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November 23, 2015

Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim about cheering after Sept. 11, 2001

Arguing that there are terrorist sympathizers in the United States, Donald Trump says he saw "thousands" of New Jerseyans celebrating after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down," the Republican presidential candidate said at a Nov. 21 rally in Birmingham, Ala. "And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

The next day, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he misspoke, noting that "the police say that didn't happen."

Trump -- who has said he was in his Manhattan apartment the morning of the attack -- doubled down.

"It was on television. I saw it," Trump said. "It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good."

We looked back at the record to see what we could find about American Muslim celebrations in New Jersey on 9/11. While we found widely broadcast video of people in Palestine celebrating, we found no evidence to back up Trump’s description of events on American soil.

See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found.

Florida announces 5 licenses to dispense medical marijuana

Marijuana samples

Five Florida nurseries, including two from Miami-Dade County, were selected Monday to cultivate and distribute the first legal marijuana in the state, opening the door to the sale and distribution of the non-euphoric strains next year to treat patients with seizure disorders and cancer.

Costa Nursery Farms, of Miami, won the bid for the Southeast Region. Knox Nursery of Winter Garden, will grow it for the Central Region. Hackney Nursery Company of Tallahassee will grow it for the Northwest Region. Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua will be the grower for the Northeast Region and Alpha Foliage of Homestead will grow it for the Southwest Region.

The decision moves the state closer to implementing the 2014 law that allows for marijuana low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabidiol, or CBD. The law was intended to treat patients with intractable epilepsy and people with advanced cancer who obtain their doctors' permission.

To qualify for the low-THC based cannabis treatment, patients must obtain permission from a qualified doctor and be added to the Compassionate Use Registry.

Under the law, applicants had to have been in business in Florida for at least 30 years and grow a minimum of 400,000 plants at the time they applied. 

Continue reading "Florida announces 5 licenses to dispense medical marijuana" »

Putnam 'disappointed, not surprised' at Scott's lack of pay raises

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam immediately criticized Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget, which has $1 billion in tax cuts but no pay raises for state forestry firefighters, who earn an average of about $27,000 a year. The full text of the statement Putnam issued Monday:

"I’m disappointed that the governor left Florida wildland firefighter salary increases out of his budget, but I’m not surprised after last year’s veto. With a starting salary of $24,000 per year, our firefighters are at least as deserving as those who got pay increases last year and those who have pay increases included in the budget this year. I look forward to working with the Legislature again to meet the needs of our wildland firefighters.”

Putnam was angry and disappointed that Scott vetoed $2,000 raises for firefighters after the Legislature approved them in June, and after ignoring Putnam's request that he be given a chance to make the case for them. Putnam is asking lawmakers to approve them again next year, as some firefighters have gone to the western U.S. to battle severe wildfires there to assist in public safety and to supplement their state pay.

At his budget announcement in Jacksonville, Scott said he opposes across-the-board pay raises to workers -- though last year he gave them to a select groups of state troopers and to driver's license examiners and next year would give them to FDLE crime lab workers.

"I think the right thing to do is what's in my budget," Scott said. "I've put in my budget a bonus plan for our state workers. It will be up to $1,500 and it will be tied to agencies hitting their goals, you hitting your goals and agencies continuing to find savings. We need to continue to focus on how do we make this state government more efficient."

Gov. Rick Scott pitches 'Florida First' budget of $79.3 billion

JACKSONVILLE -- Gov. Rick Scott on Monday proposed a $79.3 billion budget for next year that would spend more on schools, cut taxes by $1 billion and eliminate nearly 1,000 more full-time jobs from the state work force.

Scott rolled out his spending plan at Harbinger, a sign-making company on Jacksonville's south side where owner Roger Williams helped to promote Scott's proposal to permanently eliminate the sales tax on equipment used in manufacturing.

Scott's "Florida First" budget would be about $1 billion dollars more than current spending, after allowing for Scott's $461 million in line-item vetoes.

He citing a projected budget surplus of $1.3 billion, a figure disputed by state economists, along with a declining unemployment rate and continued population growth as positive indicators for Florida.

"We're clearly headed in the right direction," Scott told reporters. "Now we've got to invest that money well."

Scott's spending plans have already come in for criticism from some fellow Republicans in the Legislature. His proposed increase in public school spending would require higher property tax bills for businesses and homeowners.

Continue reading "Gov. Rick Scott pitches 'Florida First' budget of $79.3 billion " »

'Debbie Wasserman Schultz' makes another Saturday Night Live appearance


Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon played U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz again this weekend, this time weighing in to the satire show's parody of Fox & Friends on Syrian refugees.

"I'm from Florida," she says. "We're full of refugees. We have Cubans escaping communism. We got Guatemalans escaping drug cartels. And we got old people escaping winter."

("That's a Wasserman Schultz original," she adds. And pumps her fist victoriously into the air.)

McKinnon's Wasserman Schultz also refers to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a "grown-up Elián González." 

Jeff Greene says he thought about running for president

via @NickNehamas

Palm Beach real-estate developer Jeff Greene, valued by Forbes at $3.3 billion, says he briefly thought about throwing his hat in the 2016 presidential ring.

"I was approached by a lot of people when Hillary [Clinton] was struggling who called me up and said, 'Jeff, why don't you get in this Democratic primary? You could be the intelligent, articulate business voice. Sort of like the other side to Carly Fiorina," said Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Florida to then-U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

"It's always tempting to get back into politics," Greene told the Miami Herald reporter in a phone interview last week.

But the real-estate mogul, who's developing two 30-story mixed-use towers in downtown West Palm Beach, said his business and family commitments come first.

"I have three little kids, and I like picking them up at school every day," he said.

He's staying on the sidelines of the Democratic primaries for president and for Senate in Florida.

"I'm going to wait for the general election," he said. "I want to let the primaries take their course."

Greene said he's focused these days on one key political issue: the hollowing out of the middle class.

He's organizing a three-day conference in Palm Beach in early December called "Closing the Gap: Solutions for an Inclusive Economy."

Greene said speakers will include Tony Blair, Eric Cantor, Niall FergusonTom Friedman, Henry KissingerRobert ReichNouriel Roubini and Mark Warner.



November 22, 2015

Marco Rubio's first TV ad: 'What happened in Paris could happen here'


Marco Rubio used his presidential campaign's first national TV ad to portray himself as tough on national security in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

"This is a civilizational struggle," Rubio says in the 30-second spot, set to air nationally Tuesday, according to his campaign.

So far, Rubio has relied on an allied super PAC, Conservative Solutions PAC, and on a dark money political nonprofit, Conservative Solutions Project, to promote his candidacy.


Rubio also talked foreign policy in a Fox News Sunday interview, in which he called for a ground force made up mostly of Sunni Arabs to fight ISIS and defended his 2013 decision to vote against U.S. airstrikes in Syria.


John Kerry defends 'thorough' Syrian refugee screening in letter to Rick Scott

via @learyreports

Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott that defends the vetting process for Syrian refugees as “extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive.”

“Bottom line—under the current system, if there is doubt about whether an applicant would pose a security risk, that individual will not be admitted to the United States as a refugee,” reads the letter, co-signed by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Scott was one of more than two dozen Republican governors who have pledged to block more Syrian refugees and wrote to a letter to President Obama on Friday urging him to suspend the program.

"Our multi-agency system for vetting refugees is strong, and it has been significantly enhanced over the past few years. Indeed, applicants for refugee admission are screened more carefully than any other type of traveler to the United States, the letter reads.

"We have tremendous faith in this system's ability to detect, investigate, and disrupt terrorist plotting in this country, as it has done repeatedly. With these measures in place, we believe that we are able to both protect the American people and maintain this Nation's long standing position as the world's beacon of hope and freedom.

"Our highest priority is the protection of the American people. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure our Nation lives up to its humanitarian heritage while keeping the American people safe."

Read Kerry's letter here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times