See Florida?

Lights in the dark.

NASA

Lights in the dark.

Spotted this in "World in a Snap" in today's tbt*. The picture was taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station on July 15. The long glow is from Miami, says Phil Plait on Slate, but you can see where the people are over on our coast, too, from Naples on up and then across the peninsula on and around I-4.

Full Story

This sixth-grade 'dork' from Jupiter taught scientists something additionally scary about the already scary lionfish

Invasives! Lionfish! Here's maybe my favorite thing I've read so far today:

When 12-year-old Lauren Arrington heard about her sixth-grade science project, she knew she wanted to study lionfish. Growing up in Jupiter, Fla., she saw them in the ocean while snorkeling and fishing with her dad.

Her project showed that the lionfish can survive in nearly fresh water. The results blew away professional ecologists. The invasive species has no predators on the Florida coast, so if they were to migrate upstream in rivers, they could pose a threat to the ecosystem.

"Scientists were doing plenty of tests on them, but they just always assumed they were in the ocean," Lauren, now 13, tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "So I was like, 'Well, hey guys, what about the river?'" Keep reading.

Full Story

Lauren Groff in Oxford American on the mermaids of Weeki Wachee

I mentioned the piece here last month when the magagzine showed up in the mail. Looks like now you can read it for free. Worth the click. …

Full Story

What we talk about when we talk about invasive species is ... Florida

Jeff Fobb with a python.

AP

Jeff Fobb with a python.

17 things I underlined in this week's Time magazine cover story on invasive plants and animals:

1. "Removing a huge portion of all the mammals from the Everglades is going to have a dramatic impact on the ecosystem," says Michael Dorcas, a snake expert at Davidson College. "But right now we don't have anything that can significantly suppress the python population."

2. A quarter of the wildlife in South Florida is exotic, more than anywhere else in the U.S., and the region has one of the highest numbers of alient plants in the world.

3. ... Florida is America's soft underbelly when it comes to invasives.

4. ... during any 24-hour period, some 10,000 species are moving around in the ballast water of cargo ships ...

5. Add in climate change, which is forcing species to move as they adapt to rising temperatures, and it's clear that the planet is becoming a giant mixing bowl, one that could end up numbingly homogenized as invasives spread across the globe. "The scale and the rate is unprecedented," says Anthony Ricciardi, an invasive-species biologist at McGill University, who calls what's happening "global swarming." …

Full Story

Here are three quotes from the story about cigars and Ybor City and Tampa on the front of this morning's New York Times

Following the Times' Susan Thurston's story from earlier this month. Here's the NYT piece.

1. "When the cigar industry relocated to the Ybor City area, it basically transformed the economy of the state from agriculture to industrial."

2. "It goes to the heart and soul of Tampa. This would be a blow to our cultural history to have the last remaining cigar factory close."

3. "Cigars are to Tampa what wine is to Napa and automobiles are to Michigan."

Full Story

Sunshine

Tuesday. Back on track. Seven things.

1. It is not insignificant that Kriseman chose an African-American to be St. Petersburg's new chief. That reinforces his campaign message to residents in low-income, predominately black neighborhoods that their voices will be heard, and some of the scars left by the 1996 racial disturbances have not healed. Some black residents have fresh complaints about uneven or unfair policing, and Holloway has experience effectively dealing with such frustrations in Clearwater's North Greenwood neighborhood. Click.

2. Meanwhile: Florida town stunned by news of police department's KKK ties.

3. John Oliver, via the Times' Anna Phillips: "When the state of Florida gives you an award, that award is basically sarcastic." …

Full Story

A path to the middle class in Central Florida

Something I noted in a story I read in the Wall Street Journal I picked up at my hotel over the weekend:

From 2000 to 2010, the number of registered nurses increased by 24%. But the aging of the baby-boom generation will sharpen demand even as it reduces supply: Roughly a third of today's nurses are more than 50 years old.

Consider one microcosm: Orlando, Fla., where there are many different ways into the nursing profession. The University of Central Florida trains only bachelor-degree nurses. You need an outstanding high-school record, there's a long waiting list, and tuition is $14,000 for in-state students—and more than three times that if you're not from Florida. Two well-equipped, award-winning community colleges—Seminole State and Valencia State—offer associate-degree RN programs, where tuition is $7,500. Then there is Orlando Tech, a county-run career center, located in an old building in an industrial area near downtown, which trains licensed practical nurses for about $5,000. …

Full Story

Y'all read in Sunday's New York Times how the influx of South Americans is reinventing Miami?

13 things I underlined in the piece by Lizette Alvarez:

1. ... a tableau vivant of the new Miami, which has gone from a place defined by Cuban-Americans to one increasingly turbocharged by a surge of well-educated, well-off South Americans in the last decade. Their growing numbers and influence, both as immigrants and as visitors, have transformed Miami's once recession-dampened downtown, enriched its culture and magnified its allure for businesses around the world as a crossroads of the Spanish-speaking world.

2. "It's now the indisputable capital of Latin America."

3. "The Latin economic boom in the last 10 years has led to the creation of a huge middle class in countries like Brazil, Peru and Colombia, and they look at Miami as the aspirational place to be."

4. ... the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region eclipsed Los Angeles in 2012 as the major metropolitan area with the largest share — 45 percent — of immigrant business owners ...

5. More moderate than traditional Cuban-Americans, South Americans have nudged local politics toward the center. Radio stations no longer cater exclusively to Cuban audiences ... …

Full Story

Sunshine

Late-night edition because early this morning I was having technical issues and then I really had to finish a draft of a story. So. Seven things.

1. There's a lesson for Florida in Atlantic City, the New Jersey beach town that sought to re-create its former glory by marketing itself as Vegas East. Three decades later, the risks of gambling on such an economic development model are apparent. Unemployment and poverty both remain high, and one out of every three casinos is threatening to shut its doors. The industry is not the panacea supporters claim it is, and Floridians should take note. Click.

2. Here's a headline: Florida Gov. Rakes in Campaign Cash From CEO Who Makes Millions Locking Up Immigrants.

3. Here's another: Florida Supreme Court tosses conviction for death-row inmate in 1987 Sumter killing.

4. Florida is of course well-represented on some of these death penalty charts and lists.

5. Jim Schoettler in Jacksonville, via Ben Montgomery on Twitter: Moments before being sucked under the choppy St. Johns River, Buckman Bridge accident victim William Maddox cried out to a small group of helpless, stunned witnesses that he loved his family. …

Full Story

Still thinking about Robin Speronis of Cape Coral

I love this sort of stuff. Speronis, though, is taking it to another, even more interesting level. Here's the story again from today from the Fort Myers paper. Here's her blog. And here's the recent feature in Bloomberg Businessweek:

In Cape Coral, Fla., a city of snowbird retirees and strip malls off the Caloosahatchee River, there’s a part of town that never quite recovered from the real estate bust. Foreclosure notices spill from the mailboxes of homes lining the city’s shallow canals and gather in trash drifts by the front doors. Weeds run riot in the yards of properties built for no money down in the flush days and then abandoned when they went underwater. …

Full Story

A higher power in Orlando

Mina Kimes in the current ESPN The Magazine:

A few weeks ago, as the first stirrings of World Cup mania rolled through this country, the city of Orlando unveiled plans for its own paean to the beautiful game: a sparkling new stadium for a new MLS team. The Orlando City Soccer Club's $110 million facility will contain 20,000 seats, dozens of luxury suites and a massive lion statue that rotates to face the pitch during matches. The city is ready to break ground, but there's one thing standing in its way: a tiny church.

Unstoppable stadium, meet immovable altar.

Orlando has acquired 19 of the 20 parcels it needs to begin construction. The final plot belongs to Faith Deliverance Temple, a nondenominational church of about 100 members. After the city failed to reach an agreement to buy it, Orlando filed an eminent domain petition to seize the property. The land, Orlando's leaders argue, will serve a public good -- so they can use their public powers to take it. …

Full Story

'If you stand by values and principles and don't mindlessly submit ... things will be OK'

The most interesting Florida thing I've read so far today:

The saga continues in one Cape Coral resident's fight to live without electricity or running water.

Robin Speronis, 54, was expected Thursday in a code enforcement hearing at City Hall. She didn't show, and now she is expected to correct the issues with her home or vacate it by July 28.

Speronis has been in ongoing litigation with the city over what she believes to be her right to not connect to city water or sewer. The problem is, according to city ordinance, her house is considered uninhabitable.

Full Story

Sunshine

I'm on the road and I got in super late last night and so it's Friday and I'm drinking a very large coffee from a hotel Starbucks and here are seven things but hopefully it's okay if I make them kind of quick.

1. The big news, of course: In a decision some called "the beginning of the end" of Florida's ban on gay marriage, a Monroe County judge ruled Thursday that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples must be allowed to marry.

Chief Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia ordered the county clerk's office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as early as Tuesday morning. In doing so, he sided with Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who argued that the ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

"The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," Garcia wrote in his opinion. …

Full Story

Climate change and the coming age of 'our various Floridas'

The New York Times' Anna North:

In 2100, I will live in Florida.

Let me backtrack: Unless longevity research makes some big strides in the next few decades, I'll probably be dead by 2100. Nor do I have any plans to retire to Palm Beach in my late 110s. But if I somehow survive, and if I stay in New York City, my experience will be Floridian: According to an interactive map created by Climate Central, a Manhattan summer at the end of this century will feel like a summer in Lehigh Acres, about 90 miles south of Sarasota.

And what if in my extreme old age I decide to return to the city of my childhood, Los Angeles? As it turns out, Los Angeles in 2100 will feel like the Florida city of Fountainebleau. According to Climate Central at least, global warming is slowly turning all the places I have ever loved into Florida. Keep reading.

Full Story

What people are saying about the way Rick Scott doesn't answer questions

1. The Times' Steve Bousquet: The governor's gone viral again. Rick Scott, who ditched his adopted rescue dog Reagan after the 2010 election, and who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition, once again finds himself all over the Web and cable as the rest of the world discovers what Florida already knows. He doesn't like to answer questions.

2. The Times' Adam Smith: Who is more natural and responsive to questions, Rick Scott or Siri?

3. CNN's Anderson Cooper: Rick Scott was asked whether police officers appearing at his campaign event were on duty at the time, which would be illegal. He responded by saying a lot without ever answering the question ...

3. WTSP's Noah Pransky: "You didn't answer that question."

4. MSNBC's Steve Benen: ... Scott repeated the answer, using the exact same phrases. Asked a follow-up, the governor again repeated his talking points, word for word. In isolation, these soundbites may seem fine, but politicians have to realize that when we see the context -- and see them repeating the same talking point over and over again -- they look pretty ridiculous.

Full Story