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Today in History: July 18, Nadia’s perfect 10

South Florida Local News - 12 hours 23 min ago

Today is Thursday, July 18, the 200th day of 2024. There are 166 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 18, 1976, at the Summer Olympics in Montreal, Nadia Comaneci of Romania became the first gymnast to receive a perfect score of 10 from Olympic judges for her performance on the uneven bars.

Also on this date:

In 1536, the English Parliament passed an act declaring the authority of the pope void in England.

In 1863, during the Civil War, Union troops spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, made up of Black soldiers, charged Confederate-held Fort Wagner on Morris Island, S.C. The Confederates were able to repel the Northerners, who suffered heavy losses; the 54th’s commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, was among those who were killed.

In 1918, South African anti-apartheid leader and president Nelson Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo.

In 1925, Adolf Hitler published the first volume of his autobiographical manifesto, “Mein Kampf (My Struggle).”

In 1944, Hideki Tojo was removed as Japanese premier and war minister because of setbacks suffered by his country in World War II.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a Presidential Succession Act which placed the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore next in the line of succession after the vice president.

In 1964, nearly a week of rioting erupted in New York’s Harlem neighborhood following the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager, James Powell, two days earlier.

In 1994, a bomb hidden in a van destroyed a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 85.

In 2005, an unrepentant Eric Rudolph was sentenced in Birmingham, Alabama, to life in prison for an abortion clinic bombing that killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse.

In 2013, Detroit became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, its finances ravaged and its neighborhoods hollowed out by a long, slow decline in population and auto manufacturing.

In 2020, Canadian officials said the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team would not be able to play its home games in Toronto during the shortened 2020 season because it wasn’t safe for players to travel back and forth from the United States. (The Blue Jays would play “home” games in the ballpark of their minor league affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y.)

Today’s Birthdays:
  • Skating champion and commentator Dick Button is 95.
  • Olympic gold medal figure skater Tenley Albright is 89.
  • Movie director Paul Verhoeven is 86.
  • Singer Dion DiMucci is 85.
  • Actor James Brolin is 84.
  • Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre is 84.
  • Singer Martha Reeves is 83.
  • Business mogul Richard Branson is 74.
  • Actor Margo Martindale is 73.
  • Musician Ricky Skaggs is 70.
  • World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Faldo is 67.
  • Actor Elizabeth McGovern is 63.
  • Broadcaster Wendy Williams is 60.
  • Actor Vin Diesel is 57.
  • Author Elizabeth Gilbert is 55.
  • Retired NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway is 53.
  • Singer-songwriter M.I.A. is 49.
  • Actor Elsa Pataky (“The Fast and the Furious” films) is 48.
  • Movie director Jared Hess is 45.
  • Actor Kristen Bell is 44.
  • Actor Priyanka Chopra is 42.
  • Actor Chace Crawford is 39.
  • Boxer Canelo Alvarez is 34.
  • Olympic sprinter Noah Lyles is 27.

Daily Horoscope for July 18, 2024

South Florida Local News - 16 hours 24 min ago
General Daily Insight for July 18, 2024

Our limitations are being overcome. The confident Sun’s support of innovative Uranus at 10:00 am EDT is a lovely source of inspiration — it’s a good idea to write down any ideas. The intuitive Moon then collaborates with communicative Mercury, aligning our thoughts with our feelings and making them easier to talk about. Later on, Mercury will work with cautious Chiron, ensuring that we’re able to make lasting positive changes in our minds and our methods of expressing ourselves. Level up the communication.

Aries

March 21 – April 19

Abundance could be more attainable than you think. Enticing avenues to manifest wealth might seemingly come out of the blue. You’ve probably put in effort that let you find such a beneficial opportunity without even realizing it. That doesn’t mean the work stops here — the universe needs your creative fire, and you’ll need to be able to trust your innate sense of style. Whether you’re aiming to bring in more income, extra resources, or something less literal, don’t shy away from the spotlight!

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

You’re making big plans, Taurus. Whether they involve a house, a car, or an investment opportunity, you likely have a knack for setting up structures that will benefit you for a long time to come. Don’t be afraid of thinking about the future! Take time to certify that everything is in order — that way, you’ll be able to continue progressing exponentially. People might not understand why you’re thinking so far ahead, but you appreciate that today’s hard work will make for a wondrous tomorrow.

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

You might be pleasantly surprised by the emotional peace that you have access to today. There could be an opportunity for you to rest or heal your spirit, potentially by spending time in nature or in community with others. There’s a strong chance that you’ll be discussing how you feel and that you will feel lighter after you do so, even if you weren’t expecting to let that burden off of your shoulders so soon. Open up and let positivity flow in!

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

Positive news could arrive at your doorstep at any moment. Alright, it may not literally come to your home, but someone will probably connect with you regarding some happy information, possibly regarding a career or your sense of stability. Newfound security is ready to lay a foundation in your mind, bringing with it relief, so that you won’t have to be on edge when it comes to your lifestyle. Let yourself breathe, and don’t be overly afraid of what the future holds.

Leo

July 23 – August 22

A surprise is likely to make you feel appreciated. Other people might be elevating you today, encouraging you to celebrate yourself and to acknowledge all the hard work that you’ve put in on your way to where you are at this very moment, and you’re allowed to enjoy their appreciation. A party celebrating you would be short-lived if you refused to attend, after all! It’s important to remember that you are worthy of praise. Your achievements are often worth more than you know.

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

“Spontaneous” is not your middle name, Virgo, but spontaneity can presently enrich your day. Specifically, if you get invited on any impromptu trips, don’t hesitate to accept! Even if you don’t know where you’re going at first, you can still have fun while letting someone else take the lead. You could discover that your bond with your fellow adventurers has grown in amazing ways as you explored the activities or locations they wanted to share with you. Hit the open road!

Libra

September 23 – October 22

People have nice things to say about you, Libra! You might not be ready for effusive praise from friends or your community, but when you do good work, others should acknowledge it. Accepting compliments may seem embarrassing or “cringe” at first, but think — wouldn’t you want to talk up the accomplishments of your loved ones? Even when you’re hesitant to be in the spotlight, let them celebrate you in the way you want to celebrate them in return. It’s a cycle of positivity!

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

Someone may show that they know you better than you thought they did. Perhaps you mentioned something that you’re interested in offhand, and they actively learned about it in their free time. Maybe this friend remembered your favorite food and surprised you with it after you told them you had a difficult day. Unexpected acts of kindness, whether done for you or by you, are a great way to deepen social bonds. When someone does something that warms your heart, don’t forget to thank them!

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

You’re learning to be more consistent with your intuition. In the past, you may have ignored your gut feelings in favor of following the crowd or choosing what you thought was the most logical way forward, but that isn’t always the ideal path for you. At present, you’re ready to lean into your instincts — and it could pay off big time. Doing so is a learning process, but becoming more in tune with yourself should be totally worth it. Feel the vibes!

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

You’re ready to show the world what you can do. You might have been keeping your projects or talents a secret, but are now inspired to reveal what you’ve been working on. This is a good way to learn if you’re ready to take it to the next level or ought to go back to the drawing board. With today’s supportive energy (and potentially some assistance from the people who love you most), you could get the attention of others quicker than you think.

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

You’re becoming aware of how to be your true self. You might have been going against the grain to avoid being a follower, but now, you’re discovering ways to be yourself that wholly resonate with your soul. Rather than merely trying to stand out, you’re finding out what makes you who you are. It’s okay to like mainstream hobbies or basic things, as long as you genuinely like them. It’s not about being the only one, it’s about being honest with yourself!

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

Overthinking your words isn’t necessary, and you know it! That said, it probably isn’t easy to say what you’re thinking when you’re actively thinking of it, especially if you’ve trained yourself to filter every thought through layers of worry. This may lead to hours pondering things you should have said while mentally reliving an argument or wishing that you had spoken up when meeting a fascinating stranger. While it’s also true that you shouldn’t blurt out everything you’re thinking, make sure you’re not silencing yourself.

Inter Miami keep rolling along without Messi, top Toronto behind Redondo to retake MLS top spot

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 20:12

FORT LAUDERDALE — Rookie Federico Redondo scored the first two goals of his career in the second half after assisting on a first-half score by Diego Gómez and Inter Miami posted a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday night.

Neither team scored until Redondo fed Gómez for a goal in the 43rd minute to give Inter Miami (15-4-5) a 1-0 lead at halftime. It was the third goal for Gómez and the third assist for Redondo.

Redondo’s goals came in a six-minute span. The 21-year-old midfielder used an assist from defender Julian Gressel in the 53rd minute to forge a two-goal lead and found the net again — off passes from Gómez and Gressel — in the 59th to make it 3-0. Gómez has six assists this season, while Gressel has 12. Gressel has an assist in five straight matches. He and Lionel Messi are the second pair of teammates to pull off at least a five-match assist run in the same season in league history.

Toronto (8-14-3) avoided a shutout when Derrick Etienne Jr. scored in the 80th minute. Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty notched his third assist and Kosi Thompson picked up his first on Etienne’s third goal this season.

Drake Callendar finished with three saves in goal for Inter Miami, becoming the first player to make 100 appearances in club history. Striker Robert Taylor subbed in for Gómez in the 80th minute for his 100th appearance to make it a two-man club.

Sean Johnson saved two shots for Toronto.

Luis Suárez subbed into the match in the second half in his return to Inter Miami after playing in Copa America for Uruguay. Messi, who played in the event for Argentina, is out indefinitely after suffering a ligament injury in his right ankle in a victory over Colombia in the final.

Counterintuitively, Inter Miami have rolled through the MLS season without their superstar. Inter Miami, despite Messi having missed half the team’s games (12 of 24), own the best record in Major League Soccer, having 50 points with 10 regular-season games remaining. The 50 points represent the most points ever scored by the franchise in an MLS season, topping the 48 put up in 2022.

Inter Miami will host the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

UF’s Billy Napier and Gators ignore the noise at SEC Media Days

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 16:12

DALLAS — Besides taking on college football’s toughest schedule, Florida faces one of the sport’s tallest orders: secure coach Billy Napier’s future with the Gators.

SEC Media Days in the Lone Star State spotlighted the looming challenge and the third-year coach’s job security — a common theme back home.

“When you’re on social media 24/7 … you see it,” quarterback Graham Mertz said. “You can’t help but not see it.”

But Napier and the Gators are not listening to the nay-sayers following a 5-7 season that ended on a five-game skid leading to sweeping offseason changes to UF’s staff and roster.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight,” Napier said. “When we took the job, what we inherited, the work that needed to be done … we’re on schedule.”

Napier is far down the pecking order among SEC coaches, a star-studded lineup including Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian and LSU’s Brian Kelly.

Florida quarterback Graham Mertz, speaking at SEC Media Days July 17 in Dallas, threw 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 2023. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

But other than Nick Saban successor Kalen DeBoer at Alabama, no coach arrived in Dallas under a more intense microscope. Other than Arkansas’ Sam Pittman no coach’s seat is considered to be hotter in the SEC.

No team in the nation faces a more difficult slate of games, beginning with an Aug. 31 season-opening visit from Miami and ending with a November against five teams ranked in the top 12 of the AP’s season-ending Top 25.

“We see it as 12 opportunities to prove ourselves,” linebacker Shemar James said.

Napier’s message to his players is simple: “Ignore the noise and don’t believe the hype.”

Senior tailback Montrell Johnson Jr. said his teammates and coach are ready to silence their critics.

No Gator might be a bigger believer in Napier, who brought Johnson with him from Louisiana after a 12-1 season in 2021 that served as a springboard to the Florida job.

“What gives me the confidence is me seeing him do it at UL,” he said. “Just seeing how everyone was bought into that program.”

Florida head football coach Billy Napier, speaking July 17 at SEC Media Days in Dallas, is 11-14 in two seasons with the Gators. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

While it has taken time and roster turnover, Johnson sees buy-in everywhere.

“We’re working together as one,” he said, “In the past it was this guy over or this guy over here.”

A lack of cohesiveness and leadership spilled over to the field, especially in close games — Napier’s Gators are 4-5 in one-possession contests.

“When you get into those critical possessions in a game, that connection matters,” Napier said. “I was talking to our players a little bit about that on the way here. Every detail matters. The margin of error is small.

“We have to leverage the experience that we have, and their expectations rub off on the rest of the team.”

Leading the way will be Johnson, the team’s top rusher the past two seasons, Mertz, a 23-year-old, sixth-year player coming off his best season, and James, the team’s leading tackler in 2023 prior to a season-ending knee surgery.

Florida running back Montrell Johnson Jr., speaks July 17 at SEC Media Days in Dallas, led the Gators in rushing in 2022 and 2023. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

The veteran trio brings stability to a team with four new assistant coaches and 35 new players.

“We certainly are not the same team that we had last year,” Napier said.

All the changes, the schedule and Napier’s 11-14 record at UF lead many outside the program to wonder whether the 2025 Gators will have the same coach.

“In reality, we have no choice but to see it,” James said. “You go on Instagram or go on Twitter and you see Florida Gators, Florida Gators, Florida Gators. It’s a blessing and a curse. We have that privilege to get talked about, but talked about it in the wrong way.

“That lights a fire in us all.”

Mertz said the key will be not to look at the flame outside.

“It’s, what do you pay all your attention to?” he said. “Are you focused on everything coming in? Or are you focused on what you’re doing to help the team win?

“That’s where I have confidence in our team and the fact that that’s what they’re focused on.”

Edgar Thompson can be reached at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com

Hurricanes miss out on five-star defensive back D.J. Pickett

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 16:07

The Hurricanes have had a strong summer on the recruiting trail, but they could not land one of their top targets.

Five-star defensive back D.J. Pickett committed to LSU, choosing the Tigers over offers from Miami, Georgia and Oregon, among others. He announced his decision on his Instagram account.

Pickett, a 6-foot-4, 178-pound star for Zephyrhills High outside of Tampa, is listed as the No. 2 cornerback and No. 6 player in the 2025 class by 247Sports’ composite rankings. He is also rated the top prospect in Florida.

Pickett had 52 catches for 1,033 yards and 15 touchdowns on offense last season while making 31 tackles with an interception on defense.

Pickett has family ties to UM, as his cousin Booker Pickett Jr. signed with UM last year. Pickett’s father, Ryan Pickett, played defensive line at Ohio State and was a first-round draft pick.

Appeals court rejects Florida abortion financial impact statement request

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 15:42

TALLAHASSEE — An appeals court Wednesday rejected a request by abortion-rights supporters to allow a circuit judge to rule on the legality of a revised “financial impact statement” that would appear on the November ballot with a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion.

The 1st District Court of Appeal quickly denied a request filed Wednesday by Floridians Protecting Freedom, a political committee sponsoring the proposed constitutional amendment. The request came two days after a state panel issued a revised financial impact statement that Floridians Protecting Freedom contended was “highly politicized and unlawfully inaccurate.”

A lawsuit about an earlier version of the statement has been pending at the appeals court. After the revised statement was finalized late Monday, the appeals court on Tuesday ordered lawyers for the state and Floridians Protecting Freedom to file briefs this week about whether the case is moot.

Floridians Protecting Freedom, however, filed a motion Wednesday asking the Tallahassee-based appeals court to “relinquish jurisdiction” to the circuit judge for a ruling on the revised statement.
“In short, we are now weeks closer to the election yet no closer to a lawful statement,” attorneys for Floridians Protecting Freedom wrote in the motion. “The circuit court should have the opportunity to address this continued violation of the sponsor’s rights.”

The appeals court did not explain its decision for denying the motion but reiterated that the two sides should file briefs this week about whether the case is moot.

Financial impact statements, which usually receive little attention, provide estimated effects of proposed constitutional amendments on government revenues and the state budget. They are drawn up by a state panel known as the Financial Impact Estimating Conference.

The panel in November 2023 released an initial statement for the abortion proposal, which will appear on this fall’s ballot as Amendment 4. But on April 1, the Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling that allowed a six-week abortion limit to take effect.

Floridians Protecting Freedom filed a lawsuit in April arguing that the November financial-impact statement needed to be revised because it was outdated after the Supreme Court ruling. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper agreed with the committee, but the state appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeal, where the case has been pending.

Amid the case, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, directed the Financial Impact Estimating Conference to begin meeting again to revise the statement.

But the meetings became contentious, with representatives of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office and the Florida House successfully pushing to include information in the revised statement about issues such as potentially costly lawsuits that could result if the amendment passes. DeSantis and other Republican leaders oppose the amendment.

The revised statement drew heavy criticism from Floridians Protecting Freedom and its “Yes on 4” campaign.

“What should have been an easy administrative fix on outdated (financial impact statement) language has become a dirty trick to mislead voters.” Lauren Brenzel, campaigns director for Yes on 4, said in a prepared statement.

In appealing Cooper’s ruling on the initial financial-impact statement, lawyers for the state contended that the circuit judge did not have legal jurisdiction to order a redrafted statement. If the case is not moot, that issue would need to be resolved by the appeals court.

The proposed constitutional amendment says, in part, that no “law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

In part, the revised financial impact statement says there is “uncertainty about whether the amendment will require the state to subsidize abortions with public funds. Litigation to resolve those and other uncertainties will result in additional costs to the state government and state courts that will negatively impact the state budget. An increase in abortions may negatively affect the growth of state and local revenues over time. Because the fiscal impact of increased abortions on state and local revenues and costs cannot be estimated with precision, the total impact of the proposed amendment is indeterminate.”

President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas, has ‘mild symptoms’

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 15:23

By AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling Wednesday in Las Vegas and is experiencing “mild symptoms” including “general malaise” from the infection, the White House said.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will fly to his home in Delaware, where he will “self-isolate and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.” The news had first been shared by Unidos US President and CEO Janet Murguía, who told guests at the group’s convention in Las Vegas that president had sent his regrets and could not appear because he tested positive for the virus.

  • US President Joe Biden, alongside Maritza Rodriguez (in white), a campaign advisor for the Biden Nevada state team, greets people as he arrives at Lindo Michoacan restaurant ahead of a radio interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 17, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / AFP) (Photo by KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • US President Joe Biden greets people as he arrives at Lindo Michoacan restaurant ahead of a radio interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 17, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / AFP) (Photo by KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • US President Joe Biden (L) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus visit Mario’s Westside Market grocery store in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 16, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / AFP) (Photo by KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • US President Joe Biden (C) visits Mario’s Westside Market grocery store alongside US Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 16, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / AFP) (Photo by KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • TOPSHOT – US President Joe Biden (C-L) greets a young girl during a visit to Mario’s Westside Market grocery store in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 16, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura / AFP) (Photo by KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

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Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said in a note that Biden “presented this afternoon with upper respiratory symptoms, to include rhinorhea (runny nose) and non-productive cough, with general malaise.” After the positive COVID-19 test, Biden was prescribed the antiviral drug Paxlovid and has taken his first dose, O’Connor said.

Biden was slated to speak at the Unidos event in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon as part of an effort to rally Hispanic voters ahead of the November election. Instead, he departed for the airport to fly to Delaware, where he had already been planning to spend a long weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach.

Biden gingerly boarded Air Force One and told reporters traveling with him, “I feel good.” The president was not wearing a mask as he walked onto Air Force One.

The president had previously been at the Original Lindo Michoacan restaurant in Las Vegas, where he was greeting diners and sat for an interview with Univision.

President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas, has ‘mild symptoms’

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 15:15

By AAMER MADHANI

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling Wednesday in Las Vegas and is experiencing “mild symptoms” from the infection, the White House said.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will fly to his home in Delaware, where he will “self-isolate and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.” The news had first been shared by Unidos US President and CEO Janet Murguía, who told guests at the group’s convention in Las Vegas that president had sent his regrets and could not appear because he tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said in a note that Biden “presented this afternoon with upper respiratory symptoms, to include rhinorhea (runny nose) and non-productive cough, with general malaise.” After the positive COVID-19 test, Biden was prescribed the antiviral drug Paxlovid and has taken his first dose, O’Connor said.

Biden was slated to speak at the Unidos event in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon as part of an effort to rally Hispanic voters ahead of the November election.

The president had previously been at the Original Lindo Michoacan restaurant in Las Vegas, where he was greeting diners and was scheduled to have an interview with Univision.

Half a world apart, Adebayo and Heat’s summer roster show intriguing possibilities in victories

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 13:57

LAS VEGAS — The kids? They’re all right.

While Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo was showing off an impressive 3-point shooting stroke half a world away in an Olympic exhibition Wednesday in Abu Dhabi for Team USA, the Heat’s domestic product again showed the intrigue of youth being injected into the pipeline.

In moving to 3-0 in the NBA Summer League on the UNLV campus with a 92-79 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat exhibited a decided payoff from their college scouting.

“The front office has done a phenomenal job of bringing these guys in, finding the talent, finding the guys that are willing to have that competitive edge, the Heat DNA,” said Heat assistant Dan Bisaccio, who is guiding the team’s summer roster. “So I give them a lot of credit.”

From No. 15 pick Kel’el Ware, the 7-footer out of Indiana, there was a third double-double of the summer, with 24 points and 10 rebounds, as well as three blocked shots

From No. 44 pick Pelle Larsson, the guard out of Arizona, there was a more aggressive bent on the offensive end, filling out his scoreline with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists.

From undrafted Arizona forward Keshad Johnson, who is on a two-way contract, there continued to be a relentless motor that went far beyond his nine points.

And from undrafted Isaiah Stevens, the guard out of Colorado State who has been signed to an Exhibit 10 camp tryout contract, there were a series of pinpoint passes to baseline cutters among his eight assists.

Along the way, there also was a thunderous dunk from Heat guard Alondes Williams, as part of a 10-point, five-assist performance.

About the only negative for the Heat with the kid stuff was Johnson being lost late in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle.

“Ankle is good,” Johnson said immediately after the game. “Still got adrenaline going right now. Just a little sprain. It happens with the game of basketball and everything. Take it day by day, get as much treatment as possible.”

With 2023 first-round pick  Jaime Jaquez Jr. done for the summer after a pair of dominant performances, the kids again were given center stage, as the Heat improved to 5-1 this summer, while also counting a 2-1 run in the California Classic summer league that preceded the move to Las Vegas.

For Ware, it was another exhibit of maximizing his 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach, taking command at the rim on both ends, with the next goal clearly of upgrading his bulk.

“I feel like I impacted it on both ends,” Ware said. “But each game, I’m going to go in and improve more and more. So I feel like I’m doing that.

“But it’s not just about me. I’m happy the whole team is winning. We’re 3-0 right now. So if we can just keep this up, we keep taking it farther and farther.”

For Larsson, it was showing a comfort to play in attack mode, the style that attracted the Heat’s interest in the second round of last month’s draft.

“I mean, you just got to play, learn from your games,” he said. “I think I’ve done that. My teammates found me a lot today, like open throw-aheads. So we got good shots off of that. It’s just more and more games to get used to it.”

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With Johnson, it was nothing short of the relentlessness that has been relentless these past two weeks, again, even at 6-6 taking minutes at center.

As for Stevens, it was simply the moxie of a rookie unafraid of seizing control of the offense.

“We take this summer league thing very seriously as if it’s a college March Madness game,” Johnson said. “So we’re all fighting for our next step, our next step in life with the game of basketball and everything. We just try to help each other as we go. You can see it out there.”

In addition, the Heat again got a quality 3-of-5 performance from beyond the arc from Cole Swider, who currently is in summer league without a contract after playing on a two-way deal with the Heat last season.

After a pair of breakout fourth quarters in the Heat’s first two games in Las Vegas, Josh Christopher was moved into Wednesday’s starting lineup, alongside Ware, Johnson, Larsson and Stevens. This time, it was an uneven ride for Christopher, who closed 3 of 13 from the field.

The Mavericks led 21-14 at the end of the first period before the Heat moved to a 37-32 halftime lead and 61-57 advantage going into the fourth.

The Heat next play Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern against the Toronto Raptors’ summer roster, with at least one more game over the weekend before their summer schedule comes to a close.

Haywood Highsmith and Dru Smith were among Heat players in attendance.

Adebayo thrives

Again playing as a power forward with the second unit, Adebayo had a breakout performance in Wednesday’s 105-79 Team USA victory over Nikola Jokic and Serbia in a pre-Olympic tuneup in Abu Dhabi.

Playing alongside Anthony Davis, Adebayo closed with 17 points in his 19 minutes, at 6 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. He also had eight rebounds and three assists.

On the way off the court, USA Basketball teammate LeBron James turned to Adebayo and offered up a new nickname.

“The new Splash Brother,” James said. “Bam Bam Splash.”

After the game Team USA coach Steve Kerr, who is being assisted by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, said, “Bam and AD together are really something, just the switching, but they can also protect the rim and be in a drop if we go to that coverage.”

In big field, pick Postel for Palm Beach School Board | Endorsement

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 12:52

A diverse field is lined up to replace outgoing Palm Beach County School Board District 5 member Frank Barbieri, a true education champion.

Gloria Branch is a substitute teacher with 30 years in banking. Mike Letsky is an engineer and entrepreneur. Mindy Koch has decades of teaching experience, a doctorate in education — and Barbieri’s endorsement.

A fourth candidate, Charman Postel, stands out for her track record of local education involvement. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends Postel for the District 5 seat in the Aug. 20 primary, which is nonpartisan and open to many South County voters.

A fifth candidate, Suzanne Page, who lost to Barbieri in 2020, also filed to run. She did not respond to a questionnaire or appear for an editorial board interview.

The district

District 5 covers Boca Raton, West Boca and parts of South Palm Beach County. Five of its 22 schools earned some of the county’s highest marks in recent reading and math tests, but the district as a whole fell from an A grade to a B last year.

Branch, 56, wants a return to teaching the basics, “to read, write, count and behave,” she said in a Sun Sentinel interview. She graduated from FAU with a finance degree and spent three decades in banking before launching The Gloria Group, a business consulting firm. She’s a substitute teacher, including at Spanish River High, which her daughter attends.

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Branch is the daughter of former Palm Beach Superintendent and School Board member Art Johnson, who lobbies for a county principals’ group. If elected, Branch would vote often on reassignments, promotions and discipline against principals her father represents, which could pose a conflict.

Letsky, 47, has two children in District 5 schools. The Boca Raton businessman graduated from Penn State with a master’s in systems engineering and founded two businesses, including FutureGen Robotics LLC. The district “is a business without real businesspeople on the board,” he said, and gave a harsh critique of Superintendent Mike Burke: “We need to reset expectations with Mr. Burke or find someone who can do the job.”

Culture war warnings

It’s doubtful that Branch or Letsky would steer the board away from culture war skirmishes. Letsky said parents are turning to private schools in part because political ideologies are seeping into classrooms. Branch said restoring the district’s A rating requires shedding “remnants of equity and woke ideology.”

Koch, 70, is the former chair of Palm Beach County’s badly splintered Democratic Party. She holds a bachelor’s in special education from California University, a master’s in gifted education from the University of Alabama and an Ed.D. in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Barbieri praised Koch’s four decades as a teacher and school administrator, with 30 years in Palm Beach and Broward public schools. To address overall poor reading and math scores, Koch says more emphasis on pre-K through Grade 3 is key.

“The better a child is performing in reading and math by third grade, the more likely they are to graduate high school,” Koch said.

Postel’s background

Postel, 37, was born in Boynton Beach to Haitian-American parents. A substitute teacher since 2019, she has been in the classroom far less. But teaching is only a part of her extensive commitment to local education.

A Boca Raton mother of four, she holds board seats on the Florida PTA, the county PTA and the school district’s Boynton Aerospace Science Academy. She chairs the district Academic Advisory Committee and is on the Diversity and Equity Committee. In 2017, she won a National PTA School of Excellence award for her work at JC Mitchell Elementary.

An FAU graduate with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Postel also has a business background. She is a principal of CLRP & Associates, an event management company, and founded Bold Foundation, a leadership development nonprofit.

Postel offered different takes on district challenges.

She opposes spending state tax dollars on private school vouchers but acknowledged parents may have valid reasons to choose them. Addressing the district’s high truancy should include listening to children, she said: “Nine out of 10 times, when we survey our children,” she said, the hurdle is found.

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A misguided attempt to label Postel as antisemitic resurfaced after she filed to run. It was a result of a months-old PTA dispute. A complaint was filed with the school district, but Postel said she was not told about it until the Sun Sentinel asked her about it. The editorial board investigated, conducted a follow-up interview with Postel, and found the allegation to be groundless.

If no candidate wins a majority on Aug. 20, the top two finishers will meet in November.

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Opinion Editor Dan Sweeney, editorial writer Martin Dyckman and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinion of the Board and written by one of its members or a designee. To contact us, email at letters@sun-sentinel.com.

Today in History: July 17, Disneyland’s opening day

South Florida Local News - Wed, 07/17/2024 - 01:00

Today is Wednesday, July 17, the 199th day of 2024. There are 167 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California after its $17 million, year-long construction; the park drew a million visitors in its first 10 weeks.

Also on this date:

In 1862, during the Civil War, Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that all slaves taking refuge behind Union lines were to be set free.

In 1902, Willis Carrier produced a set of designs for what would become the world’s first modern air-conditioning system.

In 1918, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.

In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began as right-wing army generals launched a coup attempt against the Second Spanish Republic.

In 1944, during World War II, 320 men, two-thirds of them African-Americans, were killed when a pair of ammunition ships exploded at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California.

In 1945, following Nazi Germany’s surrender, President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II.

In 1975, an Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit in the first superpower link-up of its kind.

In 1981, 114 people were killed when a pair of suspended walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a tea dance.

In 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Europe-bound Boeing 747, exploded and crashed off Long Island, New York, shortly after departing John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people on board.

In 2014, all 298 passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine; both Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists denied responsibility.

In 2020, civil rights icon John Lewis, whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died at age 80.

In 2022, a report said nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting that left 21 people dead at a Texas elementary school, but “egregiously poor decision-making” resulted in a chaotic scene that lasted more than an hour before the gunman was finally confronted and killed.

Today’s Birthdays:
  • Sportscaster Verne Lundquist is 84.
  • Queen Camilla of the United Kingdom is 77.
  • Rock musician Terry “Geezer” Butler is 75.
  • Actor Lucie Arnaz is 73.
  • Actor David Hasselhoff is 72.
  • Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 70.
  • Film director Wong Kar-wai is 66.
  • Television producer Mark Burnett is 64.
  • Singer Regina Belle is 61.
  • Country music artist Craig Morgan is 60.
  • Rock musician Lou Barlow is 58.
  • Actor Bitty Schram (TV: “Monk”) is 56.
  • Actor Jason Clarke is 55.
  • Movie director F. Gary Gray is 55.
  • Country singer Luke Bryan is 48.
  • Film director/screenwriter Justine Triet is 46.
  • R&B singer Jeremih (jehr-uh-MY’) is 37.
  • Actor Billie Lourd is 32.
  • NHL center Connor Bedard is 19.

Daily Horoscope for July 17, 2024

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for July 17, 2024

Let the good times roll! With the emotional Moon trining lovely Venus, our hearts lead us in a pleasantly social direction, encouraging our ability to manifest abundance as well as find peace with the people that we care about. The Moon then faces off with expansive Jupiter at 7:20 pm EDT, blowing emotional situations out of proportion, whether in good ways or bad. The best way to channel this energy would be to trust that our feelings will teach us what we need to know.

Aries

March 21 – April 19

You could be taking a risk in order to invite positive people into your life. You might have been worried about putting yourself out there to meet newbies, as there’s always a risk that new friendships will destabilize your dynamic with old ones. Change is natural — and you’re allowed to have friends that don’t know each other. Either way, avoid worrying about such things while spending time with either group. As much as possible, keep your head and your heart in the moment.

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

You’re seeking out peace for your place, wherever that is. Perhaps you’re redecorating your home in order to create a more healing and positive vibe when you have people over or for the other people who live there with you — or just for you! There’s also strong potential to find healing with family members or with close friends at the moment, so spending time in their presence is a great way to re-energize yourself. The one potential pitfall is overspending on your new decor

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

You’re letting your heart do the talking. You may have been overthinking what you wanted to say to someone else or continually pondering the perfect words that should get the response that you’re looking for from them. The actual best way to manage this would be to speak what you’re truly feeling. Just be wary of getting caught up in defensiveness or needless debates! Try to keep any argumentative energy to a minimum — that way you can both say what needs to be said.

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

You’re bringing in assets through current consistency. Attempts to keep up good habits and avoid past bad ones are extra likely to be paying off. For instance, if you’ve been going for a daily walk, you may notice that you’ve got an abundance of new energy. If you’ve been saving a little bit of money each week, it’s potentially starting to add up to something substantial. While temptations or distractions might lurk around every corner, just keep your eyes on the prize!

Leo

July 23 – August 22

Your point of view may boost your progress on your goals. You may struggle to see how being yourself will support your journey, but now is not the time to fall back on past insecurities or allow your nerves to prevent you from reaching your destiny. Don’t worry that other people could be doing it “better!” No matter how highly acclaimed they are, they can’t do it like you. Your unique nature shapes your dreams in irreplicable ways. Seize the day for yourself!

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

You’re creating peace, but you may struggle to defend it from someone else. There could be an issue with work/life balance for you at present, or you might have a personal authority figure causing you stress. Although it’s easier said than done, it’s important that you protect your soul. You might feel inclined to make yourself uncomfortable or exhausted in vain efforts to please this person, but the more that you do for yourself, the more success you should be able to find.

Libra

September 23 – October 22

You’re creating peace among the people around you. You’re probably working hard to make sure that your circle is getting along. It’s possible that you’re expressing things to loved ones that other people should be the ones saying. If you find yourself as the mouthpiece for someone else’s apology or end up explaining how someone feels and why you think they’re reacting the way they are, try to step back. Make sure that you’re not wasting your energy on someone who’s refusing to grow.

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

How many people around you need help you could offer? There may be someone in your life who’s struggling to create stability, and you lending a hand could make all the difference to them. While it’s great of you to be generous with your time, energy, money, or resources, you’re also allowed to want support as well. Maybe you can pick up lunch for the two of you, where they can then be a listening ear while you vent about something stressful. Avoid one-sided connections.

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

You might be getting out of your comfort zone to learn more about yourself. This is likely to be rewarding and exhilarating for you, allowing you to make refreshing shifts and explore new ways of life. However, there may be people in your life who think that the way that you’re going about life is too reckless or inconsistent. Their quibbles could create issues for you if you don’t politely but firmly reject their critiques right away. Your life is yours to live.

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

Positive new resources may come with strings attached. You might have wanted to engage in a business opportunity, a financial agreement, or simply a personal promise. Once you have it, though, you could worry that you’re not going to be able to hold up your end of the bargain. Ultimately, you’re worrying before you’ve even had a chance to allocate any updated resources — plus, it’s important to have some faith in yourself, in addition to a budget. Use these things wisely!

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

Abundance may come in the form of friendship. You might have been wondering where the people that you’re meant to spend time with are, or you could feel like you won’t find that chosen family that you hear about from others who’ve been in a long-standing, positive friend group. While it’s understandable that you might be worried about this, it’s important to be open to meeting new people, too. You can’t meet your soul family if you’re not giving them a chance to find you!

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

You have the potential to have a lot of fun — if you can pause thoughts of potential future work. Your mind may be stuck on your chores at home if you’re at work, or your thoughts could continually return to tasks left at work even once you’ve clocked out. Either way, it’ll be tough to relax even after finishing the day’s most vital duties. Instead of remaining mired in tomorrow’s concerns, do your best to stay present today. Fun is important, too!

Boynton Beach to appeal arbitrator’s decision to give job back to officer fired after deadly pursuit

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 17:22

Boynton Beach commissioners decided Tuesday night to try to prevent the rehiring of a veteran officer who was fired in 2022 after chasing a 13-year-old boy, who crashed and died on his dirt bike.

The city attorney will appeal an arbitrator’s recent decision that Mark Sohn, a nearly 20-year officer with Boynton Beach Police, should get his job back.

Sohn chased Stanley “SJ” Davis III the day after Christmas in 2021 after he attempted to pull over Davis at a gas station on North Federal Highway. Davis fled and crashed as Sohn chased him.

Sohn’s pursuit “clearly and unequivocally” violated the department’s policy, then-Interim City Manager James Stables wrote in Sohn’s termination letter in 2022. The policy says officers are only allowed to chase for forcible felonies. An Internal Affairs investigation suggested that Sohn, who had a history of engaging in multiple pursuits that ended in deaths, “attempted to conceal” that he was chasing Davis that afternoon.

Arbitrator James W. Mastriani wrote in a 43-page opinion dated May 20 that though Sohn did violate the pursuit policy, the city did not have just cause to fire him. Mastriani determined Sohn should get his job back without back pay and that any future violations of the policy would be grounds for him to immediately be fired. The city had 90 days to appeal the decision.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, commissioners unanimously cleared the way for the city attorney to appeal the arbitrator’s award. Vice Mayor Aimee Kelley, Commissioner Woodrow Hay and Commissioner Angela Cruz each gave approval to file the appeal. Mayor Ty Penserga and Commissioner Thomas Turkin were not at the meeting at the time of the vote.

Many community pastors, activists, Boynton Beach residents and Davis’s family members spoke during public comment, urging the city to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

Davis’s mother, Shannon Thompson, started by saying she is “not the first mother to have experienced this,” referencing Sohn’s past pursuits that ended in deaths. Sohn was suspended previously for one day without pay after a chase that ended in the death of 38-year-old Cyrus Deal in 2012. In 2016, a driver who was fleeing from Sohn lost control and crashed, hitting and killing 5-year-old Jayden Readon. Sohn was not disciplined.

Before then, Sohn was suspended for a week for violating the pursuit policy in 2004, though the police department no longer had records in that case. A 2004 Sun Sentinel report said Sohn and two other officers pursued a stolen car, putting drivers and pedestrians in danger during rush-hour traffic. Sohn was disciplined for violating the pursuit policy in July 2010, but the department also no longer had records in that Internal Affairs investigation.

“I don’t know about you guys, but seeing my 13-year-old son lie on that asphalt breathless is an image that I cannot wipe out of my memory  … I’m just baffled for words to even have to be standing here and constantly pleading with you guys when this should not even be a topic of discussion. His record is so despicable,” Thompson said.

Dedrick Straghn, an attorney and president of the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP, said he believes the arbitrator’s opinion is “riddled with contradictions.” He pointed out in the opinion where the arbitrator wrote that the past discipline Sohn received for violating the pursuit policy gave him “insufficient notice of the importance of compliance.”

“Everybody, marinate on what that means. What the arbitrator is saying is even though this officer was responsible or involved in incidents that caused the deaths of three people, the penalties that he suffered was such that this 20-year veteran officer had no idea how important it was for him to continue to comply with city policy,” Straghn said. “Is it just me, or is that one of the most ridiculous things that anybody in this room has ever heard?”

Pernell Davis, Davis’s uncle, said that because they weren’t notified by the city about the arbitrator’s decision in May, the family had been “definitely reliving some of that hurt” they felt immediately after his nephew’s death, when the family routinely spoke publicly about a lack of communication between them and city officials.

“We’re here. We’re willing to have that relationship, but we also want you to know that it’s definitely a slap in the face to even think about the possibility of getting the job back,” he said.

Pastor Richard Dames, senior pastor at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, said the Black community is afraid and outraged at the idea of Sohn getting his job back.

“How much more pain and problems does this commission intend to pour out on the very families who have lost loved ones at the hands of this individual?” Dames said.

Resident Lesha Roundtree, who stood at the lectern with her son who is not much younger than Davis was, said other officers on the force she has talked to are afraid, too, and feel as if they will “have to watch their backs.” She said her 10-year-old son is “a good kid, just like their son was” and that she sympathizes with Davis’s family as a mother of her own young child.

“I feel for that mother and that family because again, my son is a good kid, and it’s like if he just made one wrong decision in this community, he’ll be dead,” Roundtree said. “And that’s how a lot of our parents are feeling … the kids in this community are feeling  —  if we make one wrong turn, we’ll be dead just like our friend in the community.”

Commissioners did not have any discussion about the arbitrator’s decision or their approval for the appeal during the meeting.

“With the approval of the consent agenda, Boynton Beach city commissioners voted to appeal the decision of the arbitrator,” city spokesperson Dani Moschella said in a text message to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “The city intends to exhaust all means in this case to ensure a fair and equitable process for the community and the city of Boynton Beach.”

Information from the Sun Sentinel archives was used in this report. 

Former Gators RB Trevor Etienne helps ‘juice’ rival Georgia’s attack

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 16:30

DALLAS — Georgia defender Mykel Williams fielded questions Tuesday at SEC Media Days with his game face firmly in place.

But when tailback Trevor Etienne entered the conversation, the menacing pass rusher broke into the wide, knowing grin.

Asked what the Florida transfer brings the Bulldogs, Williams simply said, “Juice” — and laughed.

Etienne’s addition energized a program seeking some new playmakers on offense.

While his impact has yet to be felt on Saturdays in Athens, his departure was an offseason gut punch in Gainesville.

UF’s most explosive playmaker down the stretch could now be its biggest problem when the rivals meet Nov. 2 in Jacksonville to begin a season-ending gauntlet for the Gators.

“His ability to make a safety miss, take it all the way to the end zone — that’s huge,” quarterback Carson Beck said. “We don’t have to do as much when you have that type of big-play impact. Also out of the backfield receiving abilities, check it down, he’s going to go get 10, 15 [yar]s), be able to make a guy miss.

“Super excited to see what he’s able to.”

Florida running back Trevor Etienne glides to the end zone for a touchdown against Arkansas, one of 8 rushing touchdowns in 2023. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel)

Etienne’s transition to a new school to hit a snag March 24 when he was arrested and jailed for DUI. The charges were dismissed last week as he pled no contest to reckless driving and underage possession of alcohol.

Four other Georgia players since have been arrested or cited for driving related issues, a continuing problem in Athens since the Jan. 15, 2023 fatal crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy.

“The incidents that we’ve had off the field are not something that that we condone,” Smart said Tuesday, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. “It’s very unfortunate — disappointing I guess is the best word.”

Etienne joins an attack that averaged 40.1 points in 2023 and returns the SEC’s top quarterback in Beck. But the Bulldogs also have major holes to fill, beginning with All-American tight end Brock Bowers who was able to line up in different spots, find space and make defenses pay.

The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Etienne possesses similar home-run ability and has been a quick study.

Georgia defensive back Malaki Sparks appears on a radio show during SEC Media Days Tuesday in Dallas. (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

“It’s crazy because he can be here and be there in a second,” All-America safety Malaki Starks said. “Being out there this spring just watching him learn the offense, being able to still be who he is it’s just an incredible.”

Etienne’s footwork, vision and acceleration allowed him to shine behind the Gators’ leaky offensive line, highlighted by a three-game November stretch when he averaged 115.3 yards from scrimmage and scored six times during losses to Arkansas, LSU and Missouri.

At Georgia, Etienne will be able to maximize his abilities behind an offensive line returning four starters and considered the nation’s best. He also arrives as the Bulldogs push to replace 1,000-yard rusher Daijun Edwards and sidekick Kendall Milton, a duo that rushed for 1,893 yards and 27 touchdowns.

“He’s able to be patient in the hole before he hits the gap,” Williams said. “In the spring, he kind of surprised me with how patient he was. I really liked it.”

Carson Beck returns as the quarterback for Georgia, and he has a new backfield weapon in Trevor Etienne from UF. (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

Etienne’s patience was tested during two seasons at Florida.

Operating in a two-tailback system at UF, he and Montrell Johnson Jr. rushed 1,628 yards and 13 touchdowns last year — 8 by Etienne on 21 fewer carries — during a 5-7 season.

Eager for more touches and wins, Etienne entered the transfer portal less than two weeks after making his first career start during a Nov. 25  loss to Florida State in the Swamp.

After two seasons wearing No. 7, Etienne assumed the No. 1 jersey at Georgia, the number Johnson dons with the Gators.

Edgar Thompson can be reached at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com

Biden considers pushing for major changes to the Supreme Court

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 16:24

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is seriously considering legislative proposals that would dramatically alter the Supreme Court, including imposing term limits and an enforceable code of ethics on the justices, according to a person familiar with the ongoing discussions.

Biden’s proposals to overhaul the court, which could be unveiled in the coming weeks, would need congressional approval, something that is likely to be a long shot, given Republican control of the House and the slim Democratic majority in the Senate.

The president is also considering calling for a constitutional amendment that could limit the broad presidential immunity that the court’s conservative majority backed at the end of its term this year, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the president’s deliberations have not been made public.

Biden has called the court’s ruling a “dangerous precedent” that means “that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do.” But an amendment would face even greater challenges, requiring two-thirds votes in Congress or at a convention called for by two-thirds of the states, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

In a virtual meeting over the weekend with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Biden said he was considering changes to the court but did not provide any specifics to the lawmakers.

“I’m going to need your help on the Supreme Court, because I’m about to come out,” he said, referring to the proposals under consideration. “I don’t want to prematurely announce it, but I’m about to come out with a major initiative on limiting the court and what we do.”

He added, “I’ve been working with constitutional scholars for the last three months, and I need some help.”

It appeared that Biden meant that he would need help passing the legislation required to advance his proposals through Congress, though it was not clear whether he would try to do that this year or in a second term if he won in November.

Biden’s consideration of major court changes, which were reported earlier by The Washington Post, is a shift for the president, who for years has rebuffed progressive activists and academics who have urged him to make changes to limit the power of the conservatives on the court. A commission created by Biden in 2021 to examine the issues deadlocked without making any specific recommendations, and the president did not take any action.

Since then, the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, has overturned Roe v. Wade, blocked gun control measures, eliminated affirmative action in college admissions, and diminished LGBTQ+ rights.

Several of the justices have also found themselves at the middle of ethics scandals. Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose lavish gifts and luxury travel, while the wife of Justice Samuel Alito flew flags suggesting allegiance with rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The president is now in a fierce fight for another term in office, and proposals to change the court are likely to appeal to many of his supporters, especially in the wake of a series of decisions by the conservative justices.

The president is unlikely, however, to embrace the most radical idea pushed by progressive activists: packing the court with more liberals by expanding the number of justices from the current nine who sit on the bench. In 2023, Biden rejected that idea.

“If we start the process of trying to expand the court, we’re going to politicize it maybe forever in a way that is not healthy,” he said at the time in an interview with MSNBC.

Public polling suggests that if he proceeds, it will be popular with Americans. Several surveys over the past few years show that large majorities support term limits for the justices and imposing an ethics code.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Biden seriously considering proposals on Supreme Court term limits, ethics code, AP sources say

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 16:13

By COLLEEN LONG and ZEKE MILLER

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is seriously considering proposals to establish term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices, and an ethics code that would be enforceable under law amid growing concerns that the justices are not held accountable, according to three people briefed on the plans.

It would mark a major shift for Biden, the former head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has long resisted calls to reform the high court, though since taking office he has been increasingly vocal about his belief that the court is abandoning mainstream constitutional interpretation. The details were first reported by The Washington Post.

Any changes would require congressional approval, which would be unlikely in a divided Congress. But with Republican nominee Donald Trump bragging about putting the three justices on the high court who are now part of the conservative majority, Biden’s call for major changes could help animate his voters.

Biden is also considering calling for a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the broad immunity for presidents granted by the court in its most recent term, after Donald Trump claimed he was immune from prosecution for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters violently descended on the U.S. Capitol.

The people were not authorized to speak publicly about proposals that have not been finalized and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The consideration of such proposals comes in response to growing outrage among Democrats about high court opinions that overturned landmark decisions on abortion rights and federal regulatory powers that had stood for decades. There have also been increasing questions surrounding the ethics of the court after revelations about some of the justices, including that Clarence Thomas had accepted luxury trips from a GOP megadonor.

Biden in an interview with BET on Tuesday predicted “there are probably going to be two more appointments” in the coming four years when justices retire and blamed Trump for nominating three conservative justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade. “Just imagine if he has two more appointments, what that means,” he said.

The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the proposal.

Biden, speaking in a weekend call with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, talked about the possibility, the people said. Biden often tells voters they need more Democrats in Congress and a Democrat in the White House to counter the impact of the conservative-leaning court, but these proposals would go much further.

“And by the way, I’m going to need your help on the Supreme Court, because I’m about to come out. I don’t want to prematurely announce it, but I’m about to come out with a major initiative on limiting the court and what we do and — I’ve been working with constitutional scholars for the last three months, and I need some help,” he said, according to a transcript of the call.

About 2 in 3 Americans say they favor term limits or a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices, according to a 2022 poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

According to June survey on the court, confidence remains low: 4 in 10 U.S. adults say they have hardly any confidence in the people running the Supreme Court.

The survey found that 7 in 10 Americans think the high court’s justices are more influenced by ideology, while only about 3 in 10 U.S. adults think the justices are more likely to provide an independent check on other branches of government by being fair and impartial.

In November, the court adopted its first code of ethics. The policy, agreed to by all nine justices, does not appear to impose any significant new requirements and leaves compliance entirely to each justice.

Republicans have focused for years on remaking the federal judiciary and Supreme Court. When Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was the majority leader, he refused to even meet in 2016 with Obama’s pick for the high court — current Attorney General Merrick Garland, a federal judge at that time. The nomination stalled until a Republican president, Trump, took over.

Establishment GOP operatives backed Trump because of his pledge to name as many judges to the bench as possible. Their gamble worked. Trump ended up with three Supreme Court nominees and 54 federal appeals court judges, reshaping the courts for a generation.

Democrats are now finally understanding the power of judges as a voting tool, and Biden has made judicial nominations a priority, appointing a record number of judges for a president at this point in his first term, including some of the most diverse picks yet to the judiciary. Biden often speaks about those accomplishments during his reelection campaign, but Democrats have pushed him to go further.

Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, panned the possible Biden move, saying: “The Democrats are attempting to interfere in the Presidential Election, and destroy our Justice System, by attacking their Political Opponent, ME, and our Honorable Supreme Court. We have to fight for our Fair and Independent Courts, and protect our Country.”

Prosecutors say neo-Nazi ‘murder cult’ leader plotted to give poison candy to Jewish kids in NYC

South Florida Local News - Tue, 07/16/2024 - 15:57

NEW YORK (AP) — The leader of a neo-Nazi extremist group based in eastern Europe has been charged with plotting to have an associate dress up as Santa Claus and hand out poisoned candy to Jewish children in New York City to sow terror, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Michail Chkhikvishvili, a 21-year-old man from the Republic of Georgia, was indicted on four charges, including soliciting hate crimes and acts of mass violence, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. It wasn’t known if he has an attorney.

Chkhikvishvili, who has various nicknames including Commander Butcher, allegedly leads the Maniac Murder Cult, which prosecutors said is an international extremist group that adheres to a “neo-Nazi accelerationist ideology and promotes violence and violent acts against racial minorities, the Jewish community and other groups it deems ‘undesirables.’ ”

The group’s goal is to upset social order and governments via terrorism and violent acts that promote fear and chaos, the statement said.

Chkhikvishvili was arrested after he tried to recruit an undercover law enforcement officer to join his group and commit violent crimes such as bombings and arsons, according to court documents.

In November 2023, Chkhikvishvili began planning a “mass casualty event” for New York City on New Year’s Eve, prosecutors said.

“The scheme involved an individual dressing up as Santa Claus and handing out candy laced with poison to racial minorities and children at Jewish schools in Brooklyn,” the Department of Justice statement said.

He “drafted step-by-step instructions to carry out the scheme” and shared with the undercover officer “detailed manuals on creating and mixing lethal poisons and gases,” the statement said.

Prosecutors said since September 2021, Chkhikvishvili has distributed a manifesto titled the “Hater’s Handbook” in which he states that he has “murdered for the white race” and encourages others to do the same.

“For example, and among other things, the handbook encourages its readers to commit school shootings and to use children to perpetrate suicide bombings and other mass killings targeting racial minorities,” the Justice Department statement said. “The document describes methods and strategies for committing mass ‘terror attacks,’ including, for example, using vehicles to target ‘large outdoor festivals, conventions, celebrations and parades’ and ‘pedestrian congested streets.’ It specifically encourages committing attacks within the United States.”

Chkhikvishvili traveled to New York City at least twice in 2022 and stayed with his paternal grandmother in Brooklyn, officials said.

If convicted, Chkhikvishvili faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for solicitation of violent felonies, five years for conspiring to solicit violent felonies, 20 years for distributing information pertaining to the making and use of explosive devices and five years for transmitting threatening communication.

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