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Martin Dyckman: On death warrants, Florida governor’s ‘awesome moral responsibility’

When former Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins was nominated in 1964 to head the nation’s new Community Relations Service, South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond opposed him aggressively because Collins had renounced racial segregation.

“…I hope that as long as the good Lord lets me live on this earth I will continue to grow and to recognize changes and to meet the new responsibility as changes require,” Collins said.

The widely reported confrontation prompted Dessie Horne Williams, a Miami schoolteacher, to write to Collins, recalling a meeting with him five years earlier at the governor’s office.

“(W)e have always thought of you as a kind, understanding man, who feels compassion for human suffering no matter what color the skin of the sufferer may be,” she wrote … You, Governor Collins, are a true” Southern gentleman. May God keep you through the coming trials.”

Collins’s courtesy to anyone he met was legendary. Even so, the Williams letter was remarkable.

On the occasion she described, she and her parents were pleading for the life of her brother, Willie Horne Jr., who was condemned to die for rape. Collins commuted 10 of the 39 death sentences that came to him, but not Horne’s. The prisoner was executed in January 1959. However, Collins had given his family his personal attention and a full measure of compassionate respect.

At the time, though, Ms. Williams had asked a question that struck his heart: “Do you think that my brother is going to die because he is black?”

Collins assured her that it was only because of the brutality of the crime. The victim’s escort, a court said, had been beaten senseless with a tire iron.

But the governor’s conscience was troubled. He knew that had the victim been black or both parties white, the jury almost certainly would have recommended mercy. He tasked his staff to find reasons to repeal the death penalty, and when the Legislature convened a few months later he asked that it do so.

The House committee that killed the bill said that without the possibility of a death penalty, a resumption of lynchings “can certainly be anticipated.”

It was a rare if unwitting acknowledgment of the profound racism that accounts for the South’s peculiar and persistent obsession with the death penalty.

It clearly matters more to the politicians than to the voters. A Florida survey by Public Policy Polling last year found that only 35 percent of respondents favored execution over life without parole. The question was asked in the abstract however, without a politician waving some bloody shirt in the background.

Collins confronted the racism.

“By far the great majority of those to be executed were Negroes,” he said, “and yet only 17 percent of the state’s population were colored. It was a gross travesty on the principle of equal protection.”

Whites are now the majority on Florida’s death row, but blacks are still disproportionately represented. Florida has never executed a white for a crime against a black but one appeal is pending. As of last October, blacks were still the majorities on 12 other death rows, nine of them in the South.

Although the death penalty remains in force outside the South, it is in near disuse except in Florida and other former slave states. The South accounts for 1,180 of the 1,448 U.S. executions since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment 41 years ago, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. That’s 81 percent. Florida is fourth highest on the list with 92. Texas leads with a staggering 542. Outside the South, however, there haven’t been any since 2014, except for one in Oklahoma.

Race bias was evident in how Florida governors and the state pardon board commuted death sentences between 1924, when Florida first began to keep track of them, and 1964, when executions paused for 15 years.

In a paper published in 1993, Margaret Vandiver, a criminology professor at the University of Memphis, found that blacks condemned for crimes against whites in Florida were executed in 90 of 95 cases. On the other hand, whites whose victims were white received clemency in 22 of 83 cases. Blacks on death row whose victims were black were spared nearly half the time, in 27 of 61 cases. There were no death sentences, hence no commutations, for whites convicted of crimes against blacks.

The disparity was greatest in convictions for rape, which is no longer a capital crime. Of the 40 black men condemned for raping white women during the 40 years Vandiver reviewed, only two got clemency. One was Willie Irvin, of the “Groveland Four,” who had been framed by a racist sheriff. The Florida House of Representatives formally apologized to their families last week. Irvin had exhausted his appeals when Collins drew vehement criticism for commuting his sentence in 1955.

The point is that Collins did commute his sentence, doubting his guilt, and spared nine other men as well. No Florida governor has commuted a sentence since Bob Graham last did so in 1983. In another glaring departure, Florida governors apparently are no longer willing to face or hear from the families of condemned prisoners, as Collins did every time.

I have been trying with scant success to find out how Gov. Rick Scott considers clemency in comparison to how Collins did it. Among the questions I sent his press secretary, Lauren Schenone: Does he accept comments from lawyers for death row inmates? Does he consider each case himself or does he accept the decisions made by former governors whose death warrants were stayed in the courts? Does he consider the trial and appeal process to be essentially infallible?

Her answer was terse, said little, but was revealing in one important respect.

“Signing death warrants is one of the Governor’s most solemn duties. His foremost concerns are consideration for the families of the victims and the finality of judgments. (Emphasis supplied.)

“Our office follows procedures outlined in Rule 15 of the Rules for Executive Clemency on this process,” she said.

Rule 15 shrouds all the process in secrecy and says that the Commission on Offender Review “may” — not shall — conduct an investigation in each case. There is no data on how often it does so. The rule also provides that the Governor and Cabinet may schedule a public discussion, but that practice ceased during Jeb Bush’s term.

The words in italics, “finality of judgment,” suggest that Scott doesn’t care, as Collins did, that the courts might make mistakes with fatal consequences. His conscience is dead to that possibility. Once the legal case is over, that’s it.

That is a profound abdication of a governor’s most awesome moral responsibility.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times and author of “Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Gov. LeRoy Collins,” published by the University Press of Florida. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Local investment in public safety communications infrastructure pay off during Florida disasters

Last year, Floridians endured one of the most active hurricane seasons in more than a decade. During Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, those impacted received only a taste of what has earned our state the reputation of being a hot spot for tropical weather.

Thankfully, the loss of life and damage was extremely minimal and the state’s emergency response went off without a hitch.

What you didn’t read following the storms were stories about first responders’ inability to communicate. That’s because local communities, especially in rural areas, have spent the last decade investing heavily in the communications infrastructure necessary to create stability and additional capacity during normal times and times of crises.

One of the companies that have been integral to this success is Aviat Networks, a California-based microwave provider that is working in several Florida counties and local municipalities with the technology they need to communicate when residents depend on them the most.

Aviat provides microwave technology – the network that transmits data and voice communications for first responders and other public safety users – in Miami-Dade, Broward and West Palm Beach counties, as well as for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, and the South Florida Water Management District. All of these entities had a role in keeping South Floridians safe and prepared during Hurricane Matthew, which was at one point a deadly Category 5 storm.

Beyond Florida, Aviat’s microwave is the backbone for 25 statewide public safety networks across the country and is deployed in every one of the 50 states.

Aviat’s microwave has been chosen by Florida cities and counties because of its proven reliability and security. According to the Aviat website, their solutions lead the industry in a key technology attribute known as ’output power‘ – which allows microwave signals to transmit further and more reliably through weather effects such as rain. This means public safety communications stay up during the harshest of conditions including severe hurricanes. Beyond this according to Aviat, the technology enables agencies to reduce the total lifecycle cost of microwave by up to 50 percent through the deployment of smaller antennas and fewer towers.

These are added bonuses for Floridians since the costs, and communications tower needs will undoubtedly increase as Florida’s NIMBY populations continue to grow.

If you’ve ever experienced a Wi-Fi outage at your home or business, it’s a mere inconvenience. But for public safety agencies, it could be a matter of life or death. That is what local governments have been putting a premium on reliable and secure microwave technology during a time when Florida has enjoyed a relatively inactive tropical weather period.

For all of Florida’s success in developing its public safety communications infrastructure in recent years, challenges remain. As we have seen with the recent wildfires in Collier County, responding to emergencies requires significant coordination among government at the local, state and federal levels. In rural areas, the success of traditional fiber optic technology may be limited, and the real solution for tomorrow’s technology lies in building smarter microwave networks that can fully integrate with local agencies’ networks. And most importantly microwave technology has built-in security safeguards.

Companies like Aviat are on the forefront of helping Florida prepare and respond to future emergencies. With hurricane season set to start June 1, the next test may be here before we know it.

Florida man convicted in fatal fight over gumbo spices

A man charged with fatally stabbing a Florida restaurant worker and former Florida State mascot in a fight over gumbo spices has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Caleb Joshua Halley was found guilty Thursday in the 2015 death. He faces up to life in prison for the crime.

Panama City police say 33-year-old Halley was working at Buddy’s Seafood Market when he and a co-worker, 26-year-old Orlando Thompson, began arguing about how much spice to add to the restaurant’s gumbo. Authorities say Thompson slashed Halley across the torso. He died two days later. The two had also been roommates at one point.

According to the police, Halley portrayed Florida State mascot “Chief Osceola” from 2004 to 2007.

The News Herald reports family members of both men wept when the verdict was read.

Blake Dowling: Look out for hackers (and the government)

U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) with gavel and dog.

What now? More breaches. More leaks. Internet carriers selling your data? Hackers coming at us like United Airlines security?

(For an interesting read, see Nader v. Airlines 1972)

So you are worried about hackers, and — of course — the National Security Agency is watching (and logging) you surf on PredictIT.com or Lolcats.com. Or are you stressing because you might be in the World-Check database (bet on it — just by being an elected official, because it may consider you bribable, and, yes, this site was also breached/leaked recently).

Yes. All of that, and much, much more.

The Internet of Things and the Cyber Renaissance (or apocalypse, depending on your point of view) that we are experiencing in 2017 truly has us going where no one has gone before.

This past weekend, I used a vending machine that would not take cash. ACK! Since I only had cash, no Mountain Dew for me.

Is it too much tech? Too much internetting? Too much exposure?

Last week, one of our elected officials had something to say about the internet. U.S. House Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, had some truly amazing advice for his constituents: you don’t have to use the internet if you don’t like it (according to TheRegister.com). Hmmm.

In today’s world, that’s about the same as saying if you don’t like the air don’t breathe it, same with roads and driving.

Hopefully, Jimbo was just hitting the Hendricks a little hard the night before and was having a fuzzy day. If not we have problems. As the powers that be in D.C. look to an era of deregulation, we are going to potentially see internet providers that have very little oversight. With customer service rankings right there with our pals at United Airlines.

We have a lot to watch out for.

The new law Jimbo was defending involved the ability for national internet carriers to sell customer info/history.

Advocates for digital privacy are outraged, as they should; this is the real deal. I don’t want my info sold to anyone, and if ol’ Jimbo is my advocate, it’s not looking good. Don’t we get harassed enough? Say I visit Solider of Fortune Magazine online a couple of times, and I mysteriously get emails wanting to sell me night vision goggles.

I mean I love some good NV hardware but get outta my business.

As consumers, we are constantly stalked digitally. Jimbo and the gang need to get their heads out of their … err … sand and look out for Mr. and Mrs. Citizen.

The big 5 (Comcast, Charter (now Spectrum), Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T) have control over approx. 80 percent of the market; most Americans have only 1 or 2 providers to choose.

Some parting words from Dunder Mifflin’s Corporate office, that is practical advice for all things: tech, driving, politics, social media, business, talking, lawn care, etc. … while staying off the internet for a 73-year-old congressman with aides and assistants galore may be practical; it ain’t so good for you and me, peeps.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlinb@aegisbiztech.com

Airbnb wins stay against Miami anti-vacation rental home rules

Vacation rental home marketing giant Airbnb and five of its Miami hosts have won a preliminary victory in Miami that temporarily blocks that city’s ban on such operations in residential neighborhoods.

In a suit that Airbnb and five vacation rental homeowners filed last week, Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko issued a temporary restraining order late Wednesday enjoining the city from enforcing its ban on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.

Miami’s city commission had approved a resolution in March that essentially interpreted existing city codes to forbid vacation rental homes in residential zones.

In its lawsuit, Airbnb argued that the regulations do not say that and that the city was trying to use the interpretation to get around a 2011 state law forbidding cities from taking local actions to ban the operations. That law grandfathered in old city ordinances.

The judge’s ruling also included a broader order that speaks to what happened at the March 23 Miami City Commission meeting, and how the city allegedly responded in the ensuing weeks.

The suit by Airbnb and its hosts alleged that Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the city retaliated against Airbnb hosts who spoke out at that meeting, by targeting them for enforcement of the city’s ban on vacation rental homes in the days after the meeting. Those hosts had, under rules held by Miami’s City Commission and virtually all city and county governing boards throughout the state, been required to give their names and addresses to speak.

Airbnb alleged those names and addresses went on a city retaliation list.

So Butchko also enjoined the city requiring constituents to provide their names and addresses when speaking at future city commission hearings.

Airbnb issued the following statement commenting on Butchko’s order:

“On behalf of our Miami host community, we are grateful to the Court for giving this important matter immediate attention. We are hopeful that it will result in relief and fair treatment for the 3,000 Miamians who responsibly share their homes on Airbnb.”

The origins of 4/20, marijuana’s high holiday

Thursday marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather — at 4:20 p.m. — in clouds of smoke on campus quads and when pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts.

This year’s edition provides an occasion for pot activists to reflect on how far their movement has come, with recreational pot now allowed in eight states and the nation’s capital, as well as a changed national political climate that could threaten to slow or undermine their cause.

Here’s a look at the holiday’s history.

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WHY 4/20?

The origins of the date, and the term “420” generally, were long murky. Some claimed it referred to a police code for marijuana possession or that it arose from Bob Dylan‘s “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35,” with its refrain of “Everybody must get stoned” — 420 being the product of 12 times 35.

But in recent years, a consensus has emerged around the most credible explanation: that it started with a group of bell-bottomed buddies from San Rafael High School in California, who called themselves “the Waldos.” A friend’s brother was afraid of getting busted for a patch of cannabis he was growing in the woods at Point Reyes, so he drew a map and gave the teens permission to harvest the crop, the story goes.

During fall 1971, at 4:20 p.m., just after classes and football practice, the group would meet up at the school’s statue of chemist Louis Pasteur, smoke a joint and head out to search for the weed patch. They never did find it, but their private lexicon — “420 Louie,” and later just “420” — would take on a life of its own.

The Waldos saved postmarked letters and other artifacts from the 1970s referencing “420,” which they now keep in a bank vault, and when the Oxford English Dictionary added the term last month it cited some of those documents as the entry’s earliest recorded uses.

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HOW DID ‘420’ SPREAD?

A brother of one of the Waldos was a close friend of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, as Lesh once confirmed in an interview with the Huffington Post. The Waldos began hanging out in the band’s circle, and the slang spread.

Fast-forward to the early 1990s: Steve Bloom, a reporter for the cannabis magazine High Times, was at a Dead show when he was handed a flier urging people to “meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” High Times published it.

“It’s a phenomenon,” said one of the Waldos, Steve Capper, now 62 and a chief executive at a payroll financing company in San Francisco. “Most things die within a couple years, but this just goes on and on. It’s not like someday somebody’s going to say, ‘OK, Cannabis New Year’s is on June 23rd now.'”

Bloom, now the editor in chief of Freedom Leaf Magazine, notes that while the Waldos came up with the term, the people who made the flier — and effectively turned 4/20 into a holiday — remain unknown.

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FILE – In this April 20, 2009, file photo, a large crowd cheers as the time reaches 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Thursday, April 20, 2017, marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather – at 4:20 p.m. – in clouds of smoke on campus quads and pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?

With weed, naturally. Some of the celebrations are bigger than others; Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park typically draws thousands. In Seattle, the organizers of the annual Hempfest event are anticipating about 250 people at a private party. Some pot shops are offering discounts or hosting block parties.

College quads and statehouse lawns are also known for drawing 4/20 celebrants, with the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus historically among the largest gatherings — though not so much since administrators started closing off the campus several years ago. Generally, 4/20 events in Colorado have dropped off significantly since the state legalized recreational use in 2012.

Some breweries make 4/20 themed beers — including SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta, whose founders attended CU-Boulder. Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California, releases its “Waldos’ Special Ale” every year on 4/20 in honoring of the term’s coiners; it’s billed as “the dankest and hoppiest beer ever brewed at Lagunitas.”

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THE POLITICS

This year’s 4/20 follows successful legalization campaigns in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, which join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as states that allow recreational marijuana. More than half the states allow medical marijuana.

But it remains illegal under federal law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month ordered a review of marijuana policy to see how it may conflict with the President Donald Trump‘s crime-fighting agenda, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recently called marijuana “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.” That’s a view long held by drug warriors despite scant evidence for its validity.

Sixty percent of adults support legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll last fall, and two-thirds of respondents in a Yahoo/Marist poll released this week said marijuana is safer than opioids.

Undermining regulatory schemes in legal pot states could prompt a backlash that would hasten the end of federal prohibition, said Vivian McPeak, a founder of Seattle’s Hempfest.

“We’re looking at an attorney general who wants to bring America back into the 1980s in terms of drug policy,” McPeak said. “I’m skeptical they can put the cannabis genie back into the bottle.”

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

McPeak says 4/20 these days is “half celebration and half call to action.”

For the Waldos, who remain close friends, it signifies above all else a good time, Capper says.

“We’re not political. We’re jokesters,” he said. “But there was a time that we can’t forget, when it was secret, furtive. … The energy of the time was more charged, more exciting in a certain way.

“I’m not saying that’s all good — it’s not good they were putting people in jail,” he added. “You wouldn’t want to go back there. Of course not.”

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FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2014 file photo, set to the symbolic 4:20 time, weed patterns adorn clocks up for sale on the first of three days of Hempfest, Seattle’s annual gathering to advocate the decriminalization of marijuana at Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront in Seattle. Thursday, April 20, 2017, marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather – at 4:20 p.m. – in clouds of smoke on campus quads and pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts. (Jordan Stead/seattlepi.com via AP, File)

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Loud sex sounds interrupt pro tennis match in Florida

An outdoor professional tennis match in Florida came to a brief halt amid sounds of loud sex.

Frances Tiafoe was about to serve Mitchell Krueger during their Tuesday night match in the Sarasota Open when he paused and flashed a smile of disbelief over the sound of a woman moaning in pleasure. Broadcaster Mike Cation initially described the sounds as coming from someone playing a pornographic video in the stands, but later said they were coming from an apartment nearby.

Both players had fun with the situation while the crowd laughed. Kreuger hit a ball sharply in the direction of the sounds, and Tiafoe screamed, “It can’t be that good!”

Cation later saluted the responsible couple on Twitter, writing “Sounds like you guys had a good time!”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Senate votes to allow beer ads in theme parks, ‘merlot to go’

Florida senators passed a bill Wednesday that would allow advertising by beer companies in the state’s theme parks.

The measure (SB 388), sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton, received only one ‘no’ vote from Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican.

It eases the state’s “tied house evil” law by allowing ads, which could include a beer company sponsoring a concert or festival within a park. Universal Orlando has supported the bill.

Some beer industry representatives had privately complained. However, they “fear being extorted by the theme parks.”

“We do a lot of business (with them), and we kind of see a situation where they say, ‘We do such-and-such theme night, but now we’d like you to pay for it,’ by sponsoring it,” said one. “(W)e all feel like we’ll be put over a barrel.”

The bill also repeals a state law to permit wine bottles of all sizes to be sold.

That includes the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles.

Further, it would repeal another state law that requires diners to order and consume a full meal — “consisting of a salad or vegetable, entree, a beverage, and bread” — before they can take home an opened bottle of wine.

It extends the “merlot to go” legacy of the late Senate President Jim King‘s 2005 measure that first legalized carryout wine.

The bill now heads to the House. Its version (HB 423) still has not been heard by the Commerce Committee, its last panel of reference.

Founding generation, not just fathers, focus of new museum

Alongside a display of the Declaration of Independence at the Museum of the American Revolution, a separate tableau tells the story of Mumbet, an enslaved black woman in Massachusetts who, upon hearing the document read aloud, announced that its proclamation that “all men are created equal” should also include her.

In response, her master hit her with a frying pan. Mumbet sued him, won her freedom in court, changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman and became a nurse. Her case set a precedent prohibiting slavery in the state.

The story is a reminder that during the struggle for our nation’s liberty, the 400,000 African Americans who lived in slavery in 1776 also longed to be free.

Such stories are found throughout the museum, which opens Wednesday in Philadelphia — coinciding with the 242nd anniversary of the battle at Lexington and Concord, the “shot heard ’round the world” that began the Revolutionary War in 1775. The more inclusive, clear-eyed view of the country’s turning points is an intentional departure from the whitewashed story America has often told itself and the world.

Instead, the museum seeks to show visitors that the Revolution was a set of aspirational ideas founded on equality, individual rights and freedom that remain relevant today, said president Michael Quinn.

“These ideas rallied people from all walks of life, and they took those ideas to heart,” Quinn said, “What unifies us as a people is our shared, common commitment to these ideas.”

At several points throughout the museum, visitors are forced to confront the contradictions of the high-minded ideals of the framers of the Constitution and the realities of their time, including slavery and the second-class status of women. Slavery, for example, would expand for nearly another century after the Revolutionary War ended, and despite arguing for their liberty at the start of America, women in the United States would fight for suffrage into the early 20th century.

The message: The ideals of the American Revolution belong not only to the founding fathers long revered by our country, but also to the founding generation of Americans who first heard them, and the generations that have come since.

“For over two centuries, if you said the words ‘founders of this country,’ the image that would pop to most people’s minds would be a white man,” said Scott Stephenson, vice president of collections, exhibitions and programming. “Increasingly, we at museums have realized we have got to tell a broader story.”

One exhibit features the story of the Oneida Indians, one of the first allies to support the nascent America, who fought and died alongside the colonist soldiers. Also on display is the active role of African-Americans, enslaved and free, in the war, fighting with both the Continental and British armies, showed that blacks were patriots also fighting for their own freedom.

Historical interpretations conjured from diaries and letters of the lives of five men and women who took various routes to freedom during the war are presented in an interactive digital installation. In paintings, dioramas and exhibits, the stories of figures including poet Phillis Wheatley and William Lee, valet to Gen. George Washington, challenge the idea of who could claim the title of “revolutionary.”

Visitors are asked to consider the question, “Freedom for whom?” said Adrienne Whaley, the museum’s manager for school programs.

“The struggle to become free predates the Revolution, and it continues after the war is over,” she said. “The promise of America is defined by the ways in which we treat these people.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

NASA providing 1st live 360-degree view of rocket launch

Want the world’s best, up-close view of a rocket launch without being right there at the pad?

For the first time, cameras will provide live 360-degree video of a rocket heading toward space.

NASA will provide the 360 stream Tuesday as an unmanned Atlas rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a capsule full of space station supplies. The stream will begin 10 minutes before the scheduled 11:11 a.m. liftoff and continue until the rocket is out of sight.

The four fisheye-lens cameras are located at the periphery of the pad, about 300 feet (100 meters) from the rocket. A computer in a blast-proof box will stitch together the images for a full, in-the-round view. There will be about a minute lag time.

It will be shown on NASA’s YouTube channel.

“It’s great, I mean, to be able to get in there and experience that 360-degree view,” said Vern Thorp, a program manager for rocket maker United Launch Alliance. Combining that with virtual reality goggles, “it really gives you a new perspective that we’ve never been able to do before,” he said at a Monday news conference.

United Launch Alliance has released 360-degree video of two previous launches, but later — not live.

Orbital ATK, one of NASA’s main delivery services for the International Space Station, opted to use an Atlas V for this supply run from Cape Canaveral versus its own smaller, Virginia-based Antares rocket in order to haul up more items. The supply ship is known as the Cygnus after the swan constellation, and in this case has been named the S.S. John Glenn.

Glenn became the first American to orbit the world in 1962 — launching on an Atlas rocket — and the oldest person to fly in space in 1998 aboard the shuttle Discovery. He died at age 95 in December. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery earlier this month.

“It’s an honor to launch the spacecraft which has been named in memory of John Glenn,” Thorp told reporters. Given that Glenn flew on an Atlas rocket and Tuesday’s rocket is an Atlas, “I feel like we’re bridging history.”

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Online:

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/

United Launch Alliance: http://www.ulalaunch.com/360.aspx

Orbital ATK: http://www.orbitalatk.com/

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