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Human Rights First

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When lawyers were asking the Supreme Court this week to extend federal anti-discrimination protection to the LGBTQ community, I wish someone would have brought up Jamaica.

Long a homophobia hotbed, the Caribbean island was starting to look more LGBTQ tolerant in recent years. But last month Jamaica, or at least the beach resort city of Montego Bay, reminded us that homosexuality is still a crime in that country.

creative economy
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Arts and culture translate into big business  that can bring a region millions - or even billions - of dollars in economic impact. 

Experts call it an area's creative economy, or as a 2013 book from the Latin American Bank IDB calls it, the Orange Economy. The color orange has historically been connected to creativity, leadership and culture.

surveillance camera
John Seung-Hwan Shin, Wikipedia Creative Commons / WLRN

Updated on  10/9/19 at 7:55pm: Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes told WLRN that he has asked to pull this item from being voted on until November, at least in part due to data security and privacy issues

The city of Miami is considering granting a private company free access to public property to set up light poles equipped with surveillance equipment, in a potential deal activists call troubling for the right to privacy.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

If the past is any indication, worsening threats from climate change, like rising seas in South Florida, could take a larger toll on the poor as people are forced to abandon their homes.

Top State Engineer Blames FIU And Contractor For Road Staying Open Before Deadly Bridge Collapse

Oct 9, 2019
PEDRO PORTAL / MIAMI HERALD

The busy highway under Florida International University’s pedestrian bridge, which crumbled in March 2018 and killed six people, should have been closed while crews were trying to repair cracks in a critical support strut, a top engineer with Florida’s Department of Transportation told federal investigators.

In a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board released on Tuesday, Will Watts, the chief engineer for FDOT, wrote that FIU and its contractor were responsible for asking the state to close Tamiami Trail — but never did.

AP

Washington on Tuesday pledged an additional $98 million in aid to Venezuela, saying the funds will be used to support civil society, human rights organizations and independent media.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed what it called a “historic bilateral agreement” with representatives of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó administration.

therapy dogs
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Thursday is World Mental Health Day. It's recognized by the World Health Organization as a day to talk about mental health awareness, education, and to push for an end to the stigma that can sometimes surround asking for help. 

Brightline train stations have joined in on the advocacy - bringing in therapy dogs to spend time with commuters for a couple of days this week.

Sebastián Ballestas / Miami Herald

The fight over the future of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority just hit another roadblock. On Monday night, attorney's for the Florida Department of Transportation asked an appeals court to dismiss a constitutional challenge to a new law that would dissolve the MDX. 

The Trump Administration recently issued new economic sanctions that bar U.S. companies from doing business with the regime in Venezuela. But one major U.S. tech firm may be taking that prohibition too far.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The list of names reads like a busy rest stop on the Turnpike.

7-11. Circle K. Thortons. Sunshine Distributors. RaceTrac. Cumberland Farms. Wawa. 

Add Buc-ee's to the list of convenience store chains expanding in Florida.

When the Texas company broke ground on its first store in Florida last month, it was deemed an important enough addition to the Florida economy that Gov. Ron DeSantis was there with shovel in hand, hard hat on his head and the Buc-ee beaver mascot next to him.

Buc-ee's enters a competitive landscape.

Colleen Wright / Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade County Public Schools police force has investigated two dozen threats against schools and arrested six people in connection with those events since the academic year began in August, with nearly all of the incidents explained as “nothing more than a joke,” according to the superintendent.

Sam Turken / WLRN

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is renewing a push to deregulate occupational licensing requirements for certain professions, calling the standards onerous and unnecessary.

At a press conference at the Miami Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, DeSantis said training and education requirements for several careers are stifling competition and preventing people from working in new professions. He called on state lawmakers to loosen requirements for a host of jobs during their legislative session next year.

Pedro Portal Miami Herald

A state task force examining ways to fix Florida’s dirty water narrowed its recommendations on Monday by suggesting tighter rules for septic tanks and aging stormwater systems.

Palm Beach County’s Newest City Gets Police Force

Oct 8, 2019
Austen Erblat / South Florida Community News

The city of Westlake, which incorporated on a piece of farmland in central Palm Beach County in 2016 following a five-person vote, will be contracting with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services, according to an agreement.

The sheriff’s office announced the deal on its Twitter and Facebook pages and sent a copy of the agreement to the Sun Sentinel Monday. PBSO has created a new district to cover the city, which sits on Seminole Pratt Whitney Boulevard about three miles north of Okeechobee Boulevard and about five miles south of Northlake Boulevard.

A federal judge is considering whether Florida lawmakers exceeded their authority by requiring former felons to pay fines and settle other legal debts as a condition of regaining their right to vote.

The case is one of several ongoing legal battles that underscore Florida's often-pivotal role in national politics, especially with its history for razor-thin election margins. Legal skirmishes have also erupted over early voting at college campuses, while concerns linger about the integrity of computer systems because of evidence of outside hacking.

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