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Sunday, Sep 14, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Sochi scene makes you want to bite your tongue

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Published:   |   Updated: February 21, 2014 at 09:50 AM

Every profession has its own set of challenges, obstacles to climb.

And sometimes you can only stand there, shake your head slowly and admit it might be too much to handle.

So there I was, looking for a column and staring at the headline in front-page type about the size of a headline you might expect when World War III kicks off.

“RUSSIAN COSSACKS WHIP PUSSY RIOT.”

You see what I'm talking about, don't you? I mean, where do you begin? How do you write about something that is already more bizarre than anything you are likely to come up with, which seems to happen a lot these days?

Right away I had this crazy vision of Russian Cossacks charging out of the mountains waving horsewhips and attacking half a dozen women protesters armed with one guitar.

But it wasn't my imagination. It was what happened right there next to where the international press corps had gathered in Sochi to try to explain what curling was all about.

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You know, just when you begin to think the Russians had pulled off something as overwhelming as the Olympic Games, they pull a stunt like this and all those billions of dollars dumped into creating a false-front show of how they have progressed falls apart.

At first I figured maybe their boss, Vladimir Putin, was so shattered that his Russian hockey team had lost that same day that maybe he thought this might create a diversion.

On the other hand, we reported Wednesday that for several weeks someone has been throwing chunks of concrete at passing buses and cars on 50th Street and Melbourne Avenue in East Tampa. They even forced several HART buses to detour their routes.

Maybe if it's too tough for the local cops to get a handle on it, the mayor might consider shipping over a handful of Cossacks to ride alongside the buses.

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Martha Minahan says the Columbia Restaurant wants to hold a celebrity fundraiser on May 2 to continue the legacy started by Martha's husband, “Wild” Bill Minahan, who passed away last December. For so many years the legendary coach, who had a kidney transplant in 1986, would host luncheons to raise awareness and money for the LifeLink Legacy Fund to assist those who needed organ transplants. More details later for this wonderful event.

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If you're tired of the dirt getting tossed around in the District 13 congressional race in Pinellas, you might turn your attention to the District 16 seat in Sarasota and parts of Manatee counties. Republican Vern Buchanan holds the seat but has a write-in challenger, Joe Newman.

Newman says he is an anthropological progressive. He is also 101. He is, not surprisingly, campaigning to protect Social Security and expand Medicare.

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Lots of emails and comments on Wednesday's column on an article in Newsweek pounding away at Tampa — a city the author says has no identity except for a drunken brawl called Gasparilla.

Typical of your responses was this from former Hillsborough County Commissioner Joe Chillura, who wrote in part, “I appreciate your column, which reminded me of what Tampa is to me; a single word 'diversity,' a town with all races and religions, and a town with a sense of community.”

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