Please tell me why an authoritarian highly ambitious arrogant Christian nationalist racist bigot who has already threatened BLM protestors and has been documented as abusing helpless prisoners want with his own military force with the power to arrest people? Considering the hate that the Governor and his supporters have for the LGBTQ+ will they use this new military police force against that community? What about drag queens? Hugs
The Florida State Guard’s (FSG) budget will grow to 10 times its current level, nearly quadruple in personnel, and become a permanent part of state government under legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed.
The measure (HB 1285), promulgated by Republican Rep. Mike Giallombardo, creates a Division of the State Guard within the Department of Military Affairs as a separate budget entity headed by a Governor-appointed director, who will be confirmed by the Senate.
ACLU Florida said this expansion moves Florida closer to a police state. The new law expands the scope of its mission from being ready for activation in emergencies to also “protect and defend the people of Florida from threats to public safety.” Its members also have arresting powers.
The sweeping nature of this bill is astounding: it would divert nearly $100 million in taxpayer funding to build, arm, clothe, equip, and train a volunteer armed guard of 1,500 people to assume the duties of the National Guard.
These volunteers would have access to weapons, ammunition, planes, helicopters, boats, and surveillance technology, and would, unique among states with a State Guard, create a special unit within the State Guard with authority to make arrests.
What makes this even more troubling is that the newly-envisioned State Guard will only be accountable to the Governor and can be activated not just in a state of emergency, but any time the Governor deems necessary to broadly protect ‘from threats to public safety.’
This broad language fails to provide guardrails to ensure this special unit could not be deployed to crack down on activities that this Legislature is in the process of criminalizing.
Under the bill, the Governor will appoint the director of the state guard who serves at the pleasure of the Governor – meaning there will be no checks and balances on when and how this force is used.
Additionally, the Governor can order his State Guard to take action in other states. This is a terrifying bill that puts Floridians’ privacy, security, and safety in grave danger.
“Florida is the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and through this legislation, we are further supporting our military, veterans and their families with the resources they need while they are serving and after they have fulfilled their duty,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
HB 1285 establishes the Florida State Guard as a permanent component in Florida’s state militia and creates the Division of the State Guard within the Department of Military Affairs. The Florida State Guard has been appropriated $108 million in the General Appropriations Act.
HB 1285 increases the Florida State Guard from 400 to 1,500 volunteers, creates a specialist unit to act as law enforcement when necessary, and makes the force permanent, all of which enhance its capacity to defend and protect Floridians. pic.twitter.com/j3Y3FMllNX
So the 1500 members of this security Force are all volunteers? Can you imagine the type of person that will sign up for this? You’re going to have your Proud Boy types, KKK, and just your general bigoted rednecks who love guns and authoritarianism. What could go wrong?
Not really. Cubans loved fascist dictator Batista; they only hated Castro because he confiscated their property and money, not because he was also an evil fascist dictator. They love fascism and want it in the US.
Two of Donald Trump’s employees moved boxes of papers the day before an early June visit byFBI agents and a prosecutor to the former president’s Florida home to retrieve classified documents in response to a subpoena — timing that investigators have come to view as suspicious and an indication of possible obstruction, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump and his aides also allegedly carried out a “dress rehearsal” for moving sensitive papers even before his office received the May 2022 subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors in addition have gathered evidence indicating that Trump at times kept classified documents in his office in a place where they were visible and sometimes showed them to others, these people said.
Taken together, the new details of the classified-documents investigation suggest a greater breadth and specificity to the instances of possible obstruction found by the FBI and Justice Department than have been previously reported. It also broadens the timeline of possible obstruction episodes that investigators are examining — a period stretching from events at Mar-a-Lago before the subpoena to the periodafter the FBI search there on Aug. 8.
That timeline may prove crucial as prosecutors seek to determine Trump’s intent in keeping hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House, a key factor in deciding whether to file charges, possibly for obstruction, mishandling national security secrets or both. The Washington Post has previously reported that the boxes were moved out of the storage area after Trump’s office received a subpoena. But the precise timing of that activity is a significant element in the investigation, the people familiar with the matter said.
Grand jury activity in the case has slowed in recent weeks, and Trump’s attorneys have taken steps — including outlining his potential defense to members of Congress and seeking a meeting with the attorney general —that suggest they believe a charging decision is getting closer. The grand jury working on the investigation apparently has not met since May 5, after months of frenetic activity at the federal courthouse in Washington. That is the panel’s longest hiatus since December, shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to lead the probe and coinciding with the year-end holidays.
Donald Trump is facing historic legal scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by the Justice Department, district attorneys in Manhattan and Fulton County, Ga., and a state attorney general. He denies wrongdoing. Here is a list of the key investigations and where they stand.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) is investigating whether Trump and his allies illegally meddled in the 2020 election in Georgia. A Georgia judge on Feb. 15 released parts of a report produced by a special-purpose grand jury, and authorities who are privy to the report will decide whether to ask a new grand jury to vote on criminal charges.
Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a lawsuit Sept. 21 against Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization, accusing them of flagrantly manipulating the valuations of their properties to get better terms on loans and insurance policies, and to get tax breaks. The litigation is pending.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in each case. “This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House,” Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, wrote in a statement. “Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail.”
Cheung accused prosecutors of showing “no regard for common decency or key rules that govern the legal system,” and he claimed that investigators have “harassed anyone and everyone who works [for], has worked [for], or supports Donald Trump.”
“In the course of negotiations over the return of documents, President Trump told the lead DOJ official, ‘anything you need from us, just let us know,’” he continued. “That DOJ rejected this offer of cooperation and conducted a raid on Mar-a-Lago proves that the Biden regime has weaponized the DOJ and FBI.”
A spokesman for Smith declined to comment. Justice Department officials have previously said they conducted the search only after months of efforts to retrieve all classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were unsuccessful.
Of particular importance to investigators in the classified-documents case, according to people familiar with the probe, is evidence showing that boxes of documents were moved into a storage area on June 2, just before senior Justice Department lawyer Jay Bratt arrived at Mar-a-Lago with agents. The June 3 visit by law enforcement officialswas to collect material in response to the May 2022grand jury subpoena demanding the return of all documents with classified markings.
John Irving, a lawyer representing one of the two employees who moved the boxes, said the worker did not know what was in them and was only trying to help Trump valet Walt Nauta, who was using a dolly or hand truck to move a number of boxes.
“He was seen on Mar-a-Lago security video helping Walt Nauta move boxes into a storage area on June 2, 2022. My client saw Mr. Nauta moving the boxes and volunteered to help him,” Irving said. The next day, he added, the employee helped Nauta pack an SUV “when former president Trump left for Bedminster for the summer.”
The lawyer said his client, a longtime Mar-a-Lago employee whom he declined to identify, has cooperated with the government and did not have “any reason to think that helping to move boxes was at all significant.” Other people familiar with the investigation confirmed the employee’s role and said he has been questioned multiple times by authorities.
Irving represents several witnesses in the investigation, and his law firm is being paid by Trump’s Save America PAC, disclosure reports show. A lawyer for Nauta, Stanley Brand, declined to comment.
Investigators have sought to gather any evidence indicating Trump or people close to him deliberately withheld any classified papers from the government.
On the evening of June 2, the same day the two employees moved the boxes, a lawyer for Trump contacted the Justice Department and said officials there were welcome to visit Mar-a-Lago and pick up classified documents related to the subpoena. Bratt and the FBI agents arrived the following day.
Trump’s lawyers gave the officials a sealed envelope containing 38 classified documents and a signed attestation that a “diligent search” had been conducted for the documents sought by the subpoena and that all relevant documents had been turned over.
As part of that visit, Bratt and the agents were invited to visit the storage room where Trump aides said boxes of documents from his time as president were kept. Court papers filed by the Justice Department said the visitors were told by Trump’s lawyers that they could not open any of the boxes in the storage room or look at their contents.
When FBI agents secured a court order to search Mar-a-Lago two months later, they found more than 100 additionalclassified documents, some in Trump’s office and some in the storage area.
In a court filing in August explaining the search, prosecutors wrote that they had developed evidence that “obstructive conduct” took place in connection with the response to the subpoena, including that documents “were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room.”
Prosecutors also have gathered evidence that even before Trump’s office received the subpoena in May, he had what some officials have dubbed a “dress rehearsal” for moving government documents that he did not want to relinquish, people familiar with the investigation said.
The term “dress rehearsal” wasused in a sealed judicial opinion issued earlier this year in one of several legal battles over the government’s access to particular witnesses and evidence, some of the people said.It was used to describe an episode when Trump allegedly reviewed the contents of some, but not all, of the boxes containing classified material, these people said. The New York Times first reported that Trump’s team conducted what was “apparently a dress rehearsal” before the subpoena arrived.
At the time, Trump and his legal team were engaged in a back-and-forth with the National Archives and Records Administration over whether he had taken from the White House records and property that were supposed to stay with the government. That dispute over presidential records is what ultimately led to the discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — some of them highly sensitive, including information about a foreign country’s nuclear capabilities; Iran’s missile system; and intelligence gathering aimed at China.
The former president, the people familiar with the situation said, told aides he wanted to make sure he could keep papers that he considered his property.
That dress rehearsal episode is one of several instances in which investigators see possible ulterior motives in the actions of Trump and those around him. Lawyers for Trump and some of those witnesses, however, have argued in recent months that prosecutors are viewing the sequence of events in too suspicious a light. They say Smith’s team hasunfairly dismissed claims that people were not trying to hide anything from the government but simply were carrying out what they considered to be routine and innocent tasks of serving their boss.
Prosecutors separately have been told by more than one witness that Trump at times kept classified documents out in the open in his Florida office, where others could see them, people familiar with the matter said,and sometimes showed them to people, including aides and visitors.
Depending on the strength of that evidence, such accounts could severely undercut claims by Trump or his lawyers that he did not know he possessed classified material.
The people familiar with the situation said Smith’s team has concluded the bulk of its investigative work in the documents case and believes it has uncovered a handful of distinct episodes of obstructionist conduct.
One of those suspected instances of obstruction, the people said, occurred after the FBI search on Aug. 8. They did not provide further details, but the Guardian has previously reported that in December, Trump’s lawyers found a box of White House schedules, including some that were marked classified, at Mar-a-Lago. In that instance, a junior aide apparently moved the box from a government-leased office in nearby West Palm Beach.
These people can deny it all they want but kids know both gender and sexuality at a very young age. Kids understand gender from the time they learn of boy or girl, Mr or Mrs / Miss. Gender is not a strange thing in human society, it is ingrained in everything we humans do. Simply think how kids are taught which bathroom to use in public, little kids don’t care until they are forced by adults to use the “proper gendered” bathroom, which forces them to identify their own gender. As for sexuality, kids also understand who they are attracted to long before they are given words to understand it. The idea that kids are somehow clueless to their attraction as they grow is not what medical science or personal experience of people asked shows. Ask yourself when you knew you were attracted to … and you will say well forever. When did you know you were a boy / girl, well I just knew. Well so do trans kids. Also gay / lesbian kids know who they get tingles and attractions to. Plus the idea that kids are not sensual in knowing what feels good with their own bodies is just stupid. How often do you hear of little kids being told they shouldn’t touch themselves in public, because even as little kids it feels good and they don’t know to not do what feels good in front of other people. The problem is some people want to keep society in the 1950s strict gender roles when society and the public has moved beyond that. We have evolved, and that terrifies those that have invested interests in keeping the country in the past. Why because in the past they were in charge, their ideas were taken for granted as being the only correct ideas, their god was not really questioned in society. Think of the history of child abuse in churches, in the time frame these people want you / the country to return to the church leaders doing the abusing were not questioned and kids not believed. Because of the automatic authority of the church. That is what these people want to force us all to return too.
Then we get to the second part of the video. The videos of the Texas Guard putting up razor wire in front of people seeking asylum and trying to enter the country. My gods if you think that this huge country couldn’t find a more humane way to handle people fleeing death and destruction to work for a better life I have to ask what is wrong with you. We have states in this country that are so underpopulated they can not afford to provide for themselves without federal wealth sharing. This country is huge and needs more people willing to be in it supporting all the infrastructure. That is a known fact. Ask what would happen if you let these people come in and establish lives working and paying taxes while being part of the communities they live in? The only reason this push to keep people out at the southern border is completely racism. The white ones convinced that the brown ones are going to take over if they are let in the country, that somehow the white ones will lose all the assumed authority and power they once had. Well guess what, it has already happened and will keep happening. If you are one of those people, the tipping point was reached long ago, and yes the white majority rule is pretty much over and will be soon. The thing is that is not such a scare thing as these white supremacist want to make it. The only difference is whites that don’t want other races will have to accept them, everyone will be equal. That is all, everyone regardless of race will be equal. Everyone’s traditions and celebrations will be give equal time. See the world won’t stop, the destruction won’t happen, just equality and expanded awareness for everyone. Now to the video. Hugs
That’s the problem with being a minority which represents roughly 5% of the population (except in larger cities with large gay populations). Unless the majority of citizens stand with you, which they usually don’t, you’re on your own.
And that’s the bottom line. Not that they’re taxpayers but rather the fact that that evangelical governor doesn’t see them as citizens, taxpayers, or as a demographic worth even bothering with; by acknowledging who and what they are.
Thus, he’s worse than evil. He literally can’t see LGBT people as a thing. His religion has rotted his forebrain.
“the [white male] ones that are blamed for any social ills”
Feel free to look at the office holders for the Republican (and some D) party. Pretty much white male. Also old, rich and christian. So yes, it’s entirely fair to put all the crap at their feet. it’s their show in a large part of the USA.
Senators and representatives packed up and headed home, where most can no longer do more damage to Florida citizens. But the misery will continue as Gov. Ron DeSantis gleefully signs into law the many harmful, hateful or wrongheaded decisions made by his fellow Republicans over the past nine weeks.
Floridians, their kids and grandchildren will feel the effects for a long time. The ramifications are grave. But such are the consequences in a state that no longer has a competitive two-party system at the state level, and where far too many lawmakers unquestioningly rubber stamp a far-right agenda fashioned mostly by an authoritarian, ambitious and secretive governor.
Less safe and less free
Floridians will be less safe. Women will be less free.
Legislators approved a near-total ban on abortion after six weeks, when many women don’t even know they are pregnant (SB 300).It’s now legal in Florida to carry a loaded and concealed gun with no permit or training (HB 543).
Lawmakers approved a universal taxpayer-funded school voucher program (HB 1) that will wreak havoc on a public school system that for too long has been chronically underfunded by both parties.
They made it easier to impose the death penalty than any state in the U.S. and allowed for the death penalty to be imposed on child rapists when the victim is under age 12 (HB 1297). The law won wide approval from members of both parties and will look good in a political mailer but is of dubious constitutionality. The 19 Democrats who voted no showed courage, because some will surely be vilified as “soft on crime” in the next election.
A lot less sunshine
This was a terrible session for weakening Florida’s “sunshine” laws, as legislators draped a dangerous and senselessly retroactive cloak of secrecy over official travel by the governor and other top state officials. They made claims of supposed threats against DeSantis that have not been substantiated. The governor goes everywhere closely surrounded by a half-dozen FDLE agents.
Lawmakers also handed the law-and-order governor an expanded Florida State Guard, a state militia under his personal control.
In a mean-spirited attack against public sector workers, they gutted union protections for teachers, 911 dispatchers and other front-line employees.
They did nothing to provide meaningful relief for property insurance policyholders and instead made it harder for them to sue companies that refuse to pay claims.
For the third year in a row, they attacked democracy by further weakening state election laws. They made it so financially risky for third-party organizations to register voters that many threaten to stop the practice — the Republicans’ objective all along.
They imposed new regulations on use of bathrooms and pronouns and imposed a ludicrous crackdown on drag shows — acts of oppression that stifle artistic expression, criminalize gender-affirming care and encourage more bullying and discrimination against already-marginalized groups.
What they got right
Did lawmakers do anything right over the past 60 days? Yes.
They passed a record-high $117 billion budget with nearly universal bipartisan harmony, which was unusual enough in itself in Tallahassee’s hyper-partisan bubble, but Democrats praised Republicans for even-handedness and the budget came together without the trench warfare that tarnished previous sessions.
The budget has 5% pay increases for rank-and-file state workers, salary hikes for assistant public defenders, assistant state attorneys and correctional officers, $1,000 bonuses for police officers, more money to acquire environmentally sensitive lands and other initiatives.
With so much money floating around, they could easily have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But they refused, preserving Florida’s status as an outlier state that neglects the well-being of its residents. Only nine other states refuse to expand Medicaid.
Showing more bipartisan cooperation, they voted to expand eligibility under Florida KidCare and Healthy Kids, which will help more than 40,000 children obtain affordable coverage. More positives: a stronger law to combat human sex trafficking, in response to the Sun Sentinel series Innocence Sold, and later start times for Florida middle and high schools.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, took a welcome stand for public safety. After the House voted 69 to 36 to repeal a key provision of the post-Parkland gun law and allow immature and troubled 18-year-olds to buy rifles and long guns, Passidomo refused to consider it in the Senate, and it died. There’s nothing to celebrate here except the rarity of a Republican leader breaking with her own party for a change.
“I voted for the Parkland bill,” said Passidomo, who visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas days after the massacre five years ago. “It was a horrific day. I will not change my position.”
A changed Capitol, for the worse
Sun Sentinel opinion writers have watched every session for the past 35 years, and this must be said: Florida no longer has a traditional bipartisan Legislature where people of good intentions and different beliefs come together and work cooperatively to improve the state.
The political agenda and outcome is all preordained. Citizens who openly challenge the system risk being arrested, as 14 were this week in the Capitol.
In its current form, hopefully temporarily, it has evolved into a partisan political arm of DeSantis’ presidential campaign.
The vastly outnumbered Democrats, led by their caucus leaders, Sen. Lauren Book, D-Davie, and Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, fought valiantly most of the time against impossible odds. We implore Democrats to stick together and to hold Republicans more accountable.
People increasingly talk about leaving this state because of policies that show outright contempt for women, the LGBTQ community and others. The former Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade, a Hall of Famer and one of the most popular pro athletes in South Florida history, who has a transgender daughter, disclosed that he moved his family to California because they no longer feel accepted in Florida.
As events drew to a close Friday, a celebratory House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, called it “a session like no other.”
That’s true — but for all the wrong reasons.
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board includes Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson, Opinion Editor Krys Fluker and Viewpoints Editor Jay Reddick. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Dan Sweeney and Anderson. Send letters to email@example.com.
For anyone wondering where the republican anti-civil rights don’t say gay / anti-woke / banning drag laws are going, here is your answer. The goal of these people in the US is to undo Lawrence v. Texas. That was the court case that got rid of anti-sodomy laws. For those that don’t understand, yes sodomy also means anal sex. Some times can mean oral sex, but in this case it doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter that cis couples (opposite sex / gender) couples also enjoy blow jobs, Cunnilingus, and anal sex. This law was only enforced when the authorities thought it was two or more men. Regardless of if it was in private such as the case I cited which was two men in the privacy of one of the men’s own home in their own bedroom which when cops burst into their home violently they found the men in the bedroom in disarray. Because a religious conservative neighbor called in a report to police. He did not feel two men should have the right to do in their home something both men were consenting to and did not harm anyone. Seems to me they were lucky, as today the police would have been met by gunfire.
This is the goal of the Christian republican right, to make being LGBTQ+ illegal. They have been following the Russian model of making anything that looks like or shows support for gays (LGBTQ+) illegal so that the entire public cis straight. Anything not cis straight is illegal. And yes I am so sick of it. The red states are attacking drag queens, getting away with it because people don’t see the next moves on what they plan next. But I and others are watching what has been happening in other countries that show how this progresses, and we have seen in history how this makes people like me targets.
The question becomes what kind of country under what laws do you want to live in? One where religion rules or one where people have the right to be themselves even if it offends others occasionally. Hugs
Is it now a crime in Russia to have private relations with another adult?
A man in handcuffs holds a Russian and Pride flagPhoto: Shutterstock
Russia has convicted a 40-year-old German teacher of violating the country’s ban on LGBTQ+ “propaganda” for inviting a 25-year-old man to have private, consensual sex behind closed doors in his hotel room. The teacher’s conviction demonstrates how Russia’s recently expanded law is now being used to punish LGBTQ+ people just for existing.
The unnamed teacher had stayed at a hotel in the far-eastern city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, according to the global news site DW. It’s unclear how legal authorities learned about his sexual invitation. The teacher reportedly admitted to his “crime,” was fined approximately $1,880, and will be deported back to his home country via Turkey.
In March, the same law was used to prosecute a young male bi-national couple who are popular content creators on the TikTok video-sharing platform. It’s unclear if the couple was prosecuted for publishing gay-related content online or for some other reason. After their arrest, the couple relocated outside of the country — leaving their homes, jobs, and possessions. The member of the couple, who is a Russian native, has a court date scheduled in Russia on May 11, according to the couple’s Telegram account.
Russian President Vladimir Putin first signed a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” in Russia in June 2013. The law ostensibly sought to “protect children” from any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships,” as stated in the law’s text. The new law extends the restrictions to not just children but Russians of all ages.
The law has mostly been used to silence LGBTQ+ activist organizations, events, websites, and media, as well as to break up families and harass teachers. It has also been roundly condemned by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as civil rights activists around the world.
Last December, Putin signed a law expanding the country’s prohibition on LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” The newly signed law effectively outlaws any public expression of LGBTQ+ life in Russia by banning “any action or the spreading of any information that is considered an attempt to promote homosexuality in public, online, or in films, books or advertising,” Reuters reported.
Critics say the updated law will further endanger the lives of Russia’s LGBTQ+ population, which has already suffered increased harassment, violence, and hostility in recent years.
Anti-LGBTQ+ religious leaders and right-wing political figures in the U.S. have praised Putin for his law. Indeed, Republican legislators, so-called “parents’ rights groups,” and right-wing pundits have increasingly moved to ban American kids from accessing any LGBTQ+ content, gender-affirming healthcare, or drag shows over untrue claims that these “sexualize” and “groom” children.
In 2013, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) President Austin Ruse said Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws were a “good thing” that “most of the people in the United States” would support. In 2014, anti-LGBTQ+ evangelical leader Franklin Graham also defended the law.