COVID-19: Florida Reports 15,000 Cases In A day, A US Record

florida
(FILES) In this file photo a sign with a facemask promoting COVID-19 safety measures is seen in a store in Miami Beach, Florida on June 16, 2020. Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP

 

 

Florida has registered more than 15,000 new cases of coronavirus in a day, easily breaking a record for a US state previously held by California, according to official numbers published Sunday.

The total of 15,299 cases in the hard-hit southeastern state was up sharply, 47 percent above the previous day’s total, the Florida state health department reported.

The state also recorded a one-day toll of 45 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Over five days, Florida has tallied 55,842 new cases.

The previous one-day record for new cases had been held by California, with 11,694 cases registered on Wednesday, and before that by New York, with 11,571 cases reported on April 14.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, moved quickly to begin unwinding the state’s lockdown starting May 4, before most other states.

In an unusually direct criticism, top US health official Anthony Fauci said Thursday that Florida had moved out of its lockdown before public-health indicators justified such a move.

DeSantis contested that, saying his decision was based on the best data at the time.

In late June, in a partial reversal, DeSantis ordered bars to be re-closed in an effort to curb the spread of the disease, but infection numbers continued to rise.

But the Florida governor has refused to require mask-wearing in public — a step some other southern governors have now taken — saying that was a matter for local officials to decide.

AFP

Again, Florida Breaks Daily COVID-19 Case Record At Over 10,000

(File) Rob ENGELAAR / ANP / AFP.

 

Florida on Thursday reported a record of more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, as it struggles to rein in the virus’s spread, blamed in part on young people congregating in the US state.

The exact figure of 10,109 cases — for a total of 169,106 — marks the second record since just Saturday.

Florida is a key focus of public health experts worried about a surge in several southern and western US states as the daily infection total has now surpassed 50,000 new cases.

In another sign of how bad things are getting in Florida, the largest health care provider in Miami, Jackson Health System, announced Wednesday it will no longer do non-urgent surgeries.

Its president Carlos Migoya warned that the provider will run out of hospital beds if the rise in cases seen over the past two weeks goes on for another month or two.

The state does not provide figures on how many people are hospitalized.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican ally of President Donald Trump, attributes the rise in cases in part to a more “robust” testing program.

He insists that many of the new infected are young people who are asymptomatic.

DeSantis has ruled out closing down the economy, which reopened in phases in May and June. For now, because of the surge in cases, the process is on hold.

“We’re not going back to closing things,” he said Wednesday.

Of the increase in cases, he insisted, “People going to a business is not what’s driving it.”

Rather, he blamed the surge on “social interactions” among young people gathering at parties, beaches, bars, swimming pools and elsewhere.

Miami Beach reinstated a nighttime curfew on Wednesday, and Miami-Dade County made the wearing of masks mandatory.

Beaches in South Florida have been shut down ahead of the long July 4 holiday weekend, and there will be limited use of pools at hotels and apartment buildings.

AFP

Florida’s Nightmare: A Hurricane During The Pandemic

 

What could be worse than a pandemic overwhelming health care systems and causing global economic collapse? Florida knows the answer: a pandemic that rages into hurricane season, which is already on the horizon and causing the Sunshine State to dramatically update its storm preparations.

“COVID is bad, a hurricane is bad. If you combine the two, it is greater than the sum,” said Bryan Koon, who until 2017 directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and who is currently an independent advisor on emergencies.

“The impact of a hurricane during a COVID environment will be worse than either of them even combined. It will be a multiplier effect, not an additive effect,” he told AFP.

That worst-case scenario is looking increasingly likely.

The United States will certainly still be battling the coronavirus by the time the Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, even though storms have hit in the past up to two months earlier than that.

Meteorologists at Colorado University, as well as at Accuweather, are already predicting that this year will see a more active than usual hurricane season, saying that between July and November there could be four major hurricanes sweeping in with winds of more than 110 miles per hour (180 kilometers per hour).

“We’re preparing for the worst obviously,” said Florida Governor Rick de Santis on Thursday. “Hopefully we don’t have to deal with a hurricane. But I think we have to assume that we’re going to have one.”

– ‘Hard Decisions’ –

Residents of the state are well versed in what to do when a hurricane threatens: stock up on supplies, board up windows, or evacuate their homes and shops and get out of the way of the storm if it is a bad one.

Those who cannot afford to do so are evacuated in buses and lodged in shelters. When they return home afterwards, they have to deal with the clean-up and repairs.

The question facing Florida’s leaders now is how to maintain that strategy of mass evacuation this year, when people are being cautioned to practice social distancing? How will shelters be run in an era of highly infectious deadly disease, when the usual protocol is to put people side by side on cot beds in school gyms?

None of that will be possible this year, experts warn.

“Your friends and your family may not want you at their home because they’re trying not to get sick,” said Koon. “So bringing in a lot of extra folks may not work.”

“Hotels may not be open. Hotels are closing because of low occupancy. I don’t know how you’re going to open up large shelters, you can’t fill a gymnasium with people right now. So that’s going to be problematic.”

“People are going to have to make hard decisions,” he said.

“Would I rather stay here and risk my house with a roof blown off my house or the storm surge flooding out my house? Or would I rather go get in the car and drive somewhere and risk being exposed to COVID-19?”

– Rewriting Guidelines –

Koon, currently vice president for emergency management and homeland security at the crisis consultancy firm IEM, points out that many people will not have the usual funds at their disposal to pay for gas, transport or hotels should they decide to evacuate.

As of Thursday, some 17 million Americans had lost their jobs thanks to the nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Florida senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio called on FEMA, the federal emergency agency, to set out a strategy for a hurricane making landfall during the pandemic.

In particular, they asked FEMA chief Peter Gaynor to “take into account how to properly evacuate and shelter those who either have, or are suspected to have, the coronavirus in the event of a storm.”

A FEMA spokesman told AFP that the agency is working with local and state authorities to draw up new guidelines.

The current head of Florida’s state emergency management agency, Jared Moskowitz, separately told the Sun Sentinel that he had set up a team to come up with a new response plan.

In 2018, Hurricane Michael, a Category Five storm, flattened the southwestern region of Florida, creating a devastation whose effects are still being felt.

The year before that, in 2017, when Hurricane Irma struck, millions of people evacuated their homes in Florida and some 300,000 found refuge in shelters.

And that was just in Florida. In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria is estimated to have killed some 3,000 people when it struck in 2017, while last year Hurricane Dorian triggered a humanitarian crisis that the Bahamas still have not recovered from.

“Hope is not the strategy we need right now. We need really dedicated hard planning,” said Koon.

Customer Leaves $10,000 Tip Before Coronavirus Forces Restaurant To Close

 PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: A restaurant's chairs and tables are stacked in the Chinatown neighborhood as people stay home and non-essential businesses are ordered closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: A restaurant’s chairs and tables are stacked in the Chinatown neighborhood as people stay home and non-essential businesses are ordered closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

 

A customer left a $10,000 tip to be divided among the employees of a Florida restaurant, a day before it was forced to close because of the coronavirus outbreak, the owner said.

Ross Edlund, the owner of Skillets in Naples, Florida, said on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Thursday that the gesture shows there are still “truly fantastic people in the world.”

“We have an amazing Skillets family that extends to our guests as well,” Edlund said. “We couldn’t be happier to be a part of a community where this type of generosity exists.”

Edlund told the local newspaper, the Naples Daily News, that the customer handed $10,000 in cash to the manager of the restaurant last week, a day before the state’s governor ordered the closure.

“We don’t know who he was yet,” he said. “I’m trying to figure it out.

“It’s funny because we have regulars who have been coming in forever, and they’re our friends but we don’t always know their names,” he said.

“We know their faces, their orders, their favorite tables, but we don’t know exactly who they are.”

Edlund said the $10,000 was evenly split among the restaurant’s 20 employees with each receiving $500.

Edlund owns a total of 10 Skillets restaurants and he told the newspaper that he has had to lay off 90 percent of his 200 employees.

Eight of his restaurants are still operating, he said, offering takeout service with a skeleton staff.

AFP

Saudi Military Student Kills Three At US Navy Base

A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida.  Josh Brasted/Getty Images/AFP

 

A Saudi air force trainee opened fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police, with the Saudi king quickly offering his condolences to President Donald Trump.

The shooting, which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, left eight people injured including two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the shooter was from Saudi Arabia — the same nationality as 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended flight school in Florida.

“There’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi air force and then to be here training on our soil,” DeSantis told a press conference.

“Obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”

Commanding officer Timothy Kinsella said the shooter — whose name authorities declined to release — was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students present at the base.

“King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolence sand give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida,” Trump tweeted.

“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.”

Police received their first call about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

One of the responding deputies eventually killed the attacker, who used a handgun.

“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”

Kinsella said the base’s security forces first responded to the shooting before outside police agencies arrived.

The facility, made up mostly of classrooms, was shut down until further notice.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as police rushed to respond.

Federal agencies are investigating, authorities said, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Military rarely targeted 

Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training center for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of naval aviation.”

The base is the center for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.

Saudi Arabia has long been a major US ally in the Middle East, thanks primarily to security considerations and oil.

While mass shootings in the United States are common, those at military facilities are rare.

In July 2015, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez carried out an attack at two military installations in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor, with the FBI concluding that the violence was inspired by a “foreign terrorist group.”

Two years earlier, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and wounded eight others at the Washington Navy Yard, just two miles (three kilometers) from the US Capitol building, before being shot dead by officers.

Four years before that, Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood.

He was considered a “lone wolf” who supported terror network Al-Qaeda.

Supporters of tighter gun laws seized on the latest shooting.

“Our veterans and active-duty military put their lives on the line to protect us overseas — they shouldn’t have to be terrorized by gun violence at home,” Cindy Martin, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action whose daughter works at the naval base, said in a statement.

AFP

One Killed, Shooter Dead At US Navy Base Attack

This March 7, 2018, image obtained from the US Navy shows a courtyard and barracks at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.  Glenn Sircy / US NAVY / AFP

 

A shooter was killed after opening fire at a US naval base in Florida on Friday and killing at least one other person, police and military officials said.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said in a message on Twitter it could “confirm there is no longer an active shooter on NAS Pensacola. The shooter is confirmed dead.”

Naval Air Station Pensacola was put on lockdown, with the US Navy reporting that at least one victim had been killed.

“One additional fatality has been confirmed. Unknown number of injured people being transferred to local hospitals,” it said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Local media said that the base hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training center for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of Naval aviation.”

On Wednesday, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

One witness from that attack told local media he was sitting at his computer when he heard shots fired and rushed to the window, where he saw three victims on the ground.

AFP

Trump To Move Permanent Residence To Florida

US President Donald Trump. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he will change his permanent residence from New York to Palm Beach, Florida, claiming he had been “treated very badly” in his native city.

“My family and I will be making Palm Beach, Florida, our Permanent Residence,” the president tweeted.

“I cherish New York, and the people of New York, and always will, but unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state,” he wrote, adding that “few have been treated worse.”

According to a report from The New York Times, Trump — who is a native New Yorker — and his wife Melania filed individual declarations of domicile in September changing their primary residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach.

The New York Times also wrote that White House officials declined to say why Trump changed his primary residence but cited a source close to the president as saying it was primarily for tax purposes.

Other than the White House, the Trumps’ main residence will now be their Mar-a-Lago resort, where Trump has spent 99 days since becoming president — compared to just 20 at his previous primary residence in Trump Tower, according to the Times.

“I hated having to make this decision, but in the end it will be best for all concerned,” Trump tweeted.

New York “will always have a special place in my heart!”

But New York has not always loved Trump back: Demonstrations outside Trump Tower are common, and Trump has butted heads with the city and state multiple times.

The most recent instance was in the beginning of the month when a federal judge for the Southern District of New York dismissed the president’s bid to block access to years of his personal and corporate tax returns.

New York leadership appeared to agree that Trump had made the right call, with Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeting, “Good riddance.”

“It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway,” he wrote.

“He’s all yours, Florida.”

AFP

Florida Executes Killer Who Targeted Gay Men

 

A confessed murderer linked to a months-long killing spree in 1994 that targeted older gay men was executed Thursday in the US state of Florida.

Gary Ray Bowles, who was 57, was executed by lethal injection at 10:58 pm (0258 GMT).

In a final written statement, Bowles apologised for the “pain and suffering” he had caused, stating “I never wanted this to be my life. You don’t wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer.”

Bowles was dubbed the “I-95 killer” after being linked to a half-dozen homicides along the interstate highway of that name, a major artery along the East Coast.

Late Thursday the US Supreme Court rejected defense motions calling for a stay of execution.

According to court records, Bowles had a disturbing and chaotic childhood. His father died before he was born, and his mother remarried several times, twice to men who abused Bowles.

He took to drugs and drinking by age 11, and at 13 he nearly killed his second stepfather by smashing a rock into his head, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A Washington Post profile, written in 1994 while police were desperately searching for the suspected serial killer, described Bowles as a “rugged, handsome and charming” young man who had left home as a teenager and turned to prostitution to survive.

He had a long arrest record, including for robbery, and spent a few years in prison in the 1980s after beating and raping a girlfriend — so viciously that one detective was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen better looking bodies in an autopsy.”

In 1994, after the months-long manhunt had spurred public fears up and down the I-95 corridor, Bowles was captured in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville and charged with the murder of Walter Jamelle Hinton.

Bowles subsequently confessed to the other murders – crimes that had been linked in part by the killer’s habit of stuffing rags or other objects down his victims’ throats.

He received a death sentence in 1999.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the execution order earlier this summer.

Florida is one of 29 US states that still practice capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which advocates against the death penalty.

Inmates in that state are allowed to choose death by injection or by electrocution. A private citizen is paid $150 to serve as executioner, according to the state’s website.

Boeing Plane Crashes Into Florida River

The plane with 136 passengers and 7 aircrews on board, was arriving from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, slid off the runway at 9:40 p.m. ET and into the river; now is in shallow water and not submerged/ AFP

 

A Boeing 737 skidded off a runway into a river after crash-landing during a lightning storm in Florida on Friday, officials said, with terrified passengers all safely evacuated to shore from the stricken jet’s wings.

The plane carrying 143 people including the crew from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba slammed into shallow water next to a naval air station in Jacksonville after a hard landing that saw the plane bounce and swerves down the runway, passengers said.

No fatalities or critical injuries were reported.

“As we went down … the plane bounced and screeched and bounced more and lifted to the right and then it lifted to the left,” Cheryl Bormann, a defense attorney who was on board the flight, told CNN.

READ ALSO: Dozens Of Rockets Fired At Israel From Gaza

“And then it sort of swerved and then it came to a complete crash stop.”

Some oxygen masks deployed and overhead lockers flew open during the landing, she added.

Twenty-one adults were taken to local hospitals, but none were critically injured, Jacksonville sheriff’s office said on Twitter.

Others were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville said in a statement all 136 passengers and seven aircrews on board had been accounted for.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday a team was being sent to investigate the incident.

Navy security and emergency response personnel including some 90 firefighters attended the scene.

Passengers in life vests were instructed to clamber onto the wings of the jet before being transported to shore aboard inflatable life rafts, Bormann said.

“We couldn’t tell where we were, a river or an ocean. There was rain coming down. There was lightning and thunder. We stood on that wing for a significant period of time,” she told CNN.

Images showed the Miami Air plane lying partially submerged in water after the crash-landing, with its nose cone missing.

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry tweeted that the White House had called to offer assistance as the situation was developing.

“All alive and accounted for. Our Fire and Rescue teams are family to all,” said Curry.

Teams were working to control jet fuel spilling into the St Johns River, he added.

The “Rotator” flight from the US base in Cuba carries passengers including military personnel and family members.

Boeing said it was aware of the incident and gathering information.

The US aerospace giant is under scrutiny following two crashes that killed 346 passengers and crew and grounded its 737 MAX planes worldwide.

Florida Remembers School Shooting Victims One Year After

In this file photo taken on February 17, 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. PHOTO: RHONA WISE / AFP

 

The city of Parkland, Florida came to a standstill Thursday to remember the victims of a school shooting that took the lives of 17 people on Valentine’s Day one year ago, igniting a student crusade against gun violence.

Survivor Emma Gonzalez, who emerged as a leading activist after the massacre, said the gun control movement known as the March for Our Lives will go off-line and silent from Thursday through the weekend.

“Like so many others in our community, I’m going to spend that time giving my attention to friends and family, and remembering those we lost,” Gonzalez wrote in a statement.

“The 14th is a hard day to look back on. But looking at the movement we’ve built — the movement you created and the things we’ve already accomplished together — is incredibly healing,” she wrote.

READ ALSO: Brazil’s President Leaves Hospital After 17-Day ‘Power Vacuum’

The shooting saw a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walk in with a military-style rifle and kill 14 students and three staff members.

The school says it will mark the anniversary with a “non-academic” day, offering counseling services. It will close its doors before 2:20 pm, the moment when the shooting started.

A March for Our Lives spokesman said many students will not show up for school.

No protest marches are expected, nor are student sit-ins or anti-gun campaigning.

 Quiet day of mourning 

“For this date we wanted to stay quiet, simply out of respect,” said 15-year-old shooting survivor Ryan Servaites.

“You know, this affected us very personally. We know this community. We’re from Parkland and we love Parkland and we simply don’t want to turn this into a day of protest when it really should be a day of mourning.”

Parkland and neighboring Coral Springs, home to many students of the activist movement, will hold events to honor the victims of the shooting.

In Parkland, at a park next to the school, mental health professionals will be deployed as will dogs meant to provide comfort. So will staff from a food program for needy kids. An ecumenical religious service will be held.

In Coral Springs, the artist David Best will inaugurate a work called Temple of Time — a 11-meter high structure of plywood decorated with Asian images where people can go to pay homage to the victims of the shooting.

In mid-May the structure will be burned down.

Best began building such temples in 2000 at the Burning Man festival in Nevada to honor a friend who died in a motorcycle accident.

Since then he has specialized in offering towns this tool of collective mourning.

“The Temple is meant to serve as an object of great beauty built out of tremendous loss,” the Coral Springs city hall wrote on its web page.

AFP

Rich Russians Flock To Florida To Deliver American Babies

 

In southern Florida’s Sunny Isles Beach, Russian tourists Anna and Helen sip coffee with their husbands and newborn babies: a common scene in what has become a prized destination for well-off foreigners looking to secure US citizenship for their children.

Under the shadow of luxury skyscrapers — among them Trump Towers — exists an army of well-dressed women, either pregnant or pushing top-of-the-line strollers. Most are Russian or from former Soviet Union countries.

The weather, white-sand beaches and dazzling turquoise waters are common reasons given for traveling to give birth in this city of 20,000 people, north of Miami.

But one 34-year-old, who gave her name only as Anna, was more direct.

“For the American passport!” she told AFP, smiling. She arrived in the US while expecting now two-month-old Melania.

Both she and compatriot Helen, mother to a three-month-old, said tens of thousands of dollars and months of planning went into their trips.

The attraction is clear. President Donald Trump does not like it, but according to the US constitution, children born on American soil automatically gain citizenship, opening up highly sought-after opportunities to study and work.

And why Sunny Isles specifically?

“Feel home, lot of Russian,” Anna said.

Upon turning 21, baby Melania will also be able to sponsor visas for her parents to come to the US — another policy that has disgruntled Trump.

The trend is big business: Miami Mama, a company in neighboring Hallandale Beach, has been organizing travel packages for Russian mothers since 2009.

Charging between $6,900 and $49,000, they will coordinate everything from interpreters and apartments to medical care and citizenship documents, according to the firm’s website.

And none of this is illegal, according to US immigration laws.

But according to NBC, the FBI raided Miami Mama in 2017, arresting one employee for making false statements in federal documents to obtain passports for children.

Miami Mama — whose logo shows a pregnant woman against the backdrop of an American flag — did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment.

 Little Moscow 

So-called “birth tourism” to the United States isn’t just popular with Russians. Expectant Chinese parents have for years travelled to California, while South Americans — particularly Brazilians — prefer Florida.

A tentative estimate by the Center for Immigration Studies — a conservative group that advocates curbs on immigration — suggested in 2015 that maternity tourism to the United States could account for some 36,000 births each year.

But there is no reliable data on how many US citizens the practice creates.

In 2014, Vera Muzyka, head of a firm helping Russian mothers in Miami, told The Moscow Times that in that city, 40 to 60 babies were being born each month to citizens of Russia or former Soviet Union countries.

Sunny Isles Beach earned itself the nickname “Little Moscow” from around 2010, when Russian beauty salons, supermarkets, restaurants and realtors started to crop up.

Nowadays, you’re more likely to find syrnikis — a type of sweet cheese pancake — than Cuban croquetas, while dried fish has become a staple bar snack.

And while southern Floridians are used to seeing shop signs in English and Spanish, in Sunny Isles it’s English and Russian — with real estate offices, notaries and businesses offering “passport services” the most common around town.

According to a 2017 report by The Daily Beast, many Russian families stay in the luxury Trump Tower condominiums.

But while connections between Trump and the Kremlin have been under investigation for over two years, there is no evidence the president benefits from Russian tourism in Florida.

Suspicious of the press, most of Sunny Isles Beach’s Russians won’t speak to the media and those who do prefer to remain anonymous or give only their first name.

That included Kate, eight months pregnant with her fourth child, who would only tell AFP: “We plan to give birth.”

Entering a specialty Russian supermarket with her husband and children, the 35-year-old added — true to form — that it was the balmy climate that brought them to Florida.

AFP

Last US Execution Of 2018 To Hold In Florida

 

The last execution of 2018 in the United States is set to take place Thursday in Florida, where a man convicted of a murder that took place more than 25 years ago is to receive a lethal injection.

In October 1992, Jose Jimenez broke into the apartment of a neighbour in North Miami, apparently with the intent to rob her. Instead, he stabbed and beat 63-year-old court clerk Phyllis Minas to death.

“It was a very gruesome crime. He was utterly merciless,” the lawyer who prosecuted Jimenez in 1994, Michael Band, told The Miami Herald.

Jimenez’s execution has been pushed back several times due to legal proceedings but is now scheduled for 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) at the state prison in Starke, Florida.

Lawyers for Jimenez, who is now 55, filed several 11th-hour motions for a stay of execution, including before the US Supreme Court, arguing that his drug addiction was not properly taken into account.

If the execution goes ahead, Jimenez will be the 25th person executed in the United States this year, and the second in Florida.

AFP