politics

Cuba
2:02 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Cuban Relatives Bring Differing Views To The Dinner Table

Chris Alvarez's entryway displays framed copies of essential American documents.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

Polls have shown most Cuban exiles who fled the island in the '60s and '70s oppose lifting the embargo and don't believe rekindling diplomatic relationships is a smart, or permissible, political move.

But professor Jorge Duany, head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, says it's different for younger Cuban-Americans.

"In many cases," he says, "they're willing to try a different way to relate to Cuba."

Chris Alvarez, 31, and Arianna Mendez, 22, are dating. They each relate differently to the island of their ancestors.

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Politics
7:36 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Bill Allowing Sex Abuse Victims To Secretly Record Attackers Advancing In House

Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) filed the proposed committee bill allowing sex abuse victims to secretly record their attackers in his capacity as the chair of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 6:31 pm

A measure allowing sexual abuse victims to use secret recordings of their attackers as evidence in court is moving forward in the Florida House. The proposed committee bill gained initial approval in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday.

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Politics
7:15 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Next In The Gay-Marriage Debate: Religious Liberty

A federal judge's ruling opened the door for same sex weddings in Florida, like this one at St. Petersburg City Hall on January 6th, 2015.
Credit City of St Pete/flickr

Same-sex marriage is now legal in three dozen states, including Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court may issue a landmark ruling soon that will impact the rest of the country.

Florida’s voter-approved 2008 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was struck down by federal Judge Robert Hinkle as unconstitutional.

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Politics
3:44 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Jorge Ramos: Republicans Have An Immigration Problem

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos is pictured in the studio in Miami, Florida on Dec. 14, 2011. (Alan Diaz/AP)

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 3:18 pm

With the Department of Homeland Security’s funding deadline less than a month away, Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for what may be the next stage in Congress’ fight on President Obama’s immigration policies.

House Republicans have already passed their own version of DHS funding that would also block the president’s November immigration orders and deport up to four million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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Politics
3:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Pam Bondi Blames Gov. Scott's Staff in FDLE Case

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to the press during a pre-legislative news conference on Jan. 28 in Tallahassee

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 1:16 pm

Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday she believes Gov. Rick Scott's staff acted without his knowledge in the way former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey was pushed out last month.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Bondi Says Same-Sex Couples Suffer Lack Of Consistency

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke Wednesday at an Associated Press media event at the Capitol.

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:10 pm

Same-sex marriage gets a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court this April, and in Florida, the Attorney General is making a familiar argument against a piecemeal approach. 

Florida began issuing same-sex marriage licenses at the beginning of this month.  At the time, officials argued the federal ruling throwing out the state’s marriage ban was narrow and only applied to the couples named in the case.  Wednesday Attorney General Pam Bondi argued the greatest harm is lack of consistency.

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News
4:30 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Department Of State Opens Media Hub Of The Americas At Freedom Tower

Valerie Fowler, a spokesperson for the Department of State, and Miami-Dade College's President Eduardo Padron signed a memorandum of understanding at Wolfson Campus.
Credit Junette Reyes / WLRN

The State Department has had a relatively small presence in South Florida, despite Miami being an important nexus for the U.S. and Latin American relations.

The federal agency hopes to change that by partnering with Miami Dade College to expand what it calls the “media hub of the Americas.”

With its new home at Miami’s downtown Freedom Tower, the hub will have a physical location to hold conferences, seminars and interviews with dignitaries about foreign policy.

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Politics
12:15 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

GOP Lawmaker Files Medical Marijuana Bill

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:42 am

There's a new push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and a Republican lawmaker is leading the charge.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana failed in November, Republican lawmaker state Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill to make medical marijuana legal for Florida residents.

"Amendment Two really was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. 

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Politics
9:55 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Calls Escalate For Outside Investigation Into FDLE Chief's Departure

Happier times: Gov. Rick Scott seems relaxed on a visit to FDLE as Commissioner Gerald Bailey laughs in the background.
Credit Rick Scott/flickr

Watchdog groups want an outside investigation into the apparent ousting of well respected Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, and now a private citizen is asking the FBI to investigate claims that Gov. Rick Scott tried to meddle in the affairs of the state’s top law enforcement agency.

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Roberta Jacobson
1:24 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Cuba Talks: Capitalism Vs. Communism, Rights Vs. Repression

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson speaks with journalists at the Miami Herald newsroom on Saturday.
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.

She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.

Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago. 

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News
10:56 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

State Rep. Kristin Jacobs Files Bill Banning Kratom

Federal officials say kratom acts like a stimulant at low doses and a sedative at high doses.
Credit kratomonline.org

Last year, debates over legalizing marijuana dominated Florida’s legislative session. But during the Legislative session 2015, a different substance could be taking center stage as a freshman state representative from Broward County takes on the feel-good herb called kratom.

Under a bill filed by Kristin Jacobs, kratom would become what’s known as a “Schedule 1” controlled substance. That puts it in the same category as bath salts and other street drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

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Politics
5:37 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Legislative Democrats Call For Investigation Into FDLE Bailey Ouster

Former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey says he was forced to resign by Governor Rick Scott.

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 11:31 am

Gov. Rick Scott has rejected a request from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to consider a search for a new head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Scott wants the cabinet to consider changes at the departments of insurance regulation, financial regulation, and revenue. The exchange comes as Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into the ouster of former FDLE head Gerald Bailey.

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Politics
5:13 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Voters Said Yes, But D.C. And Congress Continue To Spar Over Pot

Adam Eidinger, chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, puts up Initiative 71 posters in October. The measure to legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana was approved by a wide margin of local voters.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:00 pm

More than 115,000 District of Columbia residents voted in favor of a marijuana legalization ballot initiative in November, putting 70 percent of the city's voters behind the measure that permits residents to possess up to 2 ounces of pot and grow their own.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

A Few Familiar Guests At The State Of The Union Address

Credit Wikimedia Commons

President Obama’s annual State of the Union address aired Tuesday night. It’s customary for the president, the first lady and congresspeople to invite guests to the address, and Florida viewers may have recognize a few names and faces. The guests ran the gamut from former political prisoners to activists.

ALAN AND JUDY GROSS

The president invited aid contractor and recently freed Cuban political prisoner Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, to Tuesday evening’s address.

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Environment
1:56 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

South Florida Researcher To Sit With Michelle Obama For SOTU Speech

Nicole Hernandez Hammer, Florida Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force
Credit whitehouse.gov

A South Florida sea-level rise researcher will have one of the best seats in the house for the President’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Nicole Hernandez Hammer of Boca Raton will be one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s invited guests.

Hernandez Hammer says her research shows that cities and regions most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise also have large Hispanic populations.

“Most people don’t know about our vulnerability. That was really eye-opening and encouraged me to go into advocacy,” she says.

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