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Average cost to buy a home has kept rising. Here’s by how much.

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 14:28

The average cost to buy a house has kept increasing this year, a reflection of the high demand for homes in South Florida.

The latest sign came Thursday, when Broward Property Appraiser Marty Kiar told county commissioners how the county’s average sales price for a single-family home has gone up to about $866,000 this calendar year. That’s up from $825,696 last year.

“We have very little inventory” in built-out Broward, and with that low supply, there’s demand, Kiar told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Every single year, we see people coming in and paying more money for property than the year before,” Kiar said.

So what happens from here? “Anything could happen in the real estate market,” Kiar said. “It’s very possible if it stays on this track, we could definitely hit the $1 million sales price average.

“If you look at the trajectory, so far we haven’t seen sales prices go down. If we continue on this trajectory we could possibly hit that in a few years.”

The average home price in Broward is higher than the median price, considering there are outliers including the multimillionaires’ houses. The median sales price is $638,000 as of Thursday. That’s up from $620,000 in 2023.

“Unless you go to downtown Fort Lauderdale, where they are building straight up, there’s not a lot of places you can build single-family homes,” Kiar said. “Families are moving in from other states, other countries, and paying top dollar for our single-family homes.”

Palm Beach County also has seen rising values this year. The median sales price for single-family homes alone in the county is $670,000 for 2024, an increase from $665,975 in 2023.

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The high numbers might not last forever, though.

“I wish it was inaccurate,” said real estate agent Whitney Dutton of Native Realty, of the high numbers. Dutton, who has the majority of his sales in Fort Lauderdale, sees how people with more money — the “high earners” — are buying the average single-family homes.

“It’s because the people who are moving here are wealthy,” he said. “It’s not the median blue-collar worker moving to South Florida. It’s the self-employed business owners with larger incomes that are moving to the area. The demographic of the people moving are high earners, high tax brackets.”

And while people from the Northeast are still a “top migration pattern,” he’s seeing more people come from Miami-Dade County, who are leaving condos that are getting slapped with high assessments, instead choosing more control in a single-family home at a more reasonable cost.

And Dutton said he doesn’t think the numbers will climb in the region forever. A larger inventory means prices will at least stabilize: His research found 845 single-family homes available for sale recently in Fort Lauderdale, versus more than 500 at this time last year.

“More inventory combats the price,” he said.

Among those unloading their homes: owners of vacation-rental properties that aren’t as popular these days, given that would-be customers now have more post-COVID travel choices. And he’s also seeing people who own second homes in South Florida and are trying to sell them to get rid of increasingly high property taxes and high home insurance costs.

“They are getting increases with insurance and taxes to the point it doesn’t make sense to own it,” he said. “They might say, ‘Look, I used this house twice last year, we don’t need it.’ ”

Kiar said he worries what the future holds if the numbers keep going up for the recent college graduates who need to find a place to live.

“I’m truly concerned (about) first-time homebuyers, younger people, who want to live here,” he said.

When Broward has such high sales prices, it could mean “brain drain — you lose your best and brightest people elsewhere.

“You want teachers to stay here, you want firefighters to stay here, you want people to make a life here. But if they can’t afford to live here, they leave and they go elsewhere and that’s my biggest concern when you see these types of sales prices.”

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at lhuriash@sunsentinel.com. Follow on X, formerly Twitter, @LisaHuriash

‘So much death’: Lawmakers weigh stricter speed limits, safer roads for pedestrians

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 14:16

By Vanessa G. Sánchez, KFF Health News

LOS ANGELES — The party was winding down. Its young hosts, María Rivas Cruz and her fiancé, Raymond Olivares, had accompanied friends to their car to bid them farewell. As the couple crossed a four-lane main road back to the home they had just bought, Rivas Cruz and Olivares were struck by a car fleeing an illegal street race. The driver was going 70 in a 40-mph zone.

Despite years of pleading for a two-lane road, lower speed limits, safety islands, and more marked crosswalks, residents say the county had done little to address speeding in this unincorporated pocket of southeastern Los Angeles. Since 2012, this half-mile stretch of Avalon Boulevard had logged 396 crashes, injuring 170 and killing three.

Olivares, 27, a civil engineer for the city of Los Angeles, became the fourth fatality when he was hurled across the street, hit by a second car, and instantly killed. Rivas Cruz was transported to a hospital, where she remained in a coma for two weeks. Once awake, the elementary school teacher underwent a series of reconstructive surgeries to repair her arm, jaw, and legs.

In the aftermath of the February 2023 crash, the county installed protective steel posts midway across the street. But residents, who had sought a platformed center divider and speed cameras, said that wasn’t enough.

“It’s just a band-aid on a cut. This is supposed to solve it, but it doesn’t, and that is what hurts,” said Rivas Cruz, who now at age 28 walks with a cane and lives with chronic pain. “I go to sleep, and I’m like, ‘It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream.’ And it’s not.”

The nation’s road system covers 4 million miles and is governed by a patchwork of federal, state, and local jurisdictions that often operate in silos, making systemic change difficult and expensive. But amid the highest number of pedestrians killed in decades, localities are pushing to control how speed limits are set and for more accountability on road design. This spring, New York and Michigan passed laws allowing local jurisdictions to lower speed limits. In Los Angeles, voters approved a measure that forces the city to act on its own safety improvement plan, mandating that the car-loving metropolis redesign streets, add bike lanes, and protect cyclists, transit riders, and pedestrians.

Still, there’s plenty of political resistance to speed enforcement. In California’s Statehouse, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) proposed requiring GPS-equipped smart devices in new cars and trucks to prevent excessive speeding. But after pushback, the state lawmaker watered down his bill to require all vehicles sold in the state starting in 2032 to have only warning systems that alert drivers when they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph.

Although the Biden administration is championing Vision Zero — its commitment to zero traffic deaths — and injecting more than $20 billion in funding for transportation safety programs through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, road safety advocates and some lawmakers argue that the country is still far from making streets and vehicles safe, or slowing drivers down.

“We are not showing the political will to use the proven safety tools that exist,” said Leah Shahum, founder of Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit organization advancing Vision Zero in communities across the country.

Still a crisis

The need for safer roads took on urgency during the covid pandemic. Fatalities rose even as lockdown mandates emptied streets. In 2022, more than 42,500 people died on American roads, and at least 7,522 pedestrians were fatally struck — the highest tally of pedestrian deaths in more than four decades.

Experts cite several reasons for the decline in road safety. During the lockdowns, reckless driving increased while traffic enforcement declined. SUVs and trucks have become larger and heavier, thus deadlier when they hit a pedestrian. Other factors persist as streets remain wide to accommodate vehicles, and in some states speed limits have gradually increased.

Early estimates of motor vehicle fatalities show a slight decrease from 2022 to 2023, but pedestrian fatalities are still notably above pre-pandemic numbers. “It’s an encouraging start, but the numbers still constitute a crisis,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wrote in February of roadway deaths.

The Biden administration has directed $15.6 billion to road safety until 2026 and $5 billion in local grants to prevent roadway deaths and injuries. Under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new “vulnerable road user” rule, states with 15% or more deaths involving pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists compared with all road deaths must match federal dollars in their safety improvement spending.

Road safety advocates argue the federal government missed an opportunity to eliminate outdated standards for setting speed limits when it revised traffic guidelines last year. The agency could have eliminated guidance recommending setting speed limits at or below how fast 85% of drivers travel on uncongested roads. Critics contend that what’s known as the 85th percentile rule encourages traffic engineers to set speed limits at levels unsafe for pedestrians.

But the Federal Highway Administration wrote in a statement that while the 85th percentile is the typical method, engineers rarely rely solely on this rule. It also noted that states and some local agencies have their own criteria for setting speed limits.

In response, grassroots efforts to curtail speeding have sprouted across communities. In April, Michigan passed legislation granting local governments authority to round down when setting speed limits.

And after four years of lobbying, New York state passed Sammy’s Law, named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a driver in Brooklyn in 2013. The law, which will take effect in June, allows New York City to lower its speed limits to 20 mph in designated areas.

“With this legislation, I hope we can learn more children’s names because of their accomplishments, their personalities, and their spirit — not their final moments,” said Sammy’s mother, Amy Cohen.

Push for pedestrian safety

Advocates would also like the federal government to factor in pedestrian safety on the five-star vehicle safety rating scale. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a separate pass/fail test that would be posted only on the agency’s website, not on labels consumers would see at the dealership.

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Automakers like BMW questioned the effectiveness of a program testing pedestrian protections in vehicles arguing that in European countries that adopted such a regulation, it’s not been clear whether it led to fewer deaths and injuries. According to the campaign finance site Open Secrets, automakers spent about $49 million lobbying in 2023 compared with $2.2 million spent by advocates for highway and auto safety.

“The federal government has the biggest punch when it comes to requiring improved vehicle safety design,” said Wiener, the California state lawmaker.

Although Wiener modified his proposal to restrict excessive speeding, he has advanced companion legislation that would require Caltrans, the state transportation agency, to make improvements such as adding crosswalks and curb extensions on state-owned surface streets to better serve pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

When that bill was heard in a committee, opponents, including engineering firms and contractors, cautioned it would remove flexibility and hamper the state’s ability to deliver a safe and efficient transportation system. Lawmakers have until Aug. 31 to act on his bills.

In Los Angeles, hope for change arrived in March when voters passed Measure HLA, which requires the city to invest $3.1 billion in road safety over the next decade. Rivas Cruz’s house, however, sits eight blocks outside the jurisdiction of the city initiative.

It’s been more than a year since the crash, but Rivas Cruz finds reminders everywhere: in the mirror, when she looks at the scars left on her face after several surgeries. When she walks on the street that still lacks the infrastructure that would have protected her and Raymond.

Stories of pedestrians killed in this Latino working-class neighborhood are too common, said Rivas Cruz. In September, she attended a memorial of a 14-year-old who was killed by a reckless driver.

“There’s so much death going on,” the Los Angeles Unified School District teacher said from her mother’s living room on a spring afternoon. “The representatives have failed us. Raymond and I were giving back to the community. He was a civil engineer working for the city, and I’m a LAUSD teacher. Where is our help?”

This article was produced by KFF Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.

Elections chief Gilzean got $20K-a-month consulting deal with Disney district

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 14:14

Florida’s Disney World oversight district is paying Orange County Elections Supervisor Glen Gilzean $20,000 a month through December as part of a consulting agreement quietly inked when he stepped down as administrator.

Gilzean left his $400,000-a-year job leading the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in March after less than a year of service. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Gilzean, one of his political allies, to serve as Orange County’s supervisor of elections. That position has an annual salary of $205,000.

What wasn’t publicly known during the transition nor submitted to the district’s board for approval or discussion was that Gilzean signed a consulting agreement from April 1 through the end of the year.

Stephanie Kopelousos, another DeSantis political ally who replaced Gilzean, authorized the agreement. The district’s board approved her hiring on March 27.

The Orlando Sentinel made numerous inquiries into Gilzean’s status with the district since he stepped down, but the district never provided answers until now.

Between his elections job and consulting contract, Gilzean is drawing a taxpayer-funded income of about $37,000 a month.

State Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said she is concerned about Gilzean juggling consulting and election duties.

“I think he should concentrate on one job and do it well and not have two jobs,” she said. “He should relinquish that contract. There is an election coming up, and he needs to concentrate on that.”

Gilzean didn’t respond to a phone message and email on Thursday. As elections supervisor, he is responsible for overseeing voting in this year’s presidential election in Orange County.

In a March 11 interview with News Spectrum 13, Gilzean said he would cut ties with the district when pressed on whether he would devote his full attention to the elections supervisor job.

“The goal is to have a very seamless transition,” Gilzean said. “It is not fair to the taxpayers over in the district [for me] to be in two different areas at the same time.”

Gilzean has not said if he will run for the elections job, which will be on the November ballot. He has until June 14 to qualify.

Recently, he has faced criticism from several candidates who say he kept them in the dark on petitions that would allow them to qualify to run without paying a filing fee.

District leaders defended the contract.

Gilzean’s services were needed to ensure “the continuity of government functions,” and the contract is mirrored after similar arrangements with previous administrators, district spokesman Matthew Thomas Oberly said in a prepared statement.

“With his experience and understanding of our organization, Mr. Gilzean provides valuable knowledge that will aid in a successful transition,” Oberly said.

District officials provided a copy of the consulting agreement. They also released monthly reports for April and May from Gilzean that detail outreach work he did with veteran-owned businesses as part of the district’s program to provide contracting opportunities to local companies.

“To date, Mr. Gilzean has provided valuable insight regarding outstanding projects to Administrator Kopelousos,” Oberly said. “Per standard practice, consulting agreements do not go before the board.”

The agreement doesn’t include a list of specific tasks for Gilzean, although it notes that requested services will be performed on a “part-time basis and shall not interfere with … other full-time employment obligations.”

The district can terminate the agreement early with or without cause, according to the terms.

The Disney district’s five-member, DeSantis-appointed board named Gilzean to the administrator post in May 2023 as part of a state overhaul. He served in that role until March when DeSantis picked Gilzean to fill a vacancy created by longtime Democratic elections chief Bill Cowles’ retirement.

Charbel Barakat, acting chairman of the district’s board, said he was aware of the consulting agreement but was advised it did not require a vote.

“We wanted to make sure there was no disruption. … This is in a lot of ways one of the most complex local governments in the state,” he said. “There are a lot of moving pieces.”

Gilzean’s predecessor, John Classe, stayed on as a special adviser as part of a one-year employment agreement that the board approved in May 2023 when Gilzean took over.

Under that agreement, Classe continued to earn his $355,000 annual salary, which equates to about $29,500 a month. But the district terminated the agreement early on Aug. 30.

Gilzean previously served as a DeSantis appointee on the Florida Commission on Ethics. He also was president and CEO of Central Florida Urban League before joining the Disney district.

His stint on the Ethics Commission ended when media reports showed he violated a state law prohibiting members from holding public employment.

He resigned his unpaid position as ethics commission chairman in August, rather than quit his job leading the Disney oversight district.


30 years after deadly bombing, Buenos Aires’ AMIA Jewish center unveils colorful redesign

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 14:03

(JTA) The AMIA Jewish community center in this city has unveiled a colorful new facade, three decades after a deadly bombing turned it into a symbol of destruction.

The new facade is composed of colored triangles making up a patchwork pattern that wraps around multiple sides of AMIA’s eight-story building in the Once neighborhood. The design is meant to represent AMIA’s spirit and diverse activities, its director, Daniel Pomerantz, said at a dedication ceremony.

Pomerantz was working at AMIA on July 18, 1994, when a car bomb ripped through the building, killing 85 people, wounding hundreds and ending plans to celebrate AMIA’s centennial. The bombing, attributed to Hezbollah and Iran, was the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust until last year’s Hamas assault on Israel.

“These renewed walls are part of the celebration of the 130th anniversary of the institution,” Pomerantz said. “We are now living two important dates — the 30 years since the bombing and 130 of life. This artistic mural shows the diversity of our activities, our intensity and our colors.”

Daniel Peroni, an Argentine artist, designed “Colors of AMIA” to intersect with two prominent works commissioned to honor the bombing and its victims. Four years after the attack, Israeli artist Yaacov Agam unveiled a colorful sculpture in the courtyard of the rebuilt community center that symbolizes both the bombing and AMIA’s values. Then, in 2018, the artist Martin Ron painted a mural called “The Wall of Memory” as a way to renew attention to the bombing as controversy over who should be held culpable for it roiled Argentina’s politics and legal system.

In 2015, Alberto Nisman, a Jewish prosecutor, was found dead in his apartment shortly before he was to present evidence that the country’s then-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had covered up Iran’s role in the attack. It was only in April — shortly after the inauguration of a new pro-Israel president — that a top Argentine court issued a landmark ruling pegging the blame on Iran and Hezbollah.

Pomerantz said he possessed “a permanent double sensation” because of his relationship to AMIA. He said he is constantly thinking about “on the one hand the memories, the pain, the claim for justice, the memory of those who were killed on that morning, but on the other hand, the vibrant task that we do daily.”

Launched to support immigrants from Europe, AMIA provides social services, operates a Jewish cemetery and hosts social and educational activities. (An archive that had been housed in the building before it was bombed now operates elsewhere.) It is one of the largest organizations serving Argentine Jews, who number about 200,000, and also assists non-Jews.

To read more content visit www.jta.org

New history museum in Tel Aviv cites ‘nakba’ in timeline of city

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 13:52

(JNS) A new Tel Aviv museum that tells the history of the city uses the term nakba—Arabic for “catastrophe”—in describing the founding of Israel.

The usage of contested Palestinian terminology and narrative in an Israeli city-run museum comes at a time when an intense war of narrative is underway around the globe over Israel’s history.

The reference to nakba appears at the new City Museum in central Tel Aviv in a timeline of the history of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. The museum, which opened its doors earlier this year at the site of the historic city hall building at Bialik Square, was established by the Tel Aviv Foundation in collaboration with the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality.

The timeline, titled “Tel Aviv-Jaffa Time,” is one of the first exhibits visitors see on the walls at the entrance to the museum, and includes two parallel lines, one for the history of Jaffa and the other for the history of Tel Aviv, which merged in 1950, when both came under the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, as it is today.

The timeline for 1948, the year of Israel’s Independence, states, “The Nakba, occupation of Jaffa,” in Hebrew, Arabic and English with a picture of a bombed-out government compound building in Jaffa. On the lower line, the parallel timeline for the city of Tel Aviv reads, “Declaration of Independence” with a photo of Israel’s founding father and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion.

After citing the nakba, the timeline for Jaffa continues with “Jaffa refugees under closure” in 1949 with a photo of barbed wire, and “Yafo annexed to Tel Aviv” in 1950, using the Hebrew word for Jaffa, with a symbol of the municipality.

The other exhibitions on the main level of the museum, which are geared towards city residents, school groups and visitors from abroad, deal with lighter subjects, including “Legends in the Sand,” “Is Tel Aviv a Global City?” “Local and International,” and “Between Sacred and Secular.”

A lower-level exhibition encompasses an interactive city stories exhibition, a video of historic shots of Tel Aviv, and fun in the sun at the city’s beaches. It also has a stand for “What can only happen in this city,” allowing visitors to affix Post-It notes. Many, in a sign of the times, read: “Bring them home,” referring to the more than 120 Israelis still held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

The Tel Aviv Foundation referred a JNS query about the Palestinian terminology used in the timeline exhibition to the Tel Aviv Municipality.

In a written response, the municipality said: “The City Museum tells the story of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a story that begins before the establishment of the city of Tel Aviv, which originated as a neighborhood that was born out of Jaffa.”

The city statement then endorsed the museum’s usage of the terminology nakba. “The timeline represents two perspectives of history, Jewish and Arab. By the nature of things, the Arab residents of Jaffa viewed the War of Independence and its results as a nakba (‘catastrophe’) for them.”

To read more content visit www.jns.org

Crown Heights mourns Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, a pivotal figure in Chabad’s global outreach

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 13:38

(New York Jewish Week) When Shmuel Spielman’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law were murdered in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, he found support from Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky.

A leading figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch community, Kotlarsky was known for his efforts to build the Hasidic movement’s global outreach and for his personal ties with community members. Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, slain by Islamist terrorists, were typical of the thousands of Hasidic husband-and-wife teams recruited as emissaries to staff far-flung Chabad centers.

“We went with him to India, with the families. He came with us and gave us support and we lit the menorah over there in the Chabad house,” Spielman said. “He was very optimistic, very encouraging, gave us a lot of strength when you need it.”

Spielman, a resident of Crown Heights, was one of thousands mourning Kotlarsky on June 5th, as the rabbi’s funeral procession passed in front of 770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad’s global headquarters in Brooklyn. Kotlarsky died on Tuesday at the age of 74 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

As chairman of various Chabad affiliates, Kotlarsky played a key role in carrying out the vision of the movement’s late leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Rebbe, in planting what are now 5,000 outreach centers in more than 100 countries. “Chabad houses” function as synagogues and community centers, often in isolated communities, for observant and nonreligious Jews alike.

“Rabbi Kotlarsky was passionate about facilitating the growth of Chabad centers. He worked tirelessly, and with remarkable success towards this objective across so many demographics,” said Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, a top leader in the movement who serves as chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Chabad’s educational arm, in a statement. “His lifelong dedication to the Rebbe’s vision has profoundly impacted the vitality of Jewish life around the world.”

Kotlarsky served as the vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. As part of that role, he chaired the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, directed the International Conference of Shluchim, and led Chabad on Campus International, CKids, CTeen Network, and Chabad Young Professionals.

In those roles he enlisted leading philanthropists to the cause, including the family of George Rohr, an American investor, who told Lubavitch.com that Kotlarsky’s death “leaves an enormous, aching void.” Kotlarsky chaired Chabad’s annual emissaries’ conference, a major event that draws thousands to New York each year.

Mourners included Chabad emissaries or, in Hebrew, “shluchim,” who flew in from around the world on a day’s notice to attend. They described Kotlarsky as instrumental in Chabad’s global outreach efforts, but also approachable and deeply connected to people on the ground.

Rabbi Akiva Camissar traveled to the funeral from Amsterdam. He said he had been in regular contact with Kotlarsky while setting up his Chabad house.

“I used to call him, he remembered exactly where we spoke last week,” Camissar said. “He traveled the world in that week, he was all over the world, but he remembered exactly what we were speaking about. He was caring for everybody and that’s why everybody feels so close.”

Rabbi Hershy Drookman, an emissary who flew in from Paris, said Kotlarsky was a “mix of someone who was very, very smart and brilliant and a very good heart, very sensitive.”

“He could meet the president in the morning and give a hello and invite a small child or a young student to eat at the same table with them 10 minutes later,” Drookman said. Among the world leaders Kotlarsky met with over the years were Isaac Herzog, president of Israel; Leonel Fernandez, the former president of the Dominican Republic; and Csaba Kőrösi, former president of the United Nations General Assembly.

Kotlarsky was born in Crown Heights in 1949 to Golda Kotlarsky and Rabbi Hershel Kotlarsky, a Holocaust survivor who helped establish Chabad communities in New York and Montreal. He was educated at yeshivas in Crown Heights and Montreal.

In 1968, Kotlarsky was appointed to work in outreach at Chabad’s educational arm, Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, according to a statement from Chabad Headquarters. He started traveling to Jewish communities in areas such as the Soviet Union, East Asia and the Caribbean.

During his travels, he identified communities’ needs, such as Jewish education, ritual baths or kosher food.

Before his passing, Kotlarsky continued his work from his hospital bed, a Chabad spokesperson said. Kotlarsky lived in Crown Heights and is survived by his wife, Rivka, and nine children.

Ahead of the funeral procession Wednesday, signs were stapled to telephone poles around the Brooklyn neighborhood with the details of the funeral in Hebrew under the headline, “Great sorrow in Lubavitch.” Stores on Kingston Ave. taped signs to their windows saying they were closed for the duration of the event.

Thousands gathered in front of 770, a synagogue and the former office of Schneerson, as a black Chevrolet SUV carrying Kotlarsky’s coffin went past. Men streamed past to touch the casket and recite prayers, and women gathered on a sidewalk in the parkway’s median.

Men, women and children wept as the procession went past. A man comforted a young boy on the sidewalk, telling him he did not need to approach the casket if he was too upset. Others gathered on a promenade above the entrance to a synagogue adjacent to 770, reading prayers off of their smartphones or in books.

After passing through Crown Heights, the procession headed to Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, where Schneerson is buried, for Kotlarsky’s funeral service.

Spielman said that, after accompanying the family to Mumbai, Kotlarsky stayed in close contact, and traveled with family members to Israel for a young boy’s first haircut ceremony.

“He treated everyone nicely,” Spielman said. “It didn’t matter who you were, his mission was to spread light.”

To read more content visit www.jta.org

ASK IRA: Do the Heat have to draw the line on their current spending cycle?

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 02:15

Q: Ira, some of these trade rumors are crazy, with the money the Heat would have to take on. The 76ers have cap space this summer. The Heat need to get there. – Theo.

A: I’m not sure the 76ers are the example you want to chase considering they have not gotten beyond the conference semifinals during the Joe Embiid/Process era. And there has been plenty of pain in that regard, as well, when considering what they have been through when dealing with the dramas of Ben Simmons, James Harden and even Markelle Fultz. Yes, conceivably the Heat could trade salaries into space around the league, be it Jimmy Butler to the 76ers, perhaps Tyler Herro to the Spurs. But what you would be left with would not only be one step back, but likely something closer to the Pistons and Wizards. The Heat were able to add Jimmy Butler without space, add Goran Dragic without space, for better or worse, add Kyle Lowry without space. For now, the next opportunity for the Heat to enter the space race would be at the expiration of Jimmy’s contract. But even then, it would not be an overwhelming amount of space, with the NBA showing in recent years that cap space guarantees nothing. Now, would I take on longer-term money in a Butler trade than what is being sent out? Only if such an acquired player would be viewed as a franchise cornerstone.

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Q: The Mavericks hit it big with the Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington trades. The Heat haven’t hit it big in a while with midseason trades. – Carl.

A: I’m not sure how far you want to go back, but it certainly worked out quite well with the Andre Iguodala/Jae Crowder trade in 2020. And the Terry Rozier acquisition appeared to be trending the right way until his neck injury at the most critical juncture of the season. And while not a trade, the move for Kevin Love on the buyout market certainly turned out well in 2023. But, yes, Dallas found the right players at the right time.

Q: If Pat Riley decides to give both Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler maximum extensions as soon as possible, which of the following players do the Heat trade to get some salary cap relief: Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro or Terry Rozier?   – John, Pembroke Pines.

A: First, essentially nothing changes with extensions over the next two years. Instead, we would be talking more about long-term money. As it is, there is a workable means for the Heat to keep their core together, albeit by also having to move on from supporting pieces such as Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith. For now, the Heat have to decide whether Tyler Herro-Terry Rozier is a workable side-by-side combination.

Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins focused on what’s ahead with contract extension behind them

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 02:15

MIAMI GARDENS — Jaylen Waddle is likely used to the offseason routine by now. The Miami Dolphins receiver has been suiting up for the same team at minicamp, playing mostly under the same coach and lining up alongside many familiar faces ahead of his fourth year in the NFL.

Despite these constants, things are different for Waddle this year. He’s now the recipient the fifth-biggest contract among wide receivers.

Waddle signed a three-year contract extension last week, worth a reported $84.75 million, including $76 million guaranteed. With the stresses of contract negotiations behind him, the wideout is spending his minicamp focused on getting better.

“It’s a business part on both sides, so you never know,” he said at Baptist Health Training Complex. “It made sense for both sides, and we were able to get it done.”

Being one of the top-paid players for his position may seem like added pressure to some, but Waddle says he won’t let his big payday shake his approach.

“I’m just here to do my job,” he said. “Make plays and help the team win.”

Waddle has done his job so far. He got open consistently during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in the first two days of mandatory minicamp. He broke away from cornerback Kendall Fuller and caught a ball in the end zone on the first day.

On day two of camp, he caught five passes on eight targets. Two of the incompletions came on balls thrown out of bounds.

Wide receivers coach Wes Welker said Waddle’s performance this week shows he’s worthy of the extension, and the deal should be a confidence booster for the 25 year old.

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“It kind of puts your mind at ease, like ‘All right, I can go play free and not have to worry about an injury, not worry about all those extra things that go on during a football season,’ ” Welker said.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel understands the importance of keeping a player like Waddle on the books. McDaniel took over in Miami before Waddle’s sophomore season and caught on to the University of Alabama product’s potential right away.

“It was early on that I could tell that this guy has unique skills to play at a high level really across the board,” McDaniel said.

Waddle had a dip in his numbers from 2022 to 2023, but McDaniel said that didn’t factor into contract considerations.

“I think he’s continuing to develop, which is great news for the Miami Dolphins,” McDaniel said. “Because I think he’s a big-time player that’s hungry, and those are great things for fans to watch and organizations to have on their team.”

The implications of the new deal stretch further than Waddle alone, however. His payday has revitalized ongoing conversations and concerns relating to contract negotiations for fellow Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Waddle seems to believe the two are deserving of new deals. He said the wide receiver group is “led” by Hill and credited Tagovailoa for helping bring along his own extension.

“Without Tua, I don’t think I would’ve got the extension I got,” he said. “So everybody is rooting for him. He’s our guy. Make sense, let’s get it done.”

The Dolphins have their fair share of things to work out on paper over the coming months. But when it comes to Waddle, the future is signed and sealed.

“It’s always been love since I got here, and we were just happy to get something done,” he said.

Ask a real estate pro: Can condo building force us to leave for termite tenting?

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 02:15

Q: Our condominium building has termites and needs to be tented. This means everyone must be out of the building for a few days. Some owners are protesting the idea, its timing and the expense. Do all of the owners have to cooperate? — Hardy

A: Yes, ultimately, all of the residents will need to temporarily vacate the building for the fumigation. Your association is responsible for maintaining the common areas, including mitigating termite damage. While this has to be balanced with the resident’s rights to enjoy their homes, they must cooperate with reasonable safety, maintenance, and repair requests.

The association should ensure that tenting is absolutely necessary and that no less disruptive alternatives exist.

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Good communication with the residents explaining the situation and the need for the fumigation should help smooth things over.

While moving out for a few days is a hardship, having their homes destroyed by termites is much worse. It is important to remember that communication works both ways. The protests may be more general, such as worrying about the cost or where to stay, or more specific, such as a homebound resident. Listen to the residents’ concerns and address them as best you can.

That said, not every concern will have a good solution, and eventually, everyone will need to leave for a few days.

If an owner remains uncooperative, the association may need to take legal action to enforce compliance. However, it may be necessary for the association to send their attorney to court for an “injunction” ordering the resident to cooperate.

After that, if they still refuse to cooperate, the court can send law enforcement to remove the recalcitrant person and allow the fumigation to proceed.

Fortunately, after proper communication, such extreme measures are rarely necessary.

Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary Singer writes about industry legal matters and the housing market. To ask him a question, email him at gary@garysingerlaw.com, or go to SunSentinel.com/askpro. 

Immigration ‘consultant’ made $4 million bilking undocumented people, feds say

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 02:15

A Margate man has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and false statements stemming from a nearly 10-year long scheme where he claimed to be an attorney and offered immigration services to undocumented people — fraudulently earning nearly $4 million.

Jephte Bernard, 70, was sentenced over five years in prison on Friday. He pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of false statements in January, federal court records show.

Bernard was the owner and operator of Jay’s Immigration Consulting Practice LLC, and did business in Sunrise and other parts of Florida, federal prosecutors said in a news release Wednesday. Through his business, he submitted fraudulent asylum claims to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for Spanish-speaking and Haitian Creole-speaking immigrants.

Bernard posed as an attorney, a pastor, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent and former ICE employee who could provide services to undocumented people in the U.S. as well as their family and friends within the country and abroad, according to a factual proffer statement, the facts agreed on by the defendant and prosecution.

In order to get clients to retain him, Bernard gave them “false, inaccurate, and incomplete legal and immigration advice” and filed various immigration applications and petitions on their behalf, including applications for asylum, the factual proffer said.

Without the victims’ consent or knowledge, the applications Bernard submitted included false biographical information, addresses, false preparer names and made up answers about the threats victims faced in their home countries, from cartel- and gang-related violence and “government-sponsored torture” to “fabricated personal stories about being victimized by human trafficking, kidnapping, robberies, murder, torture, and police corruption,” the document said.

Bernard did not tell his clients that he was applying for asylum or fully explain to them what the protections were or other potential legal consequences of applying. Clients would sign incomplete asylum applications so he could later add to them without them knowing, the factual proffer said.

In one case from 2019, Bernard answered questions on an asylum application as if he were the client, writing that the person would “disappear” or be killed or beheaded in Colombia, according to the factual proffer.

“If I will be forced to return to Colombia without a change in the condition of the country and theule (sic) of law I know for sur (sic) sure that I will be killed by all of those who forced me to leave the
country,” he wrote in response to another question on the application.

The client in that case never made those statements, the factual proffer said.

Bernard defrauded over 1,000 people since the start of the scheme in at least 2014, totaling over $3.9 million, federal prosecutors said.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for August. After serving his sentence, Bernard will be on supervised release for three years, court records show.

Weekend things to do: SpongeBob, World Cup cricket, Taylor Swift and Prince tributes, ChurroCones in Weston

South Florida Local News - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 02:15

There is no discernible theme to this weekend now that Miami Swim Week is over — because why torture the Edmontonians like that? But in its randomness, there’s something for (yes) everyone, both locals and visitors from the Great White North. You’ll find VR space travel at the Kravis Center, SpongeBob at the Broward Center, a World Cup cricket watch party (India vs. Pakistan!) at The Wharf, concerts by Megan Thee Stallion and Luis Miguel, comedian Whitney Cummings at Dania Improv, a Taylor Swift tribute band putting an exclamation point on Pride events in Delray Beach, the debut of Santo Dulce’s ChurroCones in Weston, The Smoogies on Sistrunk, the kitschy Mrs. Roper Romp, ABBA-inspired disco hits at Revolution Live, a rooftop for National Rosé Day and, at the former home of Prince’s South Beach nightclub Glam Slam, they’re going to party like it’s 1994. Let us proceed. 


Lost in space: This is opening weekend at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach for “Space Explorers: THE INFINITE,” a VR-goggle-enabled, 360-degree cinematic journey aboard a 3D replica of the International Space Station. With unique access to the American space program that resulted in more than 250 hours of virtual reality footage, this fully immersive experience is like “nothing else in the world right now,” a producer told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Admission costs $45 to $50 for adults, $35 to $40 for students, and $25 to $30 for children age 8 to 12. The show is at the Kravis Center through Sept. 2. Visit Kravis.org.

New food hall: Block 40 Food Hall will open in downtown Hollywood on Thursday at 7 p.m., bringing 10 eateries and an expansive, sports-minded bar to an 18,000-square-foot space facing the ArtsPark on Young Circle. With an attractive architectural nod to the Mediterranean Revival warmth of the former occupant of the land — the stately old Great Southern Hotel, torn down in 2020 — Block 40 Food Hall is located on the ground floor of the 1818 Park residential tower. The venue will be operated by Society 8 Hospitality, known for Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery, The House on the River and Wild Thyme Oceanside Eatery in Fort Lauderdale. Visit Block40FoodHall.com.

Mike Stocker / South Florida Sun SentinelBlock 40 Food Hall is on the ground floor of 1818 Park, behind an attractive re-creation of the facade of the historic Great Southern Hotel. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Miguel all over: If you made a list of American markets on his North American tour where Mexican heartthrob Luis Miguel played three concerts on the same stop, No. 1 would be South Florida … And that’s it. The crooner has weekend dates at 8 p.m. Thursday at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise (tickets start at $71+ at SeatGeek.com), and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Kaseya Center in Miami (tickets start at $91+ at Ticketmaster.com). 

Just got hotter: Megan Thee Stallion brings her Hot Girl Summer Tour to Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on Thursday, fans still abuzz after she announced on Sunday the release date (June 28) for her new album, “Megan.” Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert start at $95+ at MyHRL.com.

Ticket window: Pop iconoclast Cyndi Lauper has announced that her 2024 tour, her first major headlining concerts in more than a decade, will be her last. The 23-city Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Farewell Tour will stop at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Nov. 8. Tickets for the show start at $85+ and are available via a venue presale (password COLORS) at Facebook.com/hardrockholly before the general on-sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Visit MyHRL.com. … Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne will bring the tour supporting new album “Long Way Home” (set for release on Aug. 16) to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 27. Tickets, starting at $39.50+, are on sale via an artist presale (sign up at RayLaMontagne.com) before the general on-sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Visit BrowardCenter.org.

Cyndi Lauper, pictured on June 4 at a Los Angeles screening of her documentary “Let The Canary Sing.” The singer is bringing her farewell tour to Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Nov. 8. (Corine Solberg/Getty Images)

Sing for your supper: Best known for a certain laidback allure, Yeasty Brews Artisanal Beers in Lauderhill will crank it up to 11 on Thursday when they debut a new monthly karaoke night. The other headline: distinctive dining from pop-ups @jennywiththepot and @kennysmashburger. The fun runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Visit Instagram.com/yeastybrews.

Sistrunk funk: Charismatically funky, jazzy local quartet The SmoogiesVaughn “V.Keys” Henry (keyboards, vocals), Dion Kerr (bass), Harvel Nakundi (percussion) and David Chiverton (drums) —  have a Fort Lauderdale concert on Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Circuit at Destination Sistrunk, 1033 NW Sixth St. Highly recommended. The concert is presented by the Broward County Cultural Division, Destination Sistrunk Cultural & Community Investment Partnership, and Arc Labs. Tickets cost $15, or $10 for students. Visit Instagram.com/thesmoogiesband or Eventbrite.com

Happy place: Coral Springs-spawned rapper Robb Bank$, son of dancehall star Shaggy, will play a hometown show as he brings his I Think I Might Be Happy Tour to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. Doors open at 7 p.m., with music at 8 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show start at $22.50+ at JoinTheRevolution.net

Weekend sweets: Miami’s beloved churros and ice cream pop-up Santo Dulce has a new summer residency on the edge of Weston and Southwest Ranches at 5140 SW 208th Lane (roughly Griffin Road and Highway 27). It is there that you can enjoy their newest creation, the ChurroCone. These treats begin with warm, crispy, flavor-infused churro dough twisted into a cone that is topped by Santo Dulce’s signature ice cream. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. As you know, Thursday is National Churro Day, when they’ll also stop in Tamarac from 4 to 9 p.m. (8800 NW 78th Court) and Plantation from 5 to 9 p.m. (1244 S. Pine Island Road). Visit Facebook.com/santodulcechurros.


Purple pros: One could argue (I will) that South Beach did not become a thing on the pop culture map until Prince opened his East Coast version of nightclub Glam Slam at 1235 Washington Ave. 30 years ago. The space, later known as Mansion, now M2 Miami, will host a party for the pop icon on Friday, when he would have turned 66 (regally). The multimedia evening runs from 7 to 11 p.m. and will include live music (!) from a Prince cover band and cocktails inspired by his songs. Tickets cost $10. Visit M2Miami.com.

Prince will be celebrated on Friday at the former home of his South Beach nightclub Glam Slam, which he opened 30 years ago. (Chris O’Meara/AP file photo)

Night fever: The global phenomenon Gimme Gimme Disco, a DJ dance party fueled by the music of ABBA, the Bee Gees, Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor, comes to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night. Disco attire very recommended. You know who you are. Doors open at 10:30 p.m., with music at 11 p.m. Tickets for the 21-and-older show cost $13+ at JoinTheRevolution.net

Free music: The free community picnics known as Starlight Musicals return to downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park on Friday with the infectious grooves of Marijah & The Reggae All Stars. Set on the football field on the east side of the park each Friday for the next 10 weeks, these concerts are BYO-whatever events, with lawn chairs, picnic baskets and coolers encouraged, and plenty of room for the kids to run off pent-up energy. Food and beverages also will be available for purchase. The music runs from 7 to 10 p.m., but insiders know that the lights don’t come on right away. The Pantry of Broward and LifeNet4Families will accept donations of nonperishable food, and you can donate pet food to Abandoned Pet Rescue. Visit Parks.FortLauderdale.gov/starlight.


Weekend laughs: Smart and accomplished actor, writer, producer and podcaster Whitney Cummings somehow has found her way back to the stand-up stage on a tour that will stop at the Dania Improv in Dania Beach on Saturday. She has performances at 7 (sold out) and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $40+ at DaniaImprov.com.

Sponge worthy: Slow Burn Theater Co. on Saturday opens its two-week run of “The SpongeBob Musical” at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, a Tony-nominated show based on the wacky and beloved Nickelodeon cartoon that premiered in 1999, with music from David Bowie, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, The Flaming Lips, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco and others. Tickets start at $54 at BrowardCenter.org. My favorite review of the show, published last fall at ChicagoOnStage.com, began: “I have never watched a single episode of ‘SpongeBob Squarepants.’ As I entered the Chopin Theatre to see the opening night of Kokandy’s ‘The SpongeBob Musical,’ pretty much all I knew was the fact that the title character lives in a pineapple under the sea — I have no clue how I even knew that much.” One paragraph later, the reviewer pronounced it “one of the most purely entertaining shows of the year.”

Delray pride: The Delray Beach Pride Festival will bring food, vendors and live entertainment to the crossroad emblazoned with the city’s iconic Pride flag (Northeast Second Avenue between East Atlantic Avenue and Northeast Second Street) on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. Events will lead into a free concert on Old School Square by duo The Little Things and the Taylor Swift tribute Lovestory. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Bring a chair. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Visit Facebook.com/DelrayOldSchoolSquare.

Think pink: Probably no more fitting spot to enjoy National Rosé Day on Saturday than at Rosa Sky Rooftop, perched over the panorama of Miami’s gleaming Brickell neighborhood (it became the second-most attractive rooftop operated by The Restaurant People after they opened Nubé on Fort Lauderdale beach). Bottles of rosé will be half-price all day until 10 p.m. Visit Instagram.com/rosaskyrooftop.

Helen back: The caftan-ed and bewigged Helens of the South Florida chapter of Mrs. Roper Romp are planning to gather at Thrōw Social in Delray Beach on Saturday at 3 p.m. to celebrate the patron saint of spousal frustration (played by Audra Lindley in the bawdy sitcom “Three’s Company”). Who knows where they’ll end up? For information, look for the group page on Facebook. In possibly unrelated news, Thrōw Social recently introduced a self-pour wall with 20 taps serving cocktails, seltzers, wine and beer. Visit Facebook.com/throwsocialdelray.

Need fashion tips? This is how they did the Mrs. Roper Romp in Yorba Linda, California, in March. (Mark Rightmire/Orange County Register)

Cat match fever: The Florida Panthers return to the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday with a Game 1 match in Sunrise against the perfectly innocuous Edmonton Oilers (after series against Tampa, Boston and New York, Panthers fans are out of insults anyway). When it comes to watch-party plans for the series, the best-kept secret around is the Barrel Room around back of Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, which is a little tricky to locate if you don’t know where you’re going. The brewery has posted a map on Facebook to guide you. The Federal (Instagram.com/the_federal_ftl), the Panthers’ restaurant on the second floor of their new  Baptist Health IcePlex practice facility, has been packed with enthusiastic crowds for big-screen viewing. There is free admission to the facility and plenty of free parking (Instagram.com/ftlwarmemorial). I’ve also heard good things about watch events at Pompano Beach Brewing Co. (Facebook.com/pompanobeachbrewing) and Tin Roof in Delray Beach (TinRoofDelrayBeach.com).

Blast from the past: Founding member Carmine Appice, joined by former Savoy Brown lead singer Jimmy Kunes, brings his revival of legendary early-’70s blues-rock group Cactus to The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton at 7 p.m. Saturday. The band, once proclaimed as America’s answer to Led Zeppelin, has a new album, “Tightrope.” Tickets start at $50+ for standing room. Visit FunkyBiscuit.com.

Saturday tributes: Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale hosts Metallica tribute band Hardwired and Alice Cooper tribute Billion Dollar Babie$ in an all-ages show on Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets: $15+ at JoinTheRevolution.net. … Mathews Brewing in Lake Worth Beach has Alice in Chains tribute In A Nutshell at 8 p.m Saturday. Admission is free. Visit Facebook.com/mathewsbrewing. … Funkin’ Grateful, a mashup of Fusik, The Heavy Pets and Unlimited Devotion, reimagines the Dead songbook on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton. Tickets start at $15 at CrazyUncleMikes.com.


Cricket watch: If you are cramming for upcoming cricket matches at Broward County Stadium in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, The Wharf Fort Lauderdale will host a watch party on Sunday for the highly anticipated World Cup game between India and Pakistan. The event will include big-screen viewing of the game (sound on), food, drink and music. There also will be a VIP area with special perks. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., with the game at 10:30 a.m. Visit WharfFTL.com. The ICC T20 World Cup is making its U.S. debut this year, with four matches at Broward County Stadium in Central Broward Park​ in Lauderhill: Sri Lanka vs. Nepal​ (7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11), U.S. vs. Ireland​ (10:30 a.m. Friday, June 14), India vs. Canada (10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 15) and Pakistan vs. Ireland​ (10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 16). For information, visit Broward.org/Parks.

Staff writer Ben Crandell can be reached at bcrandell@sunsentinel.com. Follow on Instagram @BenCrandell and Twitter @BenCrandell.

Daily Horoscope for June 06, 2024

South Florida Local News - Wed, 06/05/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for June 06, 2024

Our ideas can lift us into new stratospheres! The New Moon in Gemini culminates at 8:38 am EDT, setting off a wave of interactions and connections that are practically bound to lead to something sparkling. The Moon will then conjoin pleasure-loving Venus before squaring stern Saturn, so we may have to work extra hard to find time for work and play. Luna’s final sextile to Chiron will inspire us to discuss ways to heal and move forward together toward something more desirable.


March 21 – April 19

You’ve got something to say, Aries! The skies are vibrating with fresh energy as a New Moon hits the reset button in your communications sector, offering space to express yourself and your ideas with palpable freedom. This isn’t just about voicing your thoughts — it’s also about listening to others in order to collaborate and build something impressive together. You shouldn’t be rigid, so don’t think you need to follow a solo program. Working together should let everyone have more fun and get more done.


April 20 – May 20

This is the moment to plant productive seeds that will produce beautiful fruit. There is an emphasis on increasing your bounty as your 2nd House of Material Wealth hosts a special New Moon, giving you fresh chances to pad your wallet — and then some. This could provide you with modern opportunities to invest in yourself. Perhaps you’ll decide that it’s time for some wise investments or even a big purchase. Look for things that should pay for themselves in the long run.


May 21 – June 20

Your dream life is calling your name! There’s rarely been a better time to clear the decks of anything that doesn’t matter to you as the New Moon lands in your 1st House of Self-Expression. This moment is like your personal new year, so you’ve got cosmic permission to push everything not urgent to the side. Concentrate on what you want to manifest and things you’d like to bring into your life. Use today to clarify your goals, then start chasing them.


June 21 – July 22

The past is the past, but the future is yet to be written. Before you reach it, however, today’s New Moon in your 12th House of Endings asks you to close the door on a few old habits. New Moons signify initiation phases, which may seem at odds with the closing themes of this sector, but it is an opportunity for you to begin improving the quality of your existence. By the corresponding Full Moon, you could be in a much better place.


July 23 – August 22

Having a certain sense of community is more important than you may realize. Even though you can handle life as a solo venture, you shouldn’t have to! The New Moon in your 11th House of Global Networks is here to highlight the benefits of connecting with fresh faces. If you’ve been thinking about joining an organization or club, this is your catalyst to go fill out that membership application. Your acceptance is practically guaranteed — and if they don’t appreciate your gifts, someone else will.


August 23 – September 22

There’s a corner office waiting with your name all over it, Virgo. If not a corner office, then certainly something else just as impressive, thanks to the compelling New Moon in your 10th House of Professional Success. This marks the perfect moment to unveil any major projects you’ve been working on behind the scenes. Contrastingly, if you’re looking for something fresh to dig your teeth into, then you can bet it will make itself known to you quite soon. Dress for success!


September 23 – October 22

No matter how much you know, there is always room to grow and learn more. This is the perfect time to embark on a course of enlightenment and evolution as a New Moon arrives in your boundless 9th house, setting the stage for you to experience a new kind of freedom. Acknowledge the perceived limitations around you, and realize that they are just that: perceived, and not necessarily real. Throw them out the window and go look for something more illuminating!


October 23 – November 21

How you grow in tandem with others is currently a good marker for your personal growth. This theme comes into sharper focus as your 8th House of Shared Resources plays host to a potent New Moon in the skies above, initiating deeper bonds with the important people in your life. These bonds are rarely simple — they require everyone involved to act with dignity and resolve. Blissful transformation can be found on the other side of these complicated entanglements. Your resulting growth will be infinite.


November 22 – December 21

Someone wants your attention! This person may fall under the category of close friend, professional connection, or even love interest. Whoever they are will potentially make themselves known under today’s New Moon in your 7th House of Relationships. This lunation reminds you to officialize a particular connection in a way that benefits you and your peer. This isn’t about finding your mirror image, but rather someone who complements you and your skills. When you do the same in return, you can both travel further.


December 22 – January 19

Life is much easier to conquer when you have a strategy in place. You can come up with a decent plan of attack — or something a little more relaxed — as the New Moon in your 6th House of Wellness encourages you to get your act together. Examine your life and your routines with a magnifying glass. If you encounter anything that gives you pause, start figuring out how to improve it. You don’t need to turn your life upside down to do this.


January 20 – February 18

The stage is set for you to take your bow. Thanks to the lovely New Moon performing in your theatrical 5th house, you’ve got as much of an audience as you could possibly ask for! Don’t be shy about putting yourself on display to your peers. Whether you’re literally playing a part or expressing yourself in more figurative ways, this is no time to downplay your contributions or make like a wallflower. There’s nothing wrong with embracing your inner diva every once in a while!


February 19 – March 20

Domestic bliss is easier to achieve than you might think. Sharing ideas with others can enact genuine change as the New Moon in your foundational 4th house sets off a fresh cycle of growth and positivity under your roof. You can implement the changes you want to see, whether they’re along the lines of pleasing aesthetic updates or better relations with anyone who lives with you. If you’re tired of your spot, consider looking for a new place to hang your hat.

Paredes doubles twice, drives in three runs to lead Rays to 5-3 win over Marlins

South Florida Local News - Wed, 06/05/2024 - 18:19

MIAMI (AP) — Isaac Paredes doubled twice and drove in three runs and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 on Wednesday night to sweep their two-game series.

Brandon Lowe had two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who have won 23 of 26 against Miami since the start of 2019.

Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena walked twice and singled in his first three plate appearances, extending his on-base streak to eight after reaching five times Tuesday. The string ended when Arozarena popped out to second to end the seventh.

“Randy’s at bats over the last three or four games have been really impressive,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “That might be the most encouraging thing, the way he is seeing the ball. He’s taking good swings and driving some balls down the line.”

The Marlins dropped to an NL-worst 21-41. They have started June with four straight losses after going 14-13 in May.

Rays starter Zach Eflin returned from the injured list and worked four innings of two-run ball. Limited to a pitch count, Eflin allowed three hits and struck out three. The right-hander, who missed three weeks with lower back inflammation, finished his 55-pitch outing by retiring 10 straight.

“Felt good, first inning I felt I was getting my feet wet again. But the longer I was out there the more comfortable I got,” Eflin said. “Look forward to more pitches next time.”

Five relievers followed Eflin including Richard Lovelady (2-4) who pitched a perfect sixth. Pete Fairbanks pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

Paredes hit a two-run double against Miami starter Braxton Garrett (2-1) and scored on Josh Lowe’s double to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0 in the first.

“I have been recognizing the strike zone and that has helped me a lot,” said Paredes, who went 4 for 9 in the series. “It makes me feel more confident.”

Jesús Sánchez’s RBI double and Otto López’s run-scoring single in the bottom half narrowed the gap for Miami.

The Rays ended Garrett’s outing in the third on Brandon Lowe’s run-scoring single and Paredes’ RBI double.

“You always want to be up early and stay on ahead,” Brandon Lowe said. “I feel we do it more for our pitchers than for our hitters. Our guys are always going to have great at-bats. They’re going to try their best. They’re going to try their hardest.”

Josh Bell got the Marlins within 5-3 with an RBI single in the fifth.

Garrett gave up five runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. In the two-game set, the Rays scored 14 runs and had 15 hits over seven innings against Miami’s starters.

“He didn’t have many first pitch strikes and that’s unlike him,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said of Garrett. “He’s usually commanding all four quadrants and I feel he didn’t have the feel for any pitch.”

Academy Award-winner Will Smith and co-star Martin Lawrence, who are in Miami promoting the release of their film “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” made an appearance by the Marlins dugout before the game and posed for pictures with fans. With Smith’s encouragement, Lawrence also threw a ceremonial first pitch to Marlins outfielder Nick Gordon.


Marlins: INF Jake Burger had the night off. Burger played in 24 consecutive games since returning from a three-week absence because of a left intercostals muscle sprain.


Marlins: LHP Ryan Weathers (3-5, 3.41) will start the opener of a three-game home series against Cleveland on Friday. RHP Ben Lively (5-2, 2.84) will start for the Guardians.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Man in Mexico died of a bird flu strain that hadn’t been confirmed before in a human, WHO says

South Florida Local News - Wed, 06/05/2024 - 16:38


WASHINGTON (AP) — A man’s death in Mexico was caused by a strain of bird flu called H5N2 that has never before been found in a human, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The WHO said it wasn’t clear how the man became infected, although H5N2 has been reported in poultry in Mexico.

There are numerous types of bird flu. H5N2 is not the same strain that has infected multiple dairy cow herds in the U.S. That strain is called H5N1 and three farmworkers have gotten mild infections.

Other bird flu varieties have killed people across the world in previous years, including 18 people in China during an outbreak of H5N6 in 2021, according to a timeline of bird flu outbreaks from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mexican health officials alerted the WHO that a 59-year-old man who died in a Mexico City hospital had the virus despite no known exposure to poultry or other animals.

According to family members, the WHO release said, the patient had been bedridden for unrelated reasons before developing a fever, shortness of breath and diarrhea on April 17. Mexico’s public health department said in a statement that he had underlying ailments, including chronic kidney failure, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Hospital care was sought on April 24 and the man died the same day.

Initial tests showed an unidentified type of flu that subsequent weeks of lab testing confirmed was H5N2.

The WHO said the risk to people in Mexico is low, and that no further human cases have been discovered so far despite testing people who came in contact with the deceased at home and in the hospital.

There had been three poultry outbreaks of H5N2 in nearby parts of Mexico in March but authorities haven’t been able to find a connection. Mexican officials also are monitoring birds near a shallow lake on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Whenever bird flu circulates in poultry, there is a risk that people in close contact with flocks can become infected. Health authorities are closely watching for any signs that the viruses are evolving to spread easily from person to person, and experts are concerned as more mammal species contract bird flu viruses.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

A committee wanted mom of transgender student suspended. The superintendent wants her fired.

South Florida Local News - Wed, 06/05/2024 - 16:18

A committee found reason to discipline a Monarch High employee who is also the mom of a transgender athlete but didn’t want her to be fired, newly released district documents show.

The district’s Professional Standards Committee, made of principals and administrators, voted March 20 to recommend a 10-day suspension for Jessica Norton, an information specialist and a junior varsity volleyball coach at the Coconut Creek school.

But that recommendation was overruled — at least temporarily.

Then-Superintendent Peter Licata and Human Resources Chief David Azzarito decided March 26 to recommend termination. Current Superintendent Howard Hepburn upheld the recommendation.

The School Board is expected to decide June 18 whether to approve Hepburn’s recommendation. The board could decide instead to approve a more lenient discipline or no discipline at all.

Norton is accused of violating the state law passed in 2021 known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which bans students who are born male from competing on female sports teams in public schools. While Norton was a district employee, her daughter played volleyball at Monarch for two seasons and played volleyball and soccer at Lyons Creek Middle in Coconut Creek.

The records from the investigation don’t say the specific reasons the Professional Standards Committee came up with its recommendation for a suspension. Nor does it say why Licata and Hepburn wanted the harsher punishment.

“Each case is reviewed and evaluated independently,” district spokesman John Sullivan told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

But documents about the investigation of Norton, released Wednesday, do reveal findings from the district’s Special Investigative Unit that likely prompted the recommendation of “just cause” for discipline.

Among the district’s allegations:

— Norton asked in 2017, before she was an employee, to have her child’s sex changed in district records, which investigators said was a violation of policy. Once she became an employee, she failed to let the district know the gender information was inaccurate, the report said.

— Norton “admitted that she submitted incorrect documents” to Lyons Creek, listing her daughter as female on an athletic form, even though the child’s birth certificate at the time said male. The birth certificate was legally changed to female a few months later.

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— Norton admitted she was aware that the state law related to girls’ sports took effect in July 2021 but still registered her child in female athletics after that, the district said.

— While coaching the junior varsity team and assisting the varsity team, “she knew that a biological male was playing female sports,” contrary to Florida law, leading to a $16,500 fine and other sanctions against Monarch from the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Investigators asked her why, in her role as coach, she didn’t reveal that her child was born male.

“Because she’s a female. She identifies as a girl; her birth certificate says female. … So, the only way that I would know as a coach was because I am her parent,” she responded.

Norton told investigators that the sex of her daughter was changed at Winston Park Elementary during the 2016-17 year. She said then-Superintendent Robert Runcie said at an LGBTQ roundtable that parents could request such changes for transgender children. Investigators said this change was done without any supporting documentation.

When detectives asked her why she submitted “false information” about her child’s gender on an athletic form in 2021, Norton responded, “Because that’s what’s reflected in the school board. … Because as far as the Broward County Schools was concerned, she was in the system as a female.”

Lawyers for Norton submitted to the district a 13-page response to the investigation, which was not included in the investigative file provided to the Sun Sentinel through a public records request. But Norton’s lawyers provided a copy to the newspaper. She is being represented by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ rights group.

The letter said Norton was a volunteer coach who had “no role, responsibility, or authority in the try-out and selection process … nor in running any practices or coaching in games.”  Her main roles were providing snacks, organizing celebrations and handling clerical duties.

The letter also questioned why many issues relate to Norton’s role as a parent, rather than an employee, and some happened before she even started working for the district.

“It is unclear how actions Ms. Norton took as a parent, before she was ever an employee of the District, could be relevant to potential corrective action designed to improve or change her job performance,” the letter said.

While the legal remedy under the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” is for someone who has been harmed to be able to sue the district, the investigation found no evidence that any student was harmed, the lawyers wrote.

“Not one of the students who were interviewed were aggrieved by having a transgender teammate,” the lawyers wrote. “The only evidence of student harm here is with respect to [Norton’s child], who, as a result of the callous and reckless manner in which the investigation was announced, was publicly outed, became the subject of unnecessary media scrutiny and was displaced from her school community due to fears for her safety and well-being.”

The district did not identify the child who was at the center of the investigation but did confirm that Norton was under investigation, so many people at Monarch knew who the student was.

Administrators and athletic directors from Monarch and Lyons Creek also were investigated, but ultimately cleared by the district, with most of those employees saying they didn’t have direct knowledge the student was a transgender girl. Monarch Principal James Cecil told investigators Norton had mentioned to him her child was transgender, but he thought the student was female but transitioning to be a male.

“I was waiting for her to become a boy,” Cecil told investigators.

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