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DeSantis set to join race for president on Twitter tonight

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:45

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his campaign for the presidency at 6 p.m. tonight on Twitter.

The event, which will include a conversation with billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk, will be held on Twitter Spaces, an audio platform on the social media site.

Twitter Spaces can be accessed by going to Twitter.com or the Twitter app and clicking on the Spaces event highlighted on the site. The event will not be available to access before it begins.

DeSantis’ path to next year’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee looks a lot tougher than in the days after his big reelection victory in November. He faces huge polling deficits to former President Donald Trump, who has been attacking him repeatedly for months.

Trump had been leading DeSantis in polls before his arrest on multiple charges relating to an alleged payoff to his mistress, porn star Stormy Daniels. His lead has dramatically increased ever since, despite a further legal setback when a jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation of E. Jean Carroll.

Trump leads DeSantis by nearly 33 points in the latest FiveThirtyEight polling average, a jump of more than 13 points from his lead on March 30, the day he was indicted.

In Florida, where Trump also resides, DeSantis hasn’t led Trump in any poll in the state since March 30 either. Trump had a 28-point lead in the state in a Florida Atlantic University and Mainstreet Research poll from April, and an 8-point lead in a National Research and American Greatness poll from early May.

An independent political committee backing DeSantis’ run, Never Back Down, has largely taken on the role of responding to Trump’s attacks, including an ad declaring, “Trump should fight Democrats, not lie about Gov. DeSantis. … What happened to Donald Trump?”

The group is preparing a $100 million push in the key primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Iowa, the New York Times reported, including 2,600 field organizers by Labor Day.

The governor would be the seventh major GOP candidate in the race, alongside Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder. Four other minor candidates have also filed.

This is a developing story. Check back after the Twitter event begins.

 

Want to carry water while you run or hike? Get a hydration vest

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:37
Which hydration vest is best?

Water is essential. When you are engaged in an activity such as running or hiking, where space is at a premium and there is no available source of fresh water to hydrate your body, you need to bring your own supply. That is the main purpose of a hydration vest.

The best hydration vests are rugged, fit snug and let you bring an ample supply of water. The Nathan Pinnacle 12L Hydration Vest is the top vest, featuring a sleek design with an insulated bladder that lets you bring 1.6 liters of water with you on your adventures.

What to know before you buy a hydration vest How a hydration vest works

A hydration vest is a lightweight vest that you put on when you will be engaged in a physical activity — for instance, walking, running, kayaking or biking — for an extended period. The vest has several pockets that can hold bottles of water, a water bladder, food and your essentials (phone, wallet, keys, etc.). While you place the water bottles and fuel in front pockets for easy access, you carry the water bladder on your back. The water bladder has a convenient drinking tube that lets you take a quick sip whenever you get thirsty.

Benefits of a hydration vest

With a hydration vest, you do not need to interrupt your activity to unpack and open a bottle of water. If the tube is right by your mouth, you will drink more often, which will help you stay properly hydrated. A hydration vest also makes it easier to carry more water, and it lets you keep your hands free so you can better navigate difficult terrain.

What to look for in a quality hydration vest Capacity

In general, you need to drink half a liter to a full liter of water for each hour you are engaged in a physical activity. When shopping for a hydration vest, look for one that can carry enough water to keep you sufficiently hydrated.

Lightweight, durable and comfortable

A hydration vest needs to be lightweight, durable and comfortable. The best are made with a moisture-wicking, breathable fabric that will hold up under rugged use.

Insulated bladder

If you prefer cold water, look for a hydration vest with an insulated bladder. Understand, however, that even the best ones won’t keep your water cold when you are in the sun for several hours.

Reflective markings

For safety, it is always wise to get a vest with reflective markings, so you are easier to see in low light. Choosing a vibrant color that stands out from the environment during the day is also smart, because it makes you easier to locate.

Additional storage space

Besides water, you may need to carry food, a smartphone, keys, identification and more. If this is the case, search for a hydration vest with extra storage.

Extras

Some hydration vests have areas that hold trekking poles, and others have a built-in emergency whistle. Sometimes, these minor aspects clearly make one vest better than all others.

How much you can expect to spend on a hydration vest

A budget hydration vest can cost as low as $25. You must be careful when purchasing these, because they might not have a durable build. On the high end, it is possible to spend up to $200 on a name-brand vest.

Hydration vest FAQ How should a hydration vest fit?

A. A hydration vest needs to fit snugly. You do not want it sliding or bouncing around as you move because that will lead to chafing. It should provide a good fit when you tighten the adjustable straps about halfway — this gives you room to make adjustments either way as needed. Be careful about getting a vest that is too tight, however, as it might hinder the deep breathing required during physical exertion.

Do hydration vests come with a bladder?

A. Some do. Read the description to learn if the vest you are considering comes with a bladder. While it is not hard to find and buy a hydration bladder, some can cost as much as a low-end hydration vest.

What’s the best hydration vest to buy? Top hydration vest

Nathan Pinnacle 12L Hydration Vest

Our take: This high-end hydration vest has a sleek design and a 1.6-liter bladder.

What we like: Its insulated bladder helps keep water cold for longer. It has eight pockets, so you can also carry food and other essentials. The reflective details enhance visibility in low light. The moisture-wicking fabric wears like a shirt.

What we dislike: It’s a bit expensive.

Where to buy: Available at Backcountry

Top hydration vest for the money

CamelBak Circuit Run Vest

Our take: If you are looking for a compact, affordable vest that still provides a high degree of quality, this is a solid choice.

What we like: It’s made of micro-mesh fabric that encourages multidirectional airflow for maximum comfort. There is a zippered pocket for securing a small item, such as a phone, and drawstring pockets give you quick access to your food. You can adjust the sternum straps up or down for a customized fit.

What we dislike: It doesn’t offer much space to pack anything besides the bladder and a few smaller essentials. While this may be a negative for some, it is a benefit for others.

Where to buy: Available at Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Ultimate Direction Adventure 5.0 Hydration Vest

Our take: This lightweight vest offers an impressive 17 liters of overall storage.

What we like: The versatile design of this hydration vest has 13 pockets for storage along with loops to stash your trekking poles. It has an integrated rain fly that keeps your gear dry and a bottle with an angled cap for easier drinking. The front zippered pockets are roomy enough to secure a large cell phone.

What we dislike: Because of its ample storage, this vest is better for hiking than running.

Where to buy: Available at Amazon and Backcountry

 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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

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© 2023 BestReviews. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Get rid of dead grass with these great lawn scarifiers

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:37
Which lawn scarifier is best?

Throughout the winter, dead grass builds up, creating a thick layer of thatch. In the spring, when the time comes to beautify your lawn in preparation for summer barbecues and time outside, turn to a scarifier to remove the thatch. Scarifying your lawn — or removing that layer of dead grass that collects during the winter months — is an important part of maintaining your lawn. If the thatch is left in place, it will block water and nutrients from reaching the roots of your turf.

For an easy-to-use scarifier that won’t cost you a house payment, consider the Sun Joe 12-Amp Scarifier and Lawn Dethatcher. With five options for depth and the tight construction of this machine, it’s perfect for maneuvering around your lawn as you prep it for the summer.

What to know before you buy a lawn scarifier

Thatch can also reduce the airflow around your grass, quickly leading to moss growth. When moss takes hold, it will continue to grow, and it tends to be a problem that is not so easily remediated.

Depth

Knowing how deep to scarify is crucial in creating a beautiful, healthy lawn. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends you keep your thatch layer less than ⅜-inch deep. If you scarify too deeply, it can damage your lawn in a way that takes a whole year to repair. The goal with scarification is to break up the thatch and aerate your lawn just enough to encourage new, healthy growth.

Manual vs. electric

There are two types of lawn scarifier you’ll choose from manual and electric. A manual scarifier could be something as simple as a lawn rake, although that requires some backbreaking work. Other manual models are push scarifiers. These are useful for small yards and don’t require much maintenance.

An electric scarifier is your best option, especially if you have a larger yard or want to avoid too much labor. These come in corded and cordless models. They require more maintenance, including winterization, like any yardwork machine.

Durability

Generally speaking, plastic-based machines tend to be less durable than their metal counterparts. If possible, invest in a metal machine with great reviews about its durability. Otherwise, you’ll be replacing parts every year.

Working depth

Because you don’t want to scarify too deeply, it’s important you pay attention to the working depth of a scarifier before buying it. Double-check whether it has an adjustable working depth. This will allow you to customize your scarification every year based on the thickness of your thatch.

Teeth

The secret to a great scarifier is in the teeth, both the number of teeth and type of teeth. For the best scarification, you want the greatest number of teeth. While more teeth will leave your lawn looking more eaten up, it means thorough scarification, leading to more rapid growth.

What to look for in a quality lawn scarifier Adjustable depth

Any quality scarifier has an adjustable working depth. The more options, the better. Your thatch will vary in thickness year after year. If you can adjust how deeply your scarifier works, you can avoid ripping your lawn up more than necessary and damaging the delicate roots of your grass layer.

Collection bag

Many scarifiers have a built-in collection bag or compartment. This may seem like a little feature, but it makes a huge difference once you’ve scarified your whole lawn and have to pick up the debris. With a collection compartment, you can have that debris neatly stowed away until you’re ready to empty it.

Aerator

One of the reasons for scarifying your lawn is to increase the airflow to the roots of your grass. As the roots get more air, you can avoid areas rotting, and it will increase growth. The best scarifiers also have aerators, which allow you to use one machine for two lawn chores and provide the best opportunity to boost the airflow around your grass’s roots.

Easy storage

If you have a lawn, you know how quickly your lawn maintenance tools and machines can fill your garage or shed. Adding a scarifier to your collection will take up space. If you get a quality scarifier, you’ll likely enjoy better storage options. Many have telescoping handles or parts that fold up to allow you to store your scarifier in tighter places.

Steel teeth

To make sure you don’t have to replace your scarifier’s teeth every year, look for one with quality stainless-steel teeth. These are, in themselves, more durable and efficient, but they also indicate a more quality, longer-lasting machine that’s made with the best materials.

Airflow inlets

An often-overlooked feature is a set of airflow inlets. These will prevent your machine from getting clogged before the job is done by using air movement to lift and move the debris off the grass. Newer and better-made machines have airflow inlets.

How much you can expect to spend on a lawn scarifier

To purchase a scarifier, budget $100-$500. The price will depend on the model you choose, whether you go with a manual or electric scarifier and the features it has. The size and power of the machine also impact the price.

Lawn scarifier FAQ Is a lawn scarifier worth it?

A. If you want a beautiful, green blanket of grass year after year, a lawn scarifier is definitely worth the expense. It will more easily keep your lawn from being overrun with moss, along with aerating your lawn, better hydrating it and more efficiently fertilizing it. All around, a lawn scarifier leads to stronger, faster, healthier growth, especially if it becomes a yearly habit.

When should you not scarify your lawn?

A. There are a few times you should skip the scarification. If you’ve just laid down grass seed or new sod or turf, wait a year before scarifying to allow the grass to establish itself. If it’s been a rainy spring, avoid scarifying when your lawn is already wet. If you choose to wait until fall to scarify, make sure you scarify before the first freeze. If the first freeze has already happened, plan on skipping the scarification process that year.

What does a lawn look like after scarifying?

A. There’s no denying your lawn will look a little rough immediately after it’s been scarified. You’re using a machine with teeth to rip apart a layer of dead grass and aerate your turf. While your lawn will look ragged at first, it leads to a healthier lawn with brighter green coloring that’s typically more even.

What’s the best lawn scarifier to buy? Top lawn scarifier

Sun Joe 12-Amp Scarifier and Lawn Dethatcher

Our take: This compact scarifier is a great option for new homeowners and those looking to start taking their lawn care to the next level.

What we like: This scarifier is on the smaller side at about 13 inches wide, making it highly maneuverable. It features five options for working depth, meaning a good amount of customization each year.

What we dislike: This scarifier reportedly doesn’t do well if you have particularly rocky soil.

Where to buy: Available at Home Depot

Top lawn scarifier for the money

Greenworks 14-inch 10-Amp Corded Dethatcher

Our take: For a rugged scarifier made for comfort but that won’t break the bank, this is the scarifier for you.

What we like: You’ll enjoy the ergonomic design and padded grip of the handle, especially after you’ve scarified your whole yard. The 14-inch width gets the job done faster, and three options for working depth give you more control.

What we dislike: It doesn’t have a collection bag attachment, so you’ll have to rake up the debris.

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Worth checking out

Earthwise 16-inch 13-Amp Corded Electric Dethatcher

Our take: This adjustable scarifier is made of high-quality materials and has a two-year warranty.

What we like: This scarifier has a 16-inch working depth and a removable debris catcher.

What we dislike: If your thatch is too thick, this machine might struggle to remove it.

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Tips
  • If you’ve recently planted grass seed or laid new turf, it’s recommended you wait a full year before scarifying. This lets the new grass become established since scarifying chews up your lawn a bit.
  • Once your grass is established, plan on scarifying once every year. At a minimum, scarify once every couple of years. Your best bet is to scarify in the spring. This leaves your lawn looking a little ragged at first, but with the ample sun of the summer and boost in airflow and water from scarifying, your lawn will turn out green and gorgeous.
  • Another option, if you don’t like the idea of your lawn looking ragged, is to scarify in the early fall. This is a practical solution if done in September or October. Your lawn won’t look so chewed up at the beginning of summer, and it can still be effective as long as you do it well before the first frost.

 

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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© 2023 BestReviews. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Yes, that was a Moskowitz for Congress T-shirt for sale at Marshalls. It wasn’t supposed to be.

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:09

Amber Hersh wasn’t surprised to find a slightly outdated style, from 2022, when she stopped at a Marshalls this week to pick up some clothes for her teen children before a family vacation.

She was puzzled, when looking at shirts for her son, she spotted one with a familiar slogan and logo on a rack in the young men’s section: “Jared Moskowitz Democrat for Congress.”

The price: $8.99.

“I looked it over and I knew it was one of the campaign shirts,” Hersh said. “My daughter, who is 16, was actually featured in his campaign, in his print media and his commercials, so I’m very familiar with the logo.”

A “Jared Moskowitz Democrat for Congress” T-shirt was on a sales rack at Marshalls in Coral Springs on Monday. It wasn’tsupposed to be there. (Amber Hersh/Courtesy)

Curious, she said she looked through the rack and didn’t see any other Moskowitz-branded apparel, then took a picture and sent it to her friend, Moskowitz’s wife, Leah.

“I thought it was very funny,” Hersh said. “And asked why they’re sending their stuff to Marshalls.”

It was something of a mystery, since Moskowitz didn’t send any of his 2022 campaign T-shirts to the retailer, after he won the election for Congress in the Broward-Palm Beach County 23rd District. The T-shirt was offered for sale in the Coral Springs store, which is in Moskowitz’s district.

The congressman tweeted a picture of the T-shirt, taking some tongue-in-cheek offense over the low price Marshalls was asking.

“@Marshall’s⁩ $8.99. 1. How? 2. Why? 3. Great deal for this vintage!” Moskowitz wrote, before asking the store, “What was the conversation? $9.00 was too much?”

“Thank you ⁦@marshalls⁩ for putting everything into perspective and reminding me that my entire life’s work isn’t worth 9 dollars even with inflation. I’ll wait until it goes on sale.”

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The price is on brand for what’s called an “off price retailer.” Industry website footwarenews.com said that’s the category for the chain that gets so much of its stock from others’ excess inventories.

Eric Johnson, the political strategist for the Moskowitz 2022 campaign, said a couple of hundred shirts were printed, and mainly given out to volunteers who worked at polling places. He said there weren’t leftovers that that had to be disposed of after the victory.

That’s different from what happened with Mitt Romney leftovers after he lost the 2012 presidential election and pictures surfaced of people wearing leftover campaign shirts in Kenya. A campaign worker had donated them to a charity that helps children in the African nation.

Andrew Mastrangelo, a spokesperson for Marshalls parent company, TJX Cos., offered a theory.

“We have looked into this and based on the information available to us, it appears that the T-shirt in the image you shared is likely an instance in which an individual returned an item to our store that was not originally purchased at one of our stores. We regret that we did not identify this before returning the item to the store’s sales floor,” he said via email.

And, Mastrangelo said, it wasn’t any kind of political statement from the retailer. “We’d note that TJX and its retail banners have a policy against using corporate funds to make contributions to political candidates.”

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com, on Twitter @browardpolitics and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.

McCarthy sending negotiators to White House to finish debt limit talks, but sides ‘far apart’

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:09

By LISA MASCARO, STEPHEN GROVES and SEUNG MIN KIM (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday he was sending Republican negotiators to the White House to finish out debt limit talks, but warned that the two sides are “still far apart” as they try to reach a budget deal with President Joe Biden.

McCarthy said he remained optimistic they could make progress in hopes of an agreement before a deadline as soon as next week, when the Treasury Department could run out of cash to pay its bills. “We’re not going to default,” said McCarthy, R-Calif.

Defiant, the speaker said “it’s not my fault” that Washington was careening toward a crisis, pushing blame onto the White House for Biden’s refusal to negotiate earlier as Republicans acted to slash spending.

“I’m hoping we can make progress,” McCarthy said. “I am not going to give up. ”

Debt ceiling negotiations are locked on a classic problem that has vexed, divided and disrupted Washington before: Republicans led by McCarthy want to roll back federal government spending, while Biden and other Democrats do not.

Time is short to strike a deal. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that “it seems almost certain” that the United States would not make it past early June without defaulting. That would be catastrophic, as the government risks running out of cash to pay its bills as soon as June 1.

“We are seeing some stress already in Treasury markets,” Yellen said at a Wall Street Journal event.

“Even in the run up to an agreement, when one does occur, there can be substantial financial market distress, we’re seeing just the beginnings of it,” Yellen said.

The political standoff is edging the country closer to a crisis, roiling financial markets and threatening the global economy. Anxious retirees and social service groups are among those making default contingency plans. Negotiators are heading to the White House to resume talks at noon.

Cheered on by a hard-charging conservative House majority that hoisted him to power, McCarthy, R-Calif., was not swayed by a White House counter-offer to freeze spending instead. “A freeze is not going to work,” McCarthy said.

“We have to spend less than we spent last year. That is the starting point.”

The longstanding Washington debate over the size and scope of the federal government now has just days to be resolved. Failure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, now at $31 trillion, would risk a potentially chaotic federal default, almost certain to inflict economic turmoil at home and abroad.

Dragging into a third week, the negotiations over raising the nation’s debt limit were never supposed to arrive at this point.

The White House insisted early on it was unwilling to barter over the need to pay the nation’s bills, demanding that Congress simply lift the ceiling as it has done many times before with no strings attached.

But the newly elected speaker visited Biden at the Oval Office in February, urging the president to come to the negotiating table on a budget package that would reduce spending and the nation’s ballooning deficits in exchange for the vote to allow future debt.

“I told the president Feb. 1,” McCarthy recounted. “I said, Mr. President, you’re not going to raise taxes. You’ve got to spend less money than was spent this year.”

Negotiations are focused on finding agreement on a 2024 budget year limit. Republicans have set aside their demand to roll back spending to 2022 levels, but say that next year’s government spending must be less than it is now. But the White House instead offered to freeze spending at current 2023 numbers.

By sparing defense and some veterans accounts from reductions, the Republicans would shift the bulk of spending reductions to other federal programs, an approach that breaks a tradition in Congress of budget cap parity.

Agreement on that topline spending level is vital. It would enable McCarthy to deliver spending restraints for conservatives while not being so severe that it would chase off the Democratic votes that would be needed in the divided Congress to pass any bill.

But what, if anything, Democrats would get if they agreed to deeper spending cuts than Biden’s team has proposed is uncertain.

The White House has continued to argue that deficits can be reduced by ending tax breaks for wealthier households and some corporations, but McCarthy said he told the president at their February meeting that raising revenue from tax hikes is off the table.

The negotiators are now also debating the duration of a 1% cap on annual spending growth going forward, with Republicans dropping their demand for a 10-year cap to six years, but the White House offering only one year, for 2025.

Typically, the debt ceiling has been lifted for the duration of a budget deal, and in this negotiation the White House is angling for a two-year agreement that would push past the presidential elections.

Past debt ceiling talks have produced budget agreements in which both parties have won some concessions in a give and take.

Republicans, however, are pushing additional priorities as the negotiators focus on the $100 billion-plus difference between the 2022 and 2023 spending plans as a place to cut.

They want to beef up work requirements for government aid to recipients of food stamps, cash assistance and the Medicaid health care program that the Biden administration says would impact millions of people who depend on assistance.

All sides have been eyeing the potential for the package to include a framework to ease federal regulations and speed energy project developments. They are all but certain to claw back some $30 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds now that the pandemic emergency has officially been lifted.

The White House has countered by keeping defense and nondefense spending flat next year, which would save $90 billion in the 2024 budget year and $1 trillion over 10 years.

McCarthy promised lawmakers he will abide by the rule to post any bill for 72 hours before voting, making any action doubtful until the weekend — just days before the potential deadline. The Senate would also have to pass the package before it could go to Biden’s desk to be signed.

McCarthy faces a hard-right flank in his own party that is likely to reject any deal, and that has led some Democrats to encourage Biden to resist any compromise with the Republicans and simply invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own, an unprecedented action the president has resisted for now.

___

Associated Press writers Fatima Hussein, Kevin Freking, Chris Megerian, Darlene Superville and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

Target becomes latest company to suffer backlash for LGBTQ+ support, pulls some Pride month clothing

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:04

YORK (AP) — Target is removing some items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month after intense backlash from some customers who confronted workers and tipped over displays.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. ”Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

Target said that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.

Target declined to specify Wednesday which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, have also created backlash.

The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May. Pride month is held in June.

Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.

Target’s response to confrontations in its stores is taking place as state legislatures introduce a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are close to 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have gone before state legislatures since the start of this year, an unprecedented number, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Those efforts focus on health, particularly gender-affirming health care for transgender youth, and education. State legislatures are pushing to prevent discussions in school regarding sexuality and gender identity.

At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked their enforcement in some, including Arkansas. An Associated Press analysis found that often those bills sprang not from grassroots or constituent demand, but from the pens of a handful of conservative interest groups.

Target’s Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes.

The moves come as beer brand Bud Light is still grappling with a backlash from customers angered by its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light’s parent company said it will triple its marketing spending in the U.S. this summer as it tries to restore sales it lost after the brand partnered with the transgender influencer.

Target and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ+ displays to celebrate Pride month for roughly a decade. This year transgender issues — including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports — have been a divisive topic in state legislatures and the backlash has turned hostile.

Typhoon Mawar lashes Guam as Category 4 storm with strong winds, rain

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 08:50

By GRACE GARCES BORDALLO and JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER (Associated Press)

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Typhoon Mawar inched over Guam as a powerful Category 4 storm on Thursday, relentlessly lashing the U.S. Pacific island territory with heavy rain, powerful winds, and a dangerous storm surge and knocking out power to many communities where frightened residents hunkered down for the night in homes and shelters.

The typhoon’s center passed over the northern tip of Guam on Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service said. It is the strongest storm to hit the territory of over 150,000 people in decades. Its maximum sustained winds remained at 140 mph (225 kph) late Wednesday, and it was forecast to intensify throughout the day Thursday, the weather service said.

Videos posted on social media showed fallen trees, a flipped pickup truck, solar panels flying through the air, parts of a wall of a multistory hotel crumbling to the ground and exposing rebar, and storm surge and waves crashing through coastal reefs. The early scope of the damage was difficult to ascertain, with power and internet failures making communication with the far-flung island difficult to impossible as the storm carved an excruciatingly slow path.

The storm was moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) late Wednesday with a slight increase in speed expected over the next day. It has been a slow-moving typhoon compared to others in the region that have moved upwards of 10 to 15 mph (16 to 25 kph), NWS Guam warning coordination meteorologist Landon Aydlett said.

Long-range forecasts place Mawar deep in the Philippine Sea, curving northward but staying northeast of the Philippines, Landon Aydlett said. It is possible that the storm could regain super typhoon status, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph) or greater, he said.

The storm clipped the far northern part of Guam, but otherwise it was in the channel between the island and its neighbor to the north, Rota, Landon Aydlett said. Peak winds at the weather service office in Guam reached 105 mph (169 kph), but the office later lost its wind sensors, he said. The building was vibrating with a “constant, low rumbling,” and its doors and windows were shaking, he said.

“We have the peak conditions going on for a couple more hours. I think thrashing is the word I would use,” he said by phone. “There are trees everywhere at this point. Daylight tomorrow is really going to be a shock to a lot of people.”

Lightning became an increasing threat as conditions deteriorated as night wore on, the weather service reported. A flash flood warning was in effect Thursday morning.

In Tumon, on the island’s northeastern shore, powerful winds tore a granite countertop from a hotel’s outdoor bar and tossed it four feet in the air. Guests scrambled to stack chairs against hotel doors being blown in from the gusts as windows buckled and creaked.

The storm’s center hit Guam at around 9 p.m. local time Wednesday, which was Wednesday morning in the continental United States. Guam lies west of the International Date Line and is ahead of the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, which is 3,800 miles (6,115 kilometers) to the east. Manila, the Philippine capital, is 1,600 miles (1,575 kilometers) to the west.

Rota, an island in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, was also under a typhoon warning. Tinian and Saipan, in the Northern Marianas, were under tropical storm warnings. Some people in those areas have been living in temporary shelters or tents since Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.

The weather service warned of an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation in Guam and said people should take cover and remain in shelter for the next few hours.

“This is going to be kind of a long night. It’s going to be scary because there’s no electricity unless you have a generator,” Brandon Aydlett — a science and operations officer for the weather service, and Landon Aydlett’s twin brother — said in a Facebook Live broadcast. “Reassure your children. It’s going to be a little bit scary as we go later into the night. You can hear the sounds: The winds are howling, things are breaking. Just be together, talk to each other and things will slow down toward midnight and continuing into Thursday morning.”

He urged people to stay in shelters and encouraged them to try to get as much sleep as possible ahead of “a long day tomorrow as we start the recovery process.”

Many communities on the 212-square-mile (549-square-kilometer) island had lost power by afternoon, and some to the south had lost water service. A flash flood warning was issued for the entire island as forecasters predicted as much as 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain in addition to a life-threatening storm surge of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 2 meters).

Ahead of the storm, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero ordered those living in coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas to evacuate to higher ground. The highest point on the island is Mount Lamlam in the southwest at 1,334 feet (406 meters). But much of the beachfront tourist district of Tamuning, where many resorts are located, is close to sea level.

School buses picked up residents at island community centers and took them to 11 elementary schools outfitted as shelters. Civic workers in villages warned residents to secure loose objects in their yards and seek shelter immediately. Some spread the word by megaphone, while others turned to social media. Power flickered off and on as the rain and wind intensified, and officials said nearly 900 people were in shelters.

Guerrero said an emergency declaration approved by President Joe Biden will support the mobilization of resources into Guam, which is “especially crucial given our distance from the continental U.S.”

In low-lying Agat along the southern coast, resident Reuel Drilon said nearly every home in the village has a mango tree, which officials warned could become roadblocks and deadly flying projectiles.

“A lot of folks are keeping their eyes on trees,” he said before the storm hit.

Guam is a crucial hub for U.S. forces in the Pacific, and the Department of Defense controls about a third of the island. Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, Joint Region Marianas commander, authorized the evacuation of defense personnel, dependents and employees from areas that were expected to be affected.

The military said it moved its ships out to sea as a standard precaution. It sent its aircraft off the island or placed them in protective hangars. Any personnel remaining on the island were sheltering in place. About 6,800 U.S. service members are assigned to Guam, according to the Pentagon.

___

Kelleher reported from Honolulu. AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein and Associated Press writers Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and Sarah Brumfield in Washington contributed.

Target becomes latest company to suffer backlash for LGBTQ+ support, pulls some Pride month clothing

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 08:49

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO (AP Retail Writer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is removing some items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month after intense backlash from some customers who confronted workers and tipped over displays.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. ”Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

Target said that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.

Target declined to specify Wednesday which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, have also created backlash.

The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May. Pride month is held in June.

Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.

Target’s response to confrontations in its stores is taking place as state legislatures introduce a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are close to 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have gone before state legislatures since the start of this year, an unprecedented number, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Those efforts focus on health, particularly gender-affirming health care for transgender youth, and education. State legislatures are pushing to prevent discussions in school regarding sexuality and gender identity.

At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked their enforcement in some, including Arkansas. An Associated Press analysis found that often those bills sprang not from grassroots or constituent demand, but from the pens of a handful of conservative interest groups.

Target’s Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes.

The moves come as beer brand Bud Light is still grappling with a backlash from customers angered by its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light’s parent company said it will triple its marketing spending in the U.S. this summer as it tries to restore sales it lost after the brand partnered with the transgender influencer.

Target and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ+ displays to celebrate Pride month for roughly a decade. This year transgender issues — including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports — have been a divisive topic in state legislatures and the backlash has turned hostile.

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Follow Anne D’Innocenzio on Twitter

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov set to play in Game 4 tonight

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 08:48

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov will be on the ice for Florida’s potential series-clinching Game 4 against Carolina on Wednesday night, Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

Maurice said the star center is “ready to roll” after Barkov participated in Florida’s morning skate before Game 4. Barkov missed most of Game 3 due to a lower-body injury.

Although Barkov did not return to the ice during the Panthers’ Game 3 victory, Maurice said his removal was largely “precautionary.” Barkov played just 3:51 on Monday night, and Eetu Luostarinen filled in his spot. Luostarinen played 15:13 and won three of six faceoffs he took.

“When someone goes down, it’s up to everyone in the locker room to step up,” Sam Bennett said. “We had 22 guys in here step up [Monday].”

Barkov, a 10-year veteran, has 23 goals and 55 assists during the regular season. He has four goals and eight assists in the playoffs. Florida has been short on offense against the Hurricanes, scoring just six goals in three games. However, that has been enough to go up 3-0 in the series due to strong defense and the excellent play of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. 

Barkov and the Panthers are on the verge of reaching the franchise’s second-ever Stanley Cup finals. Florida last played for a championship in 1996 but fell to the Colorado Avalanche. If the Panthers do reach the finals, they will play either the Vegas Golden Knights or the Dallas Stars. The Golden Knights lead that series 3-0.

Panthers’ Zito a finalist for GM of the Year

The man who constructed the Florida roster that is one game away from the Stanley Cup finals could also win some hardware for himself.

Panthers general manager Bill Zito was named a finalist for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award, the team announced Wednesday.

Zito, who has been Florida’s GM since 2020, was also a finalist in 2021. Under his tenure, the Panthers have gone  137-64-19 and made the playoffs all three seasons.

This season, Zito hired coach Paul Maurice and traded for star winger Matthew Tkachuk, who is a finalist for the Hart Trophy. He also acquired Nick Cousins, Eric and Marc Staal and Alex Lyon, among others.

A street fight next for Heat in Boston? ‘This is right up our alley’

South Florida Local News - Wed, 05/24/2023 - 08:37

BOSTON – The simple truth is there is no simple for the 2022-23 Miami Heat.

Instead, it’s losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first of two play-in games and then overcoming a late-fourth quarter deficit against the Chicago Bulls in the second to barely advance in the playoffs.

Then it’s fighting back from back-to-back fourth-quarter deficits to advance past the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

And then it’s withstanding otherworldly performances from Jalen Brunson to push past the New York Knicks in the second round.

So thoughts of a sweep of the Boston Celtics in these Eastern Conference finals largely was little more than fantasy of fool’s gold.

Instead, now heading into Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 5 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in this best-of-seven series, the Heat find themselves in their wheelhouse.

Pressure mounting . . . in what has stood as a pressure cooker of a season.

“If anything,” forward Jimmy Butler said of Tuesday night’s 116-99 loss to the Celtics at Kaseya Center, “it will build momentum for us knowing that we have to play with a lot more energy. We’ve got to play like our backs are against the wall. But I think all year long, we’ve been better when we’ve had to do things the hard way.”

While backs are not firmly against the wall, with a Game 6 on Saturday night at Kaseya Center, if necessary, it is high-risk game when a No. 8 seed allows a No. 2 to gain momentum, something the Heat precluded after their lone misstep against the top-seeded Bucks in the first round.

“The only thing I’m going to say is, We’ll be okay,” Butler said. “Let’s get back to doing what we’ve always done to get us to this point – continually have belief in one another, knowing that we are going to win, and we will. We’ve just got to play harder.

“There’s not too much to say with this group because we already know. So we’ve just got to go out there and execute.”

Despite winning the first two games of the series at TD Garden, the Heat appreciate this latest challenge in Boston.

But they also appreciate who they are, and what’s at stake, with one more win delivering a trip to the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets starting June 1.

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“This is right up our alley,” forward Caleb Martin said. “This is the way it goes for us and guys like us. Again, I think it’s only going to prepare us for the long run. This could be good for us.”

With the hope very much remaining a run deep into June.

“Really the biggest thing is put this one behind us and understand that we’ve got another one,” Martin said of Tuesday night’s loss. “That’s the good thing about having to go to four, is we have another one and have the opportunity to go play them at their place.

“So that’s the good thing about the position that we are in right now, is we have the opportunity and we just have to make sure we come correctly and take care of business in Boston.”

To coach Erik Spoelstra, just another challenge in a season of challenges.

“A lot of what we’ve done this year has been the hard way,” he said. “We’ve been able to figure out ways to win, even if teams are playing well, if we are not in a perfect flow.”

To Butler, it again will be about every last breath soon enough.

But not desperate times, he said.

So no need for desperate measures.

Just a return, he said, to what got the Heat up 3-0 against the Celtics, and past the Bucks and Knicks.

“Stay consistent,” he said. “Do the same thing that I do, that we do, after every game. We are going to listen to some music. We’re going to drink some beers back there. We are going to go have some wine.

“I don’t think that you can just focus on basketball all the time. You have to be able to get away from the game a little bit. Think about it, but at the end of the day, you fall back on your habits, how consistent you’re going to be. Myself and my teammates, we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to smile. We’re going to be in this thing together like we always are, and we are going to go get one on the road.”

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