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New exotic invasive snake is captured in Everglades National Park

MIAMI — Visitors hiking the Mahogany Hammock Trail in Everglades National Park earlier this month spotted an unfamiliar snake. It turned out to be a brand new invasive species. The hikers alerted park staff of the sighting. Park staff and biologists from the United States Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center captured the snake, which was identified as a non-native Central American milk snake. It appears to be a solo snake, good news for a park and Everglades ecosystem overrun by exotic invasive reptiles. “This individual is thought to be a released pet because of its docile behavior...

‘We are in an oasis of freedom’: CPAC conference is a Florida-heavy, Trumpian affair

ORLANDO, Fla. — The country’s largest annual gathering of conservatives began in Orlando on Friday, and Florida was front and center. Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off the event and touted his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and Florida’s relatively lax social-distancing protocols that enabled this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference to be held indoors and in-person in former President Donald Trump’s home state. “We are in an oasis of freedom in a nation that’s suffering from the yoke of oppressive lockdowns,’‘ DeSantis said during a speech that mostly mirrored a stump-style campaign ...

Florida woman charged with threatening to kill FBI agents after Facebook video rant

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A South Florida woman has been charged with threatening to kill FBI agents on social media after they inquired about her possible presence at the U.S. Capitol riot, prosecutors said Friday. Suzanne Kaye, 59, of Boca Raton, said on her Facebook page that she was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection while Congress was counting Electoral College votes confirming Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump for president. Trump was later impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate after lawmakers accused of him of inciting the riot during a speech that day. After receiving a ...

Sen. Menendez asks for ‘tangible results’ in possible negotiations with Cuba under Biden

MIAMI — A group of senators, Cuban-American politicians, exile organizations, and members of the island’s opposition asked President Joe Biden Wednesday to condition any eventual negotiation with Cuba on improvements in human rights and political freedoms. Cuban-American Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that one of his priorities is to restore the promotion of human rights and democracy as fundamental pillars of U.S. diplomacy. “And that absolutely includes the policy of the United States towards Cuba,” he said in a video shown at an e...

New complaint claims Jeffrey Epstein forced some of his victims to marry each other

MIAMI — The attorney general of the Virgin Islands late Wednesday sought to amend her civil enforcement action against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein to include new allegations of forced marriages for immigration fraud, using the U.S. territory to hide assets owned on the mainland and participation of his legal team in the criminal enterprise. Attorney General Denise George also announced in a news release that she’d added as defendants to her January 2020 civil racketeering case the co-executors of the Epstein estate — attorney Darren K. Indyke and accountant Richard Kahn. The attorney general...

‘Living the dream’: Slain FBI special agent remembered by family and colleagues

MIAMI — For someone whose daily work was to shed light on some of the darkest corners of the internet, Special Agent Daniel I. Alfin always managed to have a smile on his face, much to the bewilderment of his own colleagues. He was witty and tagged a heavy dose of sarcasm to the end of his sentences. He was smart and really good with computers, a skill he would pass on to many of his older colleagues throughout his postings in Albany, Quantico and Miami. By the time he was 36, he had become an FBI special agent in Miami investigating crimes against children, a milestone many law enforcement of...

Facing money crunch, Jeffrey Epstein's estate suspends offers to his victims

MIAMI — Citing concerns that the estate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein may not have access to cash, the executive running the Epstein Victims Compensation Fund announced Thursday a temporary suspension of compensation offers. “Although I sincerely regret having to take this action, I have concluded that it is necessary to protect the interests of eligible claimants who have not yet resolved their claims through the Program,” Jordana H. Feldman, the compensation fund’s administrator, said in a statement. “Issuing a compensation offer that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, cons...

Gunman who killed FBI agents led a seemingly mundane life. But some neighbors were wary

MIAMI — The FBI on Wednesday identified the the gunman who mowed down five FBI agents at the door of his Sunrise, Florida, apartment — but as agents pored over the crime scene for a second day, what prompted the violent outburst remained a mystery. David Lee Huber, 55, appeared to live a largely innocuous life. He worked as a computer systems engineer, had a pilot’s license, and was married for 16 years before divorcing in 2016, according to public records. The only previous encounters with the law enforcement in those records were confined to traffic tickets and an eviction in Colorado. He do...

Former University of Florida researcher received $1.75 million in federal grant money -- he’s now facing charges

MIAMI — As a former University of Florida professor and researcher, Lin Yang, 43, obtained $1.75 million in federal grant money from the National Institutes of Health, according to the Department of Justice. The problem, investigators say: Yang, a resident of China, never revealed that he was getting support from China and that a company he founded in his home country benefited from the research. Now, Yang, who resided in Tampa at the time, is facing charges including six counts of wire fraud and four counts of making false statements to an agency of the United States. Yang has been in China s...

Former police employee swears she's not anti-Semitic after her 'stupid Jew' rant goes viral

MIAMI — A retired Miami-Dade police homicide stenographer wearing her department jacket went viral Tuesday night when video emerged of her screaming profanities at a parked SUV outside a Boca Raton Chinese restaurant. "Just because you're Jewish and a Democrat doesn't give you the right to stay there," Leslie Socolov yells at the SUV blocking her car in a parking lot, as laughter erupts in the background. She also yells: "Move your f---ing car you stupid Jew!" The video was posted to Twitter by a website called StopAntiSemitism.org. The Miami-Dade Police Department, in a tweet on Tuesday night...

Eugenio Rolando Martínez, Watergate burglar and former CIA asset in Miami, dies at 98

MIAMI — Eugenio Rolando Martínez, one of five men whose arrest while burglarizing the Watergate complex in Washington ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, died Saturday surrounded by family in his daughter’s home in the Central Florida city of Minneola. He was 98. Martínez, a CIA contract agent who ran hundreds of covert missions from Miami to his homeland, was among four Miami Cuban exiles recruited by top Nixon aides to break into the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate headquarters in May and June of 1972 along with a security coordinator for Nixon’s reelec...

How older people looking for COVID-19 vaccines struggle with and conquer a digital divide

MIAMI — Win the lottery or nail an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine dose? For thousands of seniors, their friends and family members and caregivers, getting a shot might feel like winning the lottery. That’s how valuable — and seemingly hard to get — that appointment is given how demand far outstrips supply. And it’s also telling how technology tools are not always accessible to every member of a community. In a world where many seniors don’t have computers or computer skills, asking an older population to constantly check websites, navigate links, monitor Twitter alerts as appointments open...

Even as Ghislaine Maxwell documents are unsealed, many of her secrets remain buried

In July 2016, lawyer David Boies forced Ghislaine Maxwell to sit for a sworn deposition in New York as part of a civil defamation lawsuit that had grown increasingly contentious in the year since it was filed. Maxwell, who was accused of helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploit and rape countless girls, had managed to evade subpoenas and, in a prior deposition, was so combative that she refused to answer even the simplest of questions. The federal judge overseeing the case ordered her to sit for another round of questions, this time in front of Boies, one of the country’s most formid...

White House says Florida used just half of COVID-19 vaccines sent by federal government

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s press secretary said Monday that Florida has used only half of its COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, noting that the state — where over-65 residents have been struggling to get appointments for the shots — has “a good deal of the vaccine.” The comments from press secretary Jen Psaki came after she was asked during a White House briefing about criticism last week from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Biden’s vaccine distribution plan. Biden plans to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to help with distributing COVID-19 v...

As Biden pledges climate change action, Florida activists want more while GOP digs in

WASHINGTON — Miami’s Republicans — who represent some of the country’s most vulnerable communities threatened by sea level rise and climate change — are more antagonistic than ever toward climate change legislation after President Joe Biden re-entered the Paris Climate Agreement on day one of his presidency. Hoping to build on former President Donald Trump’s rise in popularity in Miami-Dade County in the 2020 election — despite his loss nationally — South Florida Republicans are digging in to fight further climate action, even as Miami-area environmental groups see opportunities for more gains...

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