Tag Archives: Florida

New York eyeing cooperation with another Trump Org exec to ‘turn up the heat’ on Weisselberg: Florida prosecutor

On CNN Friday, Palm Beach County, Florida state attorney Dave Aronberg discussed how the efforts of New York prosecutors to get the cooperation of Trump Organization COO and former Trump bodyguard Matthew Calamari puts extra pressure on CFO Allen Weisselberg to try for a deal himself.

Weisselberg, despite being indicted along with the Trump Organization itself on tax charges, has so far shown no interest in cooperating against the organization, the former president, or his family.

“What does it tell you, Dave, that prosecutors are now trying to get Matthew Calamari … to cooperate?” asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“It definitely turns up the heat on Allen Weisselberg, who is out there on an island by himself,” said Aronberg. “The indictment of Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, Wolf, said there were two other employees who received substantial amounts of compensation in the form of lodging in New York City and car leases.”

Given that the Calimaris live in Trump apartment buildings, Aronberg continued, it seems natural that prosecutors would explore a cooperation agreement with them.

Watch below:

[embedded content]
Dave Aronberg says Matthew Calamari investigation could pressure Allen Weisselberg

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This post originally posted here usnews

Florida Dems to Biden: Don’t blow ‘golden opportunity’ on Cuba

MIAMI — Donald Trump and the GOP dominated Florida’s elections last November in part due to the former president’s hardline Latin America policy and rhetoric.

Now, in Cuba’s historic uprisings, Florida Democrats see what many are calling a “golden opportunity”: a chance for President Joe Biden to help bring democracy to the island and, as a result, attract the Hispanic voters that he hemorrhaged eight months ago.

“This is a ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ opportunity,” said state Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat from Miami who represents a district that Trump won. “We need to be the beacon of hope. There are people in Cuba protesting waving the American flag. That has never happened. We need to understand the moment we’re living in.”

Yet there are worries Biden could blow it by being too slow to move, too timid in his actions or by embracing the messaging from progressives who have been reluctant to denounce the Cuban regime in strong, unqualified and moralistic terms.

As the protests erupted across Cuba, Biden sent a message marked by its unambiguous language: the United States stands with those yearning to be free from the island’s “authoritarian regime.”

But others in his administration — and his party — were more circumspect in their choice of words. A State Department official suggested the demonstrations were out of “concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages,” but made no mention of the dictatorship’s repression. The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, New York’s Gregory Meeks, made a similar statement that also said nothing of the totalitarian government in Cuba, as did Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Those subtle distinctions in language — such as explicitly calling out the dictatorial practices of the Cuban government before anything else — make a world of difference in battleground Florida.

To that end, the Florida Democratic Party’s resolutions committee approved a measure Tuesday night calling for “additional sanctions against the leaders of the failed socialist-communist regime.”

“People are taking to the streets chanting ‘Libertad’ [liberty!]. They’re not chanting ‘Vacuna!’ [vaccines!],” said Javier Fernandez, a son of Cuban exiles and a former Democratic state representative from Miami who authored the resolution, which needs to be approved by the full party’s executive committee.

Fernandez said the party “needs to be clear about what we stand for.”

“There’s a concern by some in the party that if we condemn what happens in Cuba that we’re somehow making a moral judgment on the most progressive elements of our party who have described themselves as Democratic socialists,” he said. “That concern about offending certain progressive elements in the party is why you see statements of the kind from the likes of Congressman Meeks. It’s a false equivalence that only hurts Democrats here in the U.S. and in South Florida, in particular.”

Fernandez saw firsthand how the lack of clear messaging about socialism helped doom his state Senate campaign in November as Trump and down-ballot Republicans attracted an unprecedented percentage of voters with had family ties to Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Colombia, where nominally socialist governments or movements led to mass migrations to Florida, particularly in its largest county of Miami-Dade.

Biden won once-deep blue Miami-Dade by only 7 percentage points in 2020 compared with Hillary Clinton’s 29-point margin four years before. If Democratic candidates fail to carry Miami-Dade by more than single digits, it’s nearly impossible for them to win the state.

Trump’s performance was so strong in Florida — and he gained so much ground with Hispanic voters — that it led national Democrats to talk in earnest about focusing more in the future on emerging swing states like Arizona and Georgia.

Florida became such an afterthought for Biden’s political operation that his White House didn’t stage a public rally and media blitz in the state to announce its decision in March to grant temporary protected immigration status to Venezuelans who fled the Maduro regime, which is allied with Cuba’s government. In May, when Biden granted TPS to Haitians, Miami Democrats likewise felt his administration should have done more to capitalize on the announcement.

The failure to highlight the administration’s efforts on immigration policy confused and disappointed Florida Democrats, leading some to fear Biden was writing off the state.

“I don’t know why I had to find out about Venezuelan TPS from the news media,” said Taddeo. She said she wanted to make sure that Biden’s administration didn’t repeat the same mistake of underplaying its hand regarding Cuba.

Taddeo and Florida pollster Fernand Amandi, a Democrat and son of Cuban exiles, said Biden needs to come to Miami and articulate a clear policy to stand with the Cuban people and bring non-military international pressure to bear on the island’s government as it cracks down on demonstrators.

Amandi said it was a “golden opportunity” for both countries to change history.

“What happened this past weekend is what 12 previous U.S. presidents were waiting for: the uprising of the Cuban people themselves as they stand up against their communist overlords,” Amandi said. “President Biden’s initial statements on the events in Cuba have captured both the right policy and the right politics. However, the events in Cuba demand more than statements and the president is going to have to engage on this issue.”

So far, Miami Democrats have been pleased to see that the Biden administration remains less aligned with Meeks and more in step with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.), who is also the son of Cuban exiles and has made sure to focus on the totalitarian nature of the Cuban dictatorship that led to the protests on the island.

Biden has privately sought Menendez’s counsel regarding Cuba — a sharp contrast with former President Barack Obama, who secretly hashed out a rapprochement with Cuba that eased restrictions in 2015. Though the U.S. unilaterally eased relations with Cuba, the dictatorship didn’t change its behavior, leading to a backlash among Latin American exile voters in South Florida.

The delicate balancing act for Biden extends beyond the congressional divide within his party and touches on the tricky question of immigration and political asylum for Cubans. Under Obama, the U.S. ended the so-called wet foot/dry foot policy that essentially gave Cubans a pathway to citizenship if they landed on U.S. soil. Officials are now concerned that Cubans could leave en masse from the island — creating a crisis akin to the 1980 Mariel Boatlift.

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Cubans and Haitians to not come to the U.S. — an ironic message from an official who migrated from Cuba himself.

That approach concerned Florida Democrats who fear that the White House still doesn’t consider Cuba or Haiti — which is also in crisis after its president was assassinated — as high priorities. While the administration has been forced to pay more attention now, White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday declined to say how Cuba ranks as a priority, or whether the president would make good on his campaign trail promise to roll back Trump-era sanctions on the island.

Biden deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Biden is in the process of fulfilling his promise to the Cuban people and pointed to Biden’s long record of opposing “the oppression and human rights abuses of Cuba’s communist, authoritarian government. This is about fundamental values that the President has long championed. He’s committed to forming his policies toward Cuba based on two principles: that standing up for democracy and human rights is paramount, and that Americans — especially Cuban-Americans — are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in Cuba.”

The Biden administration also disputes criticisms of U.S. sanctions by noting that the Cuban government is able to get food and medical supplies, and it has refused to make its Covid-19 vaccine available for scientific peer review while also refusing to join an international consortium designed to get more people vaccinated worldwide.

Guillermo J. Grenier, a Florida International University professor who conducts a well-regarded poll of Cuban-American voters, said his research last year showed that a majority supported lifting sanctions on Cuba to help with the pandemic. Grenier said it’s good policy and politics — especially if Biden makes medical supplies and vaccines easier for Cuba’s people to receive.

Grenier and other Cuba experts noticed in the Trump years that new arrivals to America were becoming increasingly and unexpectedly Republican because their relatives on the island were spreading the word that the GOP knew how to fight the regime of Raul Castro and his successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

“You wonder why all these new arrivals are crazy for Trump, it’s because it starts there. People in Cuba say you need to go to the Republican Party because they know how to handle the Cuban government,” Grenier said. “But if Biden were to do that — to help the people in their time of need with vaccines, at least — they would remember that and he would immediately raise the profile of the Democratic Party, of himself and dim the bright orange of Trump.”

While Democrats have had mixed messaging in their recent response to Cuba, Republicans have been unified in calling for tougher sanctions and denouncing repression on the island.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami native and son of Cuban immigrants, is up for reelection next year and has turned his Twitter account into a nonstop feed featuring video clips of Cuban protesters being beaten, reports of Venezuelan authorities rounding up political opponents and even the on-air arrest of a Cuban woman being interviewed by a Spanish TV station.

And Miami-based Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez excoriated State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung for her tweet about Covid-19 that failed to mention the dictatorship. Chung subsequently tweeted critical statements about repression of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

“Democrats are dead in the water in Florida, and statements like Meeks’ are why,” said Carlos Trujillo, a son of Cuban exiles and former Republican state legislator who served as ambassador to the Organization of American States. “We’ve labeled them as socialists and communist sympathizers. And they deny it. Well, prove it. They can’t.”

Passion is so intense in Miami’s exile community that people have taken to the streets in solidarity with the Cuban people, and the city’s moderate Republican mayor, Francis Suarez, has said that Biden should consider military options if the repression continues on the island.

“The thing folks who aren’t directly familiar with Miami need to remember — there is a roadmap to winning back Hispanics from exile communities, but it starts with recognizing for most down here, Cuba is an absolute pass-fail test,” said Steve Schale, a veteran of Obama’s presidential Florida campaigns who also leads a pro-Biden super PAC, Unite The Country.

Ric Herrero, executive of the pro-engagement Cuba Study Group, said calls for military action are dangerous and counterproductive. Herrero credited the uprising to the spread of social media and Obama-era engagement policies. He said it’s time for Biden to lead and sell his policy.

“What Trump did so well is show up and make people on the ground feel like they have a direct line to Washington,” Herrero said. “It’s not just adopting the right policy: you have to sell it. Why he won’t do that in South Florida is a mystery … It has been missed opportunity after missed opportunity to change the narrative in South Florida and hold the failures of the Trump policies accountable.”

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This post originally posted here Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Norwegian Cruise Line sues Florida surgeon general over vaccine passport ban

(CNN) — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is suing Florida’s surgeon general over the state’s law that prohibits companies from requiring customers and employees to provide documentation of Covid-19 vaccination status.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, NCLH says the lawsuit is a “last resort” because Florida had indicated it would prevent the company from “safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations” next month. It described the state law as an “anomalous, misguided intrusion.”

CNN has reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment.

The NCLH complaint names Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees in his capacity as “the responsible state official.”

In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning the use of Covid-19 passports in the state. The order prohibited any government entity from issuing vaccine passports and blocks businesses from requiring any such documentation.
Senate Bill 2006 was signed into law on May 3, making that executive order official. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” DeSantis said.

The cruise line, though, wants documentation that all passengers and crew members have been fully vaccinated.

“The upshot places NCLH in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida: NCLH will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law,” the complaint says.

NCLH is set to resume cruises from Florida on August 15 “in a way that will be safe, sound, and consistent with governing law,” the complaint says, citing regulations set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The risk of transmission of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated in the close quarters of cruise ships coupled with the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID19 and in reducing the deaths caused by COVID-19 makes transmission of information about COVID-19 vaccines a matter of life and death,” the complaint says.

NCLH is asking the court to suspend Florida’s prohibition, according to the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

In May, NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio said Florida’s law could cause the company to move its ships elsewhere.

“At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida,” he said during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

The CEO described the issue over the Covid regulations as a “classic state versus federal government issue.” He added, “Lawyers believe that federal law applies.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates three cruise lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

CNN’s Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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This post originally posted here Norway News

Ave Maria in Florida: A Planned Town for Catholics in the United States

aI have Maria. If the navigation system knows this place, you’re in luck. The name of one of the most unusual cities in America is often not programmed into the program, after all, it was only founded less than 20 years ago. If you start in Miami it takes 2 hours, the road leads through Florida and into areas that used to feel lonely Florida tiger Cautious. There are only an estimated 130 specimens remaining in the case of this native species of puma. The fact that it can be expected here says a lot about the remoteness of the area.

There is no car on the road to Ave Maria. You can see new single family homes and small villas – some apparently inhabited, some vacant. Only when a large-sized cathedral appears in the distance, one suspects that there may be more than a handful of people living in this settlement.

According to the latest estimates, there are about 10,000 inhabitants. Avi Maria is a vision in the making, the eternal construction site of a Christian town, designed and financed by billionaire pizza tycoon Tom Monaghan. Christian modesty doesn’t seem to be a thing, however, and couldn’t help putting the motto of his “Domino’s” on the sidewalk right in front of the cathedral.

The biblical name of the place is its program: a city for devout Catholics, where no condoms or other contraceptives are sold, and where each couple has a large number of children. At the private Catholic university, there is also a dress code for students: shirts without straps or with spaghetti straps are just as taboo as shorts, and slippers, usually too narrow or too wide, revealing clothing.

The church dominates the cityscape on Ave Maria

“The church is the dominant building in the city, as it is in many European cities,” explains Forrest Wallace, the parish deacon proudly. “On the left is the campus of Ave Maria University, and on the right is the city center.” And the oval square around the church with shops and apartments is what is called the Annunciation Circle, Annunciation circle.

Deacon Wallace is kind of a fact of this place, it is atypical, he says: not only for the United States, but also for the rest of the world. In addition to his work as a clergyman, he is responsible for press relations at the city university, where he is a lecturer in marketing.

This is how it is at Ave Maria: you not only have a job and a family, but you are also always the founder of a city. Wallace says it was a great opportunity for him to build something completely new. In 2007, he and his wife moved from Cincinnati with their eight children to help build a green Catholic town.

Children are part of the street scene in Ave Maria

Coyle: Getty Images

Chelsea Allen, a mother of nine, is also a passionate Aviary. She moved from Minnesota with her husband and offspring the year the city was founded. “By Way of the Family” is the name of her store, which she opened at the crossing address Verkündigungskreis 5080. In addition to school supplies, it mainly sells religious gifts such as figures of saints such as adorable dolls.

Ave Maria is “a little piece of heaven on earth,” says Chelsea Allen. “I love the weather; I love the neighborhood; I love the schools; I just love everything here.” There are so many children in the city that their nine children can play with them. “And I know that your parents share the same values ​​as us.”

No minorities – but lots of kids

In fact, Ave Maria is a dream come true for many conservative Americans. The majority of the population is Catholic and white, even if people of different faiths such as Protestants, Jews, and Muslims are expressly permitted. This is a tolerant city, said Reverend Robert Tatman: “We built Maria Street true to the American conviction that we don’t discriminate against people,” he said. No matter where someone comes from, everyone is welcome.

However, the cityscape on Ave Maria is dominated by white heterosexual couples, mostly in their mid-40s and fifties. The minorities that the priest would like to welcome here do not seem to feel the need to settle in this major Catholic city. Neither dark-skinned nor homosexual people could be seen during our visit to Ave Maria.

Florida: Prayers with the matching shirt at the private Catholic University of Ave Maria

Praying with the matching shirt at the private Catholic University of Ave Maria

Coyle: Getty Images

However, Ave Maria’s offspring can be seen and heard from afar, much to the delight of Cathy Delaney, who left New York City in 2006 to start a new life here. “If you look around you’ll see kids everywhere,” she says, her eyes shining. Here is a perfect place to raise them. Everyone can find support everywhere. “It’s like a big family.”

She proudly shows a brown chest. Engraved prayer on the front and the image of the Virgin on the lid: a music box. Cathy Delaney opens it and looks like “Ave Maria” – kitsch to some, a nice souvenir from the only souvenir shop in town to others.

The shops have only the necessities

Moving to a new city seemed tempting to her, Delaney explains of her decision on Ave Maria, but the deciding factor was the presence of a college here, Ave Maria Catholic University, which she could send her son to. “I wanted to be by his side, so I looked for a job at Ave Maria.”

Now offering manicures, pedicures, peelings and massages at the Temple of Wellness “Salon d’Maria” – everything that keeps the body in good shape, but can also be understood as a form of pastoral care. “I love helping people feel better,” says Cathy Delaney. “For me, this is an act of love; as a gift from God I share with others.”

Florida, USA: The main center of the city is the Cathedral of Ave Maria

The main center of the city is the Ave Maria Cathedral

Quelle: Photo Alliance / imageBROKER

Your salon joins the shops around the central cathedral. The house of the Lord forms the center of Avi Maria, and anyone can stand there at any time to pray. It saves space for about 1,100 insured at the same time – a 30-meter-high structure made only of glass and steel.

If wood had been used, the high humidity in South Florida would have caused clouds to form inside the building and create its own ecosystem in the church. The church was built within one year, from March 2006 to March 2007. It is hurricane-resistant and said to be able to withstand even the highest category of hurricanes.

All the streets pour into the circle of preaching. In addition to the shops, you will also find the pubs of the city – a Mexican restaurant, grill, bar, Irish restaurant, café, fruit shop and supermarket.

Socialist touch? “Well, we don’t have big department stores here,” Cathy Delaney admits. “We have to get out of town to do the really big shopping.” On Ave Maria there are only the necessities, such as schools, doctors, a few shops and a church. By the way, there is no pizzeria. However, she likes the place here: it is safe, one feels protected, the other is surrounded by like-minded people. Not like there.

Lots of scholarships for local university

Of course, this is not entirely true with like-minded people. At least not every student is here because of religious beliefs. “Ave Maria attracts more people with money and educational opportunities,” says Veronese Leiter, who studies literature here. The university was relatively new a few years ago, so it offered a lot of scholarships to attract students. It was this financial support that made it possible for my family to send me to university in the first place. “Ave Maria University has won nearly a thousand students in just half a decade.

Avi Maria in Florida: University attracts generous funding.  Students shouldn't expect too much when it comes to fashion

The university attracts generous funding. Students shouldn’t expect too much when it comes to fashion

Coyle: Getty Images

It is difficult to say to what extent the lecturers are trying to exert theological influence, Leiter says. “I don’t think the professors place special emphasis on the religious aspects of our reading.” In general, lecturers will try to teach as objectively as possible. Rather, they assert that theology and literature are two different things.

And it feels good here, she says, “but honestly, changing the scenery now and then is a really good thing.” She has to go out at least every two weeks. Then she and her friends drove to Naples, a 40-minute drive away.

And they’re not alone: ​​On weekends, you see surprisingly few students at Ave Maria. In Naples, which has a population of 22,000, there are more than thirty churches. However, it can be assumed that young people from Maria Street do not go there to pray on weekends.

Ave Maria in Florida, USA

Source: world infographic

Tips and information

Heading there: Closest airport: Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, about an hour’s drive from Ave Maria.

Accommodation: There are no hotels or motels for tourists on Ave Maria. However, it is possible to book an apartment or house via Airbnb. The nearest motel is in Immakalee, about ten kilometers away, and the hotels in Naples, 60 kilometers away.

Information desk: City information: avemaria.com. Tourist entry to the United States is currently not possible.

Elephants on the run – in Florida

Florida is known for many things: beautiful beaches, great weather even in winter, and theme parks. Not far from elephants, but that could change now.

Source: WELT / Steffen Schwarzkopf

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90 deaths confirmed in Florida condominium collapse

Authorities said Sunday they are making progress in the painstaking search for the victims of a deadly building collapse in Florida last month, Trend reports citing Time.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday that 90 deaths have now been confirmed in the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 a day before.

Among them are 71 bodies that have been identified, and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.

Levine Cava also said the unrelenting search amid the rubble has resulted in the recovery of over 14 million pounds of concrete and debris.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stressed not only the speed of the recovery work but also the care that rescue workers are taking in peeling back layers of rubble in hopes of recovering not only those whose lives were lost but also possessions that might be meaningful to the loved ones they left behind.

“The work is so delicate that we’re even finding unbroken wine bottles,” said Burkett.

In recognition of rescuers from abroad, Levine Cava said she gave the keys to the county to the Israeli commander and colonel — her first two handed out as mayor. An Israeli search and rescue team arrived in South Florida shortly after the building collapsed on June 24. The team was heading home Sunday after an emotion sendoff in Surfside.

During a brief ceremony on Saturday evening, Levine Cava thanked the battalion for their “unrelenting dedication.” Members of the task forces that have been searching the site 24 hours a day since the collapse lined both sides of the street, shaking hands and bidding farewell to the Israeli team.

While authorities have concluded that there was “no chance of life” in the remaining rubble, the pressure remains for search crews to find victims so families can lay their loved ones to rest. Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was not possible to pinpoint the date that the search and recovery effort would end.

“It’s a slow process,” he said.

The Israeli team joined other task forces from around the United States to assist the teams from Miami and Miami-Dade County, working in 12-hour shifts. They have searched through South Florida’s intense summer heat, and in pouring rain, pausing only when lightning was spotted nearby. They also paused operations as officials made plans to implode the still-standing portion of the condo tower on July 4.

The Israeli team used blueprints of the building to create detailed 3D images of the disaster site to aid in the search. They also gathered information from families of the missing, many of who were Jewish, to build a room-by-room model laying out where people would have been sleeping during the pre-dawn collapse.

Reconstruction of Florida Avenue and 9th Street NW (from T Street to Barry Street) Virtual Public Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contacts

(Washington, DC) — The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host a virtual pre-construction public meeting to present the Florida Avenue and 9th Street NW Reconstruction Project. DDOT is reconstructing Florida Avenue and 9th Street from T Street to Barry Place, located in the NW quadrant of Washington, DC. To provide safer access for all modes, this project will improve the conditions of the existing roadway, as well as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, landscaping, drainage, traffic signals, and streetlights. Bike lanes and shared use lanes from T Street to Barry Place will also be installed.

Construction is anticipated to begin in July 2021, beginning at the intersection of 9thStreet and T Street and continuing north to the intersection of Florida Avenue and Barry Place. Project completion is expected in Summer 2022.

This public meeting will give residents, businesses, and stakeholders an opportunity to learn more about upcoming construction. For more information about the project, please contact Samuel Ayodele ([email protected] or 202-497-1316) or visit the project webpage at rebrand.ly/FloridaAveNW.

 

WHAT:           Reconstruction of Florida Avenue and 9th Street NW from T Street to Barry Place, NW Virtual Public Meeting

WHEN:      Tuesday, July 13, 2021, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

WHERE:    Online Virtual Meeting

 

Register:  https://rebrand.ly/FloridaAveNWReconstruction

Event Number: 172 549 5428

Event Password: July13!

Dial-in Option (audio only): 202-860-2110, Access code: 172 549 5428.

An Attendee ID is not required to log on to the WebEx system. Press the # key to join the meeting.

Having Difficulties Joining the Meeting?:

If you need technical support during the meeting, please dial (240) 461-3827.

 

TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING:

Do you need assistance to participate?

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, its projects, programs, activities, and services on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability as provided by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other related statutes. In accordance with the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, D.C. Official Code sec. 2-1401.01 et seq. (Act), the District of Columbia does not discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by the Act. In addition, harassment based on any of the above protected categories is prohibited by the Act. Discrimination is a violation of the Act will not be tolerated. Violators will be subject to disciplinary action.

If you need special accommodations please contact Cesar Barreto at 202-671-2829 or [email protected] 72 hours in advance of the meeting. 

If you need language assistance services (translation or interpretation), please contact Karen Randolph at 202-671-2620 or [email protected] 72 hours in advance of the meeting. These services will be provided free of charge.

 

AYUDA EN SU IDIOMA

Si necesita ayuda en Español, por favor llame al 202-671-2700 para proporcionarle un intérprete de manera gratuita.

 

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The District Department of Transportation’s mission is to equitably deliver a safe, sustainable, and reliable multimodal transportation network for all residents and visitors of the District of Columbia. 

Author: Aalto University
Read more here >>> The European Times News

The confirmed death toll in the Florida condo collapse rises to 46, with another 94 people still unaccounted for

“As the magnitude of this catastrophe continues to grow each and every day since the collapse, our community and the world are grieving with all of the families who are living through this unthinkable tragedy,” she said.
Search and rescue efforts to find survivors amid the rubble of the building have become increasingly grim. Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said Wednesday that search and rescue personnel combing the rubble have found no evidence that anyone survived the initial collapse.
A day earlier, he said there had been no signs of any voids or livable spaces amid the wreckage where people might have survived.
“We’re definitely searching,” he said. “We’re not coming across that.”
The search continued Wednesday through inclement weather from Tropical Storm Elsa, which passed by the opposite coast of Florida. Winds of up to 30 miles per hour walloped crews Tuesday, but the weather had largely cleared by midday Wednesday, Cava said.
The condo’s collapse has raised questions about whether other residential structures could be at risk in Miami-Dade County, where sea levels are rising, the salty air is corrosive and nearly two-thirds of all commercial, condo and apartment buildings are as old or older than the 40-year-old building that collapsed, according to a CNN analysis of county records.
Florida’s legal community has created a safety task force to review laws governing the state’s condominium development industry in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of a condo building in Miami-Dade County two weeks ago, according to a statement Tuesday.
The Condominium Law and Policy on Life Safety Task Force is intended to serve residents of the state and was created by the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar, according to the statement.
“The Task Force will serve as a resource to the Governor and Legislature as they review all aspects of Florida condominium law, development, association operations, and maintenance to determine and recommend if legislative and or regulatory changes should be enacted to minimize the likelihood of a similar tragedy,” Bob Swain, chairperson of the Florida Bar Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section, said in a statement.

Teams not finding anything positive, but still more space to search

Officials have said that despite the time that has passed, they remain hopeful they will still find survivors. The key to finding survivors, Cominsky said, is finding voids or livable spaces among the rubble.
About 5 million pounds of debris have been removed from the site so far, Cominsky said.
But with the amount of ground to cover, there is no telling what the teams will find in the coming days, Cominsky said.
The site has been broken up into grids, none of which have been fully cleared yet. The way the building collapsed as well as the magnitude of it means that teams have been able to get further down on some areas than others so far, he said.
Teams continue to search “as aggressive as we can to see if we can assist with the families and locate individuals,” he said.
Tuesday was a day of gratitude for one family, when the uncle of a 15-year-old called the man who pulled the boy from the rubble just after the collapse to thank him.
Nicholas Balboa told CNN on Tuesday that he heard 15-year-old Jonah Handler screaming under the rubble after the condo building collapsed. Balboa was not in the building but was standing nearby when it collapsed.
Balboa said Jonah’s uncle told him Jonah was out of the hospital with only minor injuries.
Since the collapse, Balboa says he has replayed that moment in his mind many times, wondering what he could have done differently to save more people, he said.
Four additional bodies were recovered Tuesday, Levine Cava said. The victims of the collapse range in age from 4 to 92.
With rescue efforts still underway, some families have asked to visit the collapse site, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
“Of course, we have to work around the rescue efforts,” he said. “I think it would be very, very good for those families to again see the amazing efforts that are being expended on their behalf.”

Debris held for investigation

Search and rescue teams continue to work in the rubble at the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside.
Meanwhile, more federal organizations are investigating why the building collapsed.
Mayor Levine Cava said the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the US Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation are sending staff.
“NIST, our federal partner, continues to work closely with the structural specialists, with detectives, and the fire rescue crews on site, as the evidence gathering process is well underway,” she said.
“They’re capturing all possible insights from the debris and all evidence is being properly tagged and logged.”
All of the debris removed from the site is considered “evidentiary debris,” Levine Cava said.
The remnants are being sorted on-site, and any objects that can be distinguished are put in certain bins and labeled as to their exact location, the mayor said.
The county has created a form for family members to document their belongings, which will be an active part of the investigation, Levine Cava said.
“The families are not reviewing what’s come out of the site at this time, but we have photographs, they have their information, and as we move forward, we’ll be attempting to do matching and releasing it to them as soon as we can, given the active investigation,” she said.

Author: Madeline Holcombe and Eric Levenson, CNN
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The storm is expected to make landfall Wednesday over the northern Florida Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Elsa, which had been a tropical storm, is expected to move near or over parts of Florida’s western coast Tuesday night and into Wednesday.
“Elsa is forecast to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late Wednesday morning and then move across the southeastern United States through Thursday,” NHS said in its 8 p.m. news advisory.
Thirty-three counties are under a state of emergency, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. The Florida National Guard also activated 60 guardsmen to serve at the state’s Emergency Operations Center and Logistics Readiness Center.
“We’re anticipating a landfall probably between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. tomorrow, somewhere again on the nature coast or Big Bend part of Florida,” DeSantis said. “There have not been any widespread evacuation orders.”
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state ahead of the storm. The declaration, which began Sunday, authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in southern Florida.
Elsa’s center, with sustained winds of 75 mph, was over water about 100 miles south-southwest of Tampa as of 8 p.m. ET, the hurricane center said. John Antapasis, Tampa’s emergency coordinator, encouraged residents to stay indoors and avoid roadways Tuesday night.
A hurricane warning is in effect from Egmont Key near St. Petersburg in west-central Florida to the Steinhatchee River in northern Florida’s Big Bend region.
“The warm ocean waters give it that fuel for the engine to really fire back up again … (and) it could be near or at hurricane strength” when Elsa makes landfall, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
A tropical storm warning — alerting people to expect tropical storm conditions including strong winds — is in effect for much of the rest of Florida’s west coast.
The Georgia coast from the mouth of St. Marys River to Altamaha Sound is also under a tropical storm warning, the advisory said. Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency Tuesday night that will expire on July 14.
Elsa’s outer bands also could drop rain on Florida’s eastern side, perhaps affecting areas such as the community of Surfside, where search and rescue teams still are working at the site of a deadly building collapse. Elsa’s approach prompted a controlled demolition Sunday of the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building.
As long as winds stay below 45 mph, search and rescue teams can continue looking for signs of life; if winds exceed 45 mph, teams are called off the rubble, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Erika Benitez.
A tornado watch was in effect for more than 12 million people in southern Florida until 11 p.m. ET Tuesday. This includes Tampa, Fort Myers, Miami, Surfside, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.
The major rain and storm surge threats are expected to be in western Florida.
About 3 to 8 inches of rain could fall from the Florida Keys to western parts of the Florida Peninsula through Wednesday — threatening flash flooding, the hurricane center said.
Storm surge warnings were in place for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach through the northern portions of the Big Bend region, with the highest surge expected to be between 3 and 5 feet from Englewood to the outlet for the Aucilla River — including Tampa Bay.
People in southern and western Florida have been preparing by filling sand bags, opening shelters, closing businesses and schools, and activating local emergency operations centers.
Cuba was getting heavy rainfall Tuesday morning from Elsa. Rainfall of 5 to 15 inches is expected through Tuesday night, threatening significant flash flooding and mudslides.
Elsa whipped the Keys on Tuesday morning with rain and sustained winds of 30-40 mph.

Residents and businesses prepare

Elsa, which briefly was at hurricane strength Friday and early Saturday to become the first hurricane of the season, made landfall Monday in Cuba and tore through the Cayman Islands, saturating both areas with heavy rain and strong winds and causing landslides and flooding.
Authorities across Florida offered free sandbags to residents to help prevent flooding and are encouraging people to prepare by stocking up on supplies and heeding local warnings.
At least four counties in the Tampa area — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Manatee — opened shelters for residents, while others have activated emergency operations centers to prepare for the storm.
Determined visitors head to Sloppy Joe's bar while crossing a flooded Duval Street in Key West.
“You want to be prepared for anything,” a Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center employee told CNN affiliate WFTS. “You really never know.”
“We’ve had other storms in the past that seemed like nothing but they end up with a lot of flood damage,” the emergency official warned.
Manatee County could “have almost borderline terms of a hurricane,” US Rep. Vern Buchanan said.
“Please finalize your plans and secure your homes and get ready to sort of bunker down and ride out this storm,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor pleaded with city residents to stay home Tuesday evening.
“You don’t need to be out. Do not go out. We’re going to have a lot of rain, a lot of wind. Do not drive into water that you cannot see through, so that means don’t drive into water, period,” Castor said.
Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay planned to close “to ensure the safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals,” according to the park’s website. At this time, the venue is expected to reopen at noon Wednesday.
Tampa International Airport said it would close to commercial flights at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, and to cargo flights at 10 p.m. It anticipated reopening Wednesday at 10 a.m.
In Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida International Airport said it would cancel flights Tuesday afternoon.
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport plans to close at 6:30 p.m. after the last commercial arrival scheduled for 5:30 pm, according to the airport’s website. The airport plans to resume normal operations Wednesday at 6 a.m.
Emma Barlow, 9, works with her mother Brandi Barlow to fill sandbags Tuesday in Middleburg.
People lined up Monday in Manatee and Hillsborough counties to fill free sandbags to help prevent flooding.
One new Florida resident told WFTS she’s never been in a tropical storm.
“This is our first experience. We got the notification that we could get sandbags, and we’re right on some water, so we just want to do everything that we can at this point,” the woman said.
Even some businesses are closing ahead of the storm.
Niall Bowen, owner of Old Town Bakery in Key West, will close his business Tuesday because the storm will impact his supply chain and deliveries, he told CNN affiliate WSVN.
“As far as the impact goes, I don’t think we’re going to have a major weather event,” Bowen said.

Into Georgia and the Carolinas later this week

The current forecast following landfall in western Florida has the storm moving to the northeast across the lowlands of Georgia, perhaps as a tropical storm, on Wednesday — and the Carolinas, perhaps as a tropical depression, on Thursday.
Tropical Storm Elsa battered parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Saturday with heavy rain and high winds.
It could exit into the Atlantic on Thursday or Friday.
Elsa could then be a rainmaker for the extreme Eastern Seaboard until it pushes into the north Atlantic.

Author: Jason Hanna, Hollie Silverman and Amir Vera, CNN
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Trump Holds Rally in Florida, Across State From Building Disaster

Aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned Trump associates about whether the event on Saturday night in Sarasota should proceed given the scope of the tragedy in Surfside.

Former President Donald J. Trump held a Fourth of July-themed rally on Saturday night in Sarasota, Fla., across the state from where a tragedy has been unfolding for more than a week as firefighters, search dogs and emergency crews search for survivors in the collapse of a residential building just north of Miami Beach.

After a brief moment of silence for the victims and families of the tragedy as he took the stage, Mr. Trump quickly launched into a castigation of cancel culture and of the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

The political rally in the midst of a disaster that has horrified the nation became a topic of discussion among aides to the former president and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Trump ally whose growing popularity with the former president’s supporters is becoming an increasing source of tension for both men, according to people familiar with their thinking.

After officials from the governor’s office surveyed the scene of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., Adrian Lukis, chief of staff to the governor, called Michael Glassner, a longtime Trump aide who is overseeing the Florida event, according to people familiar with the discussion. In a brief conversation, Mr. Lukis inquired whether the former president planned to continue with the event given the scale of the tragedy, two people said.

He was told there were no plans to reschedule.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, Liz Harrington, said that the rally in Sarasota was “three-and-a-half hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”

She added that the former president “has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally.”

Mr. DeSantis, who met on Thursday with President Biden when the president visited the site of the disaster, originally wanted to attend the rally but no longer plans to do so, aides said. “He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that it was the right decision, because the governor’s duty is to be in Surfside,” his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said, adding, “Governor DeSantis would have gone to the rally in normal circumstances.’’

In an interview with Newsmax ahead of the rally, Mr. Trump said he told Mr. DeSantis not to come. “I said you should stay there; this is not that important for you,” he said.

The governor, an early supporter of Mr. Trump, has been eager to play down any perceived tension with the former president, who endorsed his campaign for governor in 2018 and could cause him a political headache if he turned against him.

“Governor DeSantis is focusing on his duties as governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida — from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally — should be canceled,” Ms. Pushaw said after the Washington Examiner reported that Mr. DeSantis had pointedly asked Mr. Trump to delay his rally.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had originally planned to attend Mr. Trump’s rally in Florida but no longer plans to do so.
Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

The recent conversation between Mr. Lukis and Mr. Glassner was not the first time Mr. DeSantis’s staff had expressed reservations about the timing of Mr. Trump’s event. Before the condominium collapse, Mr. DeSantis’s office had suggested to the Trump team that the fall was better timing for a rally, given the perils of hurricane season in Florida, two people familiar with the conversation said.

Mr. Trump ignored the suggestion. Shut out of Facebook and Twitter, Mr. Trump has been eager for an outlet to have his voice heard and has been chomping at the bit to return to the rally stage, aides said.

Mr. DeSantis is seen as a top-tier Republican presidential candidate for 2024, and may end up in a political collision with the former president, who himself has hinted that he is considering a third try for the White House.

People close to Mr. Trump said he had become mildly suspicious of a supposed ally. He has grilled multiple advisers and friends, asking “what’s Ron doing,” after hearing rumors at Mar-a-Lago that Mr. DeSantis had been courting donors for a potential presidential run of his own. He has asked aides their opinion of a Western Conservative Summit presidential straw poll for 2024 Republican presidential candidates, an unscientific online poll that showed Mr. DeSantis beating Mr. Trump.

And in a comment intended to prove his dominance over both Mr. DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, he has floated Mr. DeSantis as a potential No. 2 on his ticket should he run again.

Author: Annie Karni
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Trump rails against ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ during Florida rally





Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Florida.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Florida. | Jason Behnken/AP Photo

SARASOTA, Fla. — Donald Trump took his revenge tour to his new home-state of Florida Saturday night but had a fresh target: the indictments against the Trump Organization.

Trump held his rally — the second since he left office — as the state and nation continue to mourn a South Florida condo collapse that left at least 20 dead and more than 100 still unaccounted for. It also comes two days after prosecutors unsealed indictments alleging Trump Organization and its chief financial officer did not pay $ 1.7 million in taxes tied to company fringe benefits.

Trump tore into the indictments in front of thousands of cheering fans at a fairgrounds in Sarasota, casting the allegations as a politically-motivated prosecution against him, his family and business.

“You didn’t pay taxes on the car, or company apartment…or education for your grandchildren,” Trump said of the allegations facing the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg. “They indict people for that, but murder and selling massive amount of the worst drugs in the world that kill people left and right, and that’s alright?”

Those in attendance, who spent much of the night getting soaked by heavy rains, brushed off the charges against the Trump Organization.

“It’s all fake news, you know that,” said Duane Schwingle, a Chiefland, Fla., resident who was at the rally dressed as Uncle Sam costume. “Trump is our president, and none of that is legitimate. It’s a witch hunt.”

For days, the nation has been focused on rescue effort at the building disaster in Surfside, Fla., which was acknowledged by a brief moment of silence hours before Trump took the stage. That tragedy kept one of Trump’s top allies in the state — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — from the Saturday night rally as he focused on the ongoing crisis in Miami. DeSantis, who is becoming increasingly popular with the conservative base across the country, is eyeing a 2024 bid for the White House. That could put him on a collision course with the former president, who has openly signaled he’s considering another run for president.

DeSantis has a reputation as one of the nation’s most pro-Trump governors, and has made huge inroads with Trump’s political base as he builds his profile and fundraises across the country. Yet Trump’s rally offers a striking contrast between the two men: DeSantis sat out the political rally amid the Surfside crisis while Trump went ahead with his event.

Trump spoke for more than 90 minutes to a packed house at the fairgrounds in Sarasota, a reliably Republican area of the state that is Trump’s political home turf. During the rally, Trump gave a shout-out to Joe Gruters, a Florida state senator and Republican Party of Florida Chairman who, as local party chairman here, picked Trump as the ‘Statesman of the Year’ long before he ran for president. Others who spoke before Trump included Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is under federal investigation in an ongoing sex-crimes investigation, and the former president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

Trump spent about 10 minutes railing against the New York prosecution against his company, simultaneously downplaying the severity of the charges and painting it as part of an ongoing witch hunt.

“I’ve been targeted since I came down the elevator,” he told the crowd. He later added: “It’s really called prosecutorial misconduct. It’s a terrible, terrible thing.”

Florida is a friendly state for the former president, and Trump declared himself a resident of the state in 2019. He won Florida by more than three-points in 2020 and many of his biggest supporters call Florida home. And he thanked the crowd who attended his Saturday night event, one of several rallies that he’s billed as a way for the president to seek revenge on the congressional Republicans who voted for his second impeachment

“Together we will take back the House, we will take back the Senate, and we will take back America,” Trump said.

Trump focused much of his speech on a slate of conservative issues that energized his political base, replaying for the raucous audience the greatest hits they have not heard since he left the White House in January, including securing the border, praising his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and attacking “socialist” Democrats.

“The radical left is bringing a nightmare of mayhem and lawlessness to every state and community in this country,” Trump said.

Though Trump lost to President Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes, he has continued to spread baseless claims about the 2020 election being stolen, including recently promoting an election audit in Arizona’s most populous county.

Some in the party are concerned about the long term impact of partisan election audits, but the positioning has energized Trump’s most ardent supporters and convinced some of them that the former president could be reinstated.

One man who attended the rally dressed in a suit and tie similar to Trump’s said he thinks the audit in Arizona will reveal that Democrats “cheated.”

“They all cheated,” said the man, who only identified himself as “Donald J. Trump.” “They are fake news, they put these fake ballots out…they have dead people voting.”

While he spoke, the people around him all cheered.

Author: Matt Dixon
Read more here >>> Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories