"House Republicans, who may face pressure from Gov. Charlie Crist this spring to spend money on embryonic stem-cell research, have countered with their own stem-cell plan." "Stem Cell Battle Brews".
"Setting up a legislative debate over whether stem cell research can be realized without the destruction of human embryos, a state lawmaker said Monday she will file a bill to call for increased spending on other, less controversial types of stem cell research."
Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, proposed spending $20-million on biomedical research projects that don't require the destruction of embryos."Stem-cell funding proposed".
Researchers hoping to treat or cure a wide array of diseases and injuries are working in several types of stem cell research. The use of stem cells culled from adults, from umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid aren't very controversial.
But many researchers say the most promising type of stem cell research involves the use of cells harvested from embryos, because they have the ability to become any tissue in the body.
Opponents say it is wrong to destroy embryos, which they consider human beings.
Last week, another Florida lawmaker, Rep. Franklin Sands, filed a bill that would earmark $20-million in state money for research on all kinds of stem cell research, including embryonic research. Sands, D-Weston, argues that other types of research won't produce as many results as could be realized with more embryonic research.
Daniel Ruth writes that "there are few other Florida politicians whose sex lives so preoccupy the curiosity of the glad-handing/Bible-thumping/chattering classes."
Oddly enough, early in his first term of office, Jeb Bush also had to deal with libido politics, calling a press conference to deny he was fooling around."Where Does Rumor End And Privacy Begin?"
But the very idea of Jeb Bush in flagrante dilecto was so boring, nobody much cared about the governor's sex life and the story pretty much died from disinterest.
In a sort of perverse way, you might think Gov. Crist welcomed the re-introduction of accusations a few days ago alleging he is the father of a child born out of wedlock 17 years ago.
After all, through most of his political career, Crist has had to fend off not too subtle whispering campaigns that he is gay, which the governor has steadfastly denied.
"Quinones, the first Puerto Rican ever elected to the Florida Legislature, has for weeks been thinking about stepping down in order to run for a new seat on the Osceola County Commission. But the Kissimmee lawmaker said this morning that he still hasn’t decided what he’ll do. ... He said he wants to make up his mind by Wednesday."
Nevertheless, "Democrat Bill McManus, a former Massachusetts legislator with a home in Winter Garden, announced this morning that he will run in a special election to replace Republican Rep. John Quinones. ... Democratic insiders are privately touting another candidate should Quinones actually step down -- Darren Soto, a local attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, last year." "Waiting for Quinones".
Rumour has it that former state rep and party-switcher Tony Suarez will jump in on the GOP side. For more on Suarez see "Allegations Of Voter Fraud Surface In Orange County".
"Officials for the Florida Department of Education failed to maintain a master list of state-issued cellphones, submitted inaccurate and incomplete travel reports and did not update certain financial records for several years, according to a report from the state auditor general. Education Commissioner John Winn, who will leave office Feb. 28, disputed some of the findings but agreed with others in the report, which was released Wednesday." "Education records lack information, report finds".
"A few worst-case scenarios are tempering some of the enthusiasm over what Crist and others bill as a bipartisan triumph:"
- What if Florida gets hit by a costly storm before it can build up a bigger, new public catastrophe fund, designed to lower premiums by relieving insurers of some risk?"Insurance What-Ifs Sinking In"
- What if new rules against "cherry picking," the practice of offering the most profitable types of insurance but not property insurance, send automobile insurers packing from Florida?
- What if a bulked-up Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the public insurer of last resort that's now empowered to offer other types of insurance, steals customers from private businesses?
"Test scores of several thousand Florida kids who are taking part in the federal reading, writing and math exams that are under way in selected schools will show how the state's students stack up against others in the nation."
Florida had little improvement in reading when the tests were given two years ago, and officials hope to see better results this time. Only 30 percent of fourth-graders and a quarter of eighth-graders were proficient readers in 2005, the tests showed. ..."State hopes kids can make grade".
While the state's exam -- the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test -- has shown dramatic improvements, the federal test has not backed up the state's claims.
Based on state FCAT scores, 71 percent of fourth-graders were proficient readers in 2005, though the national test that year indicated only 30 percent of Florida's fourth-graders were proficient readers.
"Mayor's Priorities Faulted In Debate".
"It might cost $7 million to elevate and improve the teaching of civics in Florida, a small price to pay considering the cost of being clueless." "Educate Floridians To Be Better Citizens". See also "Missing lessons".
Speaking of "clueless", this Randy Schultz column the other day suggests that some angry e-mailers could have used a civics class or two. Shultz writes that "after the Legislature passed the insurance bill, it didn't take long to get the first angry e-mail complaining that the state has 'socialized' insurance."
"Socialized?" Well, yeah. As if "privatized" was working so well. ..."Good hands belong to Floridians".
last week, the Legislature finally stopped placing its undying faith in a failed private market. Previously, the Legislature had bought the industry's argument that ever-higher rates - rates that even people within the industry agree are "unaffordable" for many people - eventually would bring back competition in hurricane insurance. If the industry won't look after Floridians, Floridians will have to look after Floridians. One might call it socialism. I'd call it cooperation.
Help From Washington
"Ultimately, though, the best way to spread risk and thus reduce rates would be for Congress to create a national disaster fund. That issue explains in part the eagerness of Republicans in the Legislature to move up the state's presidential primary. If political leaders in Florida make national disaster insurance a priority, the theory goes, so will presidential candidates. Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, recently told The Miami Herald that all state politicians should withhold any endorsement until a candidate supports such a program." "Insurance relief tour has a chance to go national".
"Newly elected Gov. Charlie Crist has submitted an emergency order that would prevent homeowners insurance companies from seeking new premium hikes for as much as five months. ... The emergency rule would prevent insurers from instituting premium increases before the rate rollback deadline of June 1. It would not affect more than 40 companies with pending rate-change requests. The reductions are the centerpiece of the legislature's plan, which coalesced during a special session this month, to cut premiums by an average of 22 percent statewide, except for customers of Citizens and State Farm, who will receive smaller cuts." "Crist offers freeze of new rate hikes". See also "Crist wants emergency insurance-rate freeze", "Crist proposes emergency rule so that insurance rates don't rise".
"Barack Obama has tapped Teddy Johnston as his Florida Finance director. And with John Kerry opting out of the contest, one of Kerry's top Florida money-raisers, Miami lawyer Kirk Wagar, has jumped onto the Obama campaign." "Obama's Florida fundraising".
"Execution put under microscope". See also "State Senator May Request Audiotaping Of Executions".
At least one person doesn't see what the fuss is all about: "Warden: Inmate showed no signs of pain in botched execution".
"Miami is planning a big party at the Orange Bowl Stadium with a theme, T-shirts and music. No date has been set. Reason being, everybody is still waiting ... on Cuban President Fidel Castro to die. When he does, Miami will get its party on." "Ghoul Bowl". See also "Miami planning Orange Bowl party after Castro's death".
"Former Democratic Sen. George Smathers, who served in the Senate from 1951 to 1969, was remembered as a diplomat and a family man." "300 pay tribute to U.S. senator". See also "Ex-senator's contributions recalled".
"Florida allows 410,000 people to conceal weapons in public, but the guns themselves may not be the worst of the state's secrets. The other hidden outrage, now revealed by reporters from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, is that criminals are on the list." "Florida neglects gun threat".
"Shooting the Messenger"?
"State officials are questioning the credibility of figures documenting water pollution in South Florida for the past five years, saying that omissions in the way the data was recorded amounted to fraud."
The state investigation leading to accusations against lab manager Tom White began after a Department of Environmental Protection audit noted that codes giving additional information on data were used rarely. The codes' information could include that numbers were estimated or resulted from outdated samples."State probe imperils lab manager's job".
White, though, has insisted that the data is accurate and legitimate, and shows unacceptably high levels of pollutants in rivers, canals and lakes in South Florida, said Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney who now directs the Florida Chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
The organization, which criticized the DEP in recent years for what it has called lax efforts to enforce environmental laws, is helping White defend himself against charges of fraud and negligence.
"They're shooting the messenger," Phillips said. "They're saying that the numbers are too awful to be true."
Some Call It Terrorism
"They may be only a few hundred people in a city of almost 400,000, but they give Miami a bad name. They're the Castro-obsessed hard core of the Cuban exile community, and recently they rallied to demand the release of an anti-Castro terrorism suspect."
The object of their devotion, Luis Posada Carriles, has been accused by Cuban and Venezuelan authorities of conspiring to bomb a Cuban jetliner in Venezuela three decades ago. He has been in U.S. custody for two years on suspicion of illegally entering the country, and is now charged with naturalization fraud and six counts of lying to authorities."Posada".
Scores of people died in the bombing Posada is suspected of plotting. The U.S. government has strong evidence linking Posada to the bombing. That alone should keep him in U.S. custody even if he weren't charged with immigration violations.
The government has shown a tendency to bow to political pressure from the Cuban exile community, but why should it? Supporters of Posada and his ilk are fringe groups that operate on the margins and usually end up disgracing themselves, as they did recently. The victims of their attack should consider coming forward to press charges.
For more about Posada, "convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch" and their ties to BushCo, see this lengthy St. Pete Times piece: "Cuban 'terrorist' arrested in Miami".
"For years, Florida has prohibited automobile insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of race, income or other factors that have no bearing on a person's trustworthiness. For years, insurance companies have tried to weasel around those restrictions. And they've been successful -- astonishingly so, given the straightforward nature of the anti-discrimination rules." "A logical leap".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "In refusing last summer to investigate the e-mails that former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley sent to a former congressional page, the FBI ignored its own child-safety guidelines, says a report from the Justice Department's inspector general." "A missed warning".
Charlie is "Anti-Murder"
"'As the people's governor, it is my job to keep Floridians safe, and I take that responsibility very seriously,' Crist said."
The legislation would require offenders convicted of violent felonies who violate terms of their probation to return to jail until a court determines whether they pose a danger to the community."Crist pushes tougher plan for parole violators". See also "Crist urges funds for act", "Governor pushing murder bill" and "Crist wants his Anti-Murder Act passed and $21.8M to start it.
The measure, which also gives judges more authority to impose maximum prison sentences for violators considered dangerous, is projected to require prison space for an additional 1,352 inmates and cost $161.8 million during the next three years, with the bulk of that coming in later years.
Critics said it might impose overly harsh sentences on probationers for minor violations.
"Americans are so jaded about honesty in government that it's easy to forget that some officials still embody the ideal of public service. Hillsborough Clerk of Court Pat Frank called the media Thursday not to ballyhoo an honor or unveil a tax cut but to announce she had found a problem in her office. Clerks had fallen behind in processing real estate records and other civil deeds and the backlog had grown to 12 business days." "True public servant".
Granholm in Tampa
The Buzz: "Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is coming to Tampa Feb. 17 for - a city council candidate? Turns out Granholm is sister-in-law of Mary Mulhern, the Democrat running against well-funded Republican Shawn Harrison." "Granholm and Mulhern".
GOPers "Gone Wild"
Sorry we missed this Tom Tryon column last week: "Shocking footage from Republican Governors Gone Wild!™".
"Florida an 'early primary state.'"
"The Florida Legislature won't convene for another five weeks to consider a bill moving up the state's presidential primary, but Republican contender Sam Brownback is already calling Florida an 'early primary state.'" "Florida in the same breath as Iowa". See also "Hopefuls race for Florida cash faster than ever".
The Orlando Sentinel thinks the early primary proposal is "A bad idea".
Meanwhile, "Sen. Clinton expects many return trips to Florida, campaign official says".
"Lawmakers should put more money into the state's KidCare subsidized health insurance program to get more children signed up, says Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who plans to make the program one of her priorities in her new job." "Debate begins again over money for KidCare, Sink to push outreach".