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August 27, 2000

Bill Maxwell
GOP has hard heart in legal aid for the poor
Poor people in the United States needing legal assistance are caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock is the flawed nature of legal representation itself. The hard place is the conservative Republican attitude toward the poor.

Margo Hammond
Authors at festival hot off the press
News junkies should have a field day at this year's Times Festival of Reading. Scheduled for Nov. 11 and 12 on the Eckerd College campus, just days after the presidential elections, the fair will be featuring a number of authors whose topics seem ripped from today's headlines.

Dealing with diabetes
Call it the couch-potato plague, although there is nothing amusing about the affliction. Diabetes cases in the United States have increased by one-third over the past eight years, frustrating public health officials because the disease is largely preventable. Not only are more Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year, but they are getting it at a younger age. Much of the increase can be attributed to obesity.

TaxWatch off course
The leaders of the government watchdog group would be wise to seriously re-evaluate the organization's current practice of accepting funds from the state.

Address doubts about vaccinations
Re: The harm in injecting doubt about immunizations, Aug. 20.

Philip Gailey
A lament: What is happening to Florida Democrats?
It's discouraging to be a registered Democrat in Florida these days, although the alternatives are not any better. It's hard to identify with a party headed by a man who, to put it mildly, has the political instincts of an aardvark.

Martin Dyckman
For your own sake, draw the line with the Social Security number
TALLAHASSEE -- My employer and the government have my Social Security number. So do the bank, the mortgage company, Blue Cross, the telephone company and heaven knows who else. But when the cable company requested it, I finally drew the line.

A Place of Execution, by Val McDermid (St. Martin's Press, $24.95). If you've only time to read one mystery this or any other season, make it A Place of Execution. Scottish investigative journalist Val McDermid, best known for heroines like snappy Manchester P.I. Kate Brannigan and lesbian reporter Lindsay Gordon, has reinvented the genre with this astonishingly simple tale of a disappearance and death in an English family. Reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and the best of P.D. James' early Dagliesh plots, it is fiction so realistic, I was tempted to go to my local London library and dig up reports of a murder that happened in 1963 in Scarsdale, a village in the Peak District of Derbyshire.

Family's heartbreak leads to hope
Almost every day we see stories about bad things happening to good people. All it takes is a handgun left loaded, a defective furnace or a drunken driver on the freeway. In one unguarded moment, a family's life is forever altered. Rarely do we find out what happened to the victims afterward.

Stepp offers useful insights on families
Laura Sessions Stepp has been a cutting-edge journalist for a long time. At the Charlotte Observer, she served as part of a reporting-editing team that won journalism's most prominent award, the Pulitzer Prize, for an investigation into dangerous workplace conditions at the normally sacred textile industry.

Meinke sheds light through small windows
Because no man is a prophet in his own country, many in the Tampa Bay area have little idea how billowing a national reputation St. Petersburg poet Peter Meinke enjoys. But when a colleague from the Midwest sent me her favorite Meinke poem last fall and I read it to a University of Tampa class, students there told me they'd already read it in their Advanced Placement classes at high schools in all corners of America.

The view from the middle
David Gergen does Will Rogers one better: He never met a president he didn't like.

Admiring the beauty of wire-walking
"Is it true you came to Tampa all the way from Seattle just to see a high-wire artist?" I asked him. I knew he loved the circus, but 3,000 miles and three time zones for just 900 feet?

Ex libris Florida
FEARFUL IN FLORIDA: "What kind of woman gets into an abusive relationship? Why does she go back after she does get away? How does she finally get out for good?" Getting Out: Life Stories of Women Who Left Abusive Men (Columbia University Press, $24.95), by Ann Goetting, allows women's real-life stories to answer these questions. One story shares the transformation of Lucretia, a Clearwater resident, from a victim of "betrayal, humiliation and shame," to a domestic violence survivor who is living violence-free as a single mother and full-time executive secretary.

Tim Nickens
Pressure on Bush now that Gore is on a natural roll
TAMARAC, FL. -- Al Gore reached for the tape recorder, but I grabbed it first.

Robyn Blumner
Avoiding social taboos does not make us better people
In a column a few years back I mentioned in the context of grumbling about the marriage tax that my boyfriend and I had lived together for seven years without getting married in affirmative avoidance of that tax. (Though we gave up our protest before the Democrats did and we're married now.)

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