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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,712

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Gov. Ron DeSantis' lawyers want parents' push for mandatory masks thrown out

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

TALLAHASSEE – Attorneys for Gov. Ron DeSantis asked a judge Friday to throw out a lawsuit by parents in a half-dozen Florida counties challenging the state’s ban on mandatory masks in school.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper set a hearing date for next week on the proposed dismissal, a first step before any discussion of the effort to stop the ban on mask mandates takes place.

“We believe that the complaint exhibits some significant deficiencies,” said Michael Abel, a DeSantis attorney, in Friday’s opening hearing on the lawsuit filed a week ago.

Abel said questions revolved around whether the parents had legal standing to challenge the governor’s order. He also said the dismissal should be considered on allegations the lawsuit was driven by politics and that a court ruling against DeSantis would violate his executive branch authority.

Read more: https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/state/2021/08/13/gov-ron-desantis-wants-schools-mask-mandate-lawsuit-tossed/8122269002/

Parents don't have legal standing? Floridians can't sue their governor for violating his authority? Great arguments.

This Tennessee Republican Nearly Died From COVID. Now He's Fighting Masks.

State Rep. David Byrd needed a liver transplant after 55 days on a ventilator. Now he’s thanking the medical professionals who saved his life by battling mask and vaccine mandates.

Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd was recorded apologizing to one of two former students who accused him of molesting them when he was a girls’ high school basketball coach in the 1980s.

“I can promise you one thing, I have been so sorry for that,” he says in a recording that surfaced along with the allegations in 2018. “I’ve lived with that and you don’t know how hard it has been for me.”

A third student charged that he had attempted to molest her. But Byrd never admitted nor explicitly denied what the three alleged, saying only, “I have done nothing wrong or inappropriate during my term as state representative.”

The then speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell, called on Byrd to resign. He refused and joined many of his fellow Republican representatives in wrongdoing of another kind when the pandemic hit.


Toddler Cites Freedom Of Choice In Refusal To Use Potty

CHESANING, MI—Noting that it was her right as an American citizen to decide when and where she would urinate and defecate, 3-year-old Madison Ackrite told reporters Wednesday that she was simply exercising her constitutionally guaranteed freedom of choice when she refused to use the potty.

“My decision to pee-pee and poo-poo in the place of my choosing is a private health decision,” said Ackrite, noting that there was still a lot she didn’t know about the potty, and until she had done enough research to satisfy her concerns, she would continue to relieve herself in her pull-up diapers, as was her right in accordance with the rule of law.

“Unlike a lot of the kids in my daycare, I am not a sheep. If you want to use the potty, that is your personal choice, and no one is stopping you. All I ask is that you respect my decision, which is based on my personal belief that I hate going to the potty. I hate it, hate it, hate it!”

At press time, Ackrite refused to answer whether or not she had emptied her bowels on the living room floor, arguing that her refusal to divulge such information was protected by the courts.


Florida nursing home staff have second-lowest COVID vaccination rate in nation

Florida also lags the nationwide average in fully vaccinating nursing home residents an AARP report found.

TALLAHASSEE — A report released Thursday by AARP shows that Florida had the nation’s highest percentage of nursing homes reporting new COVID-19 infections among staff members during a four-week period in June and July.

The Florida facilities also had the second-lowest worker vaccination rate in the nation.

In addition, the AARP report showed that Florida lagged in vaccinating nursing home residents, with 73 percent of residents considered fully vaccinated. Nationally, 81.7 percent of nursing home residents were fully vaccinated.

Forty percent of the state’s nursing homes reported COVID-19 cases among staff members during the four-week period. With just 45.1 percent of long-term care staff vaccinated, Florida was well behind the 60.4 percent national average.


Inside Fox News, DeSantis is 'the future of the party.' And he's taking advantage.

Emails show the Florida governor is in high demand on the network — and gets his way.

Early in Florida’s vaccine rollout, during a period marked by confusion and images of seniors in long lines desperate for a shot, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office devised a pitch to air a more flattering view. In mid-January, his staff took the idea to Fox News.

The timing was perfect. Producers for Fox & Friends, the network’s top-rated cable morning news show, were already inquiring about DeSantis’ availability.

A plan came together in a flurry of emails and phone calls over several days. DeSantis’ team provided a senior, a location and the talking points. Fox News would bring the cameras and its audience. No other media would be allowed in.

When Fox & Friends viewers tuned in Jan. 22, they heard applause live from St. Petersburg as a 100-year-old World War II veteran received his first coronavirus vaccine. Standing nearby, DeSantis cracked jokes about the senior’s good looks and boasted that Florida was leading the country in vaccinating older residents.


NASA's New Telescope Will Show Us the Infancy of the Universe

Twenty-five years and ten billion dollars in the making, the James Webb Space Telescope will enable scientists to see deeper into the past than ever before.

Next month, the James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to take a slow boat from Los Angeles, spend a few days traversing the Panama Canal, and arrive at a spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The telescope will have been twenty-five years and ten billion dollars in the making. Thousands of scientists and engineers from fourteen countries will have worked on it. It could have flown, sure, but it’s a tight squeeze—plus the telescope weighs seven tons, and Kourou’s airfield is connected to its spaceport by seven bridges not built to endure such a load. The telescope will be put into Ariane 5, a European rocket named for a mythical princess who helped a man she loved defeat the Minotaur and escape a maze. Ariane 5 will carry the telescope some ten thousand kilometres in thirty minutes. The J.W.S.T. will then continue on its own, for twenty-nine days, toward a lonely, lovely orbit in space, about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, where we will never visit it, though it will stay in constant communication with us. From Earth, it will appear ten thousand times fainter than the faintest star.

On its way, the telescope will slowly unfurl five silvery winglike layered sheets of Kapton foil, about as large as a tennis court. These sheets, each thinner than notebook paper, will function as a gigantic parasol, protecting the body of the telescope from the light and the heat of the sun, moon, and Earth. In this way, the J.W.S.T. will be kept nearly as dark and as cold as outer space, to insure that distant signals aren’t washed out. Then eighteen hexagons of gold-coated beryllium mirror will open out, like an enormous, night-blooming flower. The mirrors will form a reflecting surface as tall and as wide as a house, and they will capture light that has been travelling for more than thirteen billion years.

This is the hope, at least.

“Oh, gee, I worry all the time,” said Marcia Rieke, an infrared astronomer based in Tucson, who has devoted much of the past two decades to the J.W.S.T. “Even the rocket, which is the most reliable rocket out there, it still has some tiny chance of exploding at launch.” Rieke, who has astrology-blue eyes and a no-nonsense ponytail, is the scientific lead for the near-infrared camera, known as the nirCam, which is one of four main research instruments on the telescope. She is an expert on the formation of galaxies, and the nirCam will allow us to see light from billions of years ago, when the earliest galaxies and stars were formed. I spoke with Rieke over Zoom, where she had as a background a lunar eclipse she photographed in Sabino Canyon, which is near her home but looks like it’s on Mars. “I’ve spent decades in this field, and there’s still so much I don’t know,” she said.

In 2017, Rieke and her team went to the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, where tests would be performed on the nirCam and other Webb instruments. They wanted to expose the telescope to the extremely cold conditions of outer space. Hurricane Harvey hit while they were there. “While I was at the airport waiting to fly out to Houston, I was watching the forecast and fortunately was able to change my car rental to an S.U.V.,” Rieke said. “So I was able to ferry the members of the team between their hotels and the Space Center. They brought in really nice catering for us. I’m not sure how they managed that.” Imagine sealing one’s gold-plated work of decades in a giant pressure cooker and then pouring liquid nitrogen on top of it—that resembles the exposure test. The telescope was in Chamber A, the gigantic vacuum chamber at the Space Center where the command module for Apollo was tested. Remarkably, Rieke’s team accomplished its mission. Rieke has seen the J.W.S.T. survive not only Hurricane Harvey but also numerous threats of cancellation, along with delays that have serially shifted the launch from an original date of 2010 to late 2021. I asked Rieke what she was most looking forward to seeing. “I’m looking forward to seeing that it works,” she said. “I’ll start sleeping better about thirty days after it’s been launched. Launch isn’t even the riskiest step in deploying the nirCam.” Once the telescope is up and running, Rieke will return to studying events that happened in our universe billions of years before Earth was formed.


I've been looking forward to this launch for many, many years.

COVID surge leads BayCare to suspend elective surgeries at Pinellas, Pasco, Polk hospitals

The hospital chain acts as surpasses 1,000 COVID patients in its 14 hospitals in the region.

BayCare Health System put a hold on all elective surgeries and procedures at it hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties as the surge in COVID-19 cases shows no sign of slowing down.

The hospital chain had already suspended some elective procedures across most of its Hillsborough hospitals in the past two weeks after the number of COVID-19 patients rose to more than 800, the highest since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, the number of infected patients had risen to more than 1,000 patients across the company’s 14 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region and in Polk. That’s a 10-fold increase since the beginning of July, said BayCare Chief Operating Officer Glenn Waters.

“We’re making these operational adjustments to be sure we can continue providing safe, high-quality care to the recent influx of COVID patients in addition to hundreds of other people in our hospitals with unrelated, serious medical issues,” he said in a statement.


DeSantis softens school board salary threats over mask mandates

Source: Tampa Bay Times

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration signaled earlier this week that it would slash the pay of Florida school superintendents and school board members who defy the governor on school masks.

But now — as two Florida districts, including Broward County Public Schools, remain defiant — the governor’s office is acknowledging the state has no control over local employees’ pay. His spokesperson called on “activist, anti-science school board members” to dock their own salaries if the state follows through with financial sanctions against their district.

“Those officials should own their decision — and that means owning the consequences of their decisions rather than demanding students, teachers, and school staff to foot the bill for their potential grandstanding,” Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, said in an email to the Times/Herald.

The tug-of-war between local school officials and DeSantis’ administration is playing out as millions of students return to in-person classes across Florida and parents weigh the risk of contagion amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, including among youth and children.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/08/12/desantis-softens-school-board-salary-threats-over-mask-mandates/

The backpedaling has begun.

"All Roads Lead to Mar-a-Lago": Inside the Fury and Fantasy of Donald Trump's Florida

Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Ben Shapiro—they’ve all made their way to the Sunshine State, fueling and profiting from a tabloid culture that turns politics into spectacle, arguably Florida’s greatest export.

It’s late afternoon, and the palms of Fort Lauderdale are swaying as Roger Stone—dirty trickster, convicted felon—glides across the boulevard in short sleeves and a linen jacket, ready for his first cocktail of the day. We’re approaching the Elbo Room, a decrepit party bar on the spring-break beach strip that’s packed with revelers and blaring Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” “If you’re 18 and trying to get laid, this is the place to go,” observes Stone, who is shadowed by a neatly dressed young man who calls himself Eddie and whom Stone describes as his aide-de-camp.

This isn’t Stone’s usual watering hole, but it seemed like an appropriate stop: It’s the site of an anti-mask, pro-Trump rally last April called the Million Maskless March; the tabletops are decorated with sun-bleached photographs of seminude spring breakers in rubber Trump masks. As Stone steps to the corner, the bar crowd immediately recognizes the snow-white hair and comic book villain sunglasses, perhaps from cable news, where Stone was last seen mobbed by TV cameras following his conviction for perjury, obstruction of justice, and threatening a witness in the Robert Mueller investigation.

A thin, lantern-jawed young man covered with tattoos emerges from the bar, eager for a picture. “I have a following of a bunch of Republicans who are going to die!” he exclaims, posing next to Stone with his phone. He just moved to Florida from Boston, he says, because of “the weather and Governor DeSantis.”

Others come out, wide-eyed. A Black woman says her mother is a fan, and she wants a photo for proof of celebrity contact. Stone shoots me a victorious look—a Black woman who likes a Republican! “Say hello to your mother,” he smiles, greeting more fans. “How you doing? How are you?”


For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts.

Industry has been promoting hydrogen as a reliable, next-generation fuel to power cars, heat homes and generate electricity. It may, in fact, be worse for the climate than previously thought.

It is seen by many as the clean energy of the future. Billions of dollars from the bipartisan infrastructure bill have been teed up to fund it.

But a new peer-reviewed study on the climate effects of hydrogen, the most abundant substance in the universe, casts doubt on its role in tackling the greenhouse gas emissions that are the driver of catastrophic global warming.

The main stumbling block: Most hydrogen used today is extracted from natural gas in a process that requires a lot of energy and emits vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Producing natural gas also releases methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas.

And while the natural gas industry has proposed capturing that carbon dioxide — creating what it promotes as emissions-free, “blue” hydrogen — even that fuel still emits more across its entire supply chain than simply burning natural gas, according to the paper, published Thursday in the Energy Science & Engineering journal by researchers from Cornell and Stanford Universities.

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