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Ah, to be 17 again: Jasmine Bedwell controversy

Think back to when you were 17.

Those were the best days of your life, right? You were making all the best decisions. You probably regret nothing. Now, imagine that you’re Jasmine Bedwell, a 17-year-old living in Tampa, Fla.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Bedwell’s life has gone something like this: She’s run away from home more than 21 times. When she was in the fifth grade, her mother had a boyfriend call the police on Bedwell claiming that she had gotten physically violent over doing chores. Jeff Rainey, president and CEO of Hillsborough Kids Inc. said that she was abused all of her life by her caretakers.

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Food for the Fourth

Today is the Fourth of July, and that means it’s time to get that grill ready for some good ole American barbecue. Arguably, the best part of this day’s celebration is the food. (Forget the fireworks, the celebration of America’s independence and spending time with family and friends!)

Food can make or break any get-together. I can’t really help you if you think you’ll mess up the hamburgers or grilled chicken. Meat is not my thing. But, there are some incredible summertime recipes that will go great with whatever you’re making for your Fourth of July meal.

Here are a few of the best recipes that I’ve picked up along the way. They’ll go great with hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue or soy burgers. Enjoy!!

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Fed court rules ‘cyber bullying O.K.’

We’ve reached an all new low: allowing a 50-year-old to manipulate children into wanting to kill themselves. The next time you want to create a fake MySpace page and harass someone to the point where they want to kill themselves, you can rest assured that you will not be persecuted at all. You can go ahead and violate the terms and conditions all you want.

Think back to 2006, when eighth-grader, Megan Meier, committed suicide after receiving harassing MySpace messages from, who she thought was, a peer. This case brought cyber bullying to a new level. Meier’s ex-friend’s mother, Lori Drew, created a MySpace page pretending to be a 16-year-old boy who lived nearby named Josh Evans. Meier quickly became friends with “Evans,” and the two would talk online daily.

After a few weeks of talking back and forth, Meier received an e-mail from “Evans” saying, “‘I don’t know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you’re not nice to your friends.”

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Civil Rights Movement, looking back

It’s been more than 50 years since the start of the Civil Rights Movement. So much has taken place in those short decades, but it’s hard to imagine, for me, a world much different than today, with so many opportunities for so many different people. I was born in the ’80s, so I really have no perspective on what took place in those crucial years. I thought it might be interesting to take a look back and interview some people who actually experienced the movement to see what they have to say after all these years, paying particular attention to the the black movement and the idea of racism.

(What I found may surprise you. I know it did me.)

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Ideas to change America and the world

Everyone always says that we’re all looking for the “quick fix.” The connotation is almost always negative, but what if it didn’t have to be? The July/August edition of The Atlantic has suggested 15 ideas on “How to Fix the World.”

These 15 ideas, submitted by different contributors, suggest some ideas that seem crazy but just might work. Their 15 include:

1. Renting out your home instead of watching it go into foreclosure.
2. Deploying private military companies to act as “peacekeepers” throughout the world.
3. Giving up on Afghanistan ever having a democracy.
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Top 10 “do not miss” places in Tampa, Fla.

Tampa, on the West coast of Florida, typically is overshadowed by its eastern neighbor Orlando, which is home to Disney World. This town is full of history, diversity and some really good food. If you’re ever in the area, here are the top 10 places to check out.

1. Kaleisia Tea Lounge – Located at 1441 East Fletcher Ave. Suite #133, this community-oriented tea lounge offers loose leaf teas, smoothies and vegan food options. While close to the University of South Florida, it promotes a “tea community” and welcomes anyone. Owners Kim Pham and Lan Ha are dedicated to customer service and love helping people learn more about tea and Asian cultures.

2. Dunderbaks – Located at 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., this German bar and restaurant offers delicious, authentic food and hundreds of draft and bottled beers from all over the world. With more than 50 beers on draft, there’s a beer for everyone and a size for everyone including Das Boot. If you get really lucky, maybe you’ll get to see the accordion player who sings underneath the gazebo some nights.

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Affordable summer fun not found in Florida

We rounded the next bend and that’s when I saw it for the very first time. From left to right my eyes slowly scanned; my lower jaw hanging in disbelief, my eyes unblinking at the sight of them one right after the other. Red, blue, green, yellow, orange…the rocky, white sand coastline was absolutely covered in roller coasters. Even at that distance, a good mile away, it took me two shots with my digital camera to capture the whole stretch.

“There it is, Dad!” I almost screamed.

“That’s why they call this ‘America’s Roller Coast,’” he responded with a smile.

It’s true that my dad and I drove a solid 18 hours from our home in Clearwater, Florida, a more than 1,100-mile trip through seemingly endless cornfields, tired farm towns and broken roads to visit what is arguably the top-rated thrill park on the planet, but I had no idea how fitting the extreme version of our trip just getting there actually fit the thrill power of this attraction….

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Social and personal problems, know the difference

Somewhere in the United States, a young mother is forced to choose between providing food or healthcare for herself and her children because she can’t afford to do both.

Meanwhile, a group of gang members decides to make a drive-by shooting in a rival gang’s territory, killing three innocent victims and wounding others.

In another portion of the country, a man is being sent to death-row, to the electric chair, for a crime he did not commit.

Still, somewhere else, a woman is denied employment because she’s black, not white.

Poverty, violence, justice, human rights, equality and crime are all examples of solid, contemporary social problems that can easily be found within the society we call our own here in the United States.

Only when a problem is recognized by the majority of society as threatening or harmful to the lives and commonly established values of the people, and that action should be taken against it, is the issue elevated to social status.

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Animal lives mean more than human lives for some

A few years ago we were mesmerized in the sports world by an unorthodox quarterback by the name of Michael Vick.  He did it all.  He ran for unheard of rushing yards for a quarterback. Vick could throw off balance with some noteworthy accuracy, across his body, to a receiver three checks down.

It was an amazing thing to watch.

Then someone let the dogs out and Michael Vick’s life turned upside down and his reputation and legacy were decimated in the public eye, while PETA got out its rain sticks and danced on his persona’s grave.

As many know, Vick and friends were accused and proven guilty of running a dog fighting ring, made all the worse through the media’s tendency to create a public execution, and in high definition, color corrected, memory searing detail.  Vick went to jail for a bad decision.

Not to justify what he did, but with how often things like this happen all across the world and no one cared at all in the past, Vick got thrown under a bus simply because he was famous.  And everyone loves Fido.

Fast forward to 2009.

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Yesterday’s GM, tomorrow’s..?

This past year has been a rough year for many people.  Unemployment skyrocketed.  People were being foreclosed on left and right and evicted before you could even finish reading the notice.  Stocks tumbled, super corporations filed bankruptcy and went under.  But most of all, Motor City USA was pummeled by this recession, with it coming to a head with the demise of a company once deemed too large to fail, General Motors.

After bailouts and bankruptcy, the GM brand is one that has been badly damaged.  One won’t know the extent for perhaps several years, and the outcome of the chain of events put into place by their June 1 bankruptcy filing, but the Associated Press reported of a popular method of reinvention.

On top of company restructuring, many companies also opt for renaming their brand.

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