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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 1, 2022

DeSantis' office relied on GOP sheriffs, others in inquiry of Andrew Warren

“You can’t give me the name of a single Democrat you talked to besides the sheriff of Orange County?” the judge asked.

TALLAHASSEE — On the first day of the trial in which ousted Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is trying to get his job back, a top official for Gov. Ron DeSantis testified that he did a thorough job figuring out that Warren was a troublingly progressive prosecutor who was “hostile and antagonistic” to law enforcement and needed to be booted from office.

On Wednesday morning, however, Warren’s attorneys pounced during their cross-examination of public safety czar Larry Keefe to point out holes and omissions in his research, including the fact that, outside of the Orange County sheriff, he talked to only Republicans while doing his research on DeSantis’ behalf.

The questioning at one point prompted U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to ask Keefe: “You can’t give me the name of a single Democrat you talked to besides the sheriff of Orange County?”

That’s correct, Keefe replied, but he clarified that he didn’t know, and didn’t try to find out, anyone’s political affiliation.

“My wife is a Democrat,” Keefe added.

Keefe said one of his first calls was to the Florida Sheriff’s Association — a political organization that regularly sides with Republicans, including DeSantis. (The association filed a brief supporting Warren’s suspension.) He also spoke with Republican sheriffs and prosecutors across the state and Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody.


"I pretty much interviewed only Republicans, and they agreed that DeSantis should fire this Democratic State Attorney."
November 30, 2022

Mom of Club Q Massacre Suspect Now Facing Charges Too

Laura Lea Voepel, 45, is facing two misdemeanor counts over a meltdown she allegedly had when police showed up at her home hours after the Colorado Springs shooting.

The mother of the suspect accused of fatally gunning down five people and wounding 18 at a Colorado Springs gay bar was herself arrested in the hours after the deadly shooting, according to a summons obtained by The Daily Beast.

Laura Lea Voepel, 45, is facing two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest over a meltdown she allegedly had when police showed up at her home around 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 20. Roughly three-and-a-half hours earlier, authorities say 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire on patrons and staff at Club Q, a local LGBTQ nightspot.

Aldrich, whose lawyers say he identifies as non-binary but whose mother used male pronouns in text messages to him on the day of the shooting, was born Nicholas Franklin Brink in 2000 to Voepel and MMA-fighter-turned-porn-actor Aaron Franklin Brink. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Aldrich, who is listed as male in jail booking records, changed their name in 2016 to escape their father’s criminal past, court filings show.

After the Club Q massacre, officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department showed up at Voepel’s North Union Boulevard apartment building, the summons states, noting that cops warned Voepel “multiple times to stop yelling” or she would be arrested.

“Subject continued to make unreasonable noise directly next to multiple apartments,” the summons, which was first reported by Denver Fox affiliate KDVR and Denver NBC affiliate KUSA, continues. “While I attempted to place subject into custody, she became combative by physically resisting officers’ control by force.”

November 30, 2022

Explosive Leak of 'Presidential Lockdown Order' Roils Kremlin

The Kremlin denied a report that male members of Putin’s presidential administration have been banned from trips abroad after one failed to return. But they sure seem paranoid.

Russia appears to have taken one giant step closer to turning into North Korea as problems pile up at home, even as the Russian military tries to keep its flailing grip on Ukraine.

The Russian news outlet Baza on Wednesday reported that male members of Russia’s presidential administration have been banned from taking trips abroad—after one staffer apparently failed to ever return.

Citing unnamed sources, the outlet said an order had been issued within the administration that says such a ban will be in effect until restrictions tied to the “mobilization” are lifted.

Even vacations abroad are now reportedly prohibited for those within Vladimir Putin’s circle. “It’s possible that this is a precautionary measure, since there is a rumor among officials in the administration that such a requirement appeared after the ‘escape’ of an employee from one of the departments,” the outlet reported.

The Kremlin has denied the claims, with Dmitry Peskov telling RIA Novosti the report was “downright untrue.”

November 30, 2022

Physicists Create 'the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine'

Scientists used a quantum computer to explore the ultimate escape route from a black hole.

In an experiment that ticks most of the mystery boxes in modern physics, a group of researchers announced on Wednesday that they had simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer and sent a message between them through a shortcut in space-time called a wormhole.

Physicists described the achievement as another small step in the effort to understand the relation between gravity, which shapes the universe, and quantum mechanics, which governs the subatomic realm of particles.

“This is important because what we have here in its construct and structure is a baby wormhole,” said Maria Spiropulu, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and the leader of a consortium called Quantum Communication Channels for Fundamental Physics, which conducted the research. “And we hope that we can make adult wormholes and toddler wormholes step-by-step.”

In their report, published Wednesday in Nature, the researchers described the result in measured words: “This work is a successful attempt at observing traversable wormhole dynamics in an experimental setting.”

November 29, 2022

Home Prices Slid in September for Third Straight Month

Case-Shiller index fell 1% in September from August amid higher interest rates

Home prices declined in September from the prior month as higher interest rates made buyers more cautious.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, fell 1% in September from August, the third straight month-over-month decline.

On a year-over-year basis, the index rose 10.6% in September, down from a 12.9% annual rate the prior month.

The pandemic-driven housing-market boom reversed abruptly this year due to a rapid surge in mortgage rates, which made home-buying far less affordable and pushed many buyers out of the market. Existing-home sales fell for nine straight months through October.

Consumer sentiment toward the housing market fell in October to a record low in data going back to 2011, according to Fannie Mae.

November 29, 2022

What to expect as Warren v. DeSantis heads to trial today in Tallahassee

Hillsborough’s ousted state attorney gets his day in court Tuesday against the governor who removed him from office.

Lawyers will square off this morning in a Tallahassee courtroom for a politically charged trial that’s expected to center on one question:

What was Gov. Ron DeSantis’s motive for yanking Andrew Warren from office?

In a surprise move in August that made national headlines, Warren, Hillsborough County’s twice-elected state attorney, was suspended from his duties and escorted out of his office by a sheriff’s deputy. It happened as DeSantis held a rally-style news conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at which he and others lamented aspects of Warren’s progressive approach to criminal justice.

Warren is asking a federal judge to reinstate him. He says the suspension was political retaliation against his right to free speech. DeSantis says he did it because Warren refused to enforce state laws.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, there’s so much more at stake than my job,” Warren said Tuesday morning. “We’re not just fighting for me to do the job that I was elected to do. We’re fighting for the rights of voters across Florida, to have the elected officials of their choice. We’re fighting for free speech, for the integrity of our elections, the very values of our democracy.”


This could get interesting, but I suspect DeSantis will prevail.
November 28, 2022

Covid deaths skew older, reviving questions about 'acceptable loss'

The pandemic has become a plague of the elderly, with nearly 9 out of 10 deaths in people 65 or older

President Biden may have declared the coronavirus pandemic “over,” but from John Felton’s view as the Yellowstone County health officer in Billings, Mont., it’s not over, just different.

Now, more than ever, it is a plague of the elderly.

In October, Felton’s team logged six deaths due to the virus, many of them among vaccinated people. Their ages: 80s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 90s. They included Betty Witzel, 88, described by her family as a tomboy who carried snakes in her pocket as a child and grew up to be a teacher, mother of four, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of five. And there was Nadine Alice Stark, 85, a ranch owner who planted sugar beets and corn.

Yellowstone County made the decision early in the crisis to recognize each death individually, and Felton said that is as important as ever to acknowledge the unrelenting toll on a still-vulnerable older generation, while most everyone else has moved on.

“I think about someone’s grandfather — the plays they wouldn’t watch, the games on the football field they wouldn’t see,” he said.

More than 300 people are still dying each day on average from covid-19, most of them 65 or older, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While that’s much lower than the 2,000 daily toll at the peak of the delta wave, it is still roughly two to three times the rate at which people die of the flu — renewing debate about what is an “acceptable loss.”

November 27, 2022

This Day In History

Pope Urban II orders first Crusade


November 27, 2022

How to Talk to a Widow

People are kind; some are wonderful. For a time. Then they move on to the next widow.

That’s how it should be. But I realized I wasn’t prepared for this after the following email exchange. A friend wrote, “How are you?” I wrote back, “I’m better.” The friend replied, “Oh! I didn’t know you were sick.” Given that I had become a widow more than a year earlier, she had assumed that I had moved on and that I was feeling “better” after, perhaps, a cold, or the latest Covid. But I meant that I was feeling better about my widowhood. I guess I was supposed to have recovered from that. Apparently the correct amount of time is a year or so. Apparently I wasn’t doing the recovery thing right.

Given all the widows in society today — 11.4 million compared with about 3.4 million widowers — it’s surprising to me that people often struggle with how to talk to us, how to be with us. America has never been a more sensitive — or hypersensitive — place: There has never been as much discussion about mental health needs, especially of younger Americans. Although many of us are OK compared with other groups, we need people to be aware of us, and to be mindful that we’re not all alike and not all experiencing loss and grief in the same way. And I have a word to my fellow widows, too: Interacting with people takes effort and creativity on our part, as well.

First, a little more about us. Most of the women who are widowed each year are over 65 and they frequently outlive their husbands by many years. Widows are far more likely than married women to be poor. Widowed men are far more likely to remarry than widowed women (and often remarry younger women). Black Americans, male and female, become widowed at younger ages than whites. By ages 65 to 74, about 24 percent of Black Americans are widowed, compared to about 15 percent of whites.


November 27, 2022

As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone

More older Americans are living by themselves than ever before. That shift presents issues on housing, health care and personal finance.

Jay Miles has lived his 52 years without marriage or children, which has suited his creative ambitions as a videographer in Connecticut and, he said, his mix of “independence and stubbornness.” But he worries about who will take care of him as he gets older.

Donna Selman, a 55-year old college professor in Illinois, is mostly grateful to be single, she said, because her mother and aunts never had the financial and emotional autonomy that she enjoys.

Mary Felder, 65, raised her children, now grown, in her rowhouse in Philadelphia. Her home has plenty of space for one person, but upkeep is expensive on the century-old house.

Ms. Felder, Mr. Miles and Ms. Selman are members of one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups: people 50 and older who live alone.


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