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Dave Hyde: Is there any magic left in the tank for Heat, Panthers?

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 06:38

SUNRISE — For the past two months, they’ve marched two-by-two through this spring of surprise, from squeezing into the playoffs as eighth seeds to beating their game’s top teams in opening postseason series to becoming the story of their sport in advancing to respective championship series.

Now our county cousins, the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers, share one final parallel path. And a doozie of a question: Do either have any magic left in the tank?

Both have been outclassed and are down 3-1 in their best-of-seven championship series. Both go on the road for Game 5 — the Heat to Denver on Monday, the Panthers to Las Vegas on Tuesday — knowing their season might not return to South Florida.

Both, too, offer a mutinous refusal to yield anything that’s been on display through their big runs. When Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk said late Saturday night after a 3-2 loss in Game 4 how the plan is to, “Just go out there, win one game, and force them to come back to Florida,” the remark sounded like Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talking after a similar loss Friday night.

“All we are going to focus on is getting this thing back to the 305,” Spoelstra said.

Their remarks were natural hope, a survivor’s sports creed that’s worked well for them. They each have been here before in some form, too. Tkachuk sounded like he did when down 3-1 in the opening series against Boston.

“Boys, get used to this locker room,’’ he said before Game 5 in Boston, “because we’ll be back here for Game 7.”

They returned, too, and finished off winning three straight against Boston.

Spoelstra sounded on Saturday night as raw and real as after that crushing Game 6 loss against Boston in the conference finals. “I know in the next 48 hours we are going to figure this out,’’ he said then.

They won that Game 7, too.

How much will Boston be brought up by each team in the coming hours?

Panthers coach Paul Maurice was asked this in the aftermath of Saturday night’s loss, and he spoke of the involved journey and hard work since in saying, “That seemed a lifetime ago.”

It was April 26 they trailed Boston, 3-1. Tkachuk scored the winning goal in overtime in that ensuing Game 5 to start a run of 10 wins in 11 playoff games over three series.

Tkachuk remains a large chunk of the Panthers’ story, though tone changed from his winning goal Thursday in Game 3 to a more sobering question after he sat out much of Saturday’s third period. He took a big hit Thursday and missed nearly a period while in the NHL’s concussion protocol.

That hit must have caused another physical problem that Tkachuk wasn’t talking about. Nor was he saying he was certain to play Tuesday in Las Vegas.

“We got two days off to assess that,’’ Maurice said. “Get some good rest and we’ll make that decision (Tuesday).”

That’s another unfortunate step the Heat and Panthers are moving in lockstep. The Heat lost Tyler Herro to injury in the first game against Milwaukee. But, if not as pronounced as Tkachuk, Jimmy Butler has played as if something is bothering him.

From talk of two parades in two counties, the reality is looking like none. Maurice talked of reminding this team how it got to this point, the problems early in the regular season to the progressive steps through the playoffs.

“We’ll tell stories over the next few days of the energy level in Game 5 in Boston,’’ he said. “We’ll celebrate it before the puck drops.”

They’ve won so much, overcome so much, neither team is capable of seeing the end. They see their top game coming.

“Because you have had inner faith and you’ve invested so much, you feel you’ve earned the right to play your best hockey in a difficult situation,’’ Maurice said. “All we want to do is get this back here, get this thing back home and give our fans another look at us.”

The Panthers and the Heat hold hands right to Game 5 of the finals. Either season can end here. Either, too, could add a happily-ever-after chapter to their great runs.

Both are asking: Is there any magic left in the season?



The inanity of non-readers censoring books | Letters to the editor

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 06:00

I so appreciated Theresa Pogach’s “Another View” on the Opinion Page of June 7. Pogach perfectly described the inane decision by a school in Miami-Dade to withdraw a poem from elementary school students, written and read by the poet laureate Amanda Gorman at President Biden’s inauguration, on the whim of a single self-described non-reader. (“I am not a reader,” said Daisy Salinas, the parent who complained about Gorman’s poem).

This is testimony to the lack of awareness of those who make decisions such as these. This “power of one” concept, which once was lauded as a deep commitment to do the right thing, has come full circle and is now the bias of clueless illiterates and non-thinkers. Their refusal to read is considered worthy and is now being passed through by school administrators.

Ironically, Pogach ends her piece with “Don’t Let Karen Drive the Bus,” a brilliant reference to Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, a children’s picture book about a temper-tantrum-throwing pigeon. When this book is read aloud, the children spend their whole listening time warning (out loud) about the self-centered pigeon’s motives. Did any readers out there catch that?

Joyce V. W. Warner, Ed.D., Delray Beach

The writer is a retired associate professor at Barry University.

Why I’m an NPA voter

I read the Sun Sentinel column about dwindling Democrats and was compelled to write to you in response. I am a 28-year resident of Florida and at times have been a registered Democrat and Republican. However, in recent years I changed my registration to NPA because I feel that the Florida Democratic Party does not have its act together and usually presents a flaky candidate in an election. I also do not want to align myself with either party.

My friends try to persuade me to change my voter registration to Democrat to boost the total number of Democrats in the state, and also to be able to vote in primary elections. I have resisted this, though it is tempting, because I do not truly believe the Democratic Party is going in a solid direction, especially in Florida.

Re: Nikki Fried hits the ground running as she tries to inspire Florida Democrats

It’s also essential to note that the total number of NPA-registered voters does not necessarily equate to Republican votes in an election. The more ideologically stringent the Republican Party becomes, the more voters might feel repulsed and vote Democratic straight down the ballot.

That’s my five cents. Thanks for your good writing and that of the paper.

Rebecca Bryan, Oakland Park

Lauderdale’s parking problem John McCall/South Florida Sun SentinelA long promised park is being used as overflow parking at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Commissioner John Herbst, fed up with delays, wants the city to build the park on its own.

I am an Inter Miami soccer season-ticket holder who’s no longer able to park in the stadium’s primary parking lot.

I don’t see how Fort Lauderdale benefits when City Commissioner John Herbst imitates the Governor and picks a fight with a popular business. Big Bad Beckham isn’t suffering, but the thousands of local and visiting fans who pack the stadium and patronize nearby businesses do.

What about high school graduations and football games that take place there? Should parents and students be sent home because there’s nowhere to park, as letter writer Amy Hamilton suggested? Surely if a park at the Lockhart site was such a priority, it would have been built long before Beckham United came along.

Stuart Green, Oakland Park

Unending density

I cannot even find the words to express the disappointment with the lack of respect for open space. I watch the fumes heat local streets while I sit and wait for traffic lights to cross Federal Highway and Oakland Park Boulevard, and wonder: Why did Palm Beach County commissioners recently vote for even more density?

Susan Schaffel, Fort Lauderdale

Radioactive roads? Tampa fertilizer giant Mosaic wants to start testing it

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 06:00

Tampa-based fertilizer giant Mosaic is seeking approval from federal environment regulators to begin testing the use of phosphogypsum — a mildly radioactive byproduct from the company’s phosphate mining process — in a roadway at its New Wales facility, according to records reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times.

Correspondence between Mosaic and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offer a glimpse into the Fortune 500 company’s controversial plan to roll out a “small-scale” pilot project at its Mulberry plant using phosphogypsum as an ingredient in three 200-foot sections of road, records show.

If approved, the pilot project would mark the first time the EPA has green lit phosphogypsum use since its 2020 approval, and subsequent reversal, of a request to use the byproduct in American roads.

The EPA is reviewing Mosaic’s plan and expects a decision on next steps in the coming months, according to spokesperson Melissa Sullivan.

Mosaic first submitted its proposal to the agency in March 2022, records show, nearly a year before the Florida legislature introduced a bill that would allow the Florida Department of Transportation to study the use of phosphogypsum in road construction. That bill, which was lobbied by Mosaic, has been approved by both the Florida House and Senate but has yet to be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

A handful of phosphate at Mosaic’s facility in Plant City.

One of Mosaic’s main objectives is to collect data from a road “where phosphogypsum is exposed to real-world conditions,” according to a letter sent to the EPA from Pat Kane, a Mosaic executive.

The proposed test road on Mosaic’s property would be made up of sand with a 10-inch base containing up to 50% phosphogypsum. Monitoring wells will study the health of the ground beneath the test road for 18 months.

Phosphogypsum contains radium-226, which emits radiation during its decay to form radon, a potentially cancer-causing, radioactive gas, according to the EPA.

In an email to the EPA sent March 6, Karen Bennett, a lawyer representing Mosaic, said the company was disappointed with the pace of the federal agency’s review, and said the proposed project “is a part of a much broader environmental solution in which we have made significant investment.” Bennett has followed up with the EPA at least four times since January, emails show.

Mosaic spokesperson Jackie Barron elaborated in an emailed statement to the Times: “Globally, phosphogypsum is used extensively in a variety of safe and innovative ways. At Mosaic, we believe there is great value in the principles of a circular economy whereby materials formerly viewed as wastes can be used or recycled beneficially,” Barron wrote.

Until a complete request for the use of phosphogypsum is approved by the EPA, phosphogypsum can’t be used in road construction. In 2020, at the request of industry group the Fertilizer Institute, the EPA changed a decades-old policy to allow limited recycling of phosphogypsum in roads. But when the agency switched to the Biden administration, it rolled back the controversial decision claiming the Institute’s application was missing important information.

The Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute estimates roughly 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum are stored in about two dozen “stacks” across Florida, though that figure is undated. The group says 30 million new tons of phosphogypsum are generated each year. Mosaic provided a fact sheet saying 1.7 billion tons are stacked across the nation.

In 2016, a sinkhole measuring 152 feet wide formed beneath the stack at the New Wales facility and resulted in 215 million gallons of contaminated water draining into the aquifer below.

Concerns raised by environmental groups

Environmental organizations across Florida have decried the use of phosphogypsum in Florida roads, claiming it’s a mechanism for Mosaic to cash in on a byproduct that may be harmful to human health.

“Paving roads with radioactive phosphogypsum is a threat to the health and safety of Floridians and our water quality,” said Ragan Whitlock, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA should deny Mosaic’s request to re-use its toxic waste in roads near the problematic New Wales facility. This is yet another industry attempt to generate revenue from its toxic waste at the expense of public health.”

The EPA’s review of Mosaic’s pilot project is independent, Sullivan said, from the Florida legislation still awaiting a decision from DeSantis.

A Mosaic facility in Riverview, Florida.

The project would still require state permits, though. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has already met with Mosaic twice, where the company outlined their concepts for the pilot project, state spokesperson Alexandra Kuchta confirmed.

Mosaic has funded the University of Florida’s Timothy Townsend, a professor at the school’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, to develop the plans and design for the proposed pilot project.

In an interview with the Times, Townsend said his work with Mosaic is necessary to determine whether using phosphogypsum is a safe and feasible approach to road construction.

“The alternative is putting these things in big giant stacks,” Townsend said. “And they keep getting bigger.”

Townsend said he understands why “someone might have some concerns” about the potential health risks, but “every single product we use on a road base has some potential human health risks,” he said.

There needs to be a balance between saving natural resources used for roads, and also looking toward using waste products like phosphogypsum, Townsend said.

“The only way we can determine that is to do research and to do testing,” Townsend said. “It makes sense to look for waste products and explore whether there are feasible and environmentally safe options.”

Phosphogypsum a touchy subject

Tampa Bay residents are familiar with the environmental risks tied to gypstacks: In 2021, roughly 215 million gallons of tainted water from the Piney Point fertilizer site were sent into Tampa Bay as a precaution due to fears that a leak in a reservoir could trigger a massive flood, endangering homes and businesses. The release of contaminants may have fueled a sweeping red tide, and likely contributed to the bay’s declining seagrass.

Records indicate the waste byproduct is a touchy subject among EPA staff.

In an email to other other staff members March 3, Jonathan Walsh, a physical scientist at the agency’s Radiation Protection Division, wrote “everything related to PG makes me really nervous right now.” He used a common acronym referring to phosphogypsum.

Glenn Compton, chair of the local environmental advocacy group ManaSota-88, said he’s concerned that reusing the byproduct in construction could harm Floridian’s health.

“A small pilot project is certainly not the answer to getting rid of the waste that they produce,” Compton told the Times. “This is a way to increase their bottom-line profit — but that would come at the cost of the public’s health and the environment.”

This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a multi-newsroom initiative founded by the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, WLRN Public Media and the Tampa Bay Times.

Elvis Presley’s cousin lifts Democrats’ hopes in Mississippi governor’s race

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 05:49

GRENADA, Miss. (AP) — Conservative Mississippi is tough territory for Democrats, but the party sees an unusual opportunity this year to unseat first-term Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. They’re pinning hopes in November on a candidate with a legendary last name who has used his own compelling story to highlight the economic plight of working families in a state that has long been one of the poorest in America.

Democrat Brandon Presley is a second cousin of Elvis Presley, born a few days before the rock ’n’ roll legend died. While campaigning, Brandon Presley talks frequently about government corruption, focusing on a multimillion-dollar welfare scandal that developed when Reeves was lieutenant governor.

Presley, an elected member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor. He is pushing for Medicaid expansion to help financially strapped hospitals while telling voters about his own difficult childhood.

“I understand what working families in this state go through,” Presley told about 75 people at a restaurant in Grenada, a town on the edge of the Mississippi Delta.

The 45-year-old said he was just starting third grade when his father was murdered. Presley’s mother raised him and his brother and sister in the small town of Nettleton, earning modest wages from a garment factory. In his childhood home, “you could see straight through the floors into the dirt,” he said, and his mother struggled to pay for water and electricity.

“And let me say this to you clearly: When my name goes on the ballot in November, the names of families who have had their electricity cut off, who are getting up every day working for all they can to help their kids, to small business owners — your name goes on that ballot in November,” he said.

Mississippi is one of just three states with a governor’s race this year, joining Kentucky and Louisiana. All are places that historically have supported Republicans for statewide office, though Kentucky’s Democratic governor is seeking a second term.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, described the three contests as “away games” but said Mississippi may be “the sleeper” — a state where the right Democrat could win. That’s despite voters twice heavily backing Donald Trump for president, the GOP holding all statewide offices and a supermajority in the Legislature and a Democrat not winning a Mississippi governor’s race so far this century.

Reeves, who faces two underfunded opponents in the Aug. 8 primary, has the advantage of incumbency: 31 governors of U.S. states or territories sought reelection last year, and only one lost. Reeves had about $9.4 million in his campaign fund at the end of May, far more than the $1.7 million Presley reported. Republicans also say national Democrats’ enthusiasm for Presley’s bid could be a liability.

Reeves, 49, was a banker from a Jackson suburb before winning his first statewide office 20 years ago. He is campaigning on a record of reducing the state income tax, increasing teachers’ pay, restricting abortion access and banning gender-affirming medical care for people younger than age 18. He also is casting this as an “us-versus-them” election, portraying Presley as part of a national Democratic operation far removed from the realities of life in Mississippi.

“My friends, this is a different governor’s campaign than we have ever seen before in our state because we are not up against a local yokel, Mississippi Democrat. We are up against a national liberal machine,” Reeves told more than 200 supporters at a campaign event in the Jackson suburb of Richland. “They are extreme. They are radical and vicious.”

Reeves said outsiders look at Mississippi with “scorn,” but the state has momentum.

“Are we going to let them stop us?” Reeves asked, and the crowd responded: “No!”

“Are we going to let them make Mississippi conform to California values?” Reeves asked. Again, the response was “No!”

Presley was 23 when he was elected mayor of Nettleton in 2001. During his second term leading the town of 2,000, he won the northern district seat on the Mississippi Public Service Commission, a three-member group that regulates utilities. He is completing his fourth term this year.

As Presley campaigns, he combines blunt criticism of Reeves with gospel and bluegrass songs that affirm the connection to his famous cousin without leaving the impression that he has chosen the wrong line of work.

In Grenada, Presley said a $100 million financial package that legislators and Reeves approved for hospitals this year was a “cheap, dollar store clearance-aisle Band-Aid” when Medicaid expansion could bring the state about $1 billion a year from the federal government.

Murphy said Presley’s style has been winning over donors. At an event Presley attended in New Jersey with Murphy, they exceeded their fundraising goal.

“We’ve got a great candidate. This guy’s the real deal,” Murphy said. “When you listen to what he would do on Day One as governor, you say, ‘You know what? That’s exactly what Mississippi needs.’”

Four years ago, Reeves won the governorship by defeating four-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by 52% to 47%, with two lesser-known candidates in the race.

This year, one independent will be on the general election ballot. Republicans like their chances, given the state’s politics and Reeves’ history of five statewide wins: two for state treasurer, starting when he was 29; two for lieutenant governor; and one for governor.

“Democrats are desperately trying to create a mirage when it comes to Mississippi,” said Republican Governors Association spokesperson Courtney Alexander. “The reality is that Brandon Presley is bought and paid for by national Democrats, while Gov. Reeves’ record of historically low unemployment, historically high graduation rates, and substantial pay raises for Mississippi educators speaks for itself.”

About 38% of Mississippi residents are Black — the highest percentage of any state — and Black voters are vital for Democrats to have any chance of winning statewide.

Janie Houston, a retired kindergarten teacher who attended Presley’s event in Grenada, said some Black voters might not bother to show up in November because Republicans drew legislative districts specifically to protect wide majorities in the Legislature.

“That’s the point of doing all that gerrymandering,” Houston said.

Democrats, she added, are not putting enough support behind down-ballot candidates to offset that advantage.

“They need to come face-to-face with Black voters and any other voter,” she said. “That’s just the way it is. I just don’t think they’re putting enough money behind the candidates to get people to come out in the communities.”

The most influential Black politician in Mississippi, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, did not endorse Hood in the 2019 governor’s race because he said Hood never asked him to. But Thompson endorsed Presley at the outset of this year’s campaign, and the congressman said he will provide any support Presley requests in the coming months.

Thompson said Presley worked with him to help the tiny rural community of Schlater get safe drinking water after the pump for a water well broke, and that Presley has helped other needy areas get reliable electricity. After a tornado devastated the small town of Rolling Fork this spring, Thompson said, “one of the first calls I got was from Brandon Presley asking me what could he do?”

Thompson said Presley found generators in Louisiana to provide electricity for an armory in Rolling Fork that became a disaster relief spot.

“That’s the kind of person, the Brandon Presley that I know,” Thompson said in an interview. “It’s easy to support somebody who demonstrates that they care about people.”

The Reeves campaign event in Richland was in a large, air-conditioned warehouse for a construction equipment dealership. One of the spectators was Terry Felder, a retired offshore oil rig worker who said he voted for Reeves in 2019 and will again this year because he believes Republicans do a better job of controlling government spending.

Felder acknowledged Mississippi has problems but said he thinks the state is in “pretty good shape.”

“Every survey they have, if it’s a bad survey we’re at the top of the list. If it’s a good survey, we’re at the bottom,” Felder said. “But when you’re here, it doesn’t seem that way.”


Burnett reported from Chicago.

Biden administration values price controls over innovation | Opinion

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 05:00

The United States of America was founded on one guiding principle: freedom.

This freedom courses through so much of our society, providing a launching pad for creativity that has made our country the land of opportunity it is today.

In an effort to embolden new ideas and help them come to fruition in the United States, Congress enacted the Bayh-Dole Act. The landmark bipartisan legislation allows universities, small businesses and nonprofit institutions to own intellectual property created from federally funded research, allowing them to license these inventions for research and development and commercialize them.

Prior to Bayh-Dole, the federal government owned all inventions made with federal funding. But after the law passed, they turned ownership over to those that had the resources to bring inventions to market and transformed our innovation economy.

Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

During just a two-decade period, Bayh-Dole supported the creation of 5.9 million jobs and contributed $865 billion to U.S. gross domestic product. One of the most significant areas where Bayh-Dole made a difference has been health care, where upwards of 200 drugs and vaccines have been developed owing to the law.

In the health care system, Bayh-Dole creates a partnership between private and public sectors, ultimately turning basic government-funded biomedical research into tested and approved products. The investment encourages domestic growth and serves as the catalyst for new research opportunities, with royalties from products going back into universities to further advance education and discovery.

In adopting Bayh-Dole, Congress recognized the privilege of operating in a free market and the unlimited possibilities that can be unlocked when public and private entities work together to spark innovation.

But now, that freedom could be under attack.

When Congress originally passed Bayh-Dole, they included a “march-in rights” clause to be employed if a licensed invention is not being made available for public use. This clause was only built in to be used in very limited incidents, but the Biden administration has recently announced that they are reviewing the provision to determine how and when march-in rights are to be used. One of the ideas on the table? Using the clause as a price-control mechanism.

If the march-in clause is used beyond its original intention, the consequences for innovation in our nation, and right here in Florida, would be devastating. Our biopharmaceutical industry produces $64 billion in economic output and supports 36,000 jobs in the Sunshine State — all of which will be at risk if we change the use of Bayh-Dole now.

The bottom line? The over 40-year precedent must stand.

As President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I am all about freedom of the marketplace. I’m concerned that this new interpretation of Bayh-Dole’s march-in rights will limit that freedom and discourage the development of technologies and treatments that have the potential to save lives.

If we compromise the purpose and function of Bayh-Dole, we risk losing its benefits to people and patients around the globe. Employing Bayh-Dole to establish price controls could damage America’s innovation ecosystem and disrupt the flow of potential treatments that countless patients eagerly anticipate.

The prescription drug industry stands to be among the hardest hit by this shift. For years, our free and collaborative market has led to the development of lifesaving medications, with drug companies often investing upwards of billions of dollars for the costly clinical trials required to bring a new drug to market.

Government must get out of the way so we can see longer life expectancies and better life outcomes. It’s time we return to our roots when it comes to American innovation and allow the market to stand on a foundation of freedom.

Julio Fuentes is the president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

‘It’s not impossible’: Heat hold hope of Finals comeback vs. Nuggets, but history (1-35) says otherwise

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 07:57

DENVER – “It’s not impossible.”

That now is Jimmy Butler’s starting point, as the Miami Heat’s leading man put it after Friday night’s 108-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Kaseya Center put his team down 3-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

And it’s not, as teammate Kevin Love can attest.

Love’s 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers came back from such a deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors in that season’s NBA Finals.

“We know that anything can happen. Has been done before,” Love said. “I have been part of it before.”

The reality also is that 2016 also is the only time it has happened. Teams that lead the NBA Finals 3-1 have gone on to win the series 97.2% of the time, winning 35 of 36 such series. Overall, teams up 3-1 in any NBA playoff round have gone on to win the series 95.4% of the time (267-13).

“Same thing it’s always been, it’s one game at a time,” Butler said, with the series shifting to Ball Arena for Monday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 5. “Now we are in a must-win situation every single game, which we’re capable of.”

Already during this playoff ride from the No. 8 Eastern Conference seed, the Heat have strung together a pair of four-game winning streaks.

But those runs that included victories over the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics came before the Heat faced anything as unique as what the Nuggets have presented with immovable force Nikola Jokic and dual scoring/passing threat Jamal Murray.

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“We are going into Monday and do what we said we were going to do this entire time, and win,” Butler said of what otherwise would turn into a Nuggets coronation. “We have to. We have no other choice. Otherwise, we did all this for no reason.

“The guys know. We know. We’ve got something to do.”

To this stage, the only moment of true desperation for the Heat came in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, when they blew past the Celtics at TD Garden. Now it would require at least three such back-to-back wall moments of success for this ride from 44-38 regular season to provide the desired outcome.

“We’ve done some hard things all year long in this playoff run, as well, and now it’s like the hardest of the hard,” Butler said.

Love said his Cavaliers were able to bounce back from such a deficit against the Warriors by living in the moment, the micro moments.

“You really just have to take it one possession at a time,” he said. “Forget the game. It’s just one possession, one quarter, half to half. Just get it done by any means necessary and figure the rest out.”

Point guard Kyle Lowry said there can be no other way.

“When you get into these situations, you have to really be focused on every second, literally every second,” he said, with his Toronto Raptors winning the 2019 NBA title in six games from a 3-1 series lead.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said a season built on overcoming adversity has prepared his team for the ultimate such intersection.

“Our whole season hasn’t been easy,” center Bam Adebayo said. “We just seem like we just – we won’t quit. And I feel like that’s what he means. We just will not quit.”

Having somewhat been on the opposite side, when the Heat’s 3-0 lead against the Celtics became a 3-3 tie, Adebayo said there already is a blueprint.

“We’ve seen a team come back from 3-0 firsthand,” Adebayo said. “So we just have to believe, and one game at a time.

“Biggest thing is, first to four. That’s the biggest thing, first to four. We take it one game at a time and we figure this thing out.”

With the Heat’s three losses in the series including deficits of 24, 21 and 17 points, there is plenty to figure out during this two-day break.

“Definitely not going to hang our heads or quit,” guard Duncan Robinson said. “That’s not an option. It’s not going to happen. So we’ll band together and get on this flight [Saturday] and find a way to figure it out.

“They are a good team. They have got a good scheme, and it’s on us to continue to try to figure it out.”

Trump set to appear at Georgia, North Carolina GOP events | Live updates

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 07:53

MIAMI (AP) — Follow along for live updates on former President Donald Trump, who has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate. The indictment marks the first time in U.S. history that a former president faces criminal charges by the federal government he once oversaw. Trump faces the possibility of prison if convicted.


What to know:

— A timeline of events leading to Trump’s indictment in the classified documents case

— Indictment accuses Trump of scheming and lying to keep secret papers

— A look at the charges, the special counsel’s investigation and what’s next

— Trump faces a string of inquiries in various states and venues as he campaigns for a return to the White House

— Does the indictment stand to damage Trump’s standing with voters?



Although most of the GOP activists attending the Georgia Republican Party convention Saturday are voicing support for Trump, some are suggesting his indictment and record make him a bad choice for the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has called for Trump to drop out of the race, got a polite but reserved reception Saturday morning at a party breakfast where Hutchinson touted his bid for the Republican presidential nomination as a “consistent conservative.” Hutchinson didn’t mention Trump in his speech but told reporters that the Republican Party “should not lose its soul” in defending Trump, saying the evidence so far suggests he treated national secrets “like entertainment tools.”

Some convention delegates are also not sold on Trump.

“I don’t think he has what it takes to be president,” said Thomas Bush, a delegate from Franklin, a rural town southwest of Atlanta. “I think he has divided people too much.”

Bush said he’d support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee, but said he was considering Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

— Jeff Amy



Trump is set to campaign in Georgia and North Carolina on Saturday, making his first public appearances since his federal indictment on 37 counts of mishandling classified documents.

Friendly audiences are expected to welcome Trump at the two state party conventions.

“Trump is a fighter, and the kinds of people that attend these conventions love a fighter,” said Jack Kingston, a former Georgia congressman who supported Trump in 2016 and 2020.

A campaign official described Trump’s mood as “defiant” Friday after the indictment was unsealed. Trump has insisted publicly that he committed no wrongdoing and is likely to repeat that theme during Saturday’s appearances.

Trump remains the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. His rivals have handled news of his indictment cautiously, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who is also scheduled to address North Carolina Republicans on Saturday.



Congressional Republicans have prepared an aggressive campaign against the Justice Department for months, a key part of former Trump’s public defense against this week’s indictment on charges of mishandling classified documents.

The GOP counter-offensive against federal prosecutors and others who have investigated Trump avoids the substance of the charges facing the former president. Instead, they have tried to discredit law enforcement and President Joe Biden ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, for instance, has issued a series of letters to the Justice Department demanding documents related to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of Trump’s handling of classified records. Jordan has also aggressively sought to undercut Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who in April filed charges against Trump in a New York hush money investigation.

Democrats say Republicans are sowing conspiracy theories with potentially dangerous consequences.



The Democratic leaders of both congressional chambers are urging supporters and detractors of Trump alike to let the case against him peacefully run its course in court.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries, also from New York, released a statement saying Trump’s indictment must “play out through the legal process, without any outside political or ideological interference.”

“We encourage Mr. Trump’s supporters and critics alike to let this case proceed peacefully in court,” Schumer and Jeffries said.

That was a departure from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, who suggested that the nation’s core legal values were being undermined.

“This is going to disrupt this nation because it goes to the core of equal justice for all, which is not being seen today,” McCarthy said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “And we’re not going to stand for it.”



The U.S. Secret Service is preparing for Trump’s appearance at a federal court in Miami on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him on 37 felony counts related to his handling of classified documents.

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the agency “will not seek any special accommodations outside of what would be required to ensure the former Presidents continued safety” in connection with Trump’s appearance.

He added: “As with any site visited by a protectee, the Secret Service is in constant coordination with the necessary entities to ensure protective requirements are met. We have the utmost confidence in the professionalism and commitment to security shared by our law enforcement partners in Florida.”

Trump’s April 4 arraignment in his New York case, where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, attracted a crush of media and protesters, involved multiple street closures, extra security screenings and shut down non-Trump court business for an afternoon.



The indictment alleges Trump kept classified documents in the bathroom and shower at his Florida estate, as well as various other locations that included a ballroom, storeroom, office and bedroom.

Prosecutors noted that “tens of thousands of members and guests” visited the “active social club” of Mar-a-Lago between the end of Trump’s presidency in January 2021 through the August 2022 search. They argued that “nonetheless” Trump stored documents “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, and office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”

The indictment claims that, for a two-month period, some of Trump’s boxes were stored in one of Mar-a-Lago’s gilded ballrooms. A picture included in the indictment shows boxes stacked in rows on the ballroom’s stage.

The indictment also shows photographs of boxes that spilled over in the storage room, including a document marked SECRET/REL TO USA, FVEY” which means information releasable only to members of the intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the photo the classified document is redacted.



The indictment unsealed Friday also says that, unaware of any records being moved, Trump’s attorney on June 2, 2022, identified 38 documents with “classified” markings and placed them in a folder, which he sealed with clear duct tape handed to him by Trump valet Walt Nauta. The valet then took the attorney to see the former president.

“Did you find anything? Is it bad? … Is it good?” the lawyer said Trump asked.

The attorney told federal authorities that he discussed the folder of classified material with Trump and how the material should be handled. The attorney told authorities that as they discussed the attorney taking the materials with him, Trump gestured in a way that suggested he wanted the attorney to identify “anything really bad” and “you know, pluck it out.” The lawyer clarified that Trump did not articulate such instructions beyond making that “plucking motion.”

The attorney told authorities that he did not take anything out of the folder and that he instead immediately contacted the FBI and another Trump attorney. On June 3, according to the indictment, the second Trump attorney acted as the official custodian of records on Trump’s behalf and turned the material to the FBI.



The indictment alleges that Nauta acted “at Trump’s direction” to move move “approximately 64 boxes” of documents from the Mar-a-Lago storage room to the former president’s residence. Nauta’s actions occurred between May 23, 2022, and June 2, 2022, according to the indictment.

That total includes “approximately 30 boxes” Nauta allegedly moved on June 2, the same day Trump’s legal team was expected to examine the cache. Nauta’s actions that day came hours after he talked briefly via phone with Trump, prosecutors allege. Neither Trump nor Nauta, according to the indictment, disclosed to the former president’s attorneys that Nauta had moved any of the storage room contents.

According to prosecutors’ timeline, Trump met later that day with one of his attorneys and Nauta escorted the attorney to the storage room for his review of the documents.



The indictment unsealed Friday outlined two circumstances in which Trump allegedly showed the documents to others.

One occurred in a meeting with a writer at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he described federal officials’ “plan of attack” against him and purportedly acknowledging that he knew the information “is still a secret.”

In a later meeting with a representative from his political action committee, Trump displayed “a classified map related to a military operation,” acknowledging he “should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close,” prosecutors said.

In the next paragraph, prosecutors note how Trump, at a press conference while president in 2017, addressed media leaks and said that leaking classified information is “an illegal process” and that people involved “should be ashamed of themselves.”

Ira Winderman: Are the Heat about to be on a different clock with Tyler Herro?

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 06:06

This time it feels different with Tyler Herro and the Miami Heat.

This time it doesn’t feel like the made-up 2021 blather during his second offseason of supposed management souring on attitude and work ethic.

This time it doesn’t feel like last summer, of a name tossed around during his third offseason simply because of so many intriguing names being tossed about elsewhere (also known as the NBA’s 2022 Summer of Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell).

This time, through no fault of his own, the prospect of a Tyler Herro trade has tangible elements in play.

To wit:

– Coincidence or otherwise, the Heat’s best play this season has come with Herro sidelined by the broken right hand sustained in the first half of the Heat’s playoff opener.

– With the Heat’s playoff breakout, they have shown they can win, at the highest levels, without their 2019 first-round pick out of Kentucky. (Which is not to say the path might not have been eased by Herro’s presence, certainly with this lack of scoring against the Nuggets.)

– Unlike last summer (or the summer before) when Herro had only the nominal price tag of a rookie-scale contract attached, as of July 1 his contract will stand at $27 million for 2023-24 for trade purposes, making it easier to facilitate deals.

– And unlike this season, the poison pill restriction on his contract expires on June 30, again making it possible to put him in play in a dollar-for-dollar trade.

– Also, with Herro starting his four-year, $130 million extension next season, an acquiring team would control his contract for the next four years, in his prime, through his 27th birthday.

Beyond the tangible, there also is a playing style that does not necessarily mesh with the Heat’s undeniable leading men.

With Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, the Heat already attempt an ample diet of mid-range shots. With Herro also in that lineup, it could be argued the Heat take too many. At times during this past season, that stood as an element of consternation with coach Erik Spoelstra.

In fact, if Herro does return, an argument could be made that the best fit might again be off the bench for the winner of the NBA’s 2022 Sixth Man of the Year Award.

That wouldn’t necessarily mean a full-time reserve role, with Herro available to be called back up to the starting unit during those 20 or so regular-season games that 34-year-old Butler will skip, a total that practically stands as a given.

So why the trade conjecture now, during the NBA Finals?

Because Damian Lillard decided it was time for trade talk with his appearance on The Last Stand podcast hosted by ESPN personality Brian Custer.

That’s when, asked about a possible trade if his preference of the Portland Trail Blazers building a contending cast around him could not be accomplished, Lillard said, “Miami, obviously.”

A laugh followed.

“Miami is the obvious one,” he continued. “And Bam is my dog.”

Adebayo and Lillard grew close during Team USA’s run to the 2021 Olympic gold in Tokyo.

And for a team in win-now mode, as Butler ages, Lilliard turning 33 might not stand as much of a concern as elsewhere.

With Lillard to earn $45.6 million next season, Herro’s contract would stand as an ample starting point to create the matching dollars, something that wasn’t the case before Herro signed his extension.

Beyond that, the Heat are limited with assets, but could throw in their upcoming 2023 first-round pick (by selecting for the Trail Blazers and moving the player after July 1), 2022 first-round selection Nikola Jovic, a future first-round pick and, while not optimal, the value contract of Caleb Martin.

Could other teams offer more? Certainly. But Lillard, even in the void of a no-trade clause, as a Blazers franchise icon certainly could guide them in the direction of a preferred destination.

But even beyond Lillard, the simple truth of non-Herro playoff success could lead the Heat to explore alternatives.

Rare is the opportunity to explore two months of the highest level of basketball to see how you might fare in the absence of a player about to move to the top of your salary scale. The Heat are just about to complete those two months.

When it comes to his lineups and rotations, Spoelstra is wont to say that everything is on the table.

With Herro, the 2023 offseason has that sense, as well.

And this time it is not because of manufactured storylines.


MAKES SENSE: Among the talking points in the NBA executive suite during the NBA Finals has been the possible addition of an extra coach’s challenge after a successful challenge. Currently, that option is lost regardless of the ruling, although the timeout utilized is returned. “I think that would be good, yeah,” Spoelstra said. “I think it would be good. I don’t know what the unintended consequences are, but I always feel like if I burn one whenever, early in a game and you win it, it’s like, ‘Oh, geez, I would like to have another one.’ Spoelstra, though, said an unintended consequence would be players being even more vociferous in calling for challenges on marginal plays. “Then we’re dealing with,” Spoelstra said, “if that is the case, then all the players starting the first minute of the game [twirls finger in the air, the signal for a challenge]. I hate that, as well.” The compromise could be such adaptation only in the playoffs, when stakes are highest, rather than adding time to regular-season games.

BACK AT IT: Having had former Heat assistant David Fizdale at his side while coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, new Phoenix Suns coach Frank Vogel said hiring his former Heat coaching rival only made sense at this latest stop. “His championship pedigree as an assistant coach and the fact that he’s been a head coach in this league is always comforting to have someone like that on your staff that has been through all the decisions that going into managing this position,” Vogel said of Fizdale, who had been working as an executive on Dwyane Wade‘s staff with the Utah Jazz. Fizdale, 48, was an assistant under Vogel in 2021-22 when the Lakers went 33-49. He previously had been an Heat assistant under Spoelstra in a pair of Eastern Conference finals against Vogel’s Indiana Pacers during the Big Three era,

BACK AT IT, TOO: Yes, that has been former Heat forward Mike Miller making the rounds at the Finals at Kaseya Center. Miller is the agent for Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero, who has been doing work for NBA TV during the finals. Miller has a unique perspective on the series, as a two-time champion during the Heat’s Big Three era and as a Nuggets teammate of Nikola Jokic during Jokic’s rookie season. Of Jokic’s emergence, Miller told DNVR sports, “I’m not going to sound like I’m crazy and say that I thought he’d be a two-time MVP and be on this stage like this. But I did. I really did. That’s just how good he was and how good he is.”

VILLANOVA DREAM TEAM: As Banchero made his rounds at Kaseya Center, he stopped at Kyle Lowry‘s media session and asked the Heat point guard about his alma mater and all-time Villanova starting five. “Oh, man,” Lowry said. “That’s a tough question from the Rookie of the Year right now, know what I’m saying?” Lowry then included former Heat forward and broadcaster Ed Pinckney in his mix. “My all-time starting lineup of Villanova would be, got to go with Ed Pinckney for sure,” he said. “I’m going to go with Tim Thomas. I’m going to go with Randy Foye. I’m going to go with me. I’m going to go with Mikal Bridges.” Lowry added, “Then Jalen [Brunson], Josh [Hart], they’ll be my sixth and seventh man. I like that lineup. I’m happy with that.”


19. NBA Finals that Heat President Pat Riley has been a part of: three as a player, one as an assistant coach, nine as a head coach and six as an executive. Overall, that has Riley a part of 24.7% of all NBA Finals in league history. Of his appearances, Riley has nine championships: one as a player: one as assistant coach, five as head coach and two as executive.

On immigration, is DeSantis a good Christian? | Letters to the editor

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 06:00

Our governor professes to be a “good Christian.” I do not understand how one behaves in order to be considered a “good Christian,” so I consulted artificial intelligence (AI) and asked the ChatGPT app: What did Jesus say about immigrants?

ChatGPT responded: “In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus did not specifically address the topic of immigrants or provide direct teachings on immigration as it pertains to modern-day issues. However, Jesus did speak about themes such as compassion, love, and the treatment of others, which can be applied to various situations, including how we interact with immigrants.”

A fundamental teaching of Jesus is the Golden Rule, which is found in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” This emphasizes treating others with fairness, empathy and kindness, which can extend to how we treat immigrants.

Furthermore, Jesus spoke about the importance of showing hospitality and kindness to strangers. In Matthew 25:35, Jesus says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” This passage suggests the importance of welcoming and assisting those in need — which can include immigrants.

While Jesus did not directly address immigration, his teachings promote a compassionate, inclusive approach toward others, emphasizing love, kindness, and hospitality. These principles can guide believers in their attitudes and actions towards immigrants, encouraging empathy, support and understanding. So, I ask: Does our governor qualify as a Good Christian?

Randy Lifshotz, Fort Lauderdale

A grateful reader

Your renewal invoice popped up today. I am glad to pay it. With the dearth of newspapers in our country, I am grateful that Broward County still has a local newspaper.

It doesn’t matter whether I agree with the opinions expressed on the editorial pages. It doesn’t hurt me to read varying points of view. And while I value the totality of the national and international news coverage, I am most thankful for your coverage of local and state news. And kudos to the Sun Sentinel for its candidate profiles prior to elections. Those are helpful beyond measure in my quest to be an informed voter.

I don’t want to shortchange the Sun Sentinel sportswriters, either. Thanks, guys — you know who you are.

Linda Knopp, Weston

Burning books

Lawrence Miller’s recent letter to the editor made my day. Yes, “book burning leads to burning people.” Anyway, I don’t think parroting the Nazis is a good career move for any American. More than 4 million Nazis were killed, and many beautiful cities burned to the ground.

If they burn my books, such as books in libraries bought with my taxes, they will be arrested.

Jan Freed, Los Angeles

Listen to the music

I have a suggestion for Moms for Liberty. Instead of worrying about Judy or Johnny curling up with a banned book and being “indoctrinated,” why not turn your attention to the music industry and song lyrics?

In the 1960s and ’70s, we heard songs over and over and memorized every lyric by The Beatles, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Animals and others. There were hidden meanings, but they were clean by today’s standards. What are your kids listening to with hateful anti-American, homophobic, misogynistic lyrics?

To me, that’s a much greater danger than a book.

Jim Infantino, Delray Beach

What to know before taking your boat out on the water | Opinion

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 05:00

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently released data that showed 735 boating accidents were reported in the state of Florida in 2022. Following are the counties with the most reported accidents: Monroe County: 92; Miami-Dade County: 90; and Palm Beach County: 49. (Broward County came in 7th place with 27.)

Of those boating accidents, the majority are related to operator negligence. In fact, 77% of fatal accidents can be attributed to ignoring basic boating safety education. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and 86% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. (In fact, only 11.6% of adults and 65.8% of kids reportedly wear life jackets while boating.)

Michael Pike is managing partner at the Pike & Lustig law firm.

With summer coming, now is a great time to review boating safety rules and to make sure your maintenance is up to date. Follow these tips to ensure you’re boating safely:

• Wear a life jacket
• Take a boating course
• Schedule a vessel safety check
• Equip your boat with an emergency kit
• Make sure all boat guests are familiar with how to use safety equipment
• Do not drink and drive
• Be prepared for weather changes
• Know where you are at all times
• Know how to contact the coast guard in case of an emergency

Even if you continue to operate your vessel safely, there is always a chance that a less-experienced or less-careful boater may cause an accident due to their reckless behavior. It’s imperative that you know what to do if you find yourself in an accident. If you are injured in a boating accident, there are certain steps you must take to prove your claim and the value of damages you have suffered in order to maximize your potential compensation.

First of all, make sure that you, your passengers and your property are out of harm’s way and, as with any accident such as a car accident or a slip-and-fall accident, you should immediately seek medical treatment, no matter how minor you think the accident was. Second, do not leave the scene of the accident unless it is with a trained medical professional. Florida Statute 327.30(5) prohibits anyone operating a boat involved in an accident or injury from leaving the scene until they have:

• Given “all possible aid to persons involved” in the accident;
• Made a “reasonable effort to locate the owner or persons” affected in the accident; and
• Notified law enforcement personnel.

Minor boating accidents don’t require you to contact local law enforcement, but Florida law requires that you report a “serious” accident. An accident is considered “serious” when there is property damage totaling at least $2,000, serious injuries that require professional medical treatment beyond first aid, and of course, the death or disappearance of anyone on board all boats involved in the accident.

In the meantime, you should exchange information with all involved parties, including names and addresses, and the insurance information of the vessel’s owners. Finally, do not delay filing a claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations for negligence claims is now just two years, thanks to the new tort reform bill, House Bill 837, which was signed into law on March 24, 2023. An experienced attorney will help you understand your rights, help you gather evidence, calculate your damages and maximize your compensation.

Michael Pike, of Wellington, is managing partner at Pike & Lustig, a Florida law firm with an emphasis on personal injury and business litigation in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. He is also an avid boater and boat owner. 

‘I don’t forgive him:’ South Florida serial rapist and murderer faces execution after nearly 40 years

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 05:00

Duane Eugene Owen has just days left to live, according to a death warrant signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Owen is scheduled to be escorted into the execution chamber at Florida State Prison in Raiford, strapped onto a gurney and injected with a lethal chemical concoction. He will have eaten his last meal and said his last words.

The covering over the window between the death chamber and the witness room will be lifted, and some whose lives were forever changed by Owen’s brutal murders in Palm Beach County decades ago will be sitting there to watch him die.

Owen, now 62, murdered and raped Karen Slattery, a 14-year-old girl who was babysitting in Delray Beach, on March 24, 1984. Only a few months later, Owen murdered and raped Georgianna Worden, a 38-year-old mother of two, as her daughters slept soundly in their Boca Raton home. They weren’t his first victims.

He attacked multiple other women in Palm Beach County in the 1980s, detailing seven rapes, five attempted murders, burglaries and misdemeanors to one psychiatrist after his arrest, court records said. One survivor said she has been haunted by memories of the night Owen attacked her ever since.

An original officer on the case said he could never forget the crime scene at the Delray Beach home where ninth-grader Slattery was found. The many hours of conversation he had with Owen remain fresh in his mind. And Slattery’s younger sister, just 10 years old when the big sister she idolized was murdered, has made a career in law enforcement, believing it was a calling.

Owen was sentenced to death in both cases, though the death warrant is tied to Worden’s murder. The execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. It is the fourth execution scheduled in Florida this year and the sixth under DeSantis, according to the Associated Press.

‘Chaos and deprivation’

Owen, who grew up in Michigan, lived a troubled childhood and ended up living in a foster home for several years. His parents were alcoholics who neglected him, and his mother died when he was 11 years old. His father killed himself when he was 13, court records say.

He was sexually and physically abused at the children’s home, his attorneys said in a recent court filing, and began using drugs as a child. By 16 years old, Owen was in a juvenile offender program.

“Mr. Owen’s early life was one of chaos and deprivation,” his attorneys wrote.

Owen enlisted in the Army, “maintains a fetish for the military,” and at one point aspired to be a police officer, court records say. He later said if he couldn’t become someone who enforces the law, he would become the antithesis.

Owen’s crimes started out as prowling, stalking, voyeurism. He admitted to multiple burglaries and two indecent exposure incidents at Florida Atlantic University, court records say.

He relished the adrenaline of getting away with his crimes, court records say.

Hiding in closet

Virginia Sada was 28 years old in 1982 and the resident manager at the Peter Pan Motel when Owen attacked her. Owen broke into the motel through a window in the afternoon and hid in a closet for hours.

Newspaper reports from 1982 say the attack happened on Monday, Nov. 1, and offered few other details aside from the fact that Sada was beaten in the head by a suspect who broke in. At the time, she didn’t want to speak publicly about what happened.

“I couldn’t handle the publicity at that time,” Sada said.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Virginia Sada’s attack in this article published Nov. 3, 1982. (Screenshot of the South Florida Sun Sentinel/Newspapers.com)

Sada, now 68, suffered brain damage from Owen’s attack and can’t remember many of the details of what happened. But Sada still recalled some things clearly — like the feeling of being watched on Halloween afternoon when she headed for the motel’s laundry room.

“I remember having my hand on the door knob on the outside of the room. I remember standing there and holding that door knob for maybe 20 seconds, feeling like I was being watched from the inside out,” Sada said. “And after maybe 20-30 seconds of deliberation about that, I just shrugged my shoulders. And come to find out, he was in my bedroom closet.”

Sada fell asleep on the couch. Her young son slept nearby through the attack, unharmed —  a harbinger of Owen’s future attacks. The girls Slattery was babysitting and Worden’s children were home when they were murdered and were not harmed.

The next moments Sada can recall are of her waking up, feeling sick, soaked in sweat and vomiting blood. She didn’t yet realize she was severely hurt and had no recollection of the attack, she said. Owen had beaten her in the head with a pipe wrench.

Her husband came home and found her. Sada had finger-print shaped bruises on her neck. The phone cords had all been cut and shoved under Sada’s mattress, she said. Her husband took her to the hospital, where she underwent brain surgery. She was expected to be paralyzed, but “God is good,” she said.

“I can’t imagine the horror of that happening as it’s going on, so I’m grateful that I don’t have any memory of that night. I don’t want that memory,” Sada said. “I’ve relived it almost every day.”

Owen wouldn’t be caught until two years later.

He was ultimately charged with Slattery and Worden’s murders, attempted murder in Sada’s attack, attempted murder in another attack of a 17-year-old girl and on another charge stemming from the beating of a 26-year-old woman, newspaper reports from 1984 said.

“He was brutally murdering people and apparently he wasn’t as brutal with me as it got over time,” Sada said. “It might have gotten worse with each person.”

‘Striking’ similarities

Rick Lincoln, a retired Delray Beach Police officer who investigated Slattery’s murder, said Owen came to their attention after Worden’s murder. The two homicides had over a dozen similarities, and Boca Raton Police and Delray Beach detectives compared their cases.

“When we got down there and started going through things, it was kind of striking in terms of the things that were very, very similar — if not exact,” Lincoln said.

Slattery and Worden were both smaller, weighing 100 pounds. The suspect forced his way into the homes and cut screens. The victims were found naked and sexually assaulted while they were dead or nearly dead, Lincoln wrote in a July 1984 police report he shared with the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

At Worden’s home, she was killed with a hammer and officers found a knife. At the home in Delray Beach, Slattery was killed with a knife and officers found a hammer nearby, the report said. The list went on.

Debbi Johnson was 10 years old when Owen murdered her sister Slattery. Now 49 years old, Johnson shared what she can remember of her — that she was a skilled gymnast, diver and hair braider, that she was a cheerleader and that she loved children and aspired to become a teacher. A lab school at FAU bears her name, the Karen Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development.

Johnson said she was the “annoying little sister” who tried to follow in Slattery’s footsteps. Many of the personality traits Johnson remembers about her sister, she now sees in her daughter, she said.

“Whatever she did, I absolutely had to do,” said Johnson, who is now a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy.

Karen Slattery, left, was murdered when she was 14 years old. Debbi Johnson, right, was 10 years old when Duane Owen murdered her sister. (Courtesy/Debbi Johnson)

Slattery often babysat Carolyn and William Helm’s children, as she did the night Owen killed her, and was a “go-to” for families in the area, Johnson said.

Slattery was stabbed 18 times, court documents said. Owen dragged her to a bedroom in the home, where he assaulted her.

Then-Delray Beach Police Chief Charles Kilgore told the South Florida Sun Sentinel three days after Slattery was killed that it was “the most horrendous crime” the city had seen.

It was past Johnson’s bedtime when her sister was murdered. She woke up to a guttural, wailing cry. A neighbor her family was close with was in the living room and told Johnson to go back to bed. After getting up again later in the night, she saw her mother.

“She’s dead,” her mother told her. “Karen’s dead.”

A reward fund was set up to help catch the girl’s killer. The businessman who led the effort told reporters at the time he hoped it would “prevent it from happening again.”

Karen Slattery, left, and Debbi Johnson, right, are shown in a family photo. (Courtesy/Debbi Johnson)

Then Owen murdered Worden.

Worden, an executive secretary and mother of two, was reading a book in her bedroom when her 13-year-old and 9-year-old daughters went to bed. Her older daughter came into her room to say good night and left the door open. It was shut and locked the next morning, court records said.

In the morning, the older girl went into the kitchen to prepare lunch for school. The kitchen window had been broken, dirt covering the floor. Her mother wasn’t answering from behind the door. Like her mother had shown her, the girl used a Q-tip to unlock the bedroom door and found blood, court records said.

Owen bashed Worden in the head five times with a hammer, the doctor who performed her autopsy testified at Owen’s trial. She clung to life after the blows, surviving for at least three minutes or possibly as long as an hour after, according to a trial transcript.

The doctor testified that Worden would have experienced “the realization that she was going to die.” She was near death but still alive when Owen raped her, the transcript said.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on May 30, 1984, that Georgianna Worden was murdered by an intruder. (Screenshot of the South Florida Sun Sentinel/Newspapers.com) ‘Catch me if you can’

Boca Raton Police officers identified Owen as an early suspect. Retired officer Lincoln said Delray Beach Police questioned several people in Slattery’s murder, but Owen was an official suspect.

Boca officers were already looking for Owen before Worden’s murder. He was suspected of committing multiple burglaries in the city in the few days before, court records said. The burglary victims picked Owen out of photo lineups.

Owen was arrested on May 30, 1984, as he walked down a road in Boca Raton. When an officer stopped him, he gave the name Dana Brown — the name of someone he grew up with at the children’s home, court records said. But he matched the description they were looking for.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on June 22, 1984, that Duane Owen was charged in the killing of Georgianna Worden. (Screenshot of the South Florida Sun Sentinel/Newspapers.com)

So began what Owen felt was a game of cat-and-mouse with detectives. A game he thought he was winning, Lincoln said.

The Boca Raton News reported years later that a “famous” line from Owen’s confession was, “Catch me if you can.”

One psychologist who recently evaluated Owen and reviewed the recorded police interrogations said it seemed Owen was the one “running the show,” court records said. He wrote a poem that read: “Roses are red. You pigs are blue. When you start counting victims, there will be quite a few.”

Lincoln recalled Owen initiating conversations with detectives from the moment he was placed in the Palm Beach County jail. He told detectives to come to the jail to talk to him. Before he was charged with Slattery and Worden’s murders, detectives recorded more than 16 hours of conversation with Owen, Lincoln said. He was “selective” at first with what he shared, Lincoln said, and admitted to other crimes but not the murders.

After confessing committing a burglary to a Boca Raton officer, Owen said, “What am I really here for? Not petty burglaries.” And when the officer explained they believed he murdered a woman, he replied, “Well, finally I know the real reason,” court records said.

Owen eventually confessed to the attack at the Peter Pan Motel and to both murders, court records said.

Insanity claim denied

Owen has unsuccessfully challenged his fate in state and federal court over the years. As of Friday, his recent efforts to stay his execution have also failed.

His attorneys have sought to prevent his execution, writing in a 75-page motion that a jury never heard his “compelling mitigation,” denying him due process, that a neuropsychologist’s recent evaluation “determined he is not competent to proceed in postconviction proceedings” and is legally insane. The neuropsychologist called by the defense to evaluate Owen last month determined he met the criteria for schizophrenia.

DeSantis on May 22 temporarily stayed the execution date and appointed a commission of experts to evaluate Owen and determine whether he is sane. The three psychiatrists refuted the defense expert’s findings, writing in a report to the governor the next day that Owen is not mentally ill and is faking it to avoid the death penalty, according to a recent brief filed by the Attorney General’s Office.

The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion Friday finding Owen sane to be executed.

Sada hadn’t kept track of Owen’s case over the decades. She said she figured he would never walk out of prison and she didn’t much care what happened to him.

What would she say to Owen?

“I would want to know why? Why would you do this? How could you do that to people?” Sada said.

In many ways, Johnson’s childhood was taken from her. Fear persisted. Still, she will check a house she enters for window coverings. In college, she couldn’t live on a first-floor apartment, knowing Owen broke in through windows.

As a mom now of a young woman herself, Johnson has a newfound appreciation for her parents who tried diligently to give Johnson a “life as normal as possible,” she said.

“Now that I’m an adult, I have no idea how they did that. The strength that it must have taken for them to do that must have been huge. Huge,” she said.

Johnson said she’s relieved the end of decades of legal wrangling has nearly arrived.

“I don’t think there’s anything that I could say or he could say that would make a difference,” she said. “I don’t forgive him. At all.”

Angie DiMichele can be reached at adimichele@sunsentinel.com, 754-971-0194 and on Twitter @angdimi.

The US and Canada saw dangerous smoke this week. It’s a routine peril for many developing countries

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 04:10

By SUMAN NAISHADHAM (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thick, smoky air from Canadian wildfires made for days of misery in New York City and across the U.S. Northeast this week. But for much of the rest of the world, breathing dangerously polluted air is an inescapable fact of life — and death.

Almost the entire world breathes air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s air-quality limits at least occasionally. The danger grows worse when that bad air is more persistent than the nightmarish shroud that hit the U.S. — usually in developing or newly industrialized nations. That’s where most of the 4.2 million deaths blamed on outdoor air pollution occurred in 2019, the UN’s health agency reported.

“Air pollution has no boundaries, and it is high time everyone comes together to fight it,” said Bhavreen Kandhari, the co-founder of Warrior Moms in India, a network of mothers pushing for clean air and climate action in a nation with some of the world’s consistently worst air. “What we are seeing in the U.S. should shake us all.”

“This is a severe air pollution episode in the U.S.,” said Jeremy Sarnat, a professor of environmental health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. “But it’s fairly typical for what millions and millions of people experience in other parts of the world.”

Last year, nine of the 10 cities with the highest annual average of fine particulate matter were in Asia — including six in India, according to air quality company IQAir, which aggregates readings from ground level monitoring stations worldwide.

Fine particulate matter, sometimes denoted as PM 2.5, refers to airborne particles or droplets of 2.5 microns or less. That’s far smaller than a human hair, and the particles can reach deep into lungs to cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation and even affect heart function.

Sajjad Haider, a 31-year-old shopkeeper in Lahore, Pakistan, rides his motorbike to work daily. He wears a mask and goggles against frequent air pollution in the city of 11 million, but suffers from eye infections, breathing problems and chest congestion that get worse as smog grows in winter.

On his doctor’s advice, he relies on hot water and steam to clear his chest, but said he cannot follow another bit of the doctor’s advice: Don’t go out on his motorbike if he wants to keep his health.

“I can’t afford a car and I can’t continue my business without a motorbike,” said Haider.

Last year, Lahore had the world’s highest average concentration of fine particulate matter at nearly 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. By comparison, New York City’s concentration hit 303 at one point on Wednesday.

But New York’s air typically falls well within healthy levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for exposure is no more than 35 micrograms per day, and no more than 12 micrograms a day for longer-term exposure. New York’s annual average was 10 or below the past two years.

New Delhi, a heaving city of more than 20 million where Kandhari lives, usually tops the list of the many Indian cities gasping for breath as haze turns the capital’s sky gray and obscures buildings and monuments. It’s worse in autumn, when the burning of crop residues in neighboring states coincides with cooler temperatures that trap deadly smoke over the city, sometimes for weeks.

Vehicle emissions and fireworks set off during the Hindu Diwali festival add to the murk, and the results include coughs, headaches, flight delays and highway pileups. The government sometimes asks residents to work from home or carpool, some schools go online and families that can afford them turn to air purifiers.

On Thursday, even as a hazardous haze disrupted life for millions across the U.S., New Delhi still ranked as the second-most polluted city in the world, according to daily data from most air quality monitoring organizations.

Kandhari, whose daughter had to give up outdoor sports over health scares related to the bad air, said the air pollution is constant but policymakers only seem to notice its most acute moments. That has to change, she said.

“We should not compromise when it comes to access to cleaner air,” Kandhari said.

Many African countries in the Sahara Desert regularly grapple with bad air due to sandstorms. On Thursday, AccuWeather gave nations ranging from Egypt to Senegal a rating of purple, for dangerous air quality. It was the same rating given this week to New York and Washington, D.C.

Senegal has suffered unsafe air for years. It’s especially bad in Senegal’s east as desertification — the encroachment of the Sahara onto drylands — carries particles into the region, said Dr. Aliou Ba, a senior Greenpeace Africa campaigner based in the capital of Dakar.

The Great Green Wall, a massive tree-planting effort aimed at slowing desertification, has been underway for years. But Ba said pollution has been growing worse as the number of cars on the road, burning low-quality fuel, increases.

In the U.S., the 1970 passage of the Clean Air Act cleared up many smog-filled cities by setting limits on most sources of air pollution. The landmark regulation led to curbs on soot, smog, mercury and other toxic chemicals.

But many developing and newly industrialized nations have weak or little-enforced environmental laws. They suffer increased air pollution for other reasons, too, including a reliance on coal, lower vehicle emissions standards and the burning of solid fuels for cooking and heating.

In Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, it’s often difficult to find clear blue sky, with power plants and vehicle emissions accounting for much of the pollution. It’s also one of the world’s largest coal-producing nations.

In one apartment building in the north of the city, between two busy ports where coal is shipped and stockpiled and where factories burn more, residents tried filtering coal dust with a net. It didn’t work.

“My family and I often feel itching and coughing,” Cecep Supriyadi, a 48-year-old resident, said. “So, when there is a lot of dust entering the flat, yes, we must be isolated at home. Because when we are outside the house, it feels like a sore throat, sore eyes, and itchy skin.”

An Indonesian court in 2021 ruled that leaders had neglected citizens’ rights to clean air and ordered them to improve it.

China has improved since Beijing was notorious for eye-watering pollution that wreathed office towers in haze, diverted flights and sent the old and young to hospitals to be put on respirators. When the air was at its worst, schools that could afford it installed inflatable covers over sports fields with airlock-style revolving doors and home air filters became as ubiquitous as rice cookers.

Key to the improvement was closing or moving heavy industries out of Beijing and nearby areas. Older vehicles were taken off the road, many replaced with electric vehicles. China still is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, but almost none is consumed at street level. The average PM 2.5 reading in Beijing in 2013 of 89.5 — well above the WHO’s standard of 10 — fell to 58 in 2017 and now sits at around 30. China had just one city — Hotan — in the world’s top 10 for worst air.

Mexico City, ringed by mountains that trap bad air, was one of the most polluted cities in the world until the 1990s, when the government began limiting the number of cars on the streets. Pollution levels dropped, but the city’s 9 million people — 22 million including suburbs — rarely see a day when air pollution levels are considered “acceptable.”

Each year, air pollution is responsible for nearly 9,000 deaths in Mexico City, according to the National Institute of Public Health. It’s usually worse in the dry winter and early spring months, when farmers burn their fields to prepare for planting.

Authorities haven’t released a full-year air quality report since 2020, but that year — not considered particularly bad for pollution, because the pandemic reduced traffic— Mexico City saw unacceptable air quality on 262 days, or 72% of the year.

In the summer months, intense rains clean the city’s air somewhat. That’s what brought Verónica Tobar and her two children out Thursday to a small playground in the Acueducto neighborhood near one of the city’s most congested avenues.

“We don’t come when we see that the pollution is very strong,” Tobar said. Those days “you feel it in your eyes, you cry, they’re itchy,” she said.

Her son was diagnosed with asthma last year and changes in temperature make it worse.

“But we have to get out, we can’t be locked up,” Tobar said as her children jumped off a slide.


Naishadham reported from Washington. Associated Press researcher Yu Bing in Beijing and journalists Babar Dogar in Lahore, Pakistan; Mark Stevenson and Teresa de Miguel in Mexico City; Sheikh Saaliq in New Delhi; Sam Mednick in Dakar, Senegal; Edna Tarigan and Victoria Milko in Jakarta, Indonesia; and data journalist Camille Fassett in Seattle contributed to this report.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Pythons are killing off predators in Everglades, leaving rats to thrive

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 04:00

If you don’t like rats, you might have more in common with invasive Burmese pythons than you think. A new study by the University of Florida shows that pythons in the Everglades are killing off predatory mammals such as foxes and bobcats and otters, but not depleting ample cotton rat populations.

Pythons, brought to Florida via the exotic pet trade in the 1970s, have thrived in the wild, establishing breeding populations, growing to as large at 18 feet, and wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem. They’re also expanding up to Lake Okeechobee.

You’d think that adding a lethal predator like the python to the mix would bring down rat populations, but it hasn’t. In some instances, rat populations have actually increased.

“Mammal communities in python-invaded portions of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem are increasingly dominated by cotton rats and other rodents,” the study stated.

University of Florida mammalogist Robert McCleery, one of the researchers on the study, explained that cotton rats “are always a large part of any grassland system in the southeast, but in the Everglades, cotton rats and other small mammals … are now practically the entire mammal community.”

This can harm both ecosystems and people. The study states that “cotton rats are reservoirs for zoonotic viruses such as the Everglades Virus (EVEV) and hantaviruses.” Huntaviruses can lead to a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease, and is typically passed from rodent to human, not human to human, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. With less mammal diversity in South Florida, cotton rats can “amplify the presence of these diseases,” the study says.

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Researchers from the University of Florida set out into the grassy swamplands of South Florida to find out how the invasive serpents were making room for rats. To do so they released radio-collared cotton rats into two wilderness Everglades areas — one, near Homestead, with lots of pythons and one at the Fran Reich Preserve west of Boca Raton, with almost none.

When they compared what killed the rats, the results were stark.

They then tracked the rats until they died — each collar had a mortality detector that signaled when the animals stopped moving for a long period of time. Then they located the collars to decipher the rats’ fate.

A researcher prepares to release a cotton rat wearing a radio-tracking collar into the Everglades. Biologists tracked the native rats to determine what was eating them. They found that in areas where pythons were present, larger mammals such as foxes and bobcats were essentially missing from the food chain, and not significantly preying on rats.

“Sometimes the snakes regurgitate [the collar], sometimes it’s in the poop, other times we actually find the snake,” said McCleery. “We caught, over two years, eight or nine pythons just with cotton rats [wearing trackers].”

Usually the researchers had to do a bit of poop forensics. If they found the collar in snake poop, they used DNA testing to determine it was from a python.

“An owl or red shouldered hawk or something like that — they kind of rip off the fur. So you’ll see the fur strewn about, and then you see some pecks on the collar, you see a feather or two and some whitewash [bird poop].”

McCleery said mammals will eat the whole rat and there will be bite marks on the collar once the bobcat or fox poops it out.

Researchers track cotton rats in the Everglades to determine what ate them. The study found that the presence of invasive Burmese pythons can diminish larger mammals such as foxes, and allow cotton rats to dominate an ecosystem.

On one occasion, things got weird. “We knew the tracker was in a snake,” said McCleery, “but we couldn’t catch the snake — it wasn’t a python, and then the snake was eaten by an alligator and we saw it swimming down the canal.”

Predatory mammals have gone missing

McCleery and his team found that when pythons show up, foxes, bobcats and coyotes lose. In the area with low python populations, mammal carnivores accounted for 35.7% of the rat deaths, but in the area with a high python population, mammals accounted for only 10.8% of the rat deaths.

Pythons killed none of the rats in the low-python area, and 16.2% in the high-python area.

Birds, such as hawks and owls, killed the rats at about the same rate as mammals in the low python area (35.7%), but picked up the rat slack in the high python area, killing almost half the rats.

Alligators and native snakes didn’t seem as affected by the pythons, and ate around 25% of the rat kills in each spot.

The takeaway, says the study, is that the rats survive at about the same rate regardless of pythons, but that pythons change who’s around to kill them. “We found that cotton rats had little risk of predation from mammalian carnivores on our site with high python occurrence,” said the study. In other words, there just aren’t many mammals left to eat the rats, but hawks and owls pick up a bit of the slack.

Though not part of the study analysis, some experts say that the pythons prefer larger mammals as prey because they offer more calories. Sure they’ll eat 10 rats if they have to, but would prefer to eat one big meal, like a fox, bobcat, possum or baby deer.

Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, which tracks pythons, said that hatchlings eat mice and rats, but quickly move up the food chain. They found a 10-pound python with a 6-pound white tailed deer fawn in its stomach, and routinely find adult deer remains inside pythons of 100 pounds or more. White tailed deer, they said, are the primary prey base for the endangered Florida panther.

Previously, researchers had wondered what caused fox, bobcat and coyote populations to plummet in the Everglades — was it because pythons ate their food, or ate them? This study and others indicated that cotton rats’ high birth rate means there’s plenty of food for foxes and bobcats, so the cause of their demise is likely pythons.


McCleery said there are two significant consequences to pythons promoting rat dominance.

One is that because cotton rats are always present, there’s always going to be something for the pythons to eat — they won’t eat themselves out of a prey base. The second thing, he said, is that globally we are replacing larger animals with smaller ones. “There’s all these things that [larger] mammals do — they do seed dispersal and nutrient cycling and soil aeration, all these things, and now all we have are these cotton rats. They don’t do all the functions that we need, that are lost.”

The one positive, McCleery said, is that the rats have proven to be so resilient to the invasive pythons that if we can ever recover mammals such as foxes, bobcats and mink, they’ll have plenty of food.

The United States v. Donald J. Trump | Editorial

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 04:00

America’s security secrets were stacked next to a toilet at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion.

Trump's contempt for United States national security, captured in a single photograph: pic.twitter.com/j9GY2ttwFC

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) June 9, 2023

A Department of Justice photograph shows more than two dozen white bankers’ boxes, perched one on top of another, in a bathroom at The Mar-a-Lago Club, with a shower curtain and vanity in the background. According to the 49-page indictment, the illegally stored records included a Pentagon “plan of attack” and a classified map related to a military operation.

The picture is damning in its sloppiness and the casualness with which Trump treated sensitive national security information. It was released on Friday as the government unsealed a federal indictment that accuses Trump of 37 separate criminal charges related to mishandling hundreds of classified documents. Trump will formally answer to the charges Tuesday afternoon at a federal courthouse in Miami — the first time in U.S. history that a former president is facing federal crimes. One charge, corruptly concealing a document or record, carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years; Trump is 76 years old.

It’s historic. It’s unprecedented. And naturally, it did not immediately destroy Trump’s presidential ambitions. On the contrary, the norm-shattering Trump will exploit a grave indictment for his political advantage and use it to galvanize his MAGA political base and raise money. Who would publicly announce his own indictment, as Trump did, unless he saw a political upside?

In any other decade …

“In any other decade, this would be more than enough to kill a presidential contender in the crib,” Republican pollster Neil Newhouse told the Associated Press. “That’s no longer the case, particularly for Donald Trump … This comes as a surprise to very few Republicans.”

In the greatest country on earth, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination stands accused by the government he once led of violating the federal Espionage Act. That’s breathtaking enough all by itself.

But it gets worse. This is Trump’s second indictment in three months, following the 34-count filing in New York relating to secret hush money payments to two women who said they had trysts with Trump. At least two other criminal investigations of Trump are still pending.

It is a sad and weighty moment when a former president is charged with crimes against our country. That it could have happened to Richard Nixon 49 years ago, and in many people’s opinions should have, no longer matters. It should be a point of pride that we have a Justice Department that is willing and able to uphold the principle that no one is above the law.

Like anyone else in America, Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until the special counsel proves the charges against him beyond a reasonable doubt. These are unproven allegations at this point. Everyone else should hold their temper and their tongues and let the law play out.

But if no one is above the law, not everyone respects that.

‘A very dark day’

The reactions of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (“a very dark day in America … we’re not going to stand for it”) and other Republicans are beneath contempt.

Once again, Republicans posture as if Trump, and by implication any other Republican president, should be exempt from the law. That is a hideously irresponsible message to send to the American people. In addition, the threats by Congressional Republicans to attack the Biden administration for allowing the law to work must be taken seriously.

The principle that no one is above the law is embedded in the Constitution in Article I, Section 3: “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to law.”

Federal prosecutors want to try Trump as soon as possible, to avoid any possibility of interference with the 2024 presidential election. It already seems too late for that.

In the latest sign of how Trump retains a cult-like grip on the Republican base, most of his rivals for the nomination rushed to his defense Friday, led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who tweeted: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.”

Of all our statewide elected officials, though, none was as pathetic and obsequious as Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who tweeted, “He’s a former President for God sakes … beloved by tens of millions of Americans,” as though Trump’s popularity among his and Patronis’ base voters should guarantee legal immunity.

As Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith said in a brief and highly unusual public appearance Friday: “We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”

Especially to Donald J. Trump.

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

Brightline service from South Florida to Orlando could be cut in half under Coast Guard plan for St. Lucie River drawbridge

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 04:00

A proposed U.S. Coast Guard test program to require a railroad drawbridge over the St. Lucie River to stay open for longer periods of time may force Brightline, the higher speed train service, to cut its planned service to Orlando by half, railroad officials say.

The span is a critical segment that Brightline must use as part of its highly anticipated expansion to Orlando from West Palm Beach. The new passenger service is expected to start late this summer with 16 trains a day in each direction.

The bridge is also currently used by more than a dozen Florida East Coast Railway freight trains a day. The FEC owns and operates the bridge, which is part of a 351-mile coastal rail corridor between Jacksonville and Miami. Its freight trains move products ranging from automobiles, perishables and packaged foods, to building and industrial materials, ethanol, bio-fuels and liquid natural gas. Rail officials fear the proposed test will cause significant delays to and from  Port Everglades, the Port of Palm Beach and PortMiami.

The rule would require freight trains that are more than 2.5 miles long and all Brightline trains to stop when the bridge is open for marine use. The impact, according to Brightline and the FEC, would be to bring trains to a stop while they wait for the bridge to lower — blocking busy crossings along the rail corridor, including downtown Stuart.

Under current operating rules, the bridge is open until a train comes, allowing boats to pass through. Within 8 minutes of a train approaching, a red light flashes and the bridge goes down, then goes back up after the train passes.

During the test period envisioned by the Coast Guard, which would run from June 21 through December 17, the bridge “would open on signal at the quarter and three-quarter hour and remain open until all vessels requiring or requesting an opening have cleared, except any open period shall not exceed 15 minutes,” according to a notice the Coast Guard filed Thursday in the Federal Register.

“If a train is in the track circuit at the designated opening time, the opening may be delayed up to but not exceed five minutes,” the filing adds. “Once the train has cleared the track circuit, the bridge must open immediately, if requested, and remain open until all vessels requiring an opening have cleared.”

In a joint statement to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Brightline and the FEC called the proposed test period “deeply flawed and will result in dramatic impacts to local traffic, create safety issues for the public, and is impossible for freight and passenger railroad operations to comply.”

The companies also asserted that the plan  “was done unilaterally and without authority or regard for due process.”

“We will continue to pursue reasonable and equitable resolutions to the issue of bridge operations and simultaneously continue to encourage progress toward the ultimate solution which is the development of a new bridge and a Treasure Coast Brightline station,” they added.

Transparency pledge

On Friday, a Coast Guard spokesman based in Miami Beach said the military service is trying to account for the needs of everyone who has economic and other interests along and around the river.

“This has been an ongoing process,” said Lt. Commander John Beal. “For at least the past year it has been in the works.”

He added that the last opportunity for public comments was in July of last year. The clock started on a comment period this past Thursday.

“We will remain transparent and consider multiple interests while ensuring safe navigation and reasonable access for mariners,” the Coast Guard said in a separate statement.

The bridge issue has the attention of members of Congress.

Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican whose district covers the affected rail segment, has been an active advocate for local maritime interests, criticizing a repair plan that would close the bridge to boating traffic. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

But in a statement Friday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said she and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are seeking to ensure that all business and residential interests are served by changes involving the bridge.

“Congressman Diaz-Balart and I are working very closely with Coast Guard and industry leaders to reach our mutual goal of protecting the safe, swift movement of traffic, cargo, and passengers throughout South Florida,” she said. “Adjusting this proposed, temporary Port St. Lucie River bridge alteration is important to ensure that it does not significantly impact commuters, supply chains or travel throughout our state, is in the best interest of all residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Local residents in May registered their opposition to Brightline’s plans in federal court. Thirteen businesses sued the FEC, Army Corp of Engineers and Coast Guard to stop Brightline’s proposed schedule, which would require the bridge to be closed to marine traffic for unacceptably long periods of time.

Perennial tensions

Over the years, tensions between the railroads spanning South Florida’s inland waterways and boaters and other marine interests that use them have been a prominent feature of the region’s transportation network.

In downtown Fort Lauderdale, the FEC corridor crosses the New River via a similar drawbridge that is just four feet above the water when the span is in the down position to let the trains pass by. In January, a mechanical failure prompted the FEC to keep the span down for two days, preventing boats from passing west of the rail line where a significant number of yacht maintenance centers are located.

The bridge is a short distance south of Brightline’s downtown Fort Lauderdale station, and slightly north of the point where the FEC uses a rail spur to deliver and pick up freight at Port Everglades.north of Fort Lauderdale.”]

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