Few tales are more inspiring than the story of an entire nation shaking off the bonds of a cruel and despised oppressor. The Irish have done it, not once but twice.
After centuries of iron-fisted control by Great Britain, the people of Ireland in 1922 finally achieved independence by forming the Irish Free State. Sadly, for most of the next hundred years the Irish remained under the yoke of another dictatorship - the Roman Catholic Church.
Until the 1990s the images of Irish Catholicism were those fostered by books and films in which almost every village contained a saintly, trustworthy priest (think of the twinkle-eyed Barry Fitzgerald in “Going My Way”) performing good works and uttering kindly counsel. A retinue of nuns of supposedly equal virtue usually assisted him.
The government, at all levels, squanders billions of dollars on questionable endeavors that leave many of us scratching our heads.
Tax dollars are spent on such things as sidewalks along Florida’s rural highways that are scarcely used and even overgrown in places with weeds while other more prioritized improvements receive little or no attention.
An excellent example is the barricaded Friendship Trail Bridge between Pinellas County and Tampa that was so popular with cyclists, walkers, skaters and anglers. Part of the original Gandy Bridge, bureaucrats closed the trail due to salt water corrosion. Instead of seeking ways to pay for the necessary improvements to keep it viable, our esteemed public servants are instead groveling for cash to tear it down.
We have entered the last half of the current year, and I’m glad. I’ve always liked the second six months of a year more than the first. I’m not sure why, but I can guess.
For one thing, the first half has too many holidays to keep track of. You begin with New Year’s Day and all that resolutions baloney, followed by Martin Luther King Jr., Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, Presidents Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Memorial Day and a few others not worth mentioning.
Legal holidays are a valuable part of life. They force hard-working Americans to take a break from the rat race. But they also can be a pain. You need to make a bank deposit, but the bank is closed.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews he thinks that Mitt Romney will run for president in 2016 and that “he will be the next president of the United States.” The former Massachusetts governor lost the GOP primary in 2008 and then the general election in 2012. What would his 2016 slogan be, “the third time’s a charm”?
Former GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough urged fellow attendees at Romney’s now annual GOP summit last month to join the draft movement. More than 50,000 have signed a “Draft Mitt” petition. Onetime Romney aide Emil Henry wrote “The Case for Mitt Romney in 2016” in Politico. Only Romney, he argued, can “roll into any major money center like New York, Los Angeles or Houston and mobilize his fundraisers on demand.”
I think Romney ran a solid campaign in 2012. Like 45 percent of respondents to a Quinnipiac poll, I believe that America would be better off today with Romney in the Oval Office. And I relish the debate in which Hillary Clinton and Romney find themselves agreeing ardently that a couple can own two mansions and still be “dead broke.”
A visit to the library is the ultimate treasure hunt. If you’ve spent time in a great library, such as Largo’s, you know what I mean.
Even if you exit the library empty-handed, you know you eventually will return and come across a book that will be so spellbinding that it leaves you with something - maybe for the rest of your life. And all it costs you is time.
Since I was a child, I’ve wandered the aisles of libraries, large and small, whether doing research for a school term paper or just hoping to find a book to read at my leisure.
The latest developments in the Mideast have surprised that small remaining percentage of observers who mistakenly assumed that the Muslim religion was unified. That delusion portrayed Islam as a tight-knit, disciplined body of believers who regard Islam as the only true faith and all other religions as misguided assemblages of infidels, worthy only of contempt and ultimate extinction.
But in the past few weeks we have learned (or re-learned) that Islam is just as fractured as Christianity. The two warring branches are the Sunnis and the Shiites, whose primary purpose is to kill one another, take control of Iraq, and then go on to conquer the world in the name of Allah (provided, we must assume, that Allah can be shown to be either a Sunni or a Shiite.)
The argument between the two sects goes back to 632, when Islam’s founder, the prophet Muhammad, died. Leadership then went to a Sunni. But the Shiites felt their man should have been named boss. That started the feud. Today most Muslims are Sunnis. But Shiites dominate in a significant number of other countries. And guess who’s trapped in between the two factions? Good old Uncle Sam.
It’s time to pass the hat for Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state has tried to distance herself from her weeks-ago assertion that after husband Bill left the White House, the couple were “dead broke.” She told PBS that the line was “inartful,” but only after she told a British paper that she does not count herself among the “truly well-off.” Nobody knows the troubles she’s seen.
In the United Kingdom pushing her latest book - for which she received a reported eight-figure advance - Clinton told The Guardian that the Clintons should not be seen as out-of-touch swells: “We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well-off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
Let us check the boxes of that quote. The Democrat essentially asserted that U.S. income taxes are cleaning out the family coffers. Expect her to call for tax reform a la Mitt Romney, as she believes that paying taxes has kept the Clintons - who, according to Politico, reported earnings of $109 million in the eight years preceding 2008 - from being truly well-off.
Democratic Women’s Club of Upper Pinellas meeting SAFETY HARBOR – The Democratic Women’s Club of Upper Pinellas will feature Aaron Darr at its meeting on Thursday, July 28, 11 a.m., at the Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second St. N.
Darr will speak on various subjects concerning reproductive health for Florida families. This activist educator will speak on topics such as sex education in public schools and private institutions, teen pregnancy, and the importance of women and men having access to contraceptives and abortion. He travels across the country and abroad to speak about the concern and importance of sex and HIV/AIDS issues.
He also will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Florida State Democratic Women’s Club Convention in St. Augustine.
The meeting itself starts at 11:45 a.m., and lunch is available for a $5 donation. For questions, call Victoria at 744-1101.
Kiwanis Breakfast Club meeting
SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole meets Tuesdays at 7:15 a.m. in the third floor card room at Lake Seminole Square, 8333 Seminole Blvd.
On the second, third and fourth Tuesdays of the month, the group features speakers from different organizations.
Visit kiwanisseminolebreakfast.com or call 319-8343 for more information.
MLK Neighborhood Center Coalition planning sessions CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center Coalition hosts weekly planning sessions every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 1201 Douglas Ave. It also hosts a neighborhood community market each fourth Saturday, with the June market set for the 28th.
The Community Outreach Team invites people to join them in making phone calls or writing letters to the residents in the neighborhood surrounding the center to inspire neighbors with the progress that is being made.
Qi Gong meditation classes ST. PETE BEACH – Weekly Qi Gong moving meditation classes are held Tuesdays, 8:30 to 10 a.m., at the Warren Webster Center, 1500 Pass-A-Grille Way.
The cost is $10 per class.
Classes are lead by acupuncture physician Joyce Lockwood who studied Qi Gong in China and
is certified as a Qi Gong practice leader in the U.S. through the Institute of Integral Qi Gong and Tai Chi.
Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates slow graceful movements, breathing techniques and deep relaxation.
Support group for addicted teens meeting
LARGO – Take a Hand, a new support group for parents and caregivers of teenagers suffering from substance abuse and behavioral issues will meet Tuesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in portable 1A of Anona United Methodist Church, 13233 Indian Rocks Road.
The first meeting will be Tuesday, March 4.
The group, started with the support of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, will invite guest speakers to offer advice and support to those caring for addicted teenagers, including information about the judicial system, residential treatment and more. The meetings are designed to be a safe place for parents, relatives and friends.
Wednesday afternoon book club
TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Library offers a Wednesday afternoon book club called “Expand Your Horizons.” Fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres are discussed each month. For the date of the next meeting, call 943-4922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiwanis Club of Seminole meeting SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Club of Seminole meets Thursdays, 6:15 p.m., at Freedom Square’s Town Hall.
The group’s next speaker will be Breanne Zsiga, from Career Academies of Seminole, discussing on her steer project.
For more information, call Terry Carr at 394-2582.