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Sunburn for 5.18.16 – Zika on the brain

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.

There are more than 500 cases of Zika in the United States.

All of those are travel related. Forty-eight involve pregnant women. And 116 cases are in Florida.

Sunshine State lawmakers have been leading the charge to curb the spread of Zika.

Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio teamed up to support President Barack Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to stop the spread of the disease. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, cosponsored legislation by Rep. Curt Clawson, a Bonita Springs Republican, to reauthorize grants for mosquito control programs and establish tax credits for vaccine research and development.

“There have already been more than 100 Zika cases reported in Florida, and as summer approaches, the situation will likely worsen,” said Graham in a statement Tuesday. “Floridians can’t wait any longer – lives are at risk. It’s time for Republicans to quit stalling and end their political games. We must fully fund research, prevention and response efforts to fight this deadly virus.”

It’s unlikely that funding will come through. Despite repeated calls to fund the full $1.9 billion, Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a measure sponsored by Nelson and Rubio matching the president’s ask. Instead, the Senate threw its support behind a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat Zika.

The U.S. House proposal is drastically lower. At $622.1 million, the House proposal would fund the Zika battle through September. Graham was one of more than 120 Democrats — including the Florida Democratic delegation — who signed a letter urging Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the administration’s request to a full vote. Don’t count on that happening, though. The House is expected to debate its proposal Wednesday.

The White House has threatened to veto the House request; and on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the funding was “woefully insufficient given the significant risk that is posed by Zika.”

With summer just around the corner, the White House is calling on lawmakers to approve additional Zika funds before Congress recesses for Memorial Day next week.

WATCH the floor speech from Rubio here.

WHITE HOUSE CALLS OUT FLORIDA REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS OVER ZIKA FUNDING via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The White House pressured Florida’s 17 Republicans in Congress to say publicly whether they support $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama would veto a House of Representatives bill that would provide far less money — $622 million — and referred again to support for the full $1.9 billion from Florida’s Republican senator, Marco Rubio. Florida has more confirmed Zika cases than any other state in the country. “The Republican senator from the state of Florida has indicated that the Congress should act expeditiously to pass the $1.9 billion funding proposal that our public-health experts say is needed,” Earnest told reporters. “I think it’d be interesting to understand exactly what position the 17 other Republicans from Florida who represent the state in the Congress think of this.” Some of them have already come out in favor of Obama’s request, including Rep. Vern Buchanan … and Rep. Carlos Curbelo …  Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham sent Republican Speaker Paul Ryan a letter — signed by more than 120 House Democrats — urging the GOP to accept Obama’s request. Rubio said on the Senate floor he’s “concerned” about the House’s reluctance to approve the full $1.9 billion.

— “Kathy Castor to House Republicans: Half measures won’t prevent Zika from becoming a full-blown challenge” via Florida Politics

— “Patrick Murphy joins call for $1.9 billion to combat Zika” via Florida Politics

FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Tuesday, there were three new travel-related cases today with one in Clay, one in Orange and one in Pinellas counties. Five cases are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are still 116 total cases in Florida; by county (number of cases): Miami Dade (45), Broward (15), Orange (9), Palm Beach (7), Alachua (4), Lee (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Polk (3), Brevard (2), Clay (2), Pinellas (2), Seminole (2), Volusia (2) and a single case each in Collier, Martin, Pasco, Santa Rosa and St. John’s, with seven cases involving pregnant women. The DOH recommends women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika affected areas. The department also urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors. Florida currently has the capacity to test 6,358 people for active Zika virus and 1,999 for Zika antibodies. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

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BERNIE SANDERS WINS OREGON, BATTLES HILLARY CLINTON IN KY; DONALD TRUMP WINS ORE. via the Associated Press – Sanders has won Oregon’s presidential primary and battled Clinton to a razor-thin margin in Kentucky, vowing to stay in the race until the end as Clinton aimed to blunt his momentum and prepare for a fall campaign against Republican Donald Trump. Tuesday’s primary in Kentucky was too close to call with Clinton leading Sanders by less than one-half of 1 percent. Closing in on the Democratic nomination, Clinton declared victory in Kentucky nonetheless, telling her supporters on Twitter: “We’re always stronger united.”

Trump won the GOP’s Oregon primary, the only Republican contest on Tuesday. In a sign of his pivot into the general election, his campaign announced that it had signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee that will allow it to raise cash for both his campaign and other Republican efforts.

JEB BUSH CRITICIZES TRUMP’S ‘INSENSITIVE’ TACO BOWL TWEET via Katie Reilly of Time magazine – “First, not all Hispanics are Mexican,” Bush said in the interview. “Secondly, not all Hispanics eat tacos. Thirdly, showing your sensitivity by eating an American dish is the most insensitive thing you can do. Fourthly, to say this, next to all things he already said, is a further insult. It’s like eating a watermelon and saying ‘I love African-Americans.’” Bush … has been vocal about his disapproval of Trump. “This guy,” Bush said. “If we lose in November, we Republicans have ourselves to blame.”

SPOTTED in this Associated Press story about how Trump’s questioning of the value of data is worrying some Republicans: Buzz Jacobs.

MARCO RUBIO THINKS I’M WRONG ABOUT HIS FUTURE. SO I TALKED TO SOMEONE SMARTER THAN ME ABOUT IT. via Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post – I reached out to Marc Caputo, a veteran Florida political reporter and now the author of the indispensable Florida Playbook for Politico: “Rubio’s headed to the private sector, but I don’t know where. He said he doesn’t want to be a lobbyist or work for Wall Street and that he wants to come home to Miami … financial bottom line aside, the bottom line for his new job is that it will have to add to his private-sector experience and/or round out his résumé … The paid speaking circuit is almost a guarantee. And so is stumping for other candidates … I don’t think Rubio will run for governor in 2018 for the same reason I predicted he wouldn’t run for re-election as senator in 2016, wouldn’t drop out of the presidential race before the March 15 Florida primary and wouldn’t be a vice-presidential running mate for anybody this year: Because he said so … Rubio is ultimately responsible for Rubio. He knew the risks. He ran. I’m not sure if the way he ran affected his image as much as the fact that he ran.”

REPUBLICANS CUT ‘LIFESTYLES OF RICH AND FAMOUS’ PARODY OF PATRICK MURPHY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Murphy may have the full support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but it looks like his opponent U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is getting the full support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC new campaign video, “The Privileged Life of Patrick Murphy,” blisters Murphy while parodying “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” … references an incident in which a young Murphy was allegedly thrown out of a nightclub and arrested after shouting drunken expletives at a police officer. The video includes what is allegedly a mug shot of Murphy from that night … also accuses his father, homebuilder Thomas Murphy, “stroked a campaign check to the state’s attorney who dropped the charges.” Murphy’s campaign responded … calling it misleading and distorting. “The truth is that Patrick first ran for office to fight the Tea Party and their destructive, my-way-or-the-highway tactics,” said Joshua Karp, Murphy’s communications director.

RE: DAVID JOLLY: A NOVEL NOTION – LAWMAKERS ACTUALLY MAKING LAWS via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post –  In February, when Rep. David Jolly introduced his quixotic plan to ban members of Congress from soliciting campaign contributions, the Florida Republican had only six co-sponsors. Then, three weeks ago, “60 Minutes” did a sympathetic piece on Jolly’s idea, giving national attention to the scandal of lawmakers spending 30 or more hours a week dialing for dollars. And now? The number of co-sponsors on Jolly’s bill has jumped from six all the way up to — um, eight. No senator has come forward with similar legislation … Jolly speaks the truth. Lawmakers know what needs to be done to clean up the corrupt system — but nothing happens. This is why Jolly’s idea deserves a look. He calls it congressional reform, not campaign-finance reform. The goal: to get lawmakers to spend more time lawmaking. “We’re here three days a week, and half your time is spent raising money,” he said. “In the face of growing crises around the globe, you’ve got a part-time Congress.” This, he said, “is a first-rate scandal … You think you get elected to represent 700,000 people … But you actually got elected to be one more marble on our side of the aisle to keep the majority, and to do that you’ve got to go raise $2 million — and that makes members angry.” Or at least it should.

JOLLY BLASTS CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA’S SILENCE OVER CARLOS BERUFF’S ‘ANIMAL’ REMARK via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I have so much respect for Marco Rubio that I’d expect he’d withhold his endorsement until Carlos condemns Beruff’s racist remarks against the president of the United States,” Jolly said in a statement … Jolly was the first candidate to criticize Beruff … Meanwhile, Beruff isn’t apologizing one bit for his provocative statement … the Manatee County developer and first-time candidate said the comment was “taken out of context,” and that he did not regret the remark. “I’m not a polished guy,” he said.

BERUFF SAYS COMMENT CALLING OBAMA ‘ANIMAL’ WAS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT, NOT RACIST via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – ” … I use strong language and it was meant in the context of the (current) dismantling of the military. I could have called him a bird, plane, anything,” Beruff said. This, of course, makes complete sense: “Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this PLANE we call president, because he’s a PLANE, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretary of defenses.” Anyhoo … his critics continue to seize on it.

BERUFF CASTS HIMSELF AS SENATE OUTSIDER BUT RECORD SHOWS PROLIFIC CAMPAIGN DONATIONS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times –Beruff bluntly declares politicians “worthless” in television commercials and proclaims himself an outsider ready to change Washington as Florida’s next senator … But analysis of campaign donations shows the Manatee County land developer has been a major fundraiser for local, state and federal politicians. Since 2002, Beruff and his business holdings have made more than 730 campaign donations to support 103 political candidates — including a few Democrats — totaling just over $1 million. Congressional candidates, governors, county commissioners and presidential contenders have all benefited. While Senate rivals say the donations prove Beruff, 58, is the ultimate insider wielding a checkbook to gain influence, Beruff says he is the hunt for good governance. “Giving money doesn’t make you an insider,” Beruff said. “If that’s considered being an insider, I guess Donald Trump is an insider. That doesn’t make sense.” Beruff said the NRCC sold him on a plan in 2010 to regain the majority in the House. It worked, he said, but Republicans have lost touch with the people who elected them. “The Republican establishment no longer stands for us,” Beruff said.

SUPER PAC BACKING TODD WILCOX FORMS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Restore American Leadership is the name of the super PAC. It’s finance director is Steve Roche, who previously worked with Right to Rise, the super PAC that raised over $100 million for Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful bid for president over the past year. Previously Roche national finance director for Restore Our Future, the super PAC that backed former governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

HAPPENING FRIDAY: Concerned Veterans for America hosts a Defend and Reform Town Hall in Tampa featuring Rep. Ron DeSantis. Event is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at The Cuban Club of Tampa, 2010 N Avenida Republica de Cuba. Attendees are asked to register for the event online. RSVP to CVA Communications Specialist Sarah Shriver at sshriver@cv4a.org.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will make multiple stops in Central Florida, including a public event in Poinciana. Wilcox will be in Miami, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

NEAL DUNN DROPS ANTI-OBAMACARE AD IN CD 2 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Dunn will again take to the airwaves for another round of early communication with voters in CD 2. The Panama City urological surgeon ran another ad, his second of the 2016 cycle. Donning surgical scrubs, Dunn calls the Affordable Care Act “a total disaster,” saying it kills jobs and takes discretion away from physicians and patients. “If you want to end Obamacare, send a doctor to do the job, not another politician,” says Dunn in the ad. “Because, health care works best when patients and doctors decide.”

RIC KELLER CAME AND WENT YET THE CRAZY CD 6 REPUBLICAN RACE ROLLS ON via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – So far, 11 Republicans have jumped in, and now six have jumped back out. The five remaining are all establishing themselves. “It’s a wide-open race,” said Realtor G.G. Galloway … State Rep. Fred Costello … who finished second to DeSantis in the 2012 Republican primary for the seat, appears to be leading the pack, while Galloway, state Rep. David Santiago … Patrick Mooney … and Brandon Patty … a former aide to Gov. Jeb Bush, are all putting up credible fights. The Democrats have several candidates too, including Jason Kendall, who ran and lost against U.S. Rep. John Mica in Congressional District 7 in 2012, George PappasDwayne Taylor and William McCullough. The Democrats also have had candidates come and go. CD 6 leans Republican, though not as strongly as before. Still this is the GOP’s seat to lose … hours before Keller’s surprise withdrawal … the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee held a forum for the CD 6 candidates, attended by as many as 350 people at the Daytona International Speedway. Keller didn’t show up.

NEW COLLEGE PROFESSOR RUNNING FOR STATE SENATE via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Frank Alcock is joining a crowded race for a state Senate seat covering Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County, adding a prominent Democratic voice to a contest that includes five Republicans and a lesser-known Democrat. Alcock, 46, said in a press release that he is running to “restore sanity and civility” in a political process that has become “crude and divisive.” Alcock is known for frequently offering his political insights in the Sarasota news media. He has been a political contributor to the local ABC affiliate for nearly a decade and often is interviewed by the Herald-Tribune and other news outlets. He also has been active with various civic groups. He served as president of Sarasota Tiger Bay in 2015 and has been involved with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. That name recognition could give Alcock a boost, but he faces an uphill climb in a district that leans Republican.

FUNDRAISING EMAIL OF THE DAY via Jeff Clemens:

clemens, jeff2

BOB MARTINEZ ENDORSES REBECCA SMITH IN HD 60 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Smith announced that Martinez and his wife, Mary Jane Martinez, have endorsed the Tampa Republican in her House District 60 campaign. In a joint statement … the couple said Smith “has the right experience to represent us in Tallahassee. … We support businesswoman Rebecca Smith for the House of Representatives … Rebecca owns and runs a successful construction business, is engaged with community organizations and is active in government affairs.” Martinez, a Tampa native, served as governor from 1987 until 1991.

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GOOD NEWS, FLORIDIANS: STATE HAS LOW DEBT BURDEN via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida taxpayers today are on the hook for less unpaid state debt than taxpayers in a majority of other states, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trust … measures the state’s total outstanding debt between 2003 and 2013, including its health care and pension obligations to retirees … Florida ranks ninth best in the nation in total outstanding bills, and debt as a share of personal income is 7.2 percent, compared to the national average of 14.8 percent. But that is only one piece of the equation on Florida’s fiscal health. Data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show that during that same decade, as the state’s total debt as a share of personal income dropped, so did the value of all the goods and services produced in Florida. The state’s gross domestic product per person, the monetary value of its economy, was declining more than $10,000 below the national average. Florida has lagged behind the national average on the GDP index for years — including during the time both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist were governor — but it had been improving until the recession.

SAVE THE DATE: The James Madison Institute, the Charles Koch Institute, and a panel of experts will discuss how Florida can remain an economic leader at an evening event Tuesday, May 24, at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 South Orange Ave. in Orlando. “A More Competitive Florida: How to Grow the Economy” begins with a 6 p.m. reception; panel begins at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

SUNSHINE STATE CAN’T SHAKE THE NUMBER 1 FORECLOSURE SPOT via John Hielscher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Mortgage lenders closed on 69,162 foreclosures in the state in the 12-month period ended in March, according to data provider CoreLogic. The good news: That was down by 41,235 foreclosures, or 37 percent, when compared with 2015. The bad news: The state accounted for nearly 15 percent of all the foreclosures nationwide in the past year. Florida’s foreclosure inventory — the share of mortgaged homes in some stage of the process — stood at 2.1 percent in March, the fourth-highest level in the U.S., CoreLogic said. That was double the national rate of 1.1 percent, although Florida was down from 3.3 percent over the year.

INSURERS SUE JEFF ATWATER OVER DEATH-BENEFITS BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Four companies filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court … The measure (SB 966) was a priority of Atwater and was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” His spokeswoman responded … calling it “outrageous” and saying “the industry appears willing to modify its practices only when changes suit them.” The law, which is retroactive, requires life insurance companies to check every year on which policyholders have died, then they must track down the beneficiaries. If the beneficiaries can’t be found, the insurance proceeds must be turned over to the state as unclaimed property. The plaintiffs — United Insurance Co. of America, Reliable Life Insurance Co., Mutual Savings Life Insurance Co. and Reserve National Insurance Co. — say that’s unfair and want the retroactivity provision struck down. They all write policies in Florida. Their suit is against Atwater as chief financial officer and his Department of Financial Services.

BROWARD COURT CLERK SUING STATE OVER FUNDING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Howard Forman is asking a Leon County circuit judge to declare “funding of the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions” as unconstitutional, says his lawsuit filed this month. His complaint is against the state’s Department of Revenue, the Department of Financial Services and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission. The basic gripe: You’re taking our money. Florida’s court clerks have long complained about what they consider underfunding by the state. They have responded by shrinking staff and reducing their office hours. The state’s clerks collectively take in more than $1 billion yearly but get back less than half of that for operations, records show, even as Florida rebounded from the Great Recession. An audit released earlier this year found Florida court clerks “struggl(e) with increased workloads, declining revenue and need increased state funding to keep up.”

DENTAL CARE VENDOR SUING HEALTHY KIDS OVER PUBLIC RECORDS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Managed Care of North America (MCNA) sued the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. after it caught wind of a Tallahassee lawyer’s public records request. The company wants a Leon County circuit judge to declare the requested records off-limits because they contain “proprietary, confidential business information.” Judge James Hankinson granted a temporary injunction … Freezing the records pending a final resolution of the case, court dockets show. The lawyer seeking the information is Thomas Crapps, a former administrative law judge and past law partner to Florida legal legend Dexter Douglass. He asked for all the paperwork in MCNA’s bid last year for “dental benefits coverage … including documents that MCNA identified as ‘trade secret.’” He didn’t say why.

DON GAETZ FLOATED FOR UNIVERSITY OF WEST FLORIDA PRESIDENCY via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The word around the Pensacola campus is that the term-limited Niceville Republican and former state Senate president is in the running to replace Judith Bense when she retires later this year, local business leaders and faculty members said. So, will Gaetz apply? “I honestly haven’t thought about it,” Gaetz [said], adding that a “surprising” number of people have encouraged him to apply. “I haven’t made any overtures toward being president of the University of West Florida … I haven’t sent a letter of intent. I haven’t applied. I haven’t interviewed. I haven’t asked anyone to support me. … Obviously, anything could change. Life is full of surprises.”

MIAMI-DADE POLS LOOK FOR TOUGHER CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS, LOBBYING GIFT BAN via Florida Politics – A coalition of Miami-Dade politicians announced a new initiative to put tougher enforcement of local campaign finance laws and a lobbyist gift ban on the November ballot. Heading the group Accountable Miami-Dade is Monica Russo, the president of the SEIU Florida Council, and Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, the one-time Republican vice-mayor of Doral and former Florida president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. The group aims to strengthen enforcement of existing campaign finance laws, institute a lobbyist gift ban, limit contributions to mayoral and county commission candidates to $500 per election cycle and update the county’s small-donor system by adding limited public matching funds.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Jackson County Board of County Commissioners

Nancy Black Stewart, Nancy Black Stewart PA: ThinkSmart Enterprises

Rebecca Roman, Adams St. Advocates: Adams St. Advocates

JEFF GREENE’S LAWYER CALLS OUT TAMPA BAY TIMES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, also is “demand(ing) that the Tampa Bay Times now disclose the amount publicly.” He sued the Times and the Miami Herald in 2010 but settled confidentially with both papers in recent weeks. The newspaper ran a 226-word story on the settlement last week. In it, Times editor Neil Brown said the settlement “represents our insurance company’s calculation of acceptable legal expenses. On the central dispute, the Times does not retract or correct our coverage, nor will we limit any future reporting.” Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood fired back with a nearly 800-word statement … “The statement of Neil Brown is false and misleading,” Wood said. “The Tampa Bay Times is attempting to spin this settlement as a victory for the newspaper when, in fact, it was a well-deserved defeat for the Times and a victory” for Greene. “I stand by the statement in the previous article and the Times has nothing further to add,” Brown said in an email.

— 5 GOOD READS —

NEWSLETTERS RELEASED FROM SECRETIVE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY via Deb Riechmann of The Associated Press – … part of the mountain of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The Intercept, whose founding editors were the first to publish documents leaked by Snowden, released the first batch of nine years’ worth of the newsletters, which offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the NSA’s work. The newsletters reveal efforts to eavesdrop on a Russian crime boss, the search in Iraq for possible weapons of mass destruction and help with interrogations at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to Intercept, “Neither the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and rendition program (which confirmed the existence of two CIA facilities at Guantánamo) nor a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainee abuse by the military addresses the role of the NSA, at least in the heavily censored versions that have been made public.” It was serious business, but in their off hours, NSA liaisons at scenic Guantanamo Bay could visit the “Tiki Bar,” or enjoy water sports, such as sailing and snorkeling.

REPORT: BLACK AMERICA DOING MUCH BETTER THAN 40 YEARS AGO via Jesse Holland of The Associated Press – African-Americans are doing about the same as they have in previous years as the nation rises out of the Great Recession, and much better than they did when its first “State of Black America” report came out 40 years ago, the National Urban League said … The new report, “Locked Out: Education, Jobs & Justice,” looks at how blacks and Hispanics have been doing in the United States over the last few years and how they were doing in 1976, the year the National Urban League began issuing its annual report. Things are stabilizing for African-Americans and Hispanics. The National Urban League derives its numbers from an “equality index” that is based on nationally collected data from federal agencies including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With full equality with whites in economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement set at 100 percent, the National Urban League said this year’s equality index for blacks stands at 72.2 percent, compared with last year’s 72 percent. For Hispanics, it’s 77.8 percent compared to 2015’s 77.3 percent. Things have clearly gotten better for African-Americans since 1976, said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. Fewer blacks live in poverty — 29 percent in 1976 compared with 27 percent now. More blacks have graduated high school and college — 28 percent in 1976 and 33 percent today for high school, and 6 percent four decades ago versus 22 percent today for college. Life expectancy of African-Americans has increased from 68 in 1976 to 75 today.

UNDERWATER TREASURE TROVE DISCOVERED BY AMATEUR DIVERS OFF ISRAELI COAST via The Associated Press – Two amateur divers discovered Israel’s biggest haul of underwater Roman-era artefacts in three decades … as the priceless objects were shown for the first time. The treasures were found last month by Ran Feinstein and Ofer Raanan when they were exploring a sunken ship close to the ancient port of Caesarea. “It took us a couple of seconds to understand what was going on,” Raanan said. They initially left the first sculpture on the seabed, but then when they discovered a second, they realized it was something special and brought it to the surface. They later searched the area and uncovered more. “It was amazing. I dive here every other weekend and I’ve never found anything like that, ever,” he continued. Some of the objects date back to the fourth century AD, while others are from the first and second centuries.

FOX REVIVES 24’ WITH A NEW LEAD AND A FAMILIAR LOOK via Brooks Barnes of The New York Times – A few rare “reboots,” to use the Hollywood term, do put storytelling concerns ahead of business needs, or at least beside them, and the reimagined “24,” … appears to be one of them. Built by the same team of producers who turned the original series into a cultural touchstone — in many ways, “24” ushered in the era of binge viewing — “24: Legacy” will arrive in early 2017, with a debut after the Super Bowl. Early “24: Legacy” video … revealed a lavish action series that is both the same (the ticking clock, the split screens, the against-all-odds heroism) and new: Instead of following the secret agent Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, the new show focuses on a young, tormented Army Ranger who is being hunted by terrorists. The new protagonist’s name is Eric Carter. Corey Hawkins, a Juilliard-trained actor best known for his portrayal of Dr. Dre in “Straight Outta Compton,” plays the part. “The fact that he is an African-American hero is not irrelevant,” said the producer Brian Grazer, who has helped shepherd the “24” franchise from its start. “As a series, ‘24’ was prescient about what was going on in the culture. We want to do that again.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Mike Miller, Colodny Fass’s Trevor Mask, and our friend Michael Wickersheim.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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