Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald wrote that Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former intelligence analyst who leaked information on huge U.S. data mining operations, “will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers.” House Speaker John Boehner called Snowden “a traitor.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein railed that he had committed “treason.”
My synopsis: Snowden is scary - because the government and private contractor Booz Allen Hamilton entrusted him with sensitive national secrets.
Snowden is clearly intelligent. It’s not your average high-school dropout who lands a six-figure job that serves him up the keys to the intelligence kingdom. He was shrewd and brave to come forward as a leaker rather than remain in the shadows.
If you’ve read recent news reports, you know that our national government is snooping into our phone calls, email, and Facebook postings. The feds have been doing that ever since the George W. Bush era. President Obama promised to cut back on the spying, but after taking office and looking at the snooper programs, Obama feels they’re not all that bad. He has okayed their continuation.
Which means that, in exchange for alleged protection against extremists, you and I continue to be subject to surveillance by government spooks. They have the power to know almost everything we say, write or think.
This wouldn’t offend me if I were a terrorist, an extremist or a wild-eyed nut case who loves guns and bombs. I would expect the feds to spy on me.
Year after year, when tornadoes sweep through Oklahoma and other destruction-prone regions of the USA, questions inevitably arise: Why do the victims remain there? Why don’t they pack up what few belongings they still have and move elsewhere, far from Tornado Alley? Similar questions are directed to families who persist in building homes on the banks of rivers, on seacoasts, in tinder-dry forests, and on California hillsides subject to periodic mudslides.
Responses to such queries are easy to come by. Why don’t tornado victims cut and run? Here’s why:
ECONOMICS. Even if a destroyed home is insured, most owners don’t have the money they would need to relocate and establish a new life elsewhere. Existing mortgages must be paid off and the properties then offered to new (and probably reluctant) buyers.
Every morning I watch the children in my neighborhood cascade down the streets to catch a big yellow taxi to school. They speed-walk, sometimes skip, with undeniable posture; standing tall from the weight of fat backpacks hugging their petite shoulders. We all know where they’re going. But do you ever stop to wonder what they go home to?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County helps children reach their full potential, despite the daily adversity they face. We serve children who often reside in single-parent homes, live with a grandparent/relative caregiver and have incarcerated parents. The program 100 Men in 100 Days, beginning June 1st through September 8th, was created to recruit male volunteers for the overwhelming abundance of boys on our waiting list.
Currently, only one-third of volunteer inquiries come from men. There are 188 children on our waiting list, 127 of them are boys. The need for male volunteers is consistent. That’s why we would like to propose a challenge to all men in our community: Man up and be a mentor.
A famous scene in the 1967 movie “The Graduate” shows a well-meaning older friend advising the recent college graduate Ben (Dustin Hoffman) of a career path to follow. His one-word counsel: “Plastics.”
Ben didn’t follow the man’s suggestion, but many other people did. Today we are approaching the time when almost every object we buy, large or small, is encased in some form of plastic. And it may drive sensitive souls like me crazy before we’re done.
I’ve begun reading a novel by John Sandford. When I read, I often snack. Today I put down the novel long enough to arm myself with some crackers and hummus. Before I could dip into the newly purchased hummus, I had to open the plastic container it came in. Years ago you just lifted off the lid; it was a tight but manageable fit, and it seemed to keep out all known diseases. But today the lid is further sealed with an almost invisible ring of paper-thin plastic. This requires me to find a knife with a potentially lethal point slender enough to be inserted under the plastic ring to pop it loose. The ring is clear and colorless; my eyes are old. It took me several minutes and many cusswords to find and slice the #@!! ring.
On Sunday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace spoon-fed former GOP Sen. Bob Dole one of the media’s favorite questions: Could Ronald Reagan - or Dole - make it in today’s Republican Party? “I doubt it,” Dole answered. “Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly, (Richard) Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.”
Thus were born cable news segments, Beltway follow-up pieces and a New York Times editorial titled “The Wisdom of Bob Dole.” What does it say about the news industry when a guy who’s about to turn 90 says the Senate worked better when he was in charge - and that he got respect within his party - and that interview makes news? O media. O mores.
Alas, that’s how you make quick-turnaround news these days: by recycling stale myths memorialized on camera.
Alateen meetings for teens SEMINOLE - Al-Anon for teens is offered Wednesdays, 8 p.m. at Oakhurst United Methodist, 13400 Park Blvd., Seminole. Al-Anon members who are interested in becoming an Alateen sponsor are also needed, and they must meet three requirements. They must have been in Al-Anon for three years and attend regular meetings. They must be at least 23 years old, and they must attend training with details of the WSO Safety and Behavioral Requirements. An Alateen sponsor is a trained AMIAS who facilitates the Alateen meeting. They do not sponsor Alateens. Only trained AMIAS’s are allowed in Alateen meetings. It is not open to adults.
For information, contact Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-3607.
Aqua Zumba Classes
LARGO – The Largo Aquatics Division now offers Aqua Zumba, a high-energy water exercise class, on Wednesday evenings, 6:15 p.m., beginning April 3 at the Southwest Aquatic Complex, at 13120 Vonn Road.
Zumba is a Latin-inspired cardio dance workout with music that conditions and tones the body. Adding water resistance to Zumba allows individuals to receive a more intense cardio-based workout in a low-impact environment.
Instructor Angelique Renaud will lead the class in 4 feet of water, so no swimming skills are required. However, participants should be comfortable in waist-deep water and must be at least 12 years old. As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before starting. A lifeguard will be on duty during all class times.
Aqua Zumba is a drop-in class; no preregistration required or punch cards accepted. Classes are $5 per person for Largo residents, $6.25 for nonresidents or $9.25 for guests.
For more information, visit LargoPools.com or call 518-3126.
Chamber after-hours mixer
OLDSMAR – The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce plans an after-hours mixer Wednesday, June 19, 5:30 p.m., at the Salt Rock Tavern, 3689 Tampa Road. The cost for both chamber members and nonmembers is $5.
Call 813-855-4233 for a reservation.
Chess Club meeting
SEMINOLE – The Seminole Chess Club meets Wednesday, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St. N.
Everyone is welcome, though they should know the basics of how to play. Chess sets will be provided and there is no charge to play.
Call Alan Bohrer at 748-2522 for more information.
Largo Toastmasters meeting
LARG0 – Largo Star Toastmasters Club 5933 meets Wednesdays, 12:05 to 1:05 p.m., at the Young Rainey Star Center, 7887 Bryan Dairy Road No. 120 in Largo. For more information, call John Rouisse at 488-8010 or email email@example.com.
The club is open to all residents and workers in the Largo, Pinellas Park and Seminole areas.
A Toastmasters club provides a supportive and positive environment where members have the opportunity to develop their oral communication and leadership skills. Come watch as members present speeches, develop leadership skills by serving in various club positions and participate in
Table Topics sessions in a relaxed yet structured one-hour setting.
ST. PETE BEACH – The City of St. Pete Beach Family Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, plans water aerobics classes beginning Tuesday, April 30. Classes are offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:15 to 11 a.m.
Water Aerobics offers a great muscle-toning and cardio workout with the benefits and support of the water.
Cost is $5 for St. Pete Beach residents and $6 for non-residents. The classes are free for all SilverSneakers members. Join anytime.
Weekly line dancing classes PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Elks Lodge No. 2217 holds line dancing classes on Wednesdays, 7 to 8 p.m., at 7550 40th St. N.
The class, taught by instructor Ann Splain, costs $4.
Bingo CLEARWATER – The American Legion Turner-Brandon Post 7 offers bingo every Thursday, noon to 3 p.m., at 1760 Turner St. Call 442-5293 or visit www.alpost7clw.org.
Bluffs Business Association meeting
BELLEAIR BLUFFS – The Bluffs Business Association will meet Thursday, June 20, at Petal and Vine Garden Shop and Market, 596 Indian Rocks Road. Networking will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the meeting will end at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – A discussion on “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald will be held Thursday, June 20, 2 p.m., at the Indian Rocks Beach Library, 1507 Bay Palm Blvd.
The novel “is magnificently indicative of the 1920s post-war celebration that came to a halt with the 1929’s stock market crash. Glamour, glitz, and anything goes is joined with the quest for wealth, happiness, and an attempt to remake the past,” a library press release said.
Copies of the book are available at the circulation desk. For information, call 596-1822.