Look up: Many new spacecraft to launch from Space Coast in 2022

The biggest rocket to ever lift off from Earth is on tap for launch from Kennedy Space Center this spring, but it won’t be the only new name to make its Space Coast debut this year. While the Artemis I mission to the moon will carry the new Orion spacecraft into space for the first time, launches in 2022 look to send up missions from new Axiom Space and Sierra Space for the first time while Boeing hopes to finally get its CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station. But the first Artemis mission, that looks to finally send NASA’s massive, multibillion Space Launch System off the groun...

Dark-money group tied to ‘ghost’ scandal seeks to shield bank records that could reveal donors

ORLANDO, Fla. — An organization that gave more than $1 million in 2020 to the dark-money nonprofit at the center of Florida’s “ghost” candidate scandal is seeking to block the public disclosure of bank records that would reveal its donors. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office obtained the bank records for “Let’s Preserve the American Dream,” a nonprofit with close ties to Associated Industries of Florida, the state’s largest business lobbying group whose donors include Florida Power & Light and Florida Crystals. The nonprofit was recently informed that it is being investigated for potential ...

Florida surgeon general proposes children skip COVID-19 tests

ORLANDO, Fla. — As omicron’s spread outpaces an overwhelming demand for COVID-19 tests, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has a solution that contradicts advice from myriad public health experts: test fewer people. In a Monday news briefing, the surgeon general took aim at mass testing and said the Florida Department of Health will soon recommend people forgo testing unless it will be what he labels “high-value.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends people get tested if they have symptoms, have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, or if they are not ...

New Year’s Eve streaming guide: How to watch the ball drop

Planning to ring in 2022 at home but don’t have cable service? Fear not, there are plenty of options to ring in the new year for cord-cutters looking to celebrate the end of 2021 by watching the big ball drop in New York City. The Times Square District Management Association will be presenting a live webcast of the ball drop straight from New York City, complete with celebrity interviews, backstage access and behind-the-scenes stories. Streaming kicks off at 6 p.m. ET and users can view the webcast at timessquarenyc.org or on the @TimesSquareNYC page on either Twitter or Facebook. NBC’s Peacoc...

Teen's death in fall from cruise ship balcony is seen as suicide

ORLANDO, Florida — A 15-year-old passenger died Wednesday after falling from a balcony on an MSC Seashore cruise ship returning to Miami, according to news reports. The boy fell onto a promenade eight decks below at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Crew-Center.com reported. “A young man traveling with his family on board MSC Seashore appears to have died of suicide Wednesday evening,” MSC said in a statement. “Our team immediately notified authorities and our care team is assisting the young man’s family on board. All of us at MSC Cruises are heartbroken. The family remains in our thoughts and praye...

Florida Democrats, stung in 2020, are slipping even further behind GOP in 2022 vote

TALLAHASSEE — Many prominent Florida Democrats sought a reckoning after their losses in 2020. They wanted a change within the party structure and a rejuvenated party to take on Republicans in 2022. There were changes at the Florida Democratic Party, as Manny Diaz was elected chairman in January after Terrie Rizzo resigned, but by some measures, their prospects for 2022 have only worsened. “It’s going to be rough,” said Matt Isbell, a Tallahassee-based Democratic consultant. “It’s going to be pretty bad.” Diaz took over a party coming off a string of losses in 2020, including the presidential r...

Shut out during the pandemic, Wisconsin woman recreates Universal rides on social media

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mandy Slaback has been going to Universal Orlando almost every year since she was 10. When the resort shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Janesville, Wisconsin, resident didn’t know when she would be able to visit again, so she decided to bring the parks home. Using her degree in broadcasting and film, Slaback, 24, put her production skills and love for Universal to work by making videos recreating some of the resort’s most popular rides. Her projects created a theme park COVID time capsule viewed hundreds of thousands of times across social media. Her latest video, a m...

Ex-NFL player Zac Stacy arrested at Orlando International Airport after video of abuse goes viral

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ex-NFL player Zac Stacy appeared before a judge Friday morning after he was arrested at Orlando International Airport on charges he beat the mother of his infant son at her home in Oakland, Fla., last weekend. Video showing the former running back attacking the woman went viral in recent days after the victim shared it online. Orlando police arrested Stacy after he exited an inbound flight from Nashville, Tenn., and took him to Orange County Jail, said OPD’s Heidi Rodríguez. In court, his defense attorney said Stacy had flown back to Florida immediately after learning that Oakl...

Florida man convicted for threatening members of Congress, DOJ says

A Florida man is facing up to five years in prison after being convicted of threatening Congress members. On Wednesday, a federal just found Frank Anthony Pezzuto, 73, guilty in three separate incidents of threatening Congress members, according to the Department of Justice. Pezzuto made those threats from his phone in Venice to certain offices in Washington, D.C. The three calls took place on Jan. 25, Jan. 30, and Feb. 5, according to the DOJ. On the first call, Pezzuto left a voicemail threatening to kill a congressman the DOJ identified as “E.S.” He told Congressman “E.S.’s” office he was c...

Republicans’ election fraud monster suddenly has Florida GOP supervisors worried

Alan Hays is upset because his fellow Lake County Republicans are spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about 2020 election fraud. Cry us a river. Hays contributed to America’s present-day conspiratorial psychosis, and now is upset that the Frankenstein’s monster he helped create is rampaging across the countryside. Before Hays became supervisor of elections in Lake County, he was a state lawmaker who glommed onto the right’s outrage du jour at the time — so-called Sharia law. Hays introduced bills designed to ban Sharia — which isn’t a set of laws but rather a religious and moral code...

Man arrested in fire at Pulse memorial after survivor joined search to find culprit

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 64-year-old old man has been arrested for allegedly setting fire to the Pulse Interim Memorial last month, the Orlando Fire Department said Tuesday. Mark Anthony Henson faces a charge of felony criminal mischief for the fire at the center of the memorial dedicated to the 49 victims of the June 2016 massacre, at 1912 South Orange Ave. in Orlando. His arrest came days after the onePULSE Foundation released grainy security video of a man using a wheelchair who could be seen sparking the blaze, before quickly leaving. Pulse survivor Orlando Torres said he helped locate the man. “...

Theft of French bulldog exposed ‘disturbing’ puppy trafficking ring

ORLANDO, Fla. — The six-month investigation into the armed theft of a French bulldog in west Orange County led deputies to a much larger ring of puppy trafficking and animal cruelty, Sheriff John Mina said at a news conference Friday. Three men have been arrested in the scheme, which Mina said involved stealing expensive dogs to resell or breed, keeping the animals in “deplorable conditions” and performing unsanctioned medical procedures on them. The investigation began with a single dog theft: French bulldog Bugsy was taken at gunpoint March 25 from his owner Johnny Matos, when Matos and Bugs...

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposes elections 'police force'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis embraced a viral chant meant as a vulgar insult of President Joe Biden and vowed to push for more election law changes next year during an official event that turned into a campaign rally at the West Palm Beach airport Wednesday. DeSantis called for a new law enforcement agency to probe election irregularities and suggested he would ban ballot drop boxes, despite having signed a law two years ago supporting them. The governor referred to Biden as “Brandon,” a reference to the viral “Let’s Go, Brandon” chant popularized in conservative media. The chant is code ...

Suggestive shirts spotted at Disney prompt social media debate

ORLANDO, Fla. — A couple wearing what some consider sexually suggestive T-shirts at Disney got social media fans debating weather or not the shirts should be banned at the theme park. Sam Carter, a former Disney Creative Entertainment employee at Disneyland, on Twitter as @Cartarsauce, posted an image of a couple wearing white T-shirts, with the female’s shirt reading “I wanted the D” and the male’s reading “I gave her the D” with the iconic calligraphic D that makes the shirts seem like official Disney garb. Carter’s post reads “D is for Don’t” and people on the social media platform have sin...

Mom banned as Orange elementary school volunteer after anonymous letter reveals OnlyFans page

As a volunteer at Sand Lake Elementary where her two children attend school, Victoria Triece has spent hours helping organize class parties and assisting in lab assignments in her older son’s classroom, something she said she wanted to do ever since she became a mom. “I always wanted to be involved in that aspect of life,” Triece said. “My mother did it for me and having her there was the best joy growing up.” But the 30-year-old is no longer part of Orange County Public Schools’ ADDition volunteer program as of Oct. 13, after she was kicked off campus when an anonymous parent told higher-ups ...