THE TOP STO­RIES LAST WEEK

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - OPINION - Founder/pres­i­dent, Change Ev­ery­thing: ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, The Ne­gro Spir­i­tual Schol­ar­ship Foun­da­tion: chair, onePULSE Foun­da­tion: con­sult­ing unit chief for a global in­vest­ment firm; for­mer con­gres­sional staffer: owner/pres­i­dent,Ted Maines In­te­ri­ors

MAGIC PLAY­OFF PRE­DIC­TION

The Or­lando Magic started their sea­son with two wins and two losses. But in an Eastern Con­fer­ence that is weak­ened by the de­par­ture of LeBron James, I pre­dict that the Magic will im­prove over last year. In fact, you heard it here first: With the play­ers who are com­ing off in­juries, with the ma­tur­ing vet­er­ans on the team, and with the team's new class of rook­ies, I pre­dict the Magic will con­tend this year for one of the fi­nal play­off spots in their con­fer­ence. Good news for Magic fans who have en­dured a lot of los­ing sea­sons.

WHO IS A WIN­NER?

Com­ment­ing on seat­ing his lat­est Supreme Court ap­pointee, the pres­i­dent said, “We won. It doesn't mat­ter, be­cause we won.” Years ago, I was in a car with my friend Sue Prosser when I voiced a fear that I was los­ing the bat­tle to keep the non­profit con­cern I had founded afloat. Sue said she had learned a valu­able les­son while, as a mother with an in­fant son, she earned a col­lege de­gree and worked full-time. “It's do­ing the right thing in search of a good aim that mat­ters,” she said. “Win­ning or los­ing is an­cil­lary.” Mrs. Prosser, call the White House please.

GOOD NEWS ON OPI­OIDS

The ter­ror that swept the United States this week with the dis­cov­ery of pipe bombs mailed to prom­i­nent Democrats and CNN un­der­stand­ably eclipsed a ma­jor an­nounce­ment of fed­eral help with the opi­oid cri­sis. Ad­dic­tion and death from opi­oids are one of the ma­jor si­mul­ta­ne­ous bat­tles our coun­try, and es­pe­cially Florida, must face. Nearly a third of Amer­i­cans are touched by this mon­ster to some de­gree. Wednes­day, the White House signed rare bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion that, while im­per­fect, is a good start to mak­ing treat­ment more ac­ces­si­ble and — shock­ingly — to help stop the flow of the syn­thetic drugs through our postal sys­tem.

DE­BATE TIPS FOR GIL­LUM, DESAN­TIS

The DeSan­tis-Gil­lum de­bate, na­tion­ally tele­vised by CNN in Tampa, did not dis­ap­point. Here is each can­di­date's ma­jor im­ped­i­ment. GOPer DeSan­tis has to find a way to warm up. Add a dash of vul­ner­a­bil­ity. The ed­u­ca­tion and cre­den­tials are im­pec­ca­ble; we want to feel it, Con­gress­man! Your op­pone­nent's clos­ing story about his grandma hit the mark; take note. For his part, Dem Gil­lum must ac­count for his boon­dog­gles to NYC and Costa Rica. What's the deal, full sun­shine? This race is a wamper­doo­dle, Florida ... Which guy can rec­tify in the short­est time? He'll be our next gov­er­nor.

TAX CHEATS An­drae Bai­ley, Ru­dolph C. Cleare, Earl Crit­ten­den Jr., John L. Evans Jr., Ted Maines,

: No room for im­mi­grants? How about we fig­ure out a way to swap out some Amer­i­cans who don't care enough about their coun­try to vote or pay taxes with some peo­ple who des­per­ately want to come here, be­come cit­i­zens, and who will vote and pay their fair share of taxes? Just a thought.

HU­MAN TRAF­FICK­ING Anna McPher­son,

Wednes­day evening, ap­prox­i­mately 100 con­cerned cit­i­zens gath­ered at the Aloft Ho­tel for a screen­ing of "In Plain Sight," a film on hu­man traf­fick­ing pre­sented by the Ju­nior League of Greater Or­lando in part­ner­ship with Florida Abo­li­tion­ist. Hu­man traf­fick­ing hap­pens right here in Cen­tral Florida; chil­dren born in the U.S. are be­ing bought and sold by for any­thing from cash to drugs to au­to­mo­biles and forced into sex­ual slav­ery. Ju­nior Leagues in Tampa, Day­tona Beach and Or­lando are unit­ing to say no to this hor­ren­dous prac­tice in a coast-to-coast ini­tia­tive launch­ing this Jan­uary to raise aware­ness of this is­sue in our com­mu­ni­ties and along the I-4 cor­ri­dor. If you see some­thing sus­pi­cious call the Na­tional Hu­man Traf­fick­ing hot­line: 1-888-373-7888.

WA­TER MAIN BREAK: BIG NEWS

Bren­dan O'Con­nor,

While an ag­ing wa­ter main ex­plod­ing may not seem like a big story to some, oth­ers are see­ing it as a tip of the ice­berg for Or­lando's ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture. One pipe ex­plod­ing in Lake Eola Heights this week washed out the street for blocks, like a bizarre sand­man bomb had gone off. It begs the ques­tion, "What other tick­ing time bombs are lurk­ing un­der the lawns of our his­toric neigh­bor­hoods?"

Kath­leen Oropeza, co-founder, FundE­d­u­ca­tionNow.org: We stand at a cross­roads that af­fects both na­tional and state pol­i­tics. Who is a so­cial­ist? If you en­joy your street, your pub­lic schools, po­lice and fire pro­tec­tion, then you value the projects tax­pay­ers fund for the greater com­mu­nity good. It's painful to see so many cit­i­zens ig­no­rant of the facts. The study of his­tory must be an ag­nos­tic, un­flinch­ing quest for truth. In­stead, we've sunk to so­cial me­dia "laugh emo­jis" and the thin foot­ball team met­rics of "I won, you lost" cur­rently per­me­at­ing pol­i­tics. Is it re­ally “so­cial­ist” when cit­i­zens pay for clean, safe well-ed­u­cated cities and coun­ties?

BEAT CAN­CER — ALL CAN­CER

María T. Padilla, Or­lando Latino blog: Why don't peo­ple fo­cus on other forms of can­cer, not just breast can­cer? My can­cer-stricken mom posed that ques­tion to me re­cently, and she has a point. As Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month wraps up, don't for­get that other types of can­cers af­flict women. Yes, breast can­cer is the most com­mon can­cer among U.S. women, but lung and colon can­cer are in sec­ond and third place. And some can­cers, frankly, are far dead­lier. Any type of can­cer, from first to last, is bru­tal, in­flict­ing much pain and rob­bing loved ones of health and time on Earth. Let's beat this can­cer mon­ster. Pe­riod.

STU­DENTS NEED MEN­TAL-HEALTH SER­VICES

Joseph F. Pen­nisi,

Two pre­teens at Bar­tow Mid­dle School were charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der when they were caught in a school bath­room wait­ing to at­tack smaller chil­dren, stab them to death and drink their blood be­fore turn­ing the knives on them­selves. They planned to kill 15. In what may be the un­der­state­ment of the decade, Bar­tow Po­lice Chief Joe Hall noted, “There may be some men­tal-health is­sues here that have to be ad­dressed.” For­tu­nately, the at­tack was thwarted, but the need for ad­di­tional sup­port for men­tal-health ser­vices, where Florida ranks last among the states, re­mains.

RED-TIDE RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY Joanie Schirm,

The red tide reached the Bre­vard County shores where I grew up, and I'm steam­ing mad. Florida State Parks' web­site con­firms red tide is the cul­prit; stinky dead fish and mask-adorned vol­un­teers clean­ing up the beach prove the fact. A full moon and stronger tides make the con­di­tions worse. For decades, Repub­li­can gover­nors and Repub­li­can­led leg­is­la­tures haven't cleaned up this mess. Gov. Rick Scott had eight years to fund the Al­gae Bloom Task Force, which started in 1999 and was de­funded in 2001. Sure, there are many cul­prits, but cut­ting funds to or­ga­ni­za­tions that gather and re­port facts wors­ens the prob­lem, which now will take decades to fix.

WEARY OF ELEC­TION ON­SLAUGHT Ed Schons,

We en­tered the home stretch last Mon­day when early vot­ing be­gan. Vot­ers weary of the con­stant on­slaught of mostly not-so-nice com­mer­cials and over­sized post cards fill­ing their mail­boxes can take heart. It will soon be over. No mat­ter the out­come, we must take ad­van­tage and cast our vote. It is our most pre­cious priv­i­lege.

LOTTO LOSER BLUES Michael Slay­maker,

Wednes­day, Oct. 24 can be equated to Feb. 18, 2001. Dale Earn­hardt died on that day in 2001 and a large part of the Florida cit­i­zenry went into de­pres­sion. Last week mil­lions of us learned we did not be­come a bil­lion­aire overnight. There is a psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect that tran­spires. We found so­lace in that the South Carolinian didn't get all the money. My house­hold won $4.

QUIT WHIN­ING, MIKE BIANCHI David D. Swan­son,

Mike Bianchi is an un­abashed “homer” when it comes to UCF foot­ball. Every home­town jour­nal­ist should be, but it's help­ful to keep that within the bounds of credulity. The in­ces­sant whin­ing about what UCF has not got­ten or been given credit for only so­lid­i­fies its “lit­tle brother” rep­u­ta­tion. That's what lit­tle broth­ers do: They whine. AD Danny White has not helped the sit­u­a­tion by tak­ing on ESPN's Kirk Herb­streit who makes a per­fectly ra­tio­nal ar­gu­ment that UCF is not alone among non­power 5 schools in their pur­suit of the play­off. UCF would rad­i­cally raise its stand­ing – and chances – if it stopped com­plain­ing and let its win­ning make the case.

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