Local News

South Florida Cyanobacteria Bloom Response Summary

South Florida
Cyanobacteria Bloom Response Summary

During a fly over exercise performed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) on Thursday, May 14, an algal bloom was observed from the area of the Lake Okeechobee pier and Pierce Canal along the outer edge of the marsh to the south of Cochran’s Pass. The SFWMD conducted a follow-up investigation on Monday, May 18, which confirmed the extent of the bloom to be from the Lake Okeechobee observation pier on the north end of the lake to Cochran’s Pass and in and around the area of the S77 Moore Haven Lock on the west side of the lake. Samples were collected at four locations identified on the map below (two locations sampled near the S77 structure) and shipped to the DEP laboratory for algal identification and toxin analysis. Results should be available by the end of the week.


Local, State and Federal Partners Join in Annual Hurricane Preparedness Exercise

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) marked the start of the 2015 Florida Statewide Hurricane Exercise with a simulated activation of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT).  The annual exercise runs through Thursday, May 21, at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

The SERT exercise tests Florida’s emergency plans and procedures for a potential hurricane landfall, in preparation for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. Along with federal, local and private-sector partners, the SERT will simulate emergency response efforts to manage an evolving hurricane scenario.

“Each year, the statewide hurricane exercise tests our capabilities and reaffirms relationships in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season,” said FDEM Director Bryan W. Koon. “All Florida families, visitors and businesses should also take an opportunity to review and update their emergency plans and disaster supply kits to ensure they are prepared for hurricane season.”

The 2015 Statewide Hurricane Exercise is designed to test multiple phases of state, local and federal emergency management partnerships and their roles in responding to a disaster and assisting the survivors. This year’s exercise centers on a scenario in which two simulated hurricanes impact different regions of Florida one week apart.

The simulated “Hurricane Sasser” makes landfall in the Panhandle, following the path of Hurricane Opal in 1995. One week later another simulated storm, “Hurricane Gibson,” makes landfall and follows a modified version of the pathway taken by the 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane.

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins Monday, June 1. Make sure your family and business are prepared to follow the instructions of local officials if a hurricane threatens your community by knowing the nearest shelter, making an evacuation plan and having a disaster supply kit.

For the latest information on the 2015 Hurricane Season and to Get A Plan, visit FLGetAPlan.com. Follow FDEM on Twitter at @FLGetAPlan, Instagram@FLGetAPlan, and Facebook.com/KidsGetAPlan or Facebook.com/FloridaDivisionofEmergencyManagement


Suspicious Traffic Stops

Suspicious Traffic Stops

The Civil Traffic Division of the Highlands County Clerk of Courts notified the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office they had received two separate phone calls, within ten days of each other, from citizens stating that they had been pulled over for alleged traffic violations, by what was believed to be an undercover law enforcement officer, in an unmarked vehicle. In both instances, the officer solicited cash payments from the citizens in lieu of receiving a traffic citation. The Sheriff’s Office has reason to believe the traffic stops were conducted by someone impersonating a police officer.

The information regarding the first incident was received from a citizen stating he received a handicap parking citation, and the subject posing as an officer requested a payment of money in exchange for not receiving a citation. However, no information was provided to the Clerk’s Office regarding the date, time, suspects or vehicle’s description or location of the incident.

The second caller described the person believed to be impersonating a police officer as a white male, possibly Hispanic, approximately 5’9″ tall, with short black or dark hair and clean shaven. The subject was wearing a black T-shirt and black shorts, and displayed a gold colored, star-shaped badge on his waistband. He was driving a black colored, two-door sports style car with working red and blue lights, which were activated during the traffic stop. The traffic stop was conducted on May 13th, between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., in a parking lot along Sun N’ Lake Boulevard just east of US Hwy 27 South in Lake Placid. The subject solicited a $200.00 cash payment in exchange for not receiving a traffic citation. The victim informed the subject he did not have that kind of cash with him, and he was subsequently issued a document purported to be a traffic citation.

The Sheriff’s Office provides the following suggestions if you are summoned to stop by an unmarked police vehicle, which you are suspicious of. Activate your vehicle’s hazard lights to indicate your compliance with the traffic stop. Call 911 and ask the dispatcher if it is actually a police officer trying to stop you. If it is confirmed, you must immediately stop. If you do not have a cell phone and are uncertain of the legitimacy of the officer or traffic stop, you should drive to the nearest public area with your vehicle’s hazard lights on. At night, drive to a well-lit area before stopping.

Anyone with information about these traffic stops, have been likewise stopped, or have information on a possible suspect are asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 402-7200; or if they wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477), or contact them on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com or simply scan the QR code at right. Anonymity is guaranteed!

Florida Residents Save Big Through June 14 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Florida Residents Save Big Through June 14 at

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Save $60 on Regular Admission Tickets with ‘Florida Four-Pack’

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (May 19, 2015) – With the return of the popular Florida Four-Pack special, there is no better time for Florida residents to experience Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Florida Four-Pack offers a party of four Florida residents the opportunity to experience all the fun and excitement the Visitor Complex offers at the special price of $139 plus tax – a savings of more than $60.

Available now through June 14, 2015, the Florida Resident $139 Four-Pack is available only via a coupon which can be accessed on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website.

Guests must present the printed coupon and proof of Florida residency at the Visitor Complex ticket plaza to qualify for the special rate. Smartphones, PDF or soft copy of the coupon will not be accepted. Guests must also provide one of the following: Florida driver’s license, Florida state-issues ID card with a Florida address, or a utility bill with a Florida address and corresponding ID. For more information, call 866-638-5091

With the Four-Pack special, now is the ideal time to visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. There is more to see and do than ever before at the Visitor Complex, including:

Journey to Space” 3D film – The new film showcases NASA’s bold plans for the future, including landing astronauts on Mars and capturing asteroids – painting a clear picture for viewers that “NASA’s next era will be its greatest yet.”  Through extensive interviews with astronauts Chris Ferguson, commander of the final shuttle mission, and Serena Aunon, a new astronaut chosen for future flights, as well as narration by film and television legend Sir Patrick Stewart, the film gives a sweeping overview of NASA’s past space accomplishments, current activities and future plans for missions to Mars.

Orbit Cafe – Orbit Cafe at the Visitor Complex is now using hydroponics to grow fresh lettuce and herbs on site following a recent renovation. The open kitchen layout allows guests to watch chefs as they toss salads using the produce picked from several white hydroponic towers standing side by side. Each tower grows a different kind of lettuce, making a variety of salads available for purchase.

Space Shuttle AtlantisSM – Visitor Complex guests can see the priceless, historic Atlantis spacecraft as only astronauts have seen it before – rotated 43.21 degrees with payload bay doors open and its Canadarm (robotic arm) extended, as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station. But getting nose-to-nose with Atlantis is not all guests can do at the 90,000-square-foot attraction. The immersive experience invites guests to “be the astronaut” with technologically sophisticated multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive, touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators that bring to life the people, passion and patriotism of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

KSC Bus Tour – The standard bus tour, included with admission, explores the history of the Apollo moon and space shuttle programs, and the future of space exploration, with panoramic views of Kennedy Space Center, the Vehicle Assembly Building’s exterior and a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors see an authentic 363-foot Saturn V moon rocket and relive the historic Apollo missions that saw man land on the moon.

Great Balls of Fire – This interactive exhibit allows guests to discover the risks that asteroids, comets and meteorites present to our planet. The exhibit explores how we keep track of near-Earth objects while examining the effects of possible impacts. Within the Great Balls of Fire exhibit is Asteroid Encounter, where guests can climb aboard a “spaceship” and blast off to the asteroid belt and Jupiter while compiling data about asteroids and comets. Guests also can explore what would happen if one of these celestial bodies were to hit their hometown, determine Science Fact or Science Fiction of Hollywood movie clips and much more.

Located only 45 minutes from Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex features many attractions and year-round interactive programs, including meeting real astronauts. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex attractions and activities also include Shuttle Launch Experience, an incredible simulated journey of vertically launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle, Rocket Garden, two IMAX® theaters, Astronaut Encounter, and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®. The Visitor Complex also is the ideal location for viewing the ongoing schedule of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

For more information, please visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Six Improper and Illegal Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

“Can They Ask Me That?”
Six Improper and Illegal Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Many interviewers aren’t aware that they’re asking illegal questions—and just as many candidates aren’t aware they’re answering them. Here, Peter K. Studner identifies six common off-limits questions and advises job searchers on how to respond.

Los Angeles, CA (May 2015)—Picture this: A great job interview is drawing to a close. Hoping to find out more about the candidate on a personal level, the interviewer asks, “So, are you married?” The candidate blurts out, “I’m so excited! My fiancé and I are getting married this June.” The employer starts to think, Okay…but what if she wants to start a family soon after? Maternity leave could mean that we’d have to hire a temp. It might be better to look at other candidates.

Is this scenario politically correct? No. In fact, it is illegal for employers to ask about a candidate’s family plans (marriage, engagement, and child planning), among a host of other issues. But according to Peter K. Studner, many interviewers and candidates don’t know that.

“Most interviewers haven’t had formal training on what questions border on improper or are illegal, and as a result, interviewees often volunteer ‘wrong’ answers and too much information,” says Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers (Jamenair Ltd., 2015, ISBN: 978-0-938667-06-3, $26.95, www.SuperJobSearch.com). “That’s why it’s important for all job seekers to know which questions are illegal and how to politely deflect them without harming their candidacy.

“Oh, and if you’re curious, a good answer to ‘Are you married?’ would be, ‘I have a good social life and am focused 100 percent on moving my career forward,'” he adds.

In Super Job Search IV, Studner, whose outplacement firm has helped over 27,000 people receive offers, guides readers through the complicated process of conducting a targeted and ultimately successful job search campaign. Best of all, Super Job Search IV isn’t “just” a book—it’s a systematic approach to finding a job that includes online resources and an app.

Here, Studner shares six questions employers shouldn’t ask (but often do), along with possible replies:

How old are you? It’s illegal for employers to ask a candidate’s age unless they’re trying to determine whether or not a candidate is a minor. That said, your odds of hearing this question go up if you’re a more mature candidate.

“While an employer may not know your exact age, they’ll still be aware of the general ballpark—so refusing to state that you’re 57 might be of limited usefulness,” Studner comments. “In a situation like this, I recommend getting the interviewer to focus on your experience, not your age. A good response might be, ‘I’m in my 50s. Does age make a difference for this job?’ Then remind the interviewer that you bring 20 to 25 years’ experience to the table and describe several of your most applicable accomplishments.”

When did you graduate college or high school? This is a more sneaky way for employers to fish for your age—and it’s still illegal. Studner says your first tactic should be to sidestep the question: “I did not put that down on my résumé as I was told that it is not pertinent for any job application.” This response should do nicely to get you off the hook.

“If the interviewer presses for a reply, you might give him the date and then ask how that applies to your candidacy,” he advises. “And in the final analysis, would you really want to work for a company where the management discriminates against age? It might be better to move on.”

How’s your health? Employers have the right to determine if you are physically able to perform the functions of the job for which you’re applying. But beyond that, you are not obligated to—nor should you—reveal any health issues you may have. Rather than volunteer that you are a cancer survivor in your third year, for example, a better reply might be, “I had a physical after I left my last job and passed it with flying colors!” And if it is true, add, “…in my last year, I used only four days of sick leave.”

“People have a tendency to volunteer too much information about themselves,” Studner comments. “While you can be proud and certainly grateful that you’re a cancer survivor, it does not belong in your interview discussion. It’s really none of the employer’s business.”

What’s your religion? Do you observe any religious holidays? Any question that asks you to reveal your religion is illegal. If this topic comes up—and assuming that the person who is interviewing you will not be your boss—you might tell him or her politely that is an improper question. Know that this is a risky strategy, though. You may have won the conversation but lost the interview.

“Alternatively, you might simply say, ‘I prefer not to discuss my religion, but I can assure you that it will not interfere with my doing this job,'” Studner says. “You might also try to deliver the same message with some humor: ‘What religion do you have in mind? I would consider practicing it as I really would like to work here!’ There is no sense in getting upset when an interviewer does not pay attention to the rules. And humor can sometimes bring the conversation back within proper bounds.”

Do you have a criminal record? It’s legal for employers to ask if you’ve been convicted of a crime on job applications and in interviews. Many employers ask this as a matter of course and certainly will if a particular type of conviction might relate to the job’s duties. That said, employers can’t ask about your arrest record—but that doesn’t mean they can’t do independent research, either.

“I once had a candidate who had a DUI arrest,” Studner recounts. “She wasn’t obligated to disclose this, but in her state, certain websites could legally post her picture and arrest information. These websites essentially blackmailed individuals with a ‘fee’ to have their arrest posting either removed or placed at the end of the line. With the help of an attorney, it cost her a few thousand dollars to get her notices off the Internet.

“In a manner of speaking, this client was fortunate because she could afford to have the evidence removed, but not all candidates are in the same position,” he continues. “In these kinds of cases where a future employer might uncover prior arrests, it is important to discuss the incident up front and point out that it was a thing of the past, never to be repeated. The more serious the offense, the more convincing you have to be.”

Before you sat down, I noticed that you have a limp. How did that happen? This question represents any query about disability. Here’s what you need to know: An employer cannot legally ask about a person’s disability, but can indicate certain characteristics about a job that might require a more direct reply about the candidate’s abilities. For example, “This job requires lifting packages up to 30 pounds, or standing on your feet for six hours a day, or talking on the phone at least 80 percent of the time. Is this something you can do on a continuous basis?”

“Here you need to be frank,” Studner says. “If you have a disability, there are agencies nationally and locally that can help you find a company with jobs suitable for your limitations. However, if you have a disability that does not interfere with the job’s requirements, you are not obligated to disclose or discuss it.”

“While this is not an exhaustive list of every improper or illegal question, it should prepare you to reply to them and, when possible, sidestep innocent but damaging answers,” Studner concludes. “My advice to all candidates is to never lie in an interview, but also to never volunteer negative information.”

For more on answering tricky interview questions, consult Super Job Search IV.

How to Brave the Buffet on Memorial Day

How to Brave the Buffet On Memorial Day:
Nine Tips to Help You Not Pig Out—But Still Have Fun

On a holiday traditionally celebrated with all kinds of fattening foods, making healthy choices can be tough. Here, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss expert Warren Honeycutt
provides a few tips to help you avoid overindulging this Memorial Day.

          Memphis, TN (May 2015)—Memorial Day is coming and if you’re like most health-conscious folks, you’re torn. On one hand, you’re tempted to celebrate with a hotdog in one hand, a hamburger in the other, and an umbrella-festooned drink close by. On the other, you’re painfully aware that swimsuit season is coming soon (heck, maybe even that very day) and you don’t want to greet it looking like, well, the “guest of honor” at the pig picking.

Here’s the good news, says Warren Honeycutt: There’s no need to spend the party miserably cozied up to the boring veggie tray. You can have your cake and eat it too—it’s just a matter of balance and sustainability.

“We tend to use celebrations as a free pass to eat poorly,” says Honeycutt, author of Get Lean for Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss (Get Honeycutt, Inc., 2014, ISBN: 978-1-5008011-7-5, $19.95, www.getlean.guru). “Problem is, this mindset will permeate every warm-weather celebration to come—pool parties, backyard barbeques, festivals—and before you know it, your whole summer has been one big, decadent pig out.

“Fortunately, there’s an alternative: eating healthfully in a way that doesn’t feel like deprivation and that you can sustain over time,” he adds. “But if you don’t do some planning and strategizing in advance, it just won’t happen. Your default party persona will kick in, and your good intentions will be toast.”

A respected expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, Honeycutt knows what works and what doesn’t. He is a championship bodybuilder who has been a Southern Classic Physique Champion, two-time Mr. Tennessee, and six-time Mr. America finalist. Now, at age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications. Honeycutt offers personalized fitness training through his comprehensive Get Lean program, which features detailed fitness videos for exercising at the gym, at home, at the office, and while traveling; personalized meal plans; motivational material; and more.

          Here are nine of Honeycutt’s tips for staying on track this Memorial Day:

Sneak healthier recipes into your celebrations. If you’ll be hosting a celebration or attending a potluck, prepare a dish that uses healthier but still satisfying ingredients. The Internet is full of healthy substitutions, and Honeycutt’s own Get Lean program offers dozens of appetizing, healthy recipes by registered dietitians.

“Instead of a 600-calorie pork BBQ sandwich, for example, prepare an equally tasty grilled chicken kebab at only 150 calories,” he says. “Also, be aware that home-cooked dishes are often healthier than pre-prepared store-bought options. And definitely take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables!”

Fill up before you go out. Yes, it’s something of a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: It works. When faced with a buffet table loaded down with tempting choices, it’s all too easy to mindlessly graze until, before you know it, you’ve gorged yourself full of empty calories. Preparing a healthy meal or snack for yourself before you leave will curb your appetite and keep you from filling up on unhealthy party food.

“The worst time to be hungry is at a gathering loaded with junk food,” Honeycutt comments. “If you’ve had something nutritious to eat beforehand, you won’t give that fattening snack table a second (okay, maybe third) glance.”

Don’t go straight for the food. Yes, that buffet table looks amazing…but it’s not the only thing worth your attention at this party. Make the rounds and say hello to your friends before grabbing a plate. Find the host and thank him for inviting you. Draw some sidewalk chalk art with your niece or throw a baseball with your son.

“When you’re in the middle of an enjoyable interaction with someone else, you might forget all about eating for 15 minutes, or half an hour, or more!” Honeycutt says. “Nourishing your relationships with the people you love can be even more satisfying than nourishing your body.”

Limit yourself to one plate—but make it one GREAT plate. Making healthy choices is not just about what you eat, but also how much you eat. (Honeycutt challenges you to research recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods. You’ll probably be shocked!) Learning how to limit your portions (especially at a party where unhealthy foods are so plentiful) is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. A good first step is resolving to eat only one plate of food—but make that one plate count.

“Scope out the entire buffet line before going through it, and put only the dishes you really want to eat on your plate,” Honeycutt recommends. “If you’re still hungry later on, you can always make yourself something at home. When you feel lean and refreshed the next morning, rather than bloated and groggy, you’ll be glad you stopped before dipping seconds or thirds.”

Take your time and savor the flavor. It’s a natural inclination to eat quickly when you’re hungry—and that impulse is heightened when you’re in a party atmosphere with other fun activities you’d like to participate in. But Honeycutt reminds that it takes around 15 to 20 minutes for the brain to realize that the stomach is full—so enjoy your meal slowly.

“Taking the time to savor your food lets you realize when you’ve had enough, and it also enhances the entire experience,” he comments. “You’ll be surprised at how much more you enjoy eating when you take it slowly.”

Give the veggie tray a fair shake. As Honeycutt has mentioned, you don’t have to limit yourself to carrot sticks and cucumbers, but if you do spot fruits or veggies among the cookies, chips, and finger sandwiches, put a few of these healthier options on your plate. They’ll fill up space that (be honest) would otherwise be piled up with high-calorie fare.

“It’s okay to partake in some of the more decadent offerings available—it is a party, after all—but do your best to find a healthy balance,” he advises. “Good health is about doing the right thing most of the time.”

Don’t let what you drink derail you either. Whether it’s alcohol or sugary soft drinks—or worse, alcohol and sugary soft drinks—what you drink at a party can sabotage a healthy diet just as quickly as what you eat. Everyone knows that sodas are packed with sugar and can wreak havoc on teeth and waistlines alike, Honeycutt says, but sometimes we tend to conveniently forget that alcohol can also be a major culprit in weight gain.

“Alcohol contains lots of empty calories, slows down the metabolism, and can weaken inhibition, which can then lead to overeating (and possibly some other embarrassing behaviors),” he reminds. “Since you’re at a party, you may not want to go the teetotaler route—and that’s fine!—but does every drink have to be a beer? I suggest replacing at least every other drink with water. This strategy will keep you hydrated and save you the many unwanted side effects of alcohol.”

Use the buddy system. As with many things in life, making healthy choices is easier when you don’t have to go it alone. Ask a friend or spouse to help you stay on track if your willpower starts to waver.

“If you can convince someone else to party healthy with you, you won’t feel like you’re the only one missing out—and the two of you can remind one another of why you want to make smart choices,” Honeycutt comments. “Remember, it’s not about deprivation—it’s about making healthy decisions you can maintain for life.”

If, despite your best intentions, you still lose control, cut yourself some slack. If you do happen to overeat, remember that it’s not the end of the world. One mistake won’t ruin a healthy lifestyle unless you allow it to. (Just don’t do it at every gathering this summer.)

“Everyone slips up from time to time,” Honeycutt confirms. “Whatever the circumstances are, it’s important to understand that tomorrow really is another day. You can’t change the past, but you have full control over the future—so when you’ve slipped up, direct your mental energy to planning your next meal or workout instead of dwelling on your mistakes. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend. Encourage the most important person in your life…YOU!”

“Pick one or two of these strategies to focus on—or go to your Memorial Day celebration armed with all of them,” Honeycutt concludes. “Once you realize that sticking to healthy behaviors isn’t the massive lifestyle change you imagine it to be, getting lean will become second nature. With a few simple changes, you can have a happier, healthier Memorial Day—and overall lifestyle.”

Florida Poised to be the Nation’s Next High-Tech Hub

Florida Poised to be the Nation’s Next High-Tech Hub

Tallahassee, Fla. – A Central Florida technology research center could help launch the state’s high-tech manufacturing industry and ignite economic growth, says Florida TaxWatch, an independent fiscal watchdog group. The development of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC) through the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) will help create, develop and support high-tech Florida companies producing smart sensor technologies for high-tech manufacturing goods. ICAMR is a public-private partnership comprised of economic development entities, higher education institutes and technology firms; FAMRC is a state of the art manufacturing hub and incubator opening in Orlando in 2017.

“Increasing investments in Florida’s manufacturing sectors have resulted in billions of dollars added to the state economy through high-wage jobs and high-value exports,” Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the state’s nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute, said. “Strategic infrastructure investments like the Florida Advanced Research Manufacturing Center will further diversify Florida’s economy, support job creation and enhance the value of our state’s existing industries.”

Smart sensor technology, which is incorporated into high-tech manufacturing products, is a more than $80 billion industry expected to double in value by 2020. By locating the research center in Florida, the state expects to attract other manufacturing companies that rely on the sensors, resulting in new jobs and capital.

Florida’s existing manufacturing sector already creates high-skill, high-wage jobs, but high-tech companies pay higher average salaries, which can be more than 228 percent greater than the average private sector Florida job. These positions are generally more stable and less susceptible to recessionary periods.

Protecting Florida Ranchers, Farmers from Trade War

Protecting Florida Ranchers, Farmers from Trade War

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, today co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to repeal mandatory County of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken products.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled yesterday that the COOL requirements violate U.S. trade agreements, a ruling expected to trigger retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico on U.S. food, agriculture and manufacturing.

“If we don’t act now to repeal COOL, we’ll be inviting certain retaliation from two of our largest trading partners. This bill is critical to avoiding a trade war that could devastate Florida’s farmers and ranchers, hamper our state’s economic growth, and damage agriculture and manufacturing industries across the country,” said Rooney.

“In light of the WTO’s decision and the certainty that we face significant retaliation by Canada and Mexico, we cannot afford to delay action.  That’s why I was joined by 60 of my colleagues in introducing H.R. 2393, a bill to repeal mandatory COOL for beef, pork and chicken. This bill is a targeted response that will remove uncertainty, provide stability, and bring us back into compliance.  I appreciate the support of so many colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work quickly to ensure our economy and a broad spectrum of U.S. industries do not suffer the economic impacts of retaliation,” said House Agriculture Chairman Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX).  

“As we have seen time and again, mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is a misguided government policy that has damaged our trading relationships with Canada and Mexico and subjected the United States to trade retaliations. That is why I am honored to be joined by my colleagues in introducing critical bipartisan legislation to repeal COOL for beef, pork and chicken. We have the data, studies, and the World Trade Organization’s experience to demonstrate that COOL is detrimental to our state and national economies, and hurts our nation’s beef, pork and chicken producers and packers.  As such, I look forward to continuing to work, in a bipartisan manner, with Congress to move this legislation forward and repeal COOL,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Committee.

Charles Murphy News 5/19

News Cast for May 19th:

5.18.15.MC.IndiantownAiport1Okeechobee native Jamie Knickerbocker experienced the 7.8 magnitude earth quake in Kat Man Du, Nepal on April 25th. She and her husband Luke and their four children live in Nepal. They are missionaries. She saw firsthand the damage the quake did. She intends to return to help people in the country. Her husband has remained in Nepal and is helping a small village near the Chinese border to recover.

Knickerbocker 1

Knickerbocker 2

Tomorrow is the deadline for applicants interested in becoming the next principal at Okeechobee High school. A public meeting gathered input about the position last week, with integrity the most important trait. Knowledge of the community, and a principal with high expectations who can encourage kids to perform academically were other priorities.

Kenworthy said it is not a certainty that a local candidate will get the job. Video interview on our Facebook page.

Kenworthy 1

Kenworthy 2

5.18.15.DragonWild fires keeping firemen busy in Okeechobee and Martin County over the weekend. 50 acres burned in a wooded area west of 441 at the Osceola county line, 25 acres burned in the Viking property and 70 acres burned yesterday off 710 north of the U pick. No buildings were burned.


Among arrests, 25 year old Jose Sanchez faces multiple charges of aggravated assault, criminal mischief, false imprisonment and child abuse after a bizarre domestic incident and traffic crash on North West 46th Avenue Sunday afternoon.   Sanchez apparently had a verbal quarrel with his girlfriend, then when she got picked up by another vehicle, got mad, and gave chase, armed with a baseball bat. He allegedly caused a traffic crash and then was choked out by a Good Samaritan. Sanchez allegedly broke out a window to the vehicle with a small child inside.

31 year old Jock Lee Glueckert was charged with grand theft and uttering a forged instrument and held on 15 thousand dollars bond.

Sports Cast for May 19th:

Hannah Raulerson capped off her senior year with an MVP trophy for girls soccer this year. Hannah was one of the stalwarts on the team over her four year career. She played wherever she was needed and always brought a spark to the team with her hustle and tenacity.

Raulerson said she enjoyed her senior year and the new coaches. Raulerson said the coaches were tougher on the girls but that made them better.

Raulerson 1

She admits receiving this award will be a great memory for her.

Raulerson 2

Raulerson also won the MVP for the girls’ golf team this year.

She plans to attend Florida State in the fall; she plans to study environmental science or engineering.

Mexican National Sentenced to 5 Years for Participating in a Brutal Family-Run Sex Trafficking Organization

Mexican National Sentenced to 5 Years for Participating in a Brutal Family-Run Sex Trafficking Organization

The Department of Justice today announced that United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida sentenced defendant Carmen Cadena, 48, a Mexican national, to serve five years in prison for her role in a brutal family-run sex trafficking organization.  The defendant shall also be ordered to pay restitution and hearing is set on August 10, 2015 to determine the amount.

The defendant pleaded guilty on Jan. 26, 2015, for her role in furthering the criminal conspiracy to lure vulnerable, undocumented Mexican women and girls—some as young as 14 years old—into the United States on false promises of legitimate jobs.  Members of the Cadena organization would then use force and violence, sexual assaults and threats to harm to the victims and their families to compel the victims to engage in prostitution in South Florida, 12 hours a day, six days a week and turn over the proceeds to the defendants in order to pay smuggling debts the defendants imposed.  When victims ran away, members of the Cadena organization searched for them and subjected them to beatings and rapes upon capture.

Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998.  Mexican authorities arrested Cadena and extradited her to the U.S. in December 2014.  Five other family members have been convicted, including Cadena’s husband, Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty in 2008 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena’s uncle-in-law, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; and three of Cadena’s brothers-in-law, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and Hugo and Rafael Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty in 2002 and 2014, and were sentenced to five years and 15 years respectively.

Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel.

“Today’s sentence marks the culmination of our long fight for justice over the past 16 years on behalf of the young women and girls whose lives were torn apart by the unspeakable violations they endured at the hands of their traffickers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “The relentlessness of our efforts is rivaled only by the courage the survivors demonstrated in coming forward and partnering with us for over a decade to see the perpetrators brought to justice.  We are humbled by their resilience and resolve, and we are unwavering in our commitment to combating modern-day slavery.”

“Since 1998, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked tirelessly with international, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to bring to justice sixteen defendants who preyed on vulnerable women and children through documented violence and horrific sexual abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “Today’s sentencing of Defendant Carmen Cadena allowed those who were exploited to bear witness to justice.”

“The sentencing of Carmela Cadena concludes a significant investigation of human trafficking and civil rights violations that included the investigative efforts and collaboration of several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.  “This investigation brought to an end a brutal family-run sex trafficking organization and helped raise awareness about human trafficking and involuntary servitude in the form of forced prostitution.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Gupta and United States Attorney Ferrer praised the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies involved throughout the investigations and subsequent prosecutions over the years, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, Avon Park Police Department, Boynton Beach Police Department, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.


Civil Rights Division

Updated May 18, 2015

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