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General Daily Insight for September 26, 2023

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

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


March 21 – April 19

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


April 20 – May 20

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


May 21 – June 20

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


June 21 – July 22

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


July 23 – August 22

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


August 23 – September 22

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


September 23 – October 22

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


October 23 – November 21

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


November 22 – December 21

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


December 22 – January 19

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


January 20 – February 18

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


February 19 – March 20

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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 16:54

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political implications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jarvis urged heightened skepticism.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community reaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unanswered questions

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

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

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

Orlando Sentinel staff writer Leslie Postal contributed to this report.

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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:46

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

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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a vibe

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:31

By BOB THOMAS (Associated Press)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 14:09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parts of the hearings may be private

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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