. 14 through April 1 at Honeymoon Island State Park, 1 Causeway Blvd.

Hikes are offered Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. The hikes are free with paid park admission of $8 per carload. Call 738-2903.

Attendees taking part in Friday beach walks should meet at the South Beach Pavilion at 11 a.m. Those taking part in Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday Osprey Trail Walks should meet at the picnic area.

For information, visit www.islandparks.org /naturecenter /programs.htm.
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Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market
Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of April on the grounds of the Town of Indian Shores Municipal Center at 19305 Gulf Blvd.

 
Paddleboard yoga
ST. PETE BEACH – Residents will have an opportunity to strengthen their core and find relaxation on the water with paddleboard Yoga at the St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center. Classes are held on Sundays at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and on Mondays at 7:30 p.m.

The class is good for first-time paddlers or those looking to expand their existing practice. Each class will include basic paddling instruction and gentle yoga on the water. Reservations are required. Limited space is available.

The cost is $15 for St. Pete Beach residents or $17 for a nonresident. To reserve your spot call the St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center at 363-9264.

For a full list of aquatic classes visit www.spbrec.com.
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Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra concert
PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra will perform Sunday, Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m., at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, 4951 78th Ave. N., Pinellas Park. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

For information, call 397-3832 or visit www.pinellasparkcivicorchestra.org.

The orchestra performs concerts on first Sundays, October through April. Music performed consists of classical, show tunes and pops selections.
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• Monday, Feb. 8, 2016
AARP Tax-Aide
SAFETY HARBOR – AARP Tax-Aide is available at the Safety Harbor Public Library through April 15. Hours of assistance are Mondays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Appointments are not accepted for this first come, first served assistance. AARP recommends bringing your previous year’s tax return and social security card. Tax-Aide is held in the library meeting room and is accessible from the parking lot at the south end of the building.

For more information, please call 727-724-1525, ext. 4112. The library is located at 101 Second St. N., Safety Harbor, FL 34695.
 ... Read More 
Beef ‘O’Brady’s Trivia Night
SEMINOLE – Beef‘O’Brady’s, 1-799 Park Blvd. N., now offers Trivia Night every Monday, 6 to 8 p.m. The winning team receives a $50 gift certificate. There will be a $5.49 burger with fries special every Monday night. To register a team, call Angel or Mike at 393-2880.
 ... Read More 
Craft classes at Bay Vista
ST. PETERSBURG – Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S., offers craft classes Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. They include paper crafts, polymer clay sculpting, felting and more The cost is $30 for four classes, plus a craft fee. For more information call 893-7124 or visit www.stpeteparksrec.org.
 ... Read More 
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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