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In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached. First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller. Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired. And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman … .

There’s a massive red tide blooming off the coast of southwestern Florida and it appears to be growing.

The red tide is patchy, but researchers say it stretches an amazing 60 miles wide and 90 miles long in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just a few weeks ago it was reported to be 50 miles wide and 80 miles long.

Pamela Druckerman writes:

IF you had asked me what I wanted when I was 12 years old, I probably would have said, “to marry a plastic surgeon.” You can hardly blame me: I was growing up in Miami. My life plan elegantly combined the city’s worship of bodies and money, and its indifference to how you came by either.

The Florida judge who ruled last month that two of the state’s congressional districts were illegally drawn to favor Republicans issued a new court ruling Friday, this time admitting that he was unsure how to resolve the problem by November’s election.

Judge Terry P. Lewis of Leon County gave the State Legislature two weeks to submit a new proposed congressional map to replace the gerrymandered boundaries of the Fifth and 10th Congressional Districts, which he had already ruled unconstitutional. Admitting that law and logistics could prove formidable obstacles, he postponed his decision on whether to delay the November 2014 general elections, putting the future of those congressional races and those closest to them in doubt.

It’s now the indisputable capital of Latin America.
Colombians, who first began to settle here in the 1980s, are the largest group of South Americans. They now make up nearly 5 percent of Miami-Dade’s population. They are joined by Argentines, Peruvians and a growing number of Venezuelans. Brazilians, relative newcomers to Miami’s Hispanic hodgepodge, are now a distinct presence as well. The Venezuelan population jumped 117 percent over 10 years, a number that does not capture the surge in recent arrivals. Over half of Miami’s residents are foreign born, and 63 percent speak Spanish at home.
From a New York Times article on Miami: Influx of South Americans Drives Miami’s Reinvention - NYTimes.com

The Sun-Sentinel reports:

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s re-drawn congressional map intentionally favors Republicans in violation of the anti-gerrymandering standards voters approved in 2010 and will have to be re-drawn, according to a ruling late Thursday from a Tallahassee judge.

The judge found particular problems with two seats that knife through Central Florida, held by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden.

The 41-page order from Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will almost certainly be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. But if the decision is upheld, lawmakers or the courts could have to go back to the drawing board to design congressional seats throughout Central Florida to comply with the Fair Districts mandate that seats not be drawn to intentionally favor incumbents or parties.

In his ruling, Lewis quoted President George Washington’s farewell address warning of associations of “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” who could subvert the will of voters.

… [T]he feud runs [deep] on this Gulf Coast island-speckled stretch of the Everglades known as the Last Frontier: It is about protecting the remnants of history, the kind steeped in the grit, the survival and the long-ago code of lawlessness forged by Florida crackers, the so-called early settlers in these parts.

Florida has been officially bilingual for two decades, but Miami has long been known as the US capital of Latin America for its cultural vibe and regional business hub status. Indeed, more than 40 percent of the population speaks Spanish at home.

The BBC reports on Miami:

When Major League Soccer player David Beckham announced plans to start a soccer franchise in Miami, the buzz became yet another jewel in the city’s shiny crown. There’s no question about it: Miami is hotter than ever. While the location of the new 25,000-seat stadium is still up in the air, the fan enthusiasm is firmly planted on solid ground.

"Miami has never seen such tremendous growth in so many areas," said Jorge Salum, a city native and business development leader at Visa who has travelled throughout the Caribbean and Latin America for the last decade.

International traffic to the city is on the upswing, and in 2013, for the first time ever, the majority of visitors—51 percent—came from outside the US. Together they represent 70 percent of overall tourism dollars spent in Miami, according to William Talbert III, the president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.