PALM HARBOR — In 1950, the infancy of the "Mao era" in China, there was no escaping a sense of upheaval. The government was redistributing land and mounting an aggressive messaging campaign to citizens that they had been freed from capitalism, not captured by communism.
Alden Matthews, a missionary in the Fuzhou province, could sense a social narrowing as he was frequently asked, in subtle and not so subtle ways, to declare his allegiance with the new regime. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — Michael Kinney preached a gospel of karate.
In his school, or on his numerous television appearances or at conferences in the United States and abroad, Mr. Kinney described the martial arts the way an evangelist invokes God.
Karate teaches focus and self-confidence, he said, which helps students socially and academically.
Of the thousands of students who trained in his dojos, which he operated in St. Petersburg recreation centers, many now own schools of their own. Others have married people they met in his classes, then enrolled their own kids. Students called him "Soke Mike," after a Japanese term similar to "grandmaster" and which also honors Mr. Kinney for creating a blend of Korean Tang Soo Do with Aikido and jiu-jitsu....
Voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to retain three judges on the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal. The court sits in Lakeland and hears appeals in criminal and civil cases from Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties.
The appellate judges — Chris Altenbernd, Morris Silberman and Daniel Sleet — all have worked in the Tampa Bay area since law school....
ST. PETERSBURG — Nothing, it seemed, was going to slow Thelma Rothman down. The death of her husband, with whom she founded Kane's Furniture 66 years ago, only hardened her independence.
Her work on the boards of numerous charities, including several she created, never stopped.
Nor did her role change at the company, one of the largest furniture chains in Florida. Just last year, Mrs. Rothman visited all 18 outlets in the state. Employees knew she wasn't there to inspect anyone, only to say hello. Since establishing the first Kane's Furniture in downtown St. Petersburg, the business grew to Clearwater, then to New Port Richey and Tampa....
TAMPA — In Alcoholics Anonymous, everybody knows everybody on a first-name basis. People in AA keep a low public profile, lest a fall from sobriety reflect badly on the program.
Popularity, however, has created exceptions to the rule. Most people know the last names of AA co-founders Bill W. and "Dr. Bob" — Wilson and Smith. On the speaking circuit, from small meetings to big conventions, certain names carry enough cachet that their anonymity fades away. And audiences play recordings of their talks the way others listen to a favorite album....
ST. PETERSBURG — At its peak, the Snell Isle shopping center boasted a grocery store, a hardware store, a gas station and a pharmacy, a gift shop with a post office inside and a bank. Just enough for a cozy, upscale community to take care of essentials without leaving the island.
Phil Maranto, a gregarious former Marine and avid sportsman, owned the Snell Isle Market at 1337 Snell Isle Blvd. NE for nearly 20 of those growth years, from 1963 to 1981, his family said....
09/26/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The invitation to foreign students on the Eckerd College website looks irresistible, with images of glistening beaches and sailboats knifing through the water.
Over the past 40 years, "tens of thousands of students from all over the world" have learned English at an ELS Language Center on the Eckerd campus. They can eat in the cafeterias, swim in the pool, enjoy the waterfront or work out in the gym....
ST. PETERSBURG — The trial of U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly over the 1980 Abscam scandal brought together two of the strongest personalities in Tampa Bay legal circles.
Kelly and his well-known lawyer, Anthony Battaglia, were old law school buddies, which gave Kelly, a former judge, all the more license to tell his old friend how to conduct his defense.
Fortunately for Kelly and hundreds of other clients, Mr. Battaglia was no pushover. The flamboyant attorney, who always prepared exhaustively for his cases, pushed back sufficiently to get Kelly acquitted. After an appeal, Kelly ended up with a one-year jail sentence....
09/10/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Stuck in poverty, Lourdes Flores left Honduras when her son Enrique was 5, hoping to find work in the United States and send money home. She couldn't bear to hug him goodbye. Eleven years later, in 2000, the boy left his grandmother's house determined to find his mother.
The harrowing experience that followed became the subject of a 2006 bestselling book, Enrique's Journey, by author Sonia Nazario, who appears tonight in the first installment of an Eckerd College lecture series, "Between Worlds: Immigration, Identity and Globalization."...
BROOKSVILLE — Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m., Joe Weeks unlocked the tall wooden door of Weeks Hardware, the store his family has owned since before he was born.
The former warehouse stands a block north of the courthouse and was once the beating heart of Brooksville.
Need a collar for your draft horse? You could find it at Weeks. If you didn't have cash, a few chickens or a side of bacon would do. ...
LARGO — On Dec. 12, 1986, as the Iran-Contra scandal was dominating the news, Nicaraguan authorities captured Sam Hall near a military airfield north of Managua.
They didn't believe Mr. Hall was there as a writer, as he had told them, or that the map in his sock was an arch support.
Eventually, he acknowledged that he was conducting surveillance for something called the Phoenix Battalion, a privately funded antiterrorist force of which he was the only remaining member. ...
Tampa anesthesiologist Dr. Rafael Miguel helped lead the fight against a surging prescription drug abuse crisis in Florida.
As vice chair of the state's Board of Medicine, Miguel called for legislative change to stem the flow of drugs that led to thousands of overdose deaths each year.
Eventually, people listened.
Laws tightened. Police stepped up enforcement. And deaths declined by 23 percent from 2010 to 2012....
By a nearly 2-1 ratio, voters have approved a ballot measure designed to entice businesses to set up shop in Pinellas County.
Sixty-three percent of voters backed Tuesday's lone referendum, paving the way for tax breaks for businesses that locate here or expand within the county.
"It's a very positive thing," said Mike Meidel, the economic development director for Pinellas County. "It gives us more flexibility and makes us more competitive with the surrounding area."...
They never saw the Honda, and its driver never saw them. The sport utility vehicle smashed into Jayla Shubbar before she and her older sister reached the convenience store across the street.
State officials had been planning to install another crosswalk on that stretch of North Tampa's Busch Boulevard, an urban highway that cuts through the impoverished neighborhood where Jayla, 8, was struck that Saturday morning and died the next day. But they hadn't broken ground....
07/31/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The relics on the walls of Mastry's Bar — including two mounted tarpon, a barracuda head and photos of Babe Ruth — have gotten their last translucent amber coating of nicotine.
After nearly 80 years, the iconic downtown bar, thought to be the city's oldest, has gone smoke free.
The move comes 11 years after the state banned smoking in enclosed workplaces. Since then, even bars that didn't serve food and were exempted have been telling customers to take it outside....