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Today on Context Florida: Abortions, climate change, HIV/AIDS and the next digital threat

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Today on Context Florida:

Republicans in the Florida Legislature are poised to create more damaging, expensive, unconstitutional laws that could take years to undo in the courts, says Julie Delegal. They’ve done it with the death penalty. They’ve done it with their drug-testing-without-cause laws for poor people. They’ve done it, most profligately, with their gerrymandered maps. And they could do it again with a bill that, if passed, would ban nearly all abortions in Florida.

During his visit to the United States in September, Pope Francis told the American people that “climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.” Nowhere does this message resonate more than in Florida, where our communities are already experiencing the effect of climate change in our own backyards. That’s why the Florida Council of Churches, where Russell L. Meyer serves as executive director, is one of the many religious bodies calling on our elected officials and candidates to set and reach bold targets for powering America with clean energy.

Bill Day’s latest:

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Chris Timmons asks, “What’s with Republicans when it comes to HIV/AIDS?” President Ronald Reagan refused to recognize the reality of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s when it was mysterious and at its peak. Gov. Rick Scott refuses to recognize the reality of the HIV/AIDS crisis today in Florida when the Federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) can give you a compendium on it. In the 1980s, it was the dreaded “gay disease” and with the advent of the Moral Majority, Reagan was going nowhere near a public acknowledgement of its lethal virulence and its tragic toll on lives. Today, Scott faces a less powerful religious right, and there’s some Republican enlightenment on gay questions.

When Florida’s Surgeon General John Armstrong was training as a surgeon, HIV and AIDS had just come on the scene. He remembers the widespread fear – not only in the public — but throughout the medical and particularly the surgical community. Fear replaced reason and was a barrier to care for patients with HIV/AIDS. It was important to learn and understand HIV/AIDS so that Armstrong could provide safe surgical care and when a patient with HIV/AIDS needed an operation. Through advancement in medicine and technology, we have turned a corner on HIV/AIDS over the last 20 years, but with progress can come complacency. Some have forgotten how HIV/AIDS ravaged at-risk populations in the 80s and 90s – but Armstrong has not.

As Floridians and citizens of the increasingly connected digital world, Blake Dowling says we must stay on DEFCON4 (see the 1983 movie WarGames for meaning) at all times for the next threat. Phishing emails, data breaches, credit card skimmers at the gas pump, bot nets, and identity theft are in the news weekly, but how about crowd hacking (also called digital skimming)? It’s the worst of the bunch and unless you’ve been a victim, you probably wouldn’t even know about. It’s very difficult to catch someone in the act, and the credit card companies certainly do not want anyone talking about it.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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