TODAY’S REASON TO BE ANGRY AT GOV. RICK SCOTT INVOLVES A PIPELINE LEADING DIRECTLY INTO HIS BANK ACCOUNT: “Upon his election, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades. “The proposed project will need state regulatory and governmental agencies to understand and support this project,” said the proposal submitted by FPL vice president Sam Forrest. Gov. Scott understood. In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills (HB 999 and HB 1083) designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission – a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that’s to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando. Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Gov. Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state’s third major natural gas pipeline. More approvals are needed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which the governor oversees. What wasn’t publicly known in 2013, however, was that Gov. Scott owned a stake in Spectra Energy, the Houston company chosen by Florida Power & Light that July to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. Sabal Trail Transmission LLC is a joint venture of Spectra Energy and FPL’s parent, NextEra Energy. BrowardBulldog.org’s review of financial records made public last month by Gov. Scott show that as of Dec. 31 his portfolio included several million dollars invested in the securities of more than two-dozen entities that produce and/or transport natural gas – including some, like Spectra, with substantial Florida operations. His stake in Spectra Energy was reported as being worth $53,000 that day.” (via BrowardBulldog)
THE FALLOUT FROM THE MH17 CRASH, SEEN THROUGH THE FRESH TEARS OF AN ALREADY WEEPING MOVEMENT: “Early reports that around 100 delegates were lost aboard MH17—repeated by President Obama on Friday—now appear to have been wrong. IAS has confirmed the names of six advocates who had been scheduled to attend the conference, but said that the number may increase with new information. "The number that we have confirmed through our contacts with authorities in Australia, in Malaysia, and Dutch authorities as well, is six people," said IAS president Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. "It may be a little bit more, but not the numbers that have been announced." In addition to Lange and van Tongeren, IAS confirmed the deaths of Pim de Kuijer, an AIDS campaigner for Stop Aids Now!; Martine de Schutter, a program manager at the same organization; Lucie van Mens, director of support at the Female Health Company; and Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist and spokesman for the World Health Organization. McClure said it was important the conference go ahead to honor these six lost colleagues. "This community, we've lost 35 million people in the last 30 years to AIDS, so we know what it means to lose friends, to lose patients, to lose family members," he said. "So this is not the first loss, and one of the things that has come together over the years is our collective sense of loss and our anger at the epidemic, and the loss of Joep and Jacqueline and the others on that plane just brings us together again and reminds us of why we're doing this work, and gives us again that sense of solidarity." IAS president Barré-Sinoussi urged delegates to honor their memory by redoubling efforts to fight AIDS. "I strongly believe that all of us being here for the next week to discuss and learn is indeed what our colleagues who are no longer here with us would have wanted," she said. Ken Legins, who works with McClure as a senior advisor to UNICEF on HIV among children and adolescents, said Tuesday's scheduled candle-light vigil in Melbourne's Federation Square will incorporate memories of those lost aboard MH17, with memories of those taken by AIDS in the last two years. "We're used to remembering people that die of AIDS, and now I'm going to remember people because they're shot out of the sky. It just seems unfair but it's a community that's used to dealing with things that are unfair," Legins said. "With the same passion, caring, and love that we have always drawn upon to adjust to this epidemic, we will adjust to the challenges of managing the loss of the people on that flight," he said. "I really think you'll see recovery. But that's not to say that people are not greatly affected by what happened, it's just fucking unbelievable." (via Mother Jones)
REFRESHING WHEN A REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN COMES OUT IN SUPPORT OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY AND DOESN’T “COME OUT” VIA A BATHROOM SCANDAL: “Going by the headlines U.S. Rep. David Jolly made yesterday with his comments in support of same-sex marriage, one could almost assume that the Pinellas Republican is staking out new ground with his position. Jolly insists that is not the case. In an exclusive interview, Congressman Jolly says he didn’t realize what he said was newsworthy. “I was surprised this made the national news,” Jolly said. Whether Jolly is playing coy or just being humble about his place in the world, his comments are lighting up social media. “Republican David Jolly (Fla.) announces support for gay marriage” reads the headline of the story written by the Washington Post‘s Sean Sullivan, who covered Jolly during his campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Jolly, when asked by the Post if he supports gay marriage after a Florida judge overturned the state’s ban, said that his personal views on marriage are that it should be limited to one man and one woman. But, he added, states should not be defining the “sanctity” of marriage. From there, the story quickly went viral. And in almost every article, blog post, story, and tweet, Jolly is portrayed as “coming out” for gay marriage. Jolly says this has been his viewpoint all along. And not since his campaign, but from his days at law school. ‘I can tell you exactly where my thinking began to change,’ said Jolly. ‘It was my constitutional law class in 1998. That began a year of soul-searching on this issue.’” (via SaintPetersblog)
DOES NOBODY CHECK REFERENCES ON PADDED RESUMES ANYMORE? CERTAINLY NOT IN ORLANDO, THEY DON’T: “The downtown hotel — which will become the Renaissance Orlando — cost Patel $14 million, according to records provided by the city. He paid another $3.25 million for the land it sits on. The remodel is expected to cost about $17 million, according to city records, and Patel is hoping to open by the end of May 2015. "We're doing a nice overhaul," he said, sitting in his office off Sand Lake Road. Guests, he said, will get "that new hotel experience." Orlando officials hope the work will bring upscale accommodations to the so-called Creative Village. City spokeswoman Heather Fagan said the hotel, most recently run as a Sheraton, will add downtown meeting space, "promote business activity
and increase opportunity for downtown restaurants and merchants." Patel said he has financed his purchases with his own money — "several million" he told an industry publication last year — and with cash from investors. The buying spree — and Patel — have made a splash in Central Florida. In 2013, Patel was named one of Orlando Business Journal's "40 under 40" and the New Entrepreneur of the Year by the Indian American Chamber of Commerce Orlando. Facebook photos show him hosting a fundraiser for Florida Gov. Rick Scott and posing with state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. But there are inconsistencies in Patel's personal narrative. Until last week, his corporate biographies — on his two company websites — said he graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in business administration. But university officials said that's not correct. Patel, they said, was a student but never earned a degree. Asked about that last week, Patel, accompanied by Alena attorney Rusty Huseman, said he didn't write his bios and was unaware they were inaccurate. "I need to get that fixed right away," he said to Huseman. "Can you make a note of that?" The company's website was changed after Patel's interview with the Sentinel. Likewise, Patel has described himself as a "part owner" or "former part owner" of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies — an impressive calling card that's been highlighted in multiple news stories and was featured on his LinkedIn page. Patel said his stake in the club amounted to a $250,000 investment made through a friend who was part of a group that briefly held a small interest in the team. A Grizzlies spokesman, however, said the team reviewed its records and "could find no record of Mr. Patel ever being part of a Memphis Grizzlies ownership group." Patel removed any reference to the Grizzlies from his LinkedIn profile after talking with the Sentinel.” (via Orlando Sentinel)
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