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With cyberattacks on the rise, these WPA3 routers will help keep your home internet secure

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 23:20
 The importance of keeping your home network secure

With the rise in frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, you don’t even have to leave your home to be the victim of crime. If unscrupulous individuals gain access to your home network, every device on that network becomes vulnerable. WPA3 offers the most up-to-date wireless encryption protocol.

What is a router?

A router lets you connect all of your devices to the internet while you’re at home. It sends information to and from all your computers, phones, tablets and other smart devices. In short, any gadget that doesn’t use cellular data uses a router to connect to the internet.

What can someone do if they hack into your home network?

When someone hacks into your home network, they can eavesdrop on everything you do digitally. They can see which services you’re using and when you’re using them and monitor every bit of unencrypted information you transmit. This includes your name, address, phone number and other personal information, as well as passwords, financial information and more.

How can a WPA3 router protect your home network?

Since all information to and from the internet must pass through your home router, it serves as a gatekeeper that blocks external information requests. WPA3 stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access 3. It’s the best security protocol currently available for your home network. It creates a secure handshake between devices, offers individualized data encryption and protects against offline password guesses.

Best WPA3-compatible routers

Netgear Nighthawk AX2700 Wi-Fi 6 Modem Router Combo ]

The Nighthawk supports WPA, WPA2 and WPA3 wireless security protocols. It has four one-gigabit ethernet ports and one USB 3.0 port. The device covers up to 2,500 square feet and offers speeds up to 2.7 gigabits per second.

Asus AX5700 Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router ]

For protection, this device offers WPA3 and advanced parental controls. The unit delivers speeds up to 5,700 megabits per second, and the mobile game mode minimizes latency. If wider coverage is needed, the AX5700 has built-in Asus AiMesh support.

Amazon Eero 6+ Mesh Wi-Fi Router ]

Eero 6+ supports speeds up to one gigabit. The TrueMesh technology can intelligently route traffic for more efficient service. The system is expandable, and the automatic updates help keep your network secure.

Netgear R6700AX 4-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router ]

This more affordable Netgear option covers up to 2,500 square feet and offers speeds up to 1Gbps. It sets up effortlessly and has four one-gigabit ethernet ports.

TP-Link Archer AX1800 Dual-Band Wireless and Ethernet Router ]

This popular dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router offers up to 1.8Gbps speeds. It’s designed to be set up and operated by non-experts. The router is compatible with all internet service providers and has four high-gain antennas and utilizes Beamforming technology for reliable coverage.

D-Link EXO AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router ]

This budget model can get the job done for individuals on a tight budget. It isn’t a high-performance model but will work for smaller homes where there isn’t a high demand for internet speed. The built-in energy-efficient features help extend the battery life of home smart devices.

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13 products to improve working from home

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 23:15

Working from home has become a way of life, at least part-time, for many of us. And yet, some folks are still working from kitchen tables and couches that, while practical in a pinch, are a far cry from the long-term solutions they need to maintain high levels of productivity. Fear not, though: there are plenty of products that make working from home more enjoyable, many of which are clever solutions to everyday problems.

Work-from-home essentials

Secretlab Titan Evo ]

There’s an old saying by John Wildsmith that goes, “You are either in your bed or your shoes, so it pays to invest in both.” While you may spend eight hours in each of those, you’re likely spending the remaining eight hours of the day in some type of seat doing work. Instead of simply upgrading to an ergonomic office chair, take a hint from the pros — professional gamers, that is — with a next-level option. Secretlab is known for their premium gaming chairs. Their ergonomic designs are supportive, comfortable and have curb appeal. This design features an adaptive lumbar support system and a retooled seat with enhanced support. The Titan Evo is all business, but when you need to take five, it reclines to 165 degrees and has a gel-filled head pillow. Hey, those gamers were onto something.

Logitech Ergo Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard ]

Today’s keyboards haven’t changed too much from typewriters of yesteryear since they still have tight rows of keys in the same layout. They can kind of cramp your style, literally, by leaving you with sore hands and wrists after long periods of typing. Logitech presents a viable alternative: an ergonomic keyboard with a split layout that places hands and wrists in more comfortable positions. The modern design, which features a wrist rest and adjustable palm lift, promises 54% more support to mitigate fatigue, aches and pains. Hands down, it might be one of the best investments you can make in office ergonomics.

Foxemart Modern Computer Desk ]

Kitchen tables and lap desks aren’t ideal home office setups because you need to pack and unpack your office setup twice a day. It’s a tiresome, tedious activity, but for those short on space, it’s just part and parcel of working from home. A peaceful alternative to the dreaded daily shuffle is a permanent workstation, like this Foxemart computer desk. It’s available in four lengths, including a space-optimizing 32-inch design. It’s a relatively durable desk for the price, and it even has a waterproof desktop that wards off coffee ring stains — and that alone is worth the investment.

Razer Kiyo Streaming Webcam ]

It’s easy to feel underserved by a low-quality webcam that turns you into a grainy apparition, or whose microphone picks up peculiar white noise. Basically, you need a webcam that won’t make you seem like a character from a Stephen King novel during Zoom calls. Instead of shelling out big bucks for both a selfie ring light and a webcam, pick up Razer’s 2-in-1 Kiyo Streaming Webcam. It has a daylight-balanced ring light around the camera to offer true-to-life illumination without washing you out. The microphone picks up quality sound when you’re not using headphones or earbuds, and the compact design makes the Kiyo ideal for on-the-go use.

Phive CL-1 LED Architect Desk Lamp ]

Floor and desk lamps are so last year, not to mention they tend to have large footprints that monopolize valuable space on desks. Overhead lighting works sometimes, but still, it leaves you in the shadows when you need direct light over your workspace. We have no choice but to spotlight this ultra-modern architect LED clamp lamp, which is currently a Best Bang for the Buck selection. Its sleek, slender design reaches overhead with a rotating body and 180-degree swivel head. The LED lamp adjusts between 15% and 100% brightness and even has programmable memory functions so your optimal brightness level is easily accessible. We’re giving it bonus points for futuristic curb appeal.

Bluelounge CableBox Cable and Cord Management System ]

If your wires and power cords look like a snake pit from an Indiana Jones movie, it’s time to find a better solution. While zip ties are one way to keep cables organized, they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing way to handle the situation. A cable management system, such as this Bluelounge box, makes quick work of hiding the eyesore on the floor (or your desk). The box holds several cords and long surge protectors, and once it’s in use, it’s shocking to see how much space it frees up. Made with flame-retardant materials, it’s also one of the safer options on the market.

Instant Pot Duo ]

Many professionals have embraced the convenience of Instant Pots because they take the hard work out of cooking on busy days. Lauded as appliances consumers didn’t know they needed so badly, they’ve become something of a work-from-home lifestyle essential. The Instant Pot truly lives up to its name, considering it cooks food nearly 70% faster than traditional cooking methods. One of the bestselling models, the Instant Pot Duo, is feature-rich with 13 one-touch programs that include stew-, yogurt- and rice-making. You can “set it and forget it,” leaving more time to focus on workflows and spreadsheets instead. Breakfast, lunch and dinner have never been easier—or more enjoyable.

VIVO Dual Monitor Stand ]

There is a pivotal moment in a WFH professional’s life when they realize that two monitors are better than one. It’s infinitely easier to manage digital workspaces when you can keep Slack and email on one screen while you work on the other. Traditional monitor stands, however, are too bulky for many desks. Instead, this dual monitor stand is a space-savvy alternative. The arms, which fit monitors up to 27 inches, offer 90 degrees of tilt, 180 degrees of swivel and 360 degrees of rotation. As a result, you can customize your monitor arrangement to achieve the NORAD-style setup you’ve always dreamed of. Best of all, because it’s a desk-mounted apparatus, there won’t be any banging or drilling into walls for installation.

Lockways Magnetic Dry Erase Board ]

For many people, brainstorming and story mapping are essential to project development. Good ideas arrive quickly, and if you don’t get them down on paper soon, they’re gone forever. If you’re still using legal pads or notebooks, we don’t need to tell you they’re rather limiting. And let’s face it: you need a wide berth when you get a good idea. A whiteboard, on the other hand, is the tabula rasa you’ve been looking for. This Lockaways model is 36 by 24 inches and offers plenty of space to write, draw, map or just doodle. The whiteboard functions as a screen-free and distraction-free brainstorming space, and for those who need a mini digital detox to get some deep thinking done, it’s a smart investment in basic productivity.

Yeti Rambler Tumbler ]

Ever make a cup of coffee and don’t get a chance to drink it because of a Zoom meeting that runs longer than it should? By the time you get to it, it’s stone-cold, and we all know that cold coffee kills productivity. Swap your porcelain mug for YETI’s 20-ounce Rambler, an insulated tumbler that promises to keep coffee hot for hours at a time. The rugged design also happens to be low-maintenance because it’s dishwasher-safe and has a fingerprint-resistant coating. It’s heavier than most tumblers, so it might be harder to knock over and fry your keyboard. And that’s the kind of risk-averse product we all need to have as avid coffee drinkers.

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip ]

Smart home devices are popular investments for work-from-home professionals, mostly because they add convenience where it’s most needed. While they’re much cheaper than they used to be, investing in a couple of smart products can cost you several hundred dollars. On the other hand, you can make your existing electronics work smarter, not harder, with this budget-friendly smart power strip. It features six individually controlled smart outlets for easy hands-free control over all your desk devices through Alexa, Google Assistant or Cortana. It displays energy consumption in the Kasa Smart app, a feature that may pay dividends if you’re looking to monitor consumption to save on energy bills. So if you have a burning desire to turn on your desk fan without lifting a finger—have at it.

Samsung M7 4K UHD Smart Monitor ]

If you can have a smart TV, why not have a smart monitor, too? The sheer thought of being able to voice control the screen you spend the most time with is simply exciting. Take the Samsung M7 Smart Monitor, for example, which will probably become the best listener in your professional life. It’s simple and seamless to transition between apps through Voice Assistant and SmartThings, which means your workflow remains uninterrupted. The monitor lets users work remotely on office desktops through Microsoft 365 and offers an intuitive, mobile-esque user experience—making it ideal for hybrid work-from-home arrangements. Consider us impressed.

Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve Coffee, Latte, and Cappuccino Maker ]

One of the drawbacks of working from home is missing out on your favorite café’s barista-crafted beverages—or is it? Coffee makers have advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, and it has inspired many java aficionados to take morning brew crafting into their own hands. It’s hard to beat the capabilities and convenience of Keurig’s all-in-one barista station, froth and all, which uses K-Cup pods to brew coffee, cappuccinos and lattes. The unit is designed for busy professionals on the go since it accommodates travel mugs up to 7.2 inches tall.

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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General Daily Insight for September 26, 2023

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 17:03
General Daily Insight for September 26, 2023

The energy is flowing like a river heading toward a gentle waterfall. We can all make easy moves in the right direction as the Moon in Aquarius trines Mars in Libra, smoothing group work, though a lunar opposition to Venus could make it difficult not to put ourselves first. The Moon will then enter Pisces at 8:18 pm EDT, and we can simply let the current carry us along. For a stable ending, Luna then conjoins Saturn before the day is over.


March 21 – April 19

There’s a dreamy quality to the day — one that’ll be hard to miss. The Moon is slipping into your sleepy 12th house, turning your reality into fantasy. There’s no need to go out and greet the world! Instead, conserve your energy and focus on building up your strength so you can go off and tackle life in a few days with the best of your renewed abilities. For the moment, however, there’s no need to do anything but chill out and take it easy.


April 20 – May 20

You are not an island, Taurus. Your 11th House of Global Community is highlighted as the Moon arrives for the next few days, reminding you that it’s not all about you! The world is made up of billions of people. This sector focuses on humanitarian efforts, so practicing some altruism toward others would be just the thing. Consider clearing out some stuff you no longer need that would be perfect to donate — though you can also donate your time and effort.


May 21 – June 20

Make your way to the head of the line! The Moon is entering your 10th House of Reputation, bringing you and your goals front and center. This is a good time to let your ambitious side out to play and to use it to propel you toward your personal finish line, but don’t think you need to push anyone out of your way in order to reach it. People can actually be quite helpful in giving you an extra boost, so let them help.


June 21 – July 22

The world is more immense than you could normally imagine. Today, though, you can comprehend its grand beauty as the Moon flies into your 9th House of Expansion. Your cosmic wings are ready to carry you toward unfamiliar horizons and exciting discoveries, preferably ones that take place far from your traditional home. If you have the means to embark on a great adventure, then please do, but there’s also nothing wrong with being an armchair explorer at a time like this.


July 23 – August 22

Your intuition is off the charts — it will be hard to ignore. The Moon is arriving in your instinctual 8th house, reminding you that what you see is not necessarily what is actually there. Review everything you come across with extra attention, and don’t just enter into any agreements blindly. You need to do your due diligence at this time! Thankfully, as long as you are cautious, you should be able to emerge victorious without worrying about how you got there.


August 23 – September 22

It’s more than okay to rely on others at present. You likely prefer to handle things alone, but as the Moon arrives in your relationship sector, it is emphasizing tackling any issues, good or bad, with a partner, rather than by flying solo. If you’ve been pushing yourself a bit too hard lately, someone could lend some much-needed support — even if it’s just them being a good listener. You don’t always need to be the one on top of things.


September 23 – October 22

Becoming a better you shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. There is an emphasis on this as the Moon arrives in your wellness sector, but this part of your chart is ruled by gentle Pisces. Remember — you can take an easy approach without burying yourself in a major overhaul with all the bells and whistles imaginable. Small, basic steps that will nurture both your body and your spirit would be especially good, so something as simple as trying meditation could be just the thing.


October 23 – November 21

You can do as you please today. The Moon is dancing into your fun-loving 5th house, turning everything into an opportunity for pleasure! Regardless of the amount of work in front of you, it will be rather difficult to focus on it. Since this sector of your chart is so artistic, don’t be shy about approaching everything with a creative flair. By putting your personal stamp on things, you show off how wonderfully unique you truly are, and your distinct spark makes you valuable.


November 22 – December 21

You definitely deserve some rest and relaxation, Sagittarius. The Moon inspires you to take things easy as it settles down in your 4th House of Home and turns your attention away from the hectic world around you. You’re allowed to cozy up and ensure your emotional tank isn’t running on empty. In particular, if you’ve been pushing and pushing, consider this your cue to take a load off and curl up on the couch with a good book or a comfort film!


December 22 – January 19

The town is calling your name to come and paint it red — or any other color you prefer. The Moon is bounding into your social 3rd house, so this is the perfect day to step outside and circulate. Even your usual errands could result in an exciting run-in or an unexpected opportunity, so make sure you don’t act like an ostrich with your head in the sand. That would be the surest way to make certain you miss out on any potential bounty!


January 20 – February 18

A little financial organization is currently a superb idea. Fortunately, it should be easier than normal to achieve as the Moon enters your 2nd House of Material Security, helping you certify that your accounts are in the black and you haven’t been emptying out your wallet. If you’re less than thrilled with the numbers you see, contemplate seeking out money-making opportunities, as the Moon will do its part to help you align your efforts with something viable and valuable that should pay dividends.


February 19 – March 20

Staying true to yourself would be wise at the moment. The Moon is arriving in your sign, making a space for you to connect with your feelings and needs, leaving behind the noise that can get in the way of knowing what you want. Whenever you feel out of touch with yourself, make a point of coming back to ground zero and re-engaging with your hopes and dreams. It will be much easier to pursue them when you’re clear on what they actually are.

DeSantis’ move to pull Sagemont scholarships: Concern about Communist China ties or a political stunt?

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 16:54

Florida’s move to cut off a high-end private school in Weston from state subsidies to parents has raised political and policy questions: Were the schools really an “imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare” of the students and the public? Or was the state’s move a political stunt to bolster Gov. Ron DeSantis’ struggling presidential campaign?

At least 229 students were receiving taxpayer-funded scholarships at the two Sagemont Preparatory School campuses in Weston that were targeted late Friday by DeSantis for alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

His office on Monday referred questions about the action and — any evidence to support it — to the Florida Department of Education, which cited this statement on Sagemont’s website: “Spring Education Group is controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, an investment firm (together with its affiliates) principally based in Hong Kong with operations in China, Singapore, and the United States, that is itself owned by Chinese persons residing in Hong Kong.”

Two Park Maitland School campuses in Orange County, with the same Spring Education Group ownership, also were dropped from the school voucher program.

Three days after DeSantis’ office announced the action, there was little clarity and many questions surrounding the move.

“On the one hand, it is possible that the Chinese government has set up organizations within the United States to act as fronts for intelligence gathering,” said Gregory Koger, a political scientist at the University of Miami. “On the other hand, this may simply be a case of Chinese individuals making investments that they believe would be in the mutual interest of themselves and Floridians.

“In the latter case, Governor DeSantis is harming the economy of Florida and preventing Floridians from getting the education of their choice,” Koger said. “We don’t know.”

Dan Stermer, former mayor of Weston, said his phone started ringing Saturday as news spread of the state’s decision to drop the voucher program at Sagemont. His kids did not go to Sagemont but he knows plenty who did and still do.

“With today’s fervor over China, the question is what’s real and what’s not,” Stermer said. “The (governor’s) decision impacts students, their families, the school and the community. Is this about Sagemont school or is this a presidential campaign issue? To the parents and the students, this is real.”

Political implications

There are political overtones to the move, which came as DeSantis prepares to go on stage Wednesday for a nationally televised debate among Republican presidential candidates. “The timing of this decision makes it possible for Governor DeSantis to bring it up at the forthcoming Republican presidential debate,” Koger said.

Two minutes after DeSantis posted about the action against the schools on Friday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, his hand-picked state education commissioner, former state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. responded with praise for DeSantis’ “leadership.”

Emails to supporters from DeSantis’ presidential campaign frequently mention China, saying he’ll be “taking back control of our economy from China,” and “take on the Chinese Communist Party,” and a promise to “prevent China from spying on our citizens and stealing our technology.”

There may be political resonance, especially among Republicans on the question of China, and the move may allow the governor to show action on a foreign policy issue.

A Pew Research Center poll released in July asked voters to name the country they see as the greatest threat to the United States. Pew found 50% named China — three times the share that named Russia. Among conservative Republicans, 74% cited China.

An NBC News national poll released Sunday found DeSantis was the choice of 16% of Republican primary voters — 43 percentage points behind former President Donald Trump. In June, DeSantis was 29 points behind Trump. The NBC poll is in line with RealClearPolitics averages of national public opinion polls.

Given DeSantis’ political situation, and his track record as governor, people shouldn’t accept his allegations against the schools at face value, said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

“In addition, the Chinese government is an easy punching bag because we have very fraught relations with the Chinese right now. So if you want to grab headlines, the Chinese boogeyman is a good target for politicians on both the right and the left,” Jarvis said. “It plays very well with the Republican base that already doesn’t want to have anything to do with China.

“DeSantis has simply found an easy target. It sounds good. ‘I am denying American dollars to Chinese schools,’” Jarvis said.

Jarvis urged heightened skepticism.

“We can’t have a discussion as though this was something real. What we also have to understand is that DeSantis is in the middle of a presidential campaign. It’s a presidential campaign that is obviously going very badly. It is a presidential campaign that has faded from front-runner status to fighting a four-way battle for second place,” Jarvis said. “When you’re in this situation, you have to make big moves that will grab headlines, that will energize your campaign, that will get donors to come back to you.”

In an economic plan revealed in August, DeSantis said he would “end our abusive relationship with the CCP, reverse our ever-increasing trade deficits, ban imports of goods made from stolen intellectual property, strengthen protections to stop child and forced labor, and end China’s preferential trade status.”

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As DeSantis ramped up his preparations to run for president, he signed a law banning Chinese nationals from buying property within 10 miles of military installations and other “critical infrastructure,” and agricultural land.

He also restricted use of the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok on school grounds and state-owned wireless networks.

DeSantis this spring signed a bill that prohibits private schools that take part in state voucher programs from being owned or controlled “by a person or entity domiciled in, owned by, or in any way controlled by a foreign country of concern or a foreign principal.” The new law lists China as one of the countries “of concern.”


The state scholarships on average cover about $10,000 for a child with disabilities and about $8,000 for others. Florida recently expanded eligibility in its voucher programs so that scholarships once targeted to low-income youngsters or those with disabilities are now open to all students.

Some schools responded by immediately raising their tuition, according to reports.

Cailey Myers, communications director for the Florida Department of Education, said via email Monday that on Friday, the agency sent letters to the schools “notifying them of their immediate suspension from the school choice scholarship program.” Myers said they have 15 calendar days to appeal the decision.

A Sagemont school representative said via email on Saturday that it had “received notice from the State that our eligibility for Florida Choice school funds has been suspended. We were not contacted in advance and are seeking more information regarding the basis for this decision. In the meantime, we will be working directly with our families to ensure they can remain enrolled in our school.”

The statement said the schools are locally run, comply with all laws “and do not have ties to any government or political party, either foreign or domestic.”

Representatives didn’t immediately respond to additional emailed questions on Monday. Attorneys who had previously represented the school either did not respond or said the affiliation was in the past.

Sagemont Prepatory School’s lower school campus in Weston is shown Monday. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel) Sagemont

Sagemont has an A+ rating, according to the school search website Niche, which said it was the 14th best K-12 private school in Florida out of 309 schools.

The school’s website says it is dedicated to “empowering students to innovate for tomorrow.”

The school’s website said the total enrollment is 384, with the majority — 221 — at the upper school, which is grades 6 to 12.

The website said 2023-2024 upper school tuition is $24,194 for grades 6-8 and $25,706 for grades 9-12.

The lower school, grades 3 to 5, has a tuition of $21,116.

Transportation adds another $1,500 to $2,500 a year.

The school’s website said it had one faculty member for every eight students.

The National Center for Education Statistics website said that during the 2019-2020 school year the Sagemont School had 477 students from Grades 1-12 and student/teacher ratio of 12.9.

The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office lists the value of the upper school land and building as $11.4 million and the lower school land and building as $8.7 million. The properties are owned by Sagemont Real Estate Inc. in Chester, Pa.

Spring Education Group’s website describes itself as “a multi-brand education network of superior private school institutions spanning infant care through high school. The network (currently composed of approximately 220 schools) brings together some of the best private school programs in the country, with proven track records educating children through unique and carefully crafted curricula.”

It said the K-12 Division includes “nearly 75″ schools.

Sagemont was founded in 1996 by Richard Goldman and his son Brent, who was the first head of the school.

The Goldman family sold the school in late 2012 to Leeds Equity Firm, based out of New York, Brent Goldman said. Goldman continued to run the school for 3½ years after the acquisition, he said. Leeds’s education division, Nobel Learning Communities, was still operating Sagemont when Goldman left in 2016.

Goldman now owns Xceed Preparatory Academy, a private school with locations in Coral Springs, Weston, Miami, Palm Beach Gardens and a virtual school.

Asked if he had concerns about whether selling Sagemont schools to a national company could affect them in the future, he said, “We had a different governor then.”

“I wish I could comment further. I don’t know much more than what I’ve read,” he said.

Nobel Learning hired Rob Mockrish in 2017 as head of the school. In August 2018, Spring Education Group, owned by Chinese-based Primavera Holdings Limited, bought Nobel.

Mockrish said the sale didn’t generate controversy, and he didn’t think there was anything unusual about it.

“It’s relatively common for large education companies to be run by some kind of large hedge fund,” he said. “I spent a good deal of my career as CEO of American international schools in various countries.”

Mockrish, who left in 2020 and is now an independent education consultant, said he didn’t see any Chinese government influence in the curriculum or operations.

“I would say it never entered my mind,” he said. “I was operating as an independent head of school.”

Community reaction

Michael Freedland, a lawyer who lives in Weston, said his son graduated from Sagement Prep two years ago and his daughter attended the school from pre-K to middle school. He suspected that many students would not be able to attend Sagemont without the voucher program.

“As a parent, it’s certainly disheartening,” he said of the state’s decision to drop the voucher program with no notice. His family did not receive voucher money.

He called it unfair to the school community, including the students. “For a governor or his minions to arbitrarily issue an edict that this school is somehow controlled by a foreign entity and disrupt the lives of students and their families is reprehensible,” Freedland said. “You’re disrupting countless students’ lives and you’re putting the school itself in peril.”

The children, through no fault of their own, have become pawns in a political game, given it could affect their education, Stermer argued. “They are pieces in a game that others are playing — and they’re going to be the losers,” Stermer said. “They’re kids. They’re little kids. A first grader is not going to be able to understand it.”

Sagemont Prepatory School’s upper school campus in Weston is shown on Monday. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel) Voucher program

Florida has been expanding its voucher program and scholarship programs in recent years without maintaining strict accountability, investigations from the Orlando Sentinel have found.

The newspaper has found voucher schools where teachers lacked credentials or college degrees. Some teachers had criminal records. Some schools falsified fire and health inspections. The state has also allowed them to discriminate against disabled and LGBTQ students.

When the Orlando Sentinel requested copies of 238 recent complaints, the state Department of Education said the cost would be more more than $10,000.

It’s rare when the state takes action to remove schools from the voucher programs, the newspaper investigation found.

The state removed Agape Christian Academy in Orlando from its voucher program in 2018, citing falsified fire safety inspections and employees with criminal records; the private school had taken in $5.6 million in state voucher money.

Unanswered questions

Many institutions were closed Monday and individuals — including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, both of whom represent Weston — were not reachable because of Yom Kippur.

State Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston, said she had made inquiries, but had not yet received any information. She said she visited the school once, for a ribbon cutting, when she was a member of the Weston City Commission in the early 2000s.

On Monday, both Sagemont campuses in Weston were closed for the Yom Kippur. The only activity in the morning came from TV news crews parked across the street and news photographers taking pictures.

Orlando Sentinel staff writer Leslie Postal contributed to this report.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com and can be found @browardpolitics on Facebook, Threads.net and Post.news.

GATORS PODCAST: Florida backslides during uninspired Charlotte win as Kentucky visit looms (Ep. 187)

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:46

The Gators slipped by Charlotte 22-7 in the Swamp, struggling to build on their win against Tennessee and ride a wave of momentum into a two-month stretch of SEC play. Graham Mertz, Ricky Pearsall, Trey Smack and a suffocating defense gave fans something to cheer. But the overall performance continued to raise red flags about special teams, play-calling and the team’s O-line. During the latest Swamp things, Edgar and Mark dig into what it all means and whether it ultimately matters as Kentucky is sure to have the No. 23 Gators’ attention.

  • Back on the roller coaster (:00)
  • Ricky Pearsall’s catch (3:21)
  • Graham Mertz: Is he going to last? (16:04)
  • Analytics at play (20:17)
  • Trevor Etienne & Montrell Johnson (24:00)
  • Negatives: Takeaways & turnovers (31:21)
  • Billy Napier’s messaging (37:02)
  • Jeremy Foley’s Corner (42:38)

1 killed, 2 injured in shooting in parking lot of Lauderhill strip mall, police say

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:28

A man died Sunday night and two other people were injured in a shooting in the parking lot of a Lauderhill strip mall, according to police.

One of the three victims, an adult man, called 911 shortly before 11 p.m. from the 5000 block of North University Drive, where officers found him shot in his arm and leg, lying behind a business in the plaza, Lauderhill Police said in a news release Monday. The victim said the shooting happened nearby in the 5200 block of North University Drive.

The address where the victim said the shooting happened is of one several restaurants and businesses in the plaza. Lauderhill Police Lt. Antonio Gonzalez said the shooting happened in the plaza parking lot, and the restaurant was not involved.

While officers answered that victim’s call, other officers went to the plaza in the 5200 block of North University Drive and found another man who had been shot multiple times, the news release said. He was pronounced dead. Lauderhill Police identified him as Brandon Spells, 20.

The third victim, an adult woman, had been shot once in her leg and went to Florida Medical Center. It was not immediately clear how she arrived at the hospital.

Fire rescue crews took the woman and the man who survived to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale to be treated. They are expected to recover, according to police.

Lauderhill Police have not identified any suspects or a motive as of Monday afternoon, and their investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Lauderhill Police at 954-497-4700 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Sued by 6 states, Delray Beach real estate company seeks bankruptcy protection

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:28

A Delray Beach real estate company has filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors following lawsuits by six states over what the Florida Attorney General called “deceptive, unfair and unconscionable business practices.”

MV Realty came under fire for its “Homeowner Benefit Program” in which homeowners are offered upfront cash, between $300 and $5,000 depending on their home’s value, with no interest or fees.

In exchange, the homeowner is required to sign a contract pledging to use MV Realty if they decide to sell their home at any time over the next 40 years.

If another real estate company is used, if the home is foreclosed upon, or if owners want to cancel the deal, the homeowner must pay MV Realty 3% of the home’s value, the contract requires. The 3% must also be paid if the owner dies and leaves the home to a beneficiary.

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The company on Friday filed for bankruptcy protection in 33 states, following lawsuits by Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina.

The filing came less than a month after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the court to issue a temporary injunction that would freeze company assets, prohibit the company from new benefit agreements in the state, and require the company to terminate existing agreements.

Moody’s office sued the company in November 2022, alleging it carried out “a complex and deceptive scheme that attempts to skirt existing Florida law with the goal of swindling consumers out of their home equity.”

A news release from Ashley’s office accused MV Realty of engaging in “deceptive, unfair and unconscionable business practices.”

According to the complaint, MV Realty uses “deceptive and abusive telemarketing and advertising practices” to promote its program, which offers $300 to $5,000 with no obligation to return the cash.

Customers are told “they owe MV Realty nothing in return unless and until they sell their home,” Moody’s complaint states.

But in reality, the complaint says, MV Realty “encumber(s) the property for 40 years and extract(s) excessive and unconscionable fees from consumers if they try to cancel the (agreement) or if the home is transferred through foreclosure or other circumstances that are not commonly understood as a sale.”

To find customers, MV Realty used telemarketing calls, including to people who registered their phone numbers on the national Do-Not-Call Registry, the lawsuit said, adding that consumers who did not answer were bombarded with “millions of unwanted prerecorded voicemails.”

The complaint argues that what MV Realty files are liens that violate state law that prohibit real estate brokers from recording any “contract, assignment, deed, will, mortgage, affidavit, or other writing which purports to affect the title of, or encumber, any real property … for the purpose of collecting a commission or to coerce the payment of money to the broker or sales associate.”

MV Realty, the complaint says, records its “Memorandum of Homeowner Benefit Agreement” without obtaining “express permission” from a court or affected consumers to have a lien filed against their property.

Moody’s action seeks to void MV Realty’s contracts with consumers, return money “wrongfully taken from homeowners,” impose civil penalties on the company, and prevent violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

MV Realty has been licensed in Florida since 2014. Three principals are listed in Moody’s suit as defendants: Amanda J. Zachman, manager and lead broker; Antony Mitchell, chief executive officer; and David Manchester, managing director and chief operating officer.

MV Realty did not immediately respond to questions about the bankruptcy on Monday. It was filed under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which is typically an effort to remain in business by reorganizing debt for the benefit of creditors.

In a motion to dismiss the state’s case, MV Realty in February wrote that it engages in “transparent, reasonable and lawful” activities and provides an “innovative way” for homeowners to procure a real estate company.

Homeowners sign and notarize Homeowner Benefit Agreements that acknowledge their agreement to either use MV Realty as their exclusive listing agents if they decide to sell, or pay MV Realty a 3% early termination fee if they breach the agreement, MV Realty’s motion states.

On its website, the company denied filing liens against its customers’ properties. “No, we file a memorandum,” it said. If a customer breaches their agreement, the company wrote, it has a right to file a lien against the home. “In some states, we filed a different instrument, such as a mortgage,” it said.

In May, a Hillsborough County circuit judge denied MV Realty’s motion to dismiss the case.

Since the company’s activities started drawing attention two years ago, 16 states, including Florida, enacted laws prohibiting long-term real estate contracts.

A federal lawsuit filed against the company in 2022 stated that more than 30,000 homeowners nationwide signed its Homeowner Benefit Agreement. Moody’s lawsuit said MV Realty has made more than 9,123 public record filings in Florida “that cloud homeowners’ titles.”

MV Realty has sued some homeowners, accusing them of violating agreements. In Broward County, the company filed more than 80 such lawsuits since 2020. One suit from June 2021 stated the homeowner was paid $750 but then listed his house for sale with another agent.

Despite the new Florida law enacted last spring prohibiting long-term real estate contracts, MV Realty continued to sign up new consumers and enforce previous contracts that the new law nullified, Moody said in her August request for a temporary injunction.

In January, the Federal Communications Commission announced it had ordered all major phone carriers to block robocalls from MV Realty.

Courts in North Carolina, Ohio and Massachusetts have granted preliminary injunctions stopping the company from writing new agreements.

A Hillsborough County circuit judge is scheduled on Tuesday to set a hearing date for Moody’s temporary injunction request.

The bankruptcy filing will pause all lawsuits and trigger appointment of a receiver to determine how creditors will be paid.

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at rhurtibise@sunsentinel.com.

After conga-lining to 3-0, Dolphins know they can’t take next challenge in AFC East showdown at Buffalo lightly

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:49

MIAMI GARDENS — There was much to celebrate after the Miami Dolphins’ 70-20 obliteration of the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

And celebrate, they did, throughout the historic afternoon that saw several records broken.

There was the conga line in the end zone after running back Raheem Mostert’s second of four touchdowns to put Miami up, 35-10, late in the first half. Long before that, star receiver Tyreek Hill was jumping into a premium fan section on the field after out-racing the Broncos defense for a 54-yard touchdown three scrimmage plays into the home opener.

And, surely, the celebrations continued into the night after 35 more points — five more touchdowns — were scored after both of those on-field exhibitions.

But NFL teams often allude to a 24-hour rule, as defensive tackle Christian Wilkins did Monday at team facilities, to leave one result behind and move on to the next. Whether victory or defeat, it works both ways. A team has to flush a devastating loss or stay motivated off a convincing win.

In the Dolphins’ case, it’s the latter as the team transitions to facing the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills (2-1). Coach Mike McDaniel believes his team has the right mindset for sustained success and not over-satisfaction after one impressive game.

“If you want a feeling of success that you start to get used to, there’s no shortcuts,” McDaniel said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the locker room and there’s anybody on the coaching staff that is misrepresenting how their successes on Sunday occurred.

“That was old-school blood, sweat and tears, so to speak, in terms of preparation. And I thought our week of practice prepared us to have that opportunity, and then guys made plays in the moment, which is what it’s all about.”

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Mostert said Sunday the approach doesn’t change just because things are going well.

“We’ve just got to hone in on our craft,” he said. “We’re not worried about what everybody outside the building thinks. We’re going to focus in on what we’ve got to do and get the job done.”

It helps that the upcoming opponent doesn’t make it difficult to find any extra motivation, especially the way the Bills have rebounded from an opening-week loss to the New York Jets with 38-10 and 37-3 wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders, respectively. Not to mention these are the three-time reigning AFC East champions that the Dolphins (3-0) are trying to dethrone.

“They’re playing some high-level football themselves,” McDaniel said. “That draws enough of your attention to the different teams from a season ago. I think, individually, from a player-to-player perspective, there’s probably some internal grudge matches that go on that are natural to football.

“But, by and large, I have no doubt that our locker room is going to give them their due respect that they’re earning through their play. You always know, to even be in the conversation to have a win in Orchard Park, you have to be hitting on all cylinders.”

To the point of those grudge matches, case in point, the dynamic of Wilkins and Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, who have had their share of pleasantries exchanged over recent history in the rivalry.

To that, Wilkins deadpanned Monday: “That’s my guy. I love Josh Allen.”

Nonetheless, before we move on from the Dolphins’ touchdown celebrations Sunday, they show how much fun this team is and how much fun they’re having.

“We actually practiced it on Friday,” Mostert said of the conga line celebration. “Then we were undecided what we were going to do, and then we just decided to hit that, just to show a little culture.”

Tackle Austin Jackson said Monday it was Hill who had the idea for the celebration and it only took a quick five seconds of choreography to prepare for the moment.

It’s a vibe

David McCallum, star of hit TV series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ dies at 90

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:31

By BOB THOMAS (Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor David McCallum, who became a teen heartthrob in the hit series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” in the 1960s and was the eccentric medical examiner in the popular “NCIS” 40 years later, has died. He was 90.

McCallum died Monday of natural causes surrounded by family at New York Presbyterian Hospital, CBS said in a statement.

“David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world. He led an incredible life, and his legacy will forever live on through his family and the countless hours on film and television that will never go away,” said a statement from CBS.

Scottish-born McCallum had been doing well appearing in such films “A Night to Remember” (about the Titanic), “The Great Escape” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (as Judas). But it was “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” that made the blond actor with the Beatlesque haircut a household name in the mid-’60s.

The success of the James Bond books and films had set off a chain reaction, with secret agents proliferating on both large and small screens. Indeed, Bond creator Ian Fleming contributed some ideas as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” was being developed, according to Jon Heitland’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book.”

The show, which debuted in 1964, starred Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, an agent in a secretive, high-tech squad of crime fighters whose initials stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Despite the Cold War, the agency had an international staff, with McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, Solo’s Russian sidekick.

The role was relatively small at first, McCallum recalled, adding in a 1998 interview that “I’d never heard of the word ‘sidekick’ before.”

The show drew mixed reviews but eventually caught on, particularly with teenage girls attracted by McCallum’s good looks and enigmatic, intellectual character. By 1965, Illya was a full partner to Vaughn’s character and both stars were mobbed during personal appearances.

The series lasted to 1968. Vaughn and McCallum reunited in 1983 for a nostalgic TV movie, “The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” in which the agents were lured out of retirement to save the world once more.

McCallum returned to television in 2003 in another series with an agency known by its initials — CBS’ “NCIS.” He played Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, a bookish pathologist for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, an agency handling crimes involving the Navy or the Marines. Mark Harmon played the NCIS boss.

McCallum said he thought Ducky, who sported glasses and a bow tie and had an eye for pretty women, “looked a little silly, but it was great fun to do.” He took the role seriously, too, spending time in the Los Angeles coroner’s office to gain insight into how autopsies are conducted.

Co-star Lauren Holly took to X, formerly Twitter, to mourn: “You were the kindest man. Thank you for being you.” The previously announced 20th anniversary “NCIS” marathon on Monday night will now include an “in memoriam” card in remembrance of McCallum.

The series built an audience gradually, eventually reaching the roster of top 10 shows. McCallum, who lived in New York, stayed in a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica when “NCIS” was in production.

“He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From day one, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend, said a statement from ”NCIS” Executive Producers Steven D. Binder and David North.

McCallum’s work with “U.N.C.L.E.” brought him two Emmy nominations, and he got a third as an educator struggling with alcoholism in a 1969 Hallmark Hall of Fame drama called “Teacher, Teacher.”

In 1975, he had the title role in a short-lived science fiction series, “The Invisible Man,” and from 1979 to 1982 he played Steel in a British science fiction series, “Sapphire and Steel.” Over the years, he also appeared in guest shots in many TV shows, including “Murder, She Wrote” and “Sex and the City.”

He appeared on Broadway in a 1968 comedy, “The Flip Side,” and in a 1999 revival of “Amadeus” starring Michael Sheen and David Suchet. He also was in several off-Broadway productions.

Largely based in the U.S. from the 1960s onward, McCallum was a longtime American citizen, telling The Associated Press in 2003 that “I have always loved the freedom of this country and everything it stands for. And I live here, and I like to vote here.”

David Keith McCallum was born in Glasgow in 1933. His parents were musicians; his father, also named David, played violin, his mother played cello. When David was 3, the family moved to London, where David Sr. played with the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic.

Young David attended the Royal Academy of Music where he learned the oboe. He decided he wasn’t good enough, so he turned to theater, studying briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. But “I was a small, emaciated blond with a caved chest, so there weren’t an awful lot of parts for me,” he commented in a Los Angeles Times interview in 2009.

After time out for military service, he returned to London and began getting work on live television and movies, In 1957 he appeared in “Robbery Under Arms,” an adventure set in early Australia, with a rising actress, Jill Ireland. The couple married that same year.

In 1963, McCallum was part of the large cast of “The Great Escape” and he and his wife became friendly with Charles Bronson, also in the film. Ireland eventually fell in love with Bronson and she and McCallum divorced in 1967. She married Bronson in 1968.

“It all worked out fine,” McCallum said in 2009, “because soon after that I got together with Katherine (Carpenter, a former model) and we’ve been very happily married for 42 years.”

McCallum had three sons from his first marriage, Paul, Jason and Valentine, and a son and daughter from his second, Peter and Sophie. Jason died of an overdose.

“He was a true Renaissance man — he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge. For example, he was capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and (if needed) could actually perform an autopsy, based on his decades-long studies for his role on NCIS,” Peter McCallum said in a statement.

In 2007, when he was working on “NCIS,” McCallum told a reporter: “I’ve always felt the harder I work, the luckier I get. I believe in serendipitous things happening, but at the same time, dedicating yourself to what you do is the best way to get along in this life.”


Bob Thomas, a longtime Associated Press journalist who died in 2014, was the principal writer of this obituary.

Judge orders hearings to assess possible attorney-client conflicts in Trump documents case

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:09

Prosecutors and defense lawyers have an October date with the federal judge in the government’s classified documents case against Donald Trump to discuss alleged conflicts involving lawyers for two co-defendants.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon  on Monday set separate hearings on Oct. 12 for lawyers for Waltine Nauta, a personal valet to the former president, and for Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. She directed both defendants to appear in person in her Fort Pierce courtroom.

Earlier this summer, Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s office filed motions alleging that Stanley Woodward Jr., the Washington, D.C., lawyer representing Nauta, has conflicts because he represented other witnesses in the case who could end up testifying for the government.

Woodward represented “at least seven other individuals who have been questioned in connection with the investigation,” including some who testified about Nauta, the government has said. One of those witnesses, according to media reports, is Yuscil Taveras, an information technology worker at Mar-a-Lago.

Taveras reportedly gave prosecutors information supporting charges against Nauta. Taveras is now represented by an assistant federal public defender and has signed a cooperation agreement with the government.

Woodward said the government offered the agreement to Taveras only after he changed lawyers and played no role in negotiating the deal.

In court filings, prosecutors have asserted that Woodward could have a conflict of interest if it becomes necessary for him to cross-examine his former client at trial. In response, Woodward asked the judge to block Taveras from testifying.

After De Oliveira was named in a superseding indictment that added the property manager as a defendant in the case, the government filed a conflicts motion involving another Washington-based lawyer who represents him, John Irving. According to prosecutors, a client represented by Irving is a witness who  “has information demonstrating the falsity of statements De Oliveira has made to the government.”

The government’s conflict inquiries do not raise issues with the South Florida lawyers retained post-indictment to help represent the co-defendants, Sasha Dadan for Nauta, and Donnie Murrell Jr. for De Olivera.

And the witnesses mentioned by the government  “need not appear” at the October hearings, Cannon wrote in a paperless order filed Monday in the court’s case docket.

Parts of the hearings may be private

In granting the government’s requests for hearings, Judge Cannon said that portions of hearings could be held behind closed doors.

“The Office of Special Counsel shall be prepared to articulate the nature and scope of the potential conflicts identified in its …Motions, along with any evidence in support,” she wrote. “Defendants shall be prepared to respond.

The Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse in Fort Pierce is scheduled to be the scene of hearings Oct. 12 on potential defense attorney conflicts in the U.S. Government’s classified documents case against former President Donald Trump. (Lynne Sladky/AP file)

“At its discretion, the Court may elect to hold a portion of each hearing sealed and ex parte to protect privileged communications,” she added.

Prosecutors want the co-defendants to understand the “potential risks” of being represented by lawyers who also served potential prosecution witnesses.

Trump, Nauta and De Oliveira are all scheduled to stand trial on May 20, 2024. Trump is accused under the federal Espionage Act  of improperly possessing classified materials — including some involving the national defense — after his term as president expired in January 2021. His two employees are accused of assisting his efforts to obstruct investigator efforts to retrieve the materials.

The former president and his co-defendants have all entered pleas of not guilty.

ASK IRA: Is it time to candidly consider Heat non-Lillard realities?

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 03:05

Q: I see that the Heat are being called a play-in team again if they don’t get Damian Lillard. How did Pat Riley let this fall apart? – Ina.

A: I’ve been getting a lot of this lately, amid the uncertainty with Damian Lillard, as if the Heat otherwise go from NBA Finals to hoping to avoid the lottery. There is a middle ground here, the type of middle ground the Heat typically pursue while placing the ultimate focus on the playoffs. And, if anything, there certainly should be lessons learned about how tenuous it got for the Heat in last season’s play-in round, when it took a fourth-quarter comeback against the Bulls just to advance to the playoffs. So it comes down to how much you perceive as being lost in Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, and how you view potential growth and development from Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and perhaps even Nikola Jovic and Haywood Highsmith. Boston and Milwaukee again set up as regular-season superior. Philadelphia and Cleveland also certainly have a depth of talent. But the Nets, Knicks, Hawks in now way are beyond the Heat’s regular-season grasp. So the sky is not falling. Lillard eases the math, but there otherwise still should be an equation for ample success.

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Q: I think this all has to do with the process of how it happened with Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers don’t want to make a deal with Miami. – Douglas.

A: The NBA personnel market is no place for foolish pride. If the Trail Blazers wind up with a superior offer elsewhere for Damian Lillard, then power to them. But if they bypass the Heat’s possibilities out of spite of Damian starting the process by saying he solely wants to go to the Heat, then I assume Joe Cronin’s ID badge soon thereafter will no longer work at Moda Center.

Q: Without Udonis Haslem, who sets up the Heat’s Dolphins outing? – Lance.

A: First, Udonis Haslem will be around plenty, even in retirement. Second, like many, athletes tend to be frontrunners. So if the Dolphins are winning, it will be the place to be. As it was, Erik Spoelstra was there Sunday.

A city much too generous to private developers | Letters to the editor

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 03:00

Your editorial about the need for more transparency with the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center project made me realize that little by little, our special city is being leased away to private companies.

Here’s jujst a short list of what I know about: In the city’s downtown, One Stop Shop will be another rock music destination. At Lockhart Stadium, we were promised a park. At Snyder Park, where the original donor explicitly denounced private use of his property, a total of 42 pickleball courts are planned.

And now, the latest and greatest is our beloved International Swimming Hall of Fame.

I will admit it: As a former Republican, I believed that the business of America was business and a private company can do anything better than the bureaucracy. I still believe it, but I trust that our cities, states, and the federal government can best oversee parks, security and beaches.

Where will this end? Let’s think about the many reasons people want to visit Fort Lauderdale and not sell it away. Every city has great restaurants. We also have a natural history museum with IMAX, a contemporary art museum with a fabulous director and new shows, and there’s always shopping.

My next rant will be about the city’s proposal to tear up Las Olas Boulevard. Can we slow down a bit before selling our city?

Joanne M. Snead, Fort Lauderdale

Poll dancing

Polls have devolved to untrustworthy propaganda. Polling .01% of registered voters populating the U.S. is a sham. Polling in the heart of red or blue states guarantees a skewed result. To say that polling 200 or 2,000 registered voters represents the views of 330 million people is ludicrous and a ploy to confuse and trick people.

I would guess that more than 90% of Americans want common sense gun control and a ban on assault weapons. But if I polled 2,000 sloppily drunk NRA members at a gun range at night, I would get the desired result the NRA, its political enablers and gun-toting, knuckle-dragging, irresponsible gun owners want, thereby eliminating patriotic, compassionate intelligent gun owners from having a true voice.

Call it poll dancing.

Jude Smallwood, Royal Palm Beach

Movie theater madness

For something different, I recently went to an afternoon movie theater.

No one was selling tickets at the box office, and I saw no other people in the huge theater. At the concession stand, the smallest box of popcorn cost $8.75 and a small Coke cost $6.75. No prices were advertised anywhere. The air conditioning was so cold I had to leave halfway through, because my neck froze up.

Americans will only go so far before they realize they’re being ripped off and then we just say no, which appears to be what’s happened to movie theaters. They have literally priced themselves out of the market.

Diane Miller, Plantation

Covering the migrants

When will the Sun Sentinel post an editorial decrying the invasion of migrants at our southern border?

Paul Ratje/The New York TimesVenezuelan migrants on the streets of El Paso wait outside a shelter run by a church during a visit by New York Mayor Eric Adams on Jan. 15, 2023.

Thousands of migrants are flooding our borders unabated every week due to lack of enforcement of immigration laws. Even Democratic “sanctuary cities” are finally feeling the economic pinch and chaos of handling migrants being sent to them, mostly by the Biden administration.

New York Mayor Eric Adams has said his city can’t handle the more than 110,000 migrants without federal help. The migrants entering our country illegally represent over 160 countries; most are not vetted.

A country without borders is not a country but a way station for anyone with or without good intentions. This invasion of migrants must stop along with deadly Fentanyl that’s killing our citizens, mostly young people.

Chuck Lehmann, Delray Beach

Swimming Hall of Fame complex in line for stunning $190 million makeover

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:51

A major $190 million makeover of the International Swimming Hall of Fame complex is on the way, with plans for an aquarium, rooftop restaurant, new museum and even a FlowRider surf simulator machine.

The project will spruce up the city-owned peninsula south of Las Olas with a modern five-story building on the east side just a block from the beach and a six-story building on the west overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

The project is expected to break ground in late 2023 and open in 2025. When it’s done, two new buildings both over 100 feet tall will sit like bookends on either side of the Hall of Fame pools and dive tower.

Fort Lauderdale’s Aquatic Center has already undergone a successful renovation to the tune of nearly $50 million, reopening to great fanfare a year ago. The center boasts one of the highest diving platforms in the world at 89 feet.

This new venture, the product of a developer’s unsolicited bid three years ago, will usher in a dramatic transformation of the Hall of Fame complex that will draw scores of locals and tourists in search of a new attraction with great views of both the ocean and the Intracoastal, supporters say.

The project is just what the barrier island needs, Commissioner Steve Glassman says.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said. “People are just waiting for this.”

Fort Lauderdale will be required to contribute $11 million a year over the course of a 30-year lease.

In the west building, visitors will be able to explore a new International Swimming Hall of Fame museum with an expansive display of aquatic sports history and an aquarium that will make you feel like you’re on the bottom of the ocean floor. They’ll also find an upscale rooftop restaurant, a cafe catering to the yachting community, a teaching pool, dryland training, diving grandstand seating and office space.

The east building will house a welcome center, FlowRider, rooftop terrace, shops and office space. Visitors will also find a cafe that serves lunch and dinner and turns into a bar in the evening, said Mario Caprini, CEO of Capital Group P3 of Florida.

The developer — CGHP Developments, a partnership between Capital Group and Hensel Phelps — also plans to build an Ocean Rescue headquarters for the city’s lifeguards.

Seawall improvements to protect the 5-acre peninsula against climate change are also planned.



  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

Show Caption of


Commissioners approved the deal with Hall of Fame Partners on Tuesday in a 4-1 vote.

“Your approval of this project represents a rebirth of the International Swimming Hall of Fame,” Bill Kent, chair of the Hall of Fame board, told commissioners before the vote. “Our best is yet to come.”

Commissioner Warren Sturman, who cast the lone dissenting vote, says he agreed with critics who wanted the vote delayed to give the public more time to review hundreds of pages of documents released just days before the meeting.

Commissioner John Herbst said he had concerns about the agreement, which might leave taxpayers on the hook for another $3 million a year if the project flops.

“The city is taking on substantial risk in terms of guaranteeing the debt (on this project),” Herbst said. “If the rents are insufficient to cover the debt service, the city is responsible for that.”

Local activists also urged caution, saying the three-phase project will bring even more traffic to the already gridlocked barrier island.

“There’s a lot of wonderful things about this plan,” said longtime activist Mary Fertig. “But it’s also a potential outlay of $11 million (along with a potential) net loss to the city of $3.45 million a year. What is before you is a contract … the city will have to live with for decades.”

But Glassman predicts the project will be a rousing success.

“This is going to be an attraction that we really have not seen on the barrier island,” Glassman told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday. “These two buildings are going to bookend this peninsula in a spectacular fashion. It’s really going to bring the whole project together and that’s why it’s going to be so successful.”

The five-story east building will stand 108 feet high and the six-story west building will stand 134 feet high, according to plans submitted by the developer.

Last year, residents were told the west building would be five stories, said John Burns, president of the Venetian Condo Association.

The plans now show it’s six stories and 134 feet high, he told commissioners. Burns objected to the height of the buildings, saying they would impact neighboring views.

But Bill Brown, president of the Central Beach Alliance, urged the commission to move forward with the plan. He referred to the days when the Hall of Fame’s leadership was threatening to pull up stakes and leave for California.

“We almost lost it once,” he said. “Please, please let’s not put ourselves in the position of losing this again.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com. Follow me on X @Susannah_Bryan

Parking at the Broward courthouse is not as safe as you might think

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:39

When a Weston woman answered the call for jury duty, she never imagined she would become a victim. She parked her car, as hundreds do daily, in the Third Avenue garage adjacent to the Broward County courthouse.

And when her civic duty was done, she drove off without even bothering to walk around her car to make sure everything was okay. She was in the courthouse parking garage. What could go wrong?

Related Articles

But the juror learned the hard way that parking in the courthouse garage comes with a risk that, for now, just can’t be avoided. Cameras installed in the garage don’t cover every inch of ground, and even if they did, the images they capture would not necessarily be of much help.

The would-be juror, a 57-year-old Weston woman, reported for duty on Aug. 7. She parked on the second floor, backing into a space with no one parked on either side of her white, 2021 Camry. Four hours later she walked back to her car and drove home, never noticing that someone had sideswiped the car and left her with $5,000 worth of damage on the passenger side of her vehicle.

Worse, she said, when she reported the incident, she learned that the cameras in the garage only capture images of vehicles entering the building and using the ramps between parking levels. No working cameras record what happens on each floor.

“What if there’s a crazy person in the garage, or if a serious crime takes place?” said the driver, who asked not to be identified but whose account was verified by court administration and county officials. “I just can’t believe there’s nothing to help if there’s another more serious incident in the garage.”

The Broward Sheriff’s Office handles calls and complaints about the garage. So far this year there have been 200 calls for service. The average over the past three years has been one a day. None have been for felonies, and the $5,000 damage to the Weston juror’s car appears to be among the most serious.

“I am not aware of any major security events that have occurred in that lot since I’ve been chief judge,” said Jack Tuter, who has been Broward’s top administrative judge since 2017.

Officials are not able to confirm the exact placement of cameras in the garage or how much ground those cameras cover — disclosing that kind of information can compromise security, and the state’s public records laws carve out an exemption allowing local governments to withhold that information from the public.

But the county, which oversees the courthouse and the attached garage, concedes that cameras don’t cover every square inch of ground.

“No camera system does that, anywhere,” said Scott Campbell, the county’s director of facilities management. “We unfortunately did not have camera footage of the incident that the juror described, but we are aware of her complaint.”

Campbell said camera improvements are already approved in the county’s budget. “We are in the process of making improvements in cameras and in coverage.”

Until then, witnesses, jurors, lawyers and others who choose to park in the garage need to be as careful as they would be anywhere else.

And even after new cameras are installed, Campbell warned, surveillance cameras don’t usually have the kind of high resolution that would enable them to capture the license tag numbers of cars that drive off after damaging other parked vehicles.

Tuter noted that jurors in criminal cases are typically escorted to the garage from the courtroom, especially in the winter months when most juries reach their decisions after sunset.

“That’s not a practice we intend to abandon anytime soon, regardless of how many cameras are installed or operating,” Tuter said.

Rafael Olmeda can be reached at rolmeda@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4457.

What’s Hot in Healthcare: More at-home tests for menopause, allergies, vitamin deficiency and UTIs

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:36

Advances in healthcare are coming fast, especially when it comes to medical tests you can do in your home. While at-home tests are nothing new, COVID-19 got people more used to the idea. There has been a recent increase in the number and breadth of at-home tests available. You can now test yourself at home for STDs, diabetes, and food allergies, as well as test your levels of hormones, vitamins, thyroid and cholesterol.

Some of the tests you can buy right off the shelves of South Florida pharmacies, or order them online. Some tests, like those for UTIs and STDs, can be at your home in as fast as 30 minutes from companies like GoPuff.com. Some tests may require a prescription from a doctor with whom you can do a virtual visit on various websites. Prices for at-home tests can range from $20 to $200 and they rarely are covered by insurance.

Lab testing performed at home, by consumers, is projected to be a $2 billion industry by 2025, and many big companies are starting to offer their products and services to meet the demand.

The biggest caveat is you have to follow directions carefully to get accurate results.

Here are some popular at-home tests and what a South Florida doctor says about them:

For menopause: Clearblue, known for its self-tests for pregnancy and fertility, now has a test that can assess which stage of menopause a woman is experiencing. The test measures levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in urine over five days and paired with an app to generate a personalized report. The results can tell you if you are in perimenopause, but it can be tricky because that stage can last for years. You are considered in actual menopause when you miss 12 consecutive menstrual cycles.

For allergies: More than a dozen types of at-home allergy tests are now on the market. While they are not a substitute for an in-office skin test, they still could be helpful. Instead of having blood drawn at a lab or clinic, you’ll receive a kit in the mail with everything necessary to take a sample. The majority of the tests use a simple finger-prick method to draw a blood sample for you to mail to a lab for testing. The lab will then expose your blood sample to the various allergens you want to test for and look for an antibody reaction. If blood makes you woozy, you can also use hair.  You can test for seasonal allergens, pet or insect allergens, and food sensitivities. Some of the companies that sell these tests are Test My Allergy, Everlywell and AccesaLabs.

For vitamin deficiency: LetsGetChecked and Quest Heath both sell tests that use a finger-prick blood sample that gets mailed to the lab. If you find you are deficient in a vitamin, and many people are deficient in Vitamin D, you can choose to schedule a virtual consultation with a healthcare provider to review your results (for an added cost).

For UTIs: Quest Health now sells a test that checks urine for possible presence of white blood cells (Leukocytes) and Nitrite, indicators of a urinary tract infection. When you’re ready to use your test, you’ll connect live with a telehealth proctor at eMed to walk you through collection instructions. If you need a medication, an eMed clinician can prescribe one. You also can buy over-the-counter UTI dipstick tests at your local pharmacy or online that check for white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. “If you follow the instructions, have symptoms and have Nitrite or white blood cells in the urine, you probably have an infection,” said Dr. Steven Reznick, a Boca Raton internist.

Overall he advises approaching at-home tests cautiously. “Are they approved by the FDA? What does your physician say about them?” he suggests you consider.

Reznick says you also want to make sure you aren’t using an expired test. “If you are going to do an at-home test, make sure you read the instructions and follow them. It should be common sense, but unfortunately it isn’t.”

Two South Florida friends create Accessory Drain Bags for Breast Cancer Patients

Longtime South Florida friends Pam Kelsky and Gaby Mann have come up with a comfortable and convenient method of managing post-operative surgical drains after breast cancer surgery. Kelsky, 48, wanted a way to wear surgical drains discreetly in public during the recuperation period after she underwent breast cancer surgery in February 2019.

She and Mann created soft polyester, waterproof bags that comfortably carry and conceal the surgical drains. An adjustable strap hangs around the user’s neck or shoulder to minimize the bag’s interaction with sensitive areas.

They founded bcalmed to make and distribute the bags. The nonprofit organization works with hospitals, clinics and surgeons to make the drain bags available for patients to wear home after breast cancer surgery. The organization is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic Weston’s Foundation to distribute the bags to patients free of charge. So far, 6,000 bags have been produced and are available to any cancer patient.

Versions of the bag are available for women and men.

“We hope that the bag will eliminate the concern for mastectomy patients of how to manage their drains.” Mann said.

In the future, they plan to produce a bcalmed kit that includes bags, a seat belt cushion, and a Post Op Top.

bcalmed founders present breast cancer drain bags to Cleveland Clinic Florida to be given to patients at no charge. Drain bags produced and distribued by bcalmed New helicopters will respond to emergencies in Palm Beach

While Broward County reels from the crash of one of its rescue helicopters last month, Palm Beach County Health Care District announced the delivery of the first of two Leonardo AW169 helicopters that will transport trauma patients.

The helicopters use the newest technology, a longitudinal roll-on stretcher system that minimizes patient movement during loading and unloading. The Trauma Hawk medical team will no longer need to transfer patients onto hospital stretchers at the helipad to take them to the one of the county’s two Level 1 trauma centers. This will save crucial minutes during lifesaving missions, according to the Health Care District.

“These state-of-the-art helicopters will provide swift and efficient air transportation to enhance patient access to critical medical services and improved healthcare outcomes,” said Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health Care District.

The Leonardo AW169 helicopters will replace the current Sikorsky S76-C+ aircraft, which have served the Health Care District and Palm Beach County since 1999. However, the existing helicopters will remain in service through the end of the year while the flight team and mechanics complete specialized training.

“These new aircraft are a leap forward in technology for both the pilots and the medical crews,” said Jay Mazzone, the Health Care District’s director of aeromedical transportation. “With advanced avionics, larger and brighter displays, and the added capability of night vision goggles, we are moving into the next generation of aircraft that will help us maintain and enhance our relentless focus on safety.”

Help is on the way for South Floridians prone to mosquito bites

Florida has been plagued by a recent rash of mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria, which surfaced this summer in Sarasota.

But now a team of researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will tackle the mosquito problem.

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the UF researchers will develop a low-cost mosquito trap to lure the insects using certain scents and fragrances. “We expect that our approach will capture a greater diversity of mosquito species,” said Yoosook Lee, assistant professor of entomology and nematology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

In addition to the trap, the researchers will create a web-based dashboard for all the states in the Southeast to map the presence of invasive mosquitos. The researchers believe the dashboard will improve mosquito surveillance by promoting data sharing and communication.

Every year, Florida faces challenges from mosquito-transmitted diseases like dengue virus, West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus, chikungunya virus and more recently, locally transmitted malaria. Researchers says Florida’s proximity to the tropics and climate conditions make it ideal for non-native mosquito species to end up in the Sunshine State. As many as 17 non-native mosquito species already have been identified in Florida. Researchers are concerned about the rate and frequency of new species in Florida. By identifying the species and their prevalence through improved surveillance, the researchers will know when new species have arrived to react faster and reduce potential health and safety risks.

This photo made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a feeding female Anopheles gambiae mosquito. The species is a known vector for the parasitic disease malaria. Health insurance for real estate professionals

RLTY, a real estate organization that fronts commission to agents, has created a statewide healthcare initiative for Florida’s real estate agents and contractors. Anyone in the industry considered a 1099 employee qualifies to participate. RLTY has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to help real estate professionals get healthcare coverage.

An agent who specializes in providing coverage to the self-employed will customize plans for individuals. “Instead of waiting in a queue to buy insurance on the open market, there will be no waiting and the person on the other end of the line will be a licensed insurance agent who can offer a wide range of plans and prices,” said Erynn McCabe,  vice president of operations, RLTY  “They will go step-by-step to help you apply.”

What’s Hot in Healthcare is a monthly feature of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. To submit content, contact health reporter Cindy Goodman at cgoodman@sunsentinel.com.

How to use a knitting machine

Sun, 09/24/2023 - 23:03

Knitting machines speed up the knitting process significantly, so they’re great for when you’re pressed for time. They’re also ideal for people who can’t knit by hand for any reason. However, before you get started, you’ll need to learn how to use a knitting machine.

All machines are different, so there isn’t just one way to use a knitting machine. While it’s possible to discover the basic idea of how these machines work, you’ll need to examine the manual for your exact model to learn the ropes.

Thread the machine

The first step is to thread the machine with your yarn. In some cases, you’ll just need to thread the end in place and turn a crank or move the carriage, but in others, there’s a good chunk of manual threading to do.

Place weights

Some machines have weights to secure the yarn and keep stitches even and consistent. These must be placed before you start knitting. They may also need to be moved throughout the knitting process, so check the instruction manual carefully.

Turn crank or move the carriage

Home knitting machines are usually manual rather than electric. They’ll have either a rotating crank or a sliding carriage. With the yarn and any weights in place, you simply turn the crank or move the carriage and the machine does the hard work of knitting for you.

Home vs. professional knitting machines

Home or domestic machines are in a different category from professional machines.

Flat vs. circular knitting machines

Some machines are flat and can only create flat pieces of knitting. Others are circular and can create either tubes only or tubes and flat pieces. Consider which is more useful for the garments or other items you want to knit.

Knitting machine gauges

Most machines are standard- or mid-gauge, but you can also find fine and chunky gauge options. Some are adjustable so you can switch between gauges. The correct gauge for you depends on what you want to knit and how you like the finish.

Best knitting machines

Walfront LK150 Mid-Gauge Plastic Domestic Knitting Machine ]

This flat tabletop knitting machine is operated using a carriage. It’s smooth, easy to use and great for large projects.

Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine ]

With 46 needles, this large circular knitting machine is a versatile choice, creating tubes and flat pieces. It has a simple hand crank to operate it.

Sentro Knitting Machine ]

Since it’s affordably priced, this machine is a great choice for occasional use or craft projects with kids. You can use it to knit tubes or flat pieces.

BZVV Circular Knitting Machine ]

All you need to do to work this machine is screw the yarn into the spindle and turn the hand crank. Then, its 32 needles make light work of simple knitting projects.

Addi Mega Pro Knitting Machine Set ]

In this kit, you get two knitting machines: one large 46-needle version and one smaller 22-needle version. It also comes with spare needles and a trio of pattern books.

Zeya Zezirdas Knitting Machine ]

This simple hand crank circular knitting machine has 48 needles. You can easily adjust the yarn to give you a tight knit, loose knit or something in between.

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Everything you need to know about Prime Big Deal Days

Sun, 09/24/2023 - 23:03
Prime Big Deal Days are almost here

Amazon holds several big sales events each year, with its biggest and best-known being Amazon Prime Day every summer. Its next best event is Prime Big Deal Days every October.

Both sales are essentially the same jam-packed and fast-paced event, where you need to be ready to go with a wishlist of items, such as TVs and coffee makers, so you can snag deals before they sell out. You also need to be part of Amazon’s subscription service, Amazon Prime. Otherwise, all you can do is watch your neighbor collect their discounted packages after the event.

The two key aspects

All you truly need to know is when the event is and how to sign up for Amazon Prime if you haven’t signed up already. Then you can shop as normal or poke around the event page once the event begins.

When are Prime Big Deal Days?

This year, Prime Big Deal Days are Tuesday, Oct. 10 and Wednesday, Oct. 11.

How to sign up for Amazon Prime

Because an Amazon Prime membership is required, here’s a quick breakdown of how to sign up if you aren’t a member already. By the way, you can take advantage of a 30-day free trial period to access the sale if you haven’t been an Amazon Prime member in the last 12 months.

That’s it. Quick and painless.

Invite-only deals

An interesting wrinkle about Prime Big Deal Days is your ability to request access to doorbuster deals — currently six of them, though more could be added — both before the event and once it begins. These deals are in short supply, though, so requesting them doesn’t guarantee your shot at being able to buy them.

If you’re a Prime member and you want to submit an invite request, all you need to do is go to the deals page and click the “request invite” button. Then, if you’re selected, you’ll receive an email during the sale that contains a unique link. This link is valid during the entire sale, so if you get it early on Day 1 you should have some time to decide if you still want to buy it or not.

There are no downsides to requesting a link or not purchasing should you get a link. If you’re even vaguely interested in any of the deals, go ahead and request an invite just to be safe.

The current invite-only Prime Big Deal Days items

Blink Outdoor Three-Camera System ]

This collection of outdoor cameras is a subtle way to defend your home, or to at least have evidence should the worst happen. You can also buy more cameras at any time should you want more coverage, although the sale is strictly for three cameras only. It’s on sale for 60% off if you’re invited.

Citizen Promaster Dive Watch ]

The Citizen watch brand is among the better ones in the low-cost but high-end market. This one is built for divers because it has sustainable water resistance at up to 200 meters or 656 feet. It’s on sale for 58% off if you’re invited.

Jabra Elite 7 Active Wireless Earbuds In Navy ]

Wireless earbuds are expensive as it is, but ones like these that are built for wearing during exercise are even more so. What makes them great for this purpose are the ShakeGrip tech that keeps them firmly in place and the water- and sweatproof construction. It’s on sale for 56% off if you’re invited, but only in navy.

Philips 3000 Series Air Fryer ]

With so many air fryers on the market, it’s wise to go with a trusted brand such as Philips. This model can hold up to 4.1 pounds of food, or enough to feed about four people. It has seven presets and the cooking basket is dishwasher-safe. It’s on sale for 56% off if you’re invited.

SodaStream Art Sparkling Water Maker Bundle ]

Sparkling water and soda makers have been a fun addition to home bars for a while now, but it’s costly to get started. This bundle that includes the maker, two bottles, two canisters of CO2 and two flavors is an easy way to get around the upfront cost. It’s on sale for 45% off if you’re invited.

Sony HTX8500 Soundbar ]

Most TVs, even the creme de la creme, don’t have the best speakers and sound is the second most important aspect of a home theater system after picture quality. This high-end sound bar is an easy fix with built-in subwoofers and Dolby compatibility. It’s on sale for 50% off if you’re invited.

Best holiday deals on Amazon

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro Tablet ]

The Kindle Fire line of tablets is excellent for younger kids getting their first big piece of technology. It’s 30% off and comes with a case.

National Tree Company Artificial Christmas Tree ]

It’s never too soon to do some Christmas shopping, but you do need to think of where those gifts will go once they’re wrapped. It’s 48% off and can last years if treated properly.

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Inter Miami, again without Messi, lose grip of lead as Orlando City rally to draw

Sun, 09/24/2023 - 20:43

ORLANDO — Rookie Duncan McGuire scored the equalizer in the 66th minute to help Orlando City gain a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday night, extending the club’s unbeaten streak to 10.

Inter Miami (9-15-5) played without Lionel Messi, who was held out because of muscle fatigue. Messi missed a Sept. 16 match against Atlanta United for the same reason.

Neither team scored until David Ruíz found the net for a second time this season, scoring unassisted in the 52nd minute to give Inter Miami a 1-0 lead.

Orlando City (14-7-9) answered with the equalizer when McGuire scored his ninth goal of the season, unassisted in the 66th minute.

Pedro Gallese finished with four saves for Orlando City. Drake Callender stopped five shots for Inter Miami.

Orlando City has scored in 13 straight matches in all competitions, one off the club record set spanning the 2015-16 seasons. The club saw a four-match win streak at home end but it is still 6-0-4 in its last 10.

Inter Miami is 0-2-4 all-time in Orlando. Both losses were by one goal. Inter Miami has gone 9-1-5 in its last 15 matches in all competitions. The club had eight victories in its previous 28 matches.

Inter Miami returns home to host New York City FC on Saturday. Orlando City will host CF Montreal on Saturday.

Writers Guild and Hollywood studios reach tentative agreement to end strike. No deal yet for actors

Sun, 09/24/2023 - 19:23

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Union leaders and Hollywood studios reached a tentative agreement Sunday to end a historic screenwriters strike after nearly five months, though no deal is yet in the works for striking actors.

The Writers Guild of America announced the deal in a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations.

“WGA has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP,” the guild said in an email to members. “This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days.”

The three-year contract agreement — settled on after five marathon days of renewed talks by WGA and AMPTP negotiators that was joined at times by studio executives — must be approved by the guild’s board and members before the strike officially ends.

In a longer message from the guild shared by members on social media, the writers were told the strike is not over and no one was to return to work until hearing otherwise, but picketing is to be suspended immediately.

The terms of the deal were not immediately announced. The tentative deal to end the last writers strike, in 2008, was approved by more than 90% of members.

The agreement comes just five days before the strike would’ve become the longest in the guild’s history, and the longest Hollywood strike more than 70 years.

As a result of the agreement, nightly network shows including NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could return to the air within days.

But as writers prepare to potentially crack open their laptops again, it’s far from back to business as usual in Hollywood, as talks have not yet resumed between studios and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Crew members left with no work by the stoppage will remain unemployed for now.

“SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity on the picket lines,” the actors union said in a statement. “While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.”

The statement said the guild continues “to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”

The proposed solution to the writers strike came after talks resumed on Wednesday for the first time in a month. Chief executives including Bob Iger of Disney, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery and Donna Langley of NBCUniversal reportedly took part in the negotiations directly.

It was reached without the intervention of federal mediators or other government officials, which had been necessary in previous strikes.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement congratulating the two sides on the deal and said she is hopeful the same can happen soon with actors.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom did the same, saying writers “went on strike over existential threats to their careers and livelihoods — expressing real concerns over the stress and anxiety workers are feeling. I am grateful that the two sides have come together.”

About 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job May 2 over issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence in the creation of scripts. Actors, who joined the writers on strike in July, have their own issues but there have been no discussions about resuming negotiations with their union yet.

The writers strike immediately sent late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live” into hiatus, and has since sent dozens of scripted shows and other productions into limbo, including forthcoming seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” HBO’s “The Last of Us,” and ABC’s “Abbot Elementary,” and films including “Deadpool 3” and “Superman: Legacy.” The Emmy Awards were also pushed from September to January.

More recently, writers had been targeting talk shows that were working around strike rules to return to air, including “ The Drew Barrymore Show,” “ Real Time With Bill Maher ” and “The Talk.” All reversed course in the face of picketing and pressure, and are likely to quickly return now.

The combined strikes made for a pivotal moment in Hollywood as creative labor faced off against executives in a business transformed and torn by technology, from the seismic shift to streaming in recent years to the potentially paradigm-shifting emergence of AI in the years to come.

Screenwriters had traditionally gone on strike more than any other segment of the industry, but had enjoyed a relatively long stretch of labor peace until spring negotiations for a new contract fell apart. The walkout was their first since 2007 and their longest since 1988.

On July 14, more than two months into the strike, the writers got a dose of solidarity and star power — along with a whole lot of new picketing partners — when they were joined by 65,000 striking film and television actors.

It was the first time the two groups had been on strike together since 1960. In that walkout, the writers strike started first and ended second. This time, studios opted to deal with the writers first.

The AMPTP first reached out to suggest renewing negotiations in August. The meetings were short, infrequent, and not productive, and talks went silent for another month.

ASK IRA: Hurt feelings? Get over it, report, do your job

Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:05

Q: If Damian Lillard is traded to another team besides the Heat, should Tyler Herro request a trade? It seems clear that the Heat front office, coaching staff and Jimmy Butler do not see him as a difference maker. So why should Tyler try to fit into a team where he’s not wanted? – Oscar, Miami Beach.

A: Says who? Because you read rumors and gossip from some click-hunting trolls? In fact, while knowing that the timing of such an agreement would take Tyler Herro out of play for a trade last season, the Heat nonetheless still went ahead and extended their four-year, $120 million guaranteed extension before last season, one that kicks in this season. That hardly sounds like a franchise giving up on a player. It sounds more like a franchise willing to give a lot of money to a player (plus the chance for more, due to accompanying incentives). This is a team that has traded Glen Rice, Steve Smith, Rony Seikaly, Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones, Shaquille O’Neal and Goran Dragic. It happens. But it also is a team that did right by those players until those trades, and a team that even has brought back some who had been dealt away. The only thing that has changed is social media, which also tends to distort the reality of situations. If you can’t deal with rumors, scuttlebutt and innuendo, then you’re probably not in the right business. But if you enjoy the game, the lifestyle and the pay, then you accept that ancillary distractions as the price of having created an NBA identity. When your name has been linked to Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, then you hardly are in an undesirable place. Trolls will be trolls. But players at the NBA level need to be pros. Now, when Tyler Herro says he will refuse to cash a Miami Heat paycheck, then we will have a story worthy of click hunting.

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Q: Ira, I think the loss of Gabe Vincent will hurt us the most if we don’t get Damian Lillard. Tyler Herro is a great player I think, but putting him at point guard limits his offensive game. – Erik, Plantation.

A: I find ironic that the Heat get eviscerated for overpaying developmental projects such as Duncan Robinson, but then also get eviscerated for failing to meet the market for players such as Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. I enjoyed Gabe Vincent very much as person and player, and appreciated his journey. But as with Max Strus, I also can appreciate setting a line. As it was, the Heat came awfully close to the numbers Gabe got from the Lakers. But that also is why you have cost analysis, so you can set a line. Wish Gabe well. But also appreciate it is not as if the Heat moved on from Stephen Curry or Luka Doncic at the point.

Q: Hi, Ira. What are the chances that Joe Cronin’s ego makes him trade Damian Lillard to another team even for a worse deal than Miami’s? In that scenario, could he be overruled by the rest of the front office and ownership? – Eddie.

A: First, I don’t see that happening. This is all about leverage. But also appreciate that what one executive considers a better deal might not be the view of another. So if Joe Cronin takes a deal that is perceived as lesser than what is learned the Heat ultimately offered, it could be that it was the view of Cronin and the rest of the Blazers’ front office that what Portland received was superior. Also, however, appreciate that what is reported as having been offered is not always what has been offered. It’s almost, amid this social-media era, where there is the expectation by fans that they have a right to know everything that goes on in their team’s house.

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