OMG, YOU GUYS! BECKHAM AND WEATHERFORD TOTALLY MADE OUT: "The world's most famous soccer celebrity descended on Florida's quaint political seat of power Tuesday to impress upon policymakers that the Sunshine State is ready for big-league soccer. David Beckham, the recently retired former Manchester United and LA Galaxy star, visited with Gov. Rick Scott, and House and Senate leaders to make the case for tax subsidies for the Major League Soccer stadium his investment group hopes to build in bay-front Miami. ‘It’s been a really good day. Everyone’s welcomed us with open arms,’ Beckham told reporters in the office of his Tallahassee lobbyist, Brian Ballard. Lawmakers this session are debating an incentive package which could open the door for planned MLS franchises in both Orlando and Miami to qualify for $2 million annually to help build their stadiums. Although he was briefly mobbed by legislative assistants in the Capitol parking garage, Beckham's trip to the Capitol was otherwise kept tightly controlled. He met with House Speaker Will Weatherford, incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican pushing for subsidies for the Orlando MLS team, and other lawmakers who rushed to pose for pictures with him." (via Sun Sentinel)
I’VE GIVEN YOU EVERYTHING!
ISN’T THIS HOW DISNEY STARTED? IS RICHARD BRANSON GETTING A THEME PARK? “A state budget commission unanimously voted Tuesday to give $20.8 million in taxpayer funds to “Project Magellan”, an economic development project in Brevard County. The company -- unknown to the general public -- promises to add 1,800 jobs with an average salary of $100,000 over six years and make $500 million in capital investments near the Melbourne International Airport, according to the Florida Today. The newspaper describes the firm involved as a “large aerospace company”. Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved the transfer of the funds from unbudgeted reserves for the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state agency tasked with overseeing economic development projects, with little discussion. Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale was the only member to speak, stressing that he trusted DEO’s staff to get the deal right. ‘I’m going trust that (DEO staff members) are doing the right thing with this $20.8 million and do something that’s for the competitive advantage for this state, and that’s going to bring this state jobs and bring the state economic development,’ Smith said. Gov. Rick Scott’s office, DEO and some lawmakers are aware of the company involved, but such economic development projects can remain secret from the public until at least six months after they are finalized. Some large economic development projects have gone bust in recent years, namely a 2009 plan to give $20 million to Digital Domain, a computer special effects company that later went bankrupt. DEO officials have stressed that project did not go through the normal vetting process and that with all economic incentive projects, Florida is in competition with other states.” (via Florida Current)
SO, IT’S NOT ABOUT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. IT’S ABOUT ABORTION. AND IMMUNIZATIONS. AND MINIMUM WAGE. GOD WANTS YOU POOR AND DYING AND PREGNANT: "As the court heard the challenge brought by the Hobby Lobby chain of stores and others, demonstrators on both sides of the issue chanted outside in an early spring snow. The justices upheld the overall health care law two years ago in a 5-4 ruling in which Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote in favor of Obama's signature domestic legislation. The latest case focuses on a sliver of the law dealing with preventive services, including contraception, that must be offered in a company's plan at no extra charge. The family-owned companies that are challenging the provision provide health insurance to their employees but object to covering certain methods of birth control that they say can work after conception, in violation of their religious beliefs. The justices have never declared that for-profit corporations, as opposed to individuals, can hold religious beliefs. The companies in this case, and their backers, argue that a 1993 federal law on religious freedom extends to businesses. Among the groups opposing the administration is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As it happens, Obama is to meet this week with Pope Francis. The Obama administration says it's not just about birth control, that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the businesses also could undermine laws governing immunizations, Social Security taxes and minimum wages." (via Miami Herald)
YOUR HAIR IS EVERYWHERE: Men in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported. The state-sanctioned guidelines were introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, media reports say. It is now being rolled out across the country - although some people have reservations about getting the look. ‘Our leader's haircut is very particular, if you will,’ one source tells Radio Free Asia. ‘It doesn't always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes.’ Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. ‘Until the mid-2000s, we called it the 'Chinese smuggler haircut',’ the Korea Times reports. It seems that haircuts have been state-approved in North Korea for some time - until now people were only allowed to choose from 18 styles for women and 10 for men. Earlier, North Korea's state TV launched a campaign against long hair, called ‘Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle’. Late leader Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea for 17 years, sported a bouffant hairstyle, reportedly in order to look taller. (via BBC)