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Ex-Miami prosecutor who ran the US Capitol riots probe was loved by Bill Barr -- but then hit a snag

MIAMI — In September 2019, Michael Sherwin won a widely publicized criminal case against a Chinese woman accused of trespassing at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Soon after, the seasoned South Florida prosecutor would get a call from the Justice Department about a temporary assignment advising U.S. Attorney General William Barr on national security matters related to China and other foreign countries. For Sherwin, who had served in the Middle East as a naval intelligence officer during the 9/11 era, it was an offer he could not refuse. It was also a first-time...

Palm Beach County’s handling of Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t corrupt, Florida investigation finds

MIAMI — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has cleared Palm Beach state prosecutors and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office of any wrongdoing in connection with the lenient criminal prosecution and liberal jail privileges received by sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. FDLE investigators found no evidence that Barry Krischer, who was the Palm Beach state attorney when the case was investigated in 2005-06, or his assistant state attorney on the case, Lanna Belohlavek, committed any crimes, accepted any bribes or gifts, or did anything improper in their handling of the case, according to a 24-pag...

Another brawl breaks out at Miami International Airport. It's part of a national trend

Just mere days after a huge brawl at Miami International Airport, another massive fight broke out in the terminal Tuesday night. The mayhem was captured in cellphone footage taken by multiple onlookers at Gate G-15 by the Southwest Airlines counter. One person ended up arrested. The fight is part of a troubling trend airports across the nation are seeing, now that many people have resumed traveling. Recently, videos have surfaced showing face-mask confrontations, seat disagreements and personal space arguments. Clashes between passengers on planes have spilled over into airports. "Airports nat...

Gwyneth Paltrow is now a wellness adviser for a cruise ship. This could get weird

Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to feel good sailing, even in a pandemic. The actress and Goop founder announced on Instagram that she's partnering with Celebrity Cruises on a wellness program. "I am always happiest by, in or on the sea! In 2022 my @goop team and I are going to join @celebritycruises on their new ship, Celebrity Beyond. I'll be behind the scenes, working on some special projects, as Celebrity's new Well-being Advisor," Paltrow wrote with a pic of her staring at the ocean. "My team @goop is curating programming and fitness kits to add to Celebrity's wellness experience." The Oscar wi...

Cruise ships' fix for dirty smoke led to water pollution in South Florida ports, study finds

In an effort to curb their air pollution, cargo and cruise ships have been forced to reduce the sulfur in their emissions since January 2020. Rather than switching to cleaner-burning fuel, many ships turned to a piece of technology that scrubs some of the pollution out of the exhaust from the fuel — and splashes it back into the ocean. A new study reveals that ships pour 10 gigatons, or 10 billion metric tons, of that polluted water into the ocean in a year. And Port Everglades, PortMiami and ports in the Caribbean are some of the top dumping grounds. "This isn't being distributed in the globa...

Who pays for anti-vaccine rants of Centner Academy's co-founder? Taxpayers and kids

MIAMI — Even for a city with a storied history of deep-pocketed scam artists who swoop in and dazzle the powers-that-be, the quackery at Centner Academy stands out. A two-campus private school for the children of downtown and midtown hipsters who can afford $30,000 tuition, the academy is steeped in scandal over the revelation that co-founder and leader Leila Centner is a rabid anti-vaxxer. The wealthy "educator" doesn't want her teachers vaccinated and turning into monsters who, just by their mere presence, are capable of hurting the children she's grooming to be "leaders with heart." (The ac...

Genetically modified mosquitoes have landed in the Florida Keys -- here’s what you need to know

More than 20 million genetically modified mosquitoes are coming to the Florida Keys this year, in a landmark project by British biotech company Oxitec and Monroe County’s Mosquito Control District. This mosquito control method hasn’t been used in the U.S. before. It’s a pilot program and the first trial began over the past week. The project is aimed at reducing the population of the invasive Aedes aegypti, which carries diseases like Zika. This is the first time in the country that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued the “experimental use permit” for this method. Andrea Leal, t...

'Insane and dangerous': Inside the Miami school that told teachers not to get vaccinated

MIAMI — Long before Miami's Centner Academy ignited a national uproar by telling teachers not to get COVID-19 vaccinations, contrary to all credible scientific advice, the school's husband-and-wife founders were determined to do things exactly as they pleased, for better or worse. It began with the academy's first open house when David and Leila Centner asked guests not just to wipe their feet but to swaddle the soles of their shoes in Saran wrap. And it continued with an impassioned pledge to mold students into "emotional ninjas," and the coverings over the windows to ward off potential radia...

Heaven help us if court upholds DeSantis' assault on free speech in Florida

Of all the bills rammed through by the Florida Legislature this session — sometimes revived late at night and then quickly passed by GOP lawmakers — the most egregious remains House Bill 1. It's Gov. Ron DeSantis' baby, and he has already signed it into law. The session is about to end, but HB 1 set the stage for this year's legislative theme: Strip power from local governments, and trample Floridians' constitutional rights underfoot. Civil-rights attorneys from a nonprofit called the Lawyers Matter Task Force, and additional plaintiffs, have already filed a lawsuit challenging the governor's ...

Liberal group pushes Biden to take ‘urgent’ action on Puerto Rico in new report

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden must undertake a set of reforms to fundamentally change Puerto Rico’s relationship with the federal government, an influential liberal think tank argued in a report published Wednesday, including measures that would revoke a century-old law and ease the territory’s sizable debt. The report from the Center for American Progress says the steps are necessary — if at times politically difficult — to help Puerto Rico reverse a long-term economic decline that has persuaded many of its one-time residents to leave. The U.S. Census reported this week that the island los...

New study shows Miami's housing inequality keeps getting worse for Black homeowners

A new study shows Miami's housing inequality for Black homeowners keeps getting worse. A joint venture between the data company Clever Real Estate and the nonprofit Dream Builders 4 Equality, the study shows the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area ranked fourth in a list of 15 U.S. cities with the greatest value disparities between predominantly Black and non-Black ZIP Codes. The study shows typical property values in South Florida are $269,128 in Black majority ZIP Codes versus $1,556,398 in non-Black majority ZIP Codes — a difference of 478%. The only three cities with a greater dispa...

Despite cruise shutdown, CEOs made millions. Crew members met a different fate

MIAMI — Perhaps no industry was as badly battered by the pandemic in 2020 as the cruise industry, with business in the U.S. — its most lucrative market — banned for 9 1/2 of the year’s 12 months. To cope, the three largest companies stopped paying employees on their ships, cut marketing expenses and worked furiously to raise as much debt and equity financing as possible. The strategy worked out for executives at the three largest and publicly held cruise companies: Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Even as the companies faced record losses in the billion...

Florida family may spend life in prison after ‘church’ sold bleach as COVID-19 cure

MIAMI — A federal grand jury brought charges against members of a Bradenton family nearly a year after they were arrested for selling bleach that they claimed to be a cure for the COVID-19 virus. Mark Grenon and his three sons — Jonathan, Jordan and Joseph — face several charges for peddling their “Miracle Mineral Solution” to customers even after the Food and Drug Administration refuted those claims and a court ordered the family to halt sales of the chemicals. Two of the Grenons, 34-year-old Jonathan and 26-year-old Jordan, were arrested last July when federal agents raided their home on Gar...

Florida Republicans aim to jump-start Cuban reunification program from Guantánamo Bay

MIAMI — South Florida Republicans announced Monday they’re introducing a bill in Congress that would jump-start a federal program that helps reunite Cuban families by resuming consular services on the island from Guantánamo Bay amid a growing backlog of applications. U.S. Reps. María Elvira Salazar, Carlos Gimenez, Mario Díaz-Balart and Stephanie Murphy, a Central Florida Democrat, are co-sponsoring the Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act of 2021, which would restart processing claims under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, known as CFRP. The humanitarian program allows e...

Raúl Castro says he will step down, marking end of era as Cuba faces economic crisis

Sixty-two years after leading a guerrilla army out of the mountain jungles of Cuba and helping his brother, Fidel Castro, impose communist rule over the island, Raúl Castro on Friday said he will relinquish his hold on formal power in the nation’s affairs. As has been widely expected, Raúl Castro, 89, said he was stepping down as head of the Cuban Communist Party, the island’s dominant political force, during a subdued opening session of the body’s Eighth Congress in Havana. In remarks during an address to delegates in Havana’s convention center, Raúl Castro announced he would not seek to reta...

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