Florida Archives:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sunday said she will not speak at the Republican National Convention in Florida later this month, saying she will instead focus on rallying in support of candidates for the U.S. Congress.

Palin, 48, who previously served as the Governor of Alaska and was U.S. Senator John McCain’s vice presidential nominee during the 2008 presidential elections, said she continues to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his newly announced running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan.

“This year is a good opportunity for other voices to speak at the convention and I’m excited to hear them,” Palin said in a brief statement distributed by Fox News. “As I’ve repeatedly said, I support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in their efforts to replace President Obama at the ballot box, and I intend to focus on grassroots efforts to rally Independents and the GOP base to elect Senate and House members so a wise Congress is ready to work with our new President to get our country back on the right path.”

She added: “Everything I said at the 2008 convention about then-candidate Obama still stands today, and in fact the predictions made about the very unqualified and inexperienced Community Organizer’s plans to ‘fundamentally transform’ our country are unfortunately coming true.”

The Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida, between August 27 and August 30 and will feature a number of high-profile Republican figures as speakers. Among those confirmed to be speakers are former presidential candidates John McCain and Rick Santorum. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will also speak.

During the convention, which will host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternative delegates, the Republican Party will formally choose its presidential nominee to face incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama. The Republican National Committee previously declared Mitt Romney the party’s presumptive nominee.

The U.S. presidential election is scheduled to be held on November 6.

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HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — A man accused of injecting several people’s buttocks with cement and other substances as a form of cosmetic surgery was charged with manslaughter in Broward County, Florida after one of his patients died, according to officials.

The man, 32-year-old transvestite Oneal Morris, who the victims allegedly knew as ‘Dutchess’, was paid hundreds of dollars to inject their buttocks, breasts, and thighs with an unknown substance, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. He was arrested in Hollywood, Florida and charged with manslaughter after one of his patients died.

Once he had been paid, Morris would allegedly inject bathroom caulk, cement, Super Glue, Fix-A-Flat and mineral oil into the bodies of his victims. He would then use super glue and cotton balls to seal the injection sites up.

Shatarka Nuby, a 32-year-old mother, passed away in March after receiving what an assistant medical examiner called “massive systemic silicone migration” as a consequence of cosmetic silicone injections. Before her death, Nuby had complained to friends and relatives that the injections sites became hard and hot and that her skin turned black. She also wrote a letter to Department of Health investigators before her death.

Morris turned himself in on March 12 to face charges including practicing medicine without a license and practicing medicine without a license resulting in serious injury. He was released the same day. On Thursday, prosecutors charged him with one count of manslaughter for the crime.

Morris had been arrested several times previously for performing cosmetic procedures without a license in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Some of the women developed complications and infections after the injections. Nuby was the only one whose symptoms became fatal.

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LARGO, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. teenager, who was critically injured earlier this week while playing a game of Russian Roulette with friends, has died at a hospital in central Florida, police said on Sunday.

The incident happened at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time on Friday when 17-year-old Thorin R. Montgomery was playing a game of Russian Roulette with his friends at his home in Largo, a city about 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Tampa. First responders found him suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Detectives said Montgomery was playing the game with three of his friends, ages 19, 18 and 16, in the back porch of the house. “Montgomery was the first of his friends to have a turn at the game when the gun discharged and he received a gunshot wound to the head,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Montgomery was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and remained in a critical condition until he died on early Sunday morning. Police said the Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy in the coming days to officially determine the cause and matter of death.

Officials have not said whether anyone will face charges or if Montgomery’s parents knew about the game.

In March 2011, 26-year-old U.S. soldier Michael Metthew McCloskey was killed while playing Russian Roulette with another soldier at a house in the Alaskan community of Eagle River. The second soldier, 25-year-old Jacob Brouch, was later charged with Murder in the Second Degree for knowingly providing the weapon which resulted in the death of his friend.

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NAVARRE, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. Air Force tilt-rotor aircraft carrying five crew members crashed in northwest Florida on early Wednesday evening, officials said. The conditions of those on board was not immediately known.

The accident happened at approximately 6:45 p.m. local time when the CV-22 Osprey aircraft went down during a routine training mission at Eglin Range near Navarre, an unincorporated community in Santa Rosa County in the Florida Panhandle. The aircraft was carrying five service members.

“The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time. First responders are currently on the scene,” a spokesperson for Hurlburt Field said in a brief statement, adding that the aircraft was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing. “A board of officials will investigate the accident, and more information will be released as it becomes available.”

The CV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that has the ability to takeoff, land and hover like a helicopter but can also tilt its propellers to fly like a conventional, prop-driven aircraft. The CV-22 conducts long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces.

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HOUSTON, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — An international team of aquanauts submerged to the ocean floor off the East Coast of the United States on Monday to begin a 12-day mission, preparing for a potential asteroid mission in the future, officials said.

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) launched the mission off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, at 11:04 a.m. EDT on Monday in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat. The four-man crew is scheduled to remain on the ocean floor for 12 days, testing concepts for a potential asteroid mission.

NASA said the expedition, NEEMO’s 16th excursion, will focus on three areas related to asteroid missions. The crew of aquanauts will investigate communication delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size.

The NEEMO 16 mission crew consists of Commander Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger of NASA; European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui; and Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith professor of astronomy at Cornell University and chairman of the NASA Advisory Council, who was also a member of NEEMO 15.

NEEMO sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in the Aquarius lab, 63 feet (19 meters) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The laboratory is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. For NASA, Aquarius provides a convincing simulation to space exploration, and NEEMO crew members experience some of the same tasks and challenges under water that they would in space.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket, which are currently in development following the end of the space shuttle program, will allow astronauts to begin exploring beyond the boundaries of Earth’s orbit. The first human mission to an asteroid is planned for 2025.

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LAKE WALES, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — A small plane carrying a family of six broke apart over central Florida on Thursday afternoon and crashed in a remote area, killing everyone on board, local authorities and federal officials said. The cause was not immediately known.

The accident happened at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time on Thursday when the single-turboprop, fixed-wing aircraft began to break apart in mid-air over southeast Polk County before crashing in a swampy area, in the vicinity of Lake Wales. There were a total of six people on board, mostly children.

Investigators believe the 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47 was traveling at an altitude of approximately 26,000 feet (7.9 kilometers) when it began to experience trouble. “Parts of the aircraft have been located as far as 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the crash site,” said Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Scott Wilder. “It is apparent that parts of the aircraft separated before the crash.”

Deputies were able to reach the remote and uninhabited area by helicopter, but found no survivors. “It was immediately clear that there were no survivors of the crash,” Wilder said. He said the bodies of two adults and three children were located, and detectives were still searching the area for the remains of the fourth child.

The victims, all from Kansas, were identified as 45-year-old pilot and businessman Ronald Bramlage, his wife, 43-year-old Rebecca Bramlage, and their four children who were aged between 8 and 15. The aircraft, which was previously owned by attorney Todd Macoluso and used to transport former murder suspect Casey Anthony after her release, was currently owned by Roadside Ventures, LLC in Junction City, Kansas.

Wilder said the aircraft had departed Treasure Cay Airport in the northern Bahamas and made a brief stop to clear customs at the St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Lake Wales. The crash happened while the family was en-route to Junction City in Kansas.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be leading the investigation into the cause of the crash. Also investigating are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the aircraft manufacturer and the engine manufacturer.

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SANFORD, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who has been charged with murder in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, turned himself in Sunday after a judge revoked his bond for allegedly lying to the court.

Zimmerman, 28, wore a white plaid shirt and jeans when he arrived at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility (JEPCF) at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford on Sunday afternoon. Escorted by two police officials, he arrived at the jail in a white unmarked minivan after being earlier taken into custody.

“At approximately 1:25 (p.m.) today, George Zimmerman met two members of the Sheriff’s office in the area of Lake Mary at I-4,” said Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger. “He was placed into custody and transported to the correctional facility. He is being booked and processed as per Judge Lester’s order, [and] he’ll be held on a no-bond status.”

Zimmerman will be housed in administrative confinement, segregated from the general population due to the high-profile nature of the case. “Zimmerman’s cell is designed to hold two inmates and is approximately 67 square feet (6.2 square meters),” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said. “It is equipped with a toilet and two beds. A mattress, pillow, bed sheets, and blanket are provided.”

The neighborhood watch volunteer was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on April 11, almost two months after Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon in Sanford. Zimmerman had told a 911 operator that Trayvon was acting suspiciously and, despite being told to stay in his vehicle, got out of his SUV after which a confrontation ensued. Zimmerman claims he was being attacked by Trayvon when he fired the shot.

The shooting prompted allegations that Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic, was motivated by racism, a claim which has been denied by Zimmerman’s relatives, friends and supporters who say he has been unfairly vilified by the media. The investigation has also been complicated by Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering serious injuries.

During a bail hearing on April 20, Zimmerman apologized to Trayvon’s family. “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was, I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not,” he said. Trayvon’s family rejected the apology, questioning his timing and motivation.

Zimmerman was released on a $150,000 bond on April 23, but Judge Kenneth Lester revoked his bond on Friday and ordered him to be remanded into custody no later than 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon. He arrived back in Central Florida on late Saturday evening and surrendered to police about 65 minutes before Sunday’s deadline.

Zimmerman’s wife testified in April that the couple had no assets or income to put toward a bond, but prosecutors say she knew about PayPal donations for her husband’s legal defense fund. These funds now total more than $200,000, but she failed to disclose the money at his bond hearing.

“Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers will request a new bond hearing where they can address the court’s concerns regarding the representation of funds available at the time of the original hearing on April 20,” the law firm of attorney Mark O’Mara said in a statement on Sunday afternoon. “The vast majority of the funds in question are in an independently managed trust, and neither Mr. Zimmerman or his attorneys have direct access to the money.”

The prosecution released the transcripts of several phone conversations in which George and wife Shelly Zimmerman apparently discuss the amounts of money available. “So total everything how much are we looking at?” George asked in one call on April 16. “Like $155,” Shelly replied, but apparently meant $155,000.

On May 8, Zimmerman waived his right to a speedy trial to allow the defense team the time needed to prepare for trial. It is expected that the case will not be ready for trial until some time in 2013, and the bond hearing this week will determine whether Zimmerman will have to spend these months in jail.

If convicted of second degree murder, a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance, Zimmerman could face a prison sentence of up to 25 years to life.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on Tuesday morning successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), a launch hailed as the beginning of a new era in space exploration.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:44 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, becoming the first commercially developed and built spacecraft to launch to the ISS. It is an accomplishment which had only been achieved by a handful of governments in the past.

After the launch, the vehicle’s first stage performed nominally before separating from the second stage. The second stage successfully delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit. This marks the third consecutive successful Falcon 9 launch and the fifth straight launch success for SpaceX.

The Dragon capsule will conduct a series of checkout procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the ISS. The spacecraft is scheduled to perform a flyby of the space station at a distance of about 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometers) on Thursday to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach.

“We had most of the company gathered around SpaceX Mission Control. They are seeing the fruits of their labor and wondering if it is going to work,” SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk said at a press conference after the launch. “There is so much hope riding on that rocket. When it worked, and Dragon worked, and the solar arrays deployed, people saw their handiwork in space operating as it should. There was tremendous elation. For us it is like winning the Super Bowl.”

Meanwhile, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saluted the agency’s team for the successful launch of Falcon 9. “Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time,” he said.

Following analysis of the flyby by NASA and SpaceX managers, the Dragon capsule will be cleared to rendezvous and berth with the space station on Friday, marking the first time a commercial company has attempted this feat. The Expedition 31 crew, which is on board the ISS, will use the orbiting complex’s robotic arm to capture Dragon and install it on the bottom side of the Harmony node.

“This mission heralds the dawn of a new era of space exploration, one in which there is a significant commercial space element,” Musk added. “It is like the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s when commercial companies entered what was originally a government endeavor. That move dramatically accelerated the pace of advancement and made the Internet accessible to the mass market. I think we’re at a similar inflection point for space. I hope and I believe that this mission will be historic in marking that turning point towards a rapid advancement in space transportation technology.”

The mission is SpaceX’s second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the ISS. Under COTS, which provides investments to stimulate the commercial space industry in America, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have been working to successfully complete their test flights, hoping to begin delivering regular cargo shipments to the station.

If all goes according to plan, Dragon should leave the ISS on May 31 and return to Earth.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

NAPLES, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — Donna Summer, who won five Grammy Awards and whose hits defined the disco era in the 1970s, died in southern Florida on Thursday morning, her family said. She was 63.

Known as ‘the Queen of Disco’, Summer received worldwide success during the 1970s and early 1980s. She is probably best remembered for successful songs such as ‘Love to Love You Baby,’ ‘Last Dance,’ ‘Hot Stuff,’ ‘Bad Girls,’ and ‘She Works Hard for the Money.’

Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the Billboard chart in the United States with her albums ‘Live and More, Bad Girls,’ ‘On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volume I’ and ‘Volume II.’ She won five Grammys and went on to sell more than 130 million records worldwide.

Publicist Brian Edwards confirmed Summer died of cancer while surrounded by her family in Naples, Florida, but declined to say what type of cancer. “Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith,” Summer’s family said in a brief statement. “While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.”

An unidentified source told entertainment and gossip website TMZ.com that Summer is believed to have contracted lung cancer by inhaling toxic particles following the attacks against the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

Summer is survived by her husband Bruce Sandano, keyboardist and singer of the band Brooklyn Dreams, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, and a third daughter, Mimi, from her previous marriage.

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GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — The Iranian government on Monday issued a strong condemnation a Florida pastor’s burning of a Quran over the weekend, calling it provocative and warning the action will cause anger and resentment throughout the Muslim world.

Pastor Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center, a 50-member evangelical Christian church in Gainesville, Florida, burned the Quran and an image of the prophet Mohammed on late Saturday afternoon to protest against Iran’s imprisonment of 35-year-old Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

Iran’s foreign ministry described the Quran burning as “absurd, insulting and provoking” and the result of ‘Islamophobia’ in the West. “There is no doubt that this cheap American priest will cause religious hatred, anger and resentment throughout the Muslim world,” a spokesman said, accusing the U.S. government of failing to prevent the burning.

The burning took place outside the church in Gainesville and was attended by a small group of supporters. “The image of Mohammed and the Quran will be burned as a form of demonstration and protest against the brutality, murder, rape and destruction of Islam that has taken place over a 1,400 year history and has not stopped,” the pastor said. “Today is not a day of celebration by no means, it is actually a very sad day. It is sad that something like this needs to take place. It is sad that this type of step must be done.”

Jones accused the U.S. government and other governments in the Western world of failing to protect Christians, minorities, women, believers and non-believers in Muslim countries. “Pastor Youcef has spent over 900 days in jail because of his religious beliefs, because he dared to share those religious beliefs,” he said.

Youcef Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents in the northern Iranian town of Rasht, was arrested in October 2009. Nadarkhani, who has said he was never a practicing Muslim, turned to Christianity as a teenager and later became a member of the Only Jesus Church. He was ordained as a pastor in Rasht.

Nadarkhani, who had protested against his child being given mandatory lessons on Islam in school, refused an order by Iran’s Supreme Court to recant his Christian faith. As a result, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for apostasy in September 2011. His death sentence was upheld in February, and Nadarkhani’s execution may be imminent.

Jones, who is participating in this year’s presidential election in the United States as an Independent candidate, announced in 2010 that he would burn 200 Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. The announcement led to massive protests, leaving more than 20 people killed, but Jones canceled the Quran-burning event after international outrage and pleas from world leaders.

But in March 2011, Jones played the role of a judge during an event dubbed as the “International Judge the Quran Day.” The Quran was charged with being responsible for violence and ‘found guilty’ after a six hour trial. Jones then ‘sentenced’ the Quran to burning, after which pastor Wayne Sapp carried out the act. The burning caused renewed outrage, mainly in Afghanistan where dozens of people were killed.

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