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What We Know about the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

The tragic mass shooting at Pulse Orlando on June 12 left 50 dead, including the shooter, and 53 wounded. The massacre at the popular gay club in Orlando, Florida has the highest death toll of any mass shooting in United States history and is the deadliest terror attack since 9/11.

This dark day in American history has left more questions than answers.

What we know so far is that authorities have identified the gunman as 29-year-old Omar Saddiqui Mateen of Fort Pierce, the American-born son of Afghani parents. News affiliates have reported that Mateen had previously been interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, but found not to be a threat. The New York Times reports that in 2014 authorities were investigating a link between Mateen and Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Floridian who became a suicide bomber.

CNN reports that around 2 a.m., Mateen started shooting outside the packed club. After exchanging fire with an Orlano Police Department officer on duty at the club, Mateen fled inside with a 223-caliber AR-15 style assault rifle, a 9mm handgun and an explosive device. Inside, the Orlano Sentinel reports that two additional officeres became involved in the shootout.

Mateen retreated to a bathroom; a hostage situation developed.

"Investigators called to the scene told CNN that, hours later, the bodies remained where they had fallen, their cell phones ringing and vibrating, filling the club with the eerie sound of parents trying to reach children who would never pick up," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

At approximately 2:22 a.m., Mateen called 911 from inside the club to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

After three hours, during which those trapped inside frantically called police, loved ones and posted on social media in desperate attempts to get help or escape, law enforcement breached the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades. Mateen was killed by officers. Thirty hostages were rescued.

According to …   More

Flog

City, USTA to Refurbish Courts for Youth Tennis

Tennis Courts at Clanzel T. Brown Park will be refurbished and renovated as part of the USTA’s Davis Cup Legacy program. The City of Jacksonville and the USTA are each kicking in $21,000 for the $42,000 in renovations.

The Legacy program is designed to leave a permanent tennis legacy in the communities hosting Davis Cup events in the United States. Work will begin soon for the project that will convert and refurbish some courts for 10 and under tennis and youth tennis.

The United States defeated Brazil 3-2 in Davis Cup matches Feb. 1-Feb. 3 and advances to face Serbia in April.

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THE FLOG

BROWARD AND PALM BEACH ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE

Gay marriage legal on southern tip of Florida as four counties all agree gay marriage ban violates U.S. Constitution. Marriages on hold awaiting appeals.

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The following day, on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis threw out the gay marriage ban there.  In the past 21 days, four South Florida judges have ruled the ban a violation of the rights of gay residents to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constituion — in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and now Palm Beach. The rulings in all four circuits are stayed pending  appeal by Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida voters amended the state constitutino in 2008 and made gay marriage illegal.  

On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguements in six gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports today. Each case relates to statewide marriage bans. The Herald reported Monday that the organization Freedom to Marry says LGBT advocates have won more than 30 times in federal, state and appeals courts since June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in ruling in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York.

Judge Cohen cited Windsor in his Monday ruling, the Herald reports. 

The Florida Supreme Court delivered a ruling on gay marriage. If the circuit rulings hold, it woudn't legalize gay marriage throughout the state, just in the circuits that have legalized it. A Florida Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is still sometime down the line.   More

THE FLOG

DOES JACKSONVILLE REALLY NEED MORE COPS? (NO.)

Heading into the mayoral election in May, the big hullabaloo currently shaking up Jacksonville’s political blogosphere is the recent TV attack ad by Republican Lenny Curry’s PAC peeps that aims to directly link the budget cuts and subsequent elimination of 147 police positions under incumbent Democrat Alvin Brown to an increase in the city’s crime rate, namely murder and rape. You’ve no doubt seen these omnipresent ads. They’re the ones that come on in between your Family Guy reruns, featuring spooky music and darkened imagery — basically likening 2015 J-ville to the alternate reality timeline in Back to the Future II wherein Marty McFly’s bully, Biff Tannen, is at the head of a morally corrupt, criminal-laden Hill Valley. The ad was blatant fear-mongering and, according to an investigation by First Coast News, riddled with factual inaccuracies and false interpretations (that’s media speak for “lies”). Murders and rapes did increase during Mayor Brown’s first term (though not at quite the astonishing rates indicated in the ad), but the overall crime rate went down. Mayor Brown did have something to do with the budget cuts (as did the cratering economy, but details), but he did not cut 147 officers; the final determination of the allocation of police force resources belonging to Dudley Do-Right (aka Sheriff John Rutherford), who also attributes the budget cuts to the rise in crime rates and is, conveniently, a supporter of Curry.

Of course, revealing the true figures and political motivations behind the manipulated statistics presented to us in the ad is all well and good but, from what I gather, every organization analyzing this ad seems to focus so much on the correlation that they are entirely ignoring the causation. Like conditions created by the hopelessness of unemployment and poverty. Like inadequately funded and staffed community youth outreach programs in high-risk neighborhoods. …   More

Folio Weekly Magazine's EXCLUSIVE Interview with THE PRESIDENT

You probably already know that the president was in town last week; but you didn’t know that Folio Weekly Magazine scored an exclusive interview. That’s right, we’ve got that kind of clout. Before you ask why it took us this long to post this because, like, that was so last week, we are an alt weekly, folks, not the New York Times (also our fact checker was on strike*).

Okay, we actually scored an interview with the co-president. 

This is our exclusive interview with the incredibly charming, energetic and word-and-world-wise Tatiana Saleh, co-president of the Spoken Word Club at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and community outreach coordinator of Élan literary magazine. We interviewed Saleh in the midst of the beautiful frenzy of creativity being showcased at the March Art Walk in Downtown Jacksonville.

We owe a special thanks to the Teen Advisory Board at the Jacksonville Public Library for serving our community by getting teens involved in their local libraries and for graciously helping us coordinate this interview.

(The interview is lightly edited for length and readability.)

Folio Weekly Magazine: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself:

Tatiana Saleh: I'm 18 years old, a senior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. I'm the eldest of five girls. I’m half black, half Hispanic. Been at D.A. studying creative writing for the past four years.

FWM: How long have you been co-president of the Spoken Word Club? 

T.S.: I became a member last year, co-president this year.

FWM: How did you feel when you became co-president?

T.S.: Responsible in the sense that when I was just a member of the club, it was just about what I wanted to say… Now it’s about helping others say what they want to say… Before Spoken Word I was really nervous speaking in public; I credit the club with being able to speak in public.

FWM: What do you do at …   More

THE FLOG

Survivor Miley to Lead Mutt March

A survivor named Miley will lead Mutt March, Jacksonville Humane Society’s fundraiser walk at the Jacksonville Landing from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 2.

Miley collapsed and nearly died of respiratory distress from a walk at the JHS. JHS set a goal of raising $100,000 to care for shelter pets at the Mutt March.

“Miley is the perfect dog to represent JHS at Mutt March. She and so many others like her have overcome medical obstacles to bring great joy to their adoptive families. That wouldn’t be possible without the funds raised at Mutt March,” said Denise Deisler, JHS executive director, according to a press release from the JHS. “We are depending on Mutt March to raise enough money to care for the thousands of pets who rely on JHS for medical care and shelter each year.”

The 2-mile Mutt March fun walk and festival will have entertainment, activities for kids and pets, a silent auction and vendors with walking along St. Johns River.

Last year’s top fundraiser, JHS board member Lis’e Everly will walk Miley and lead hundreds of other dogs and their families in Mutt March.

“I am walking with Miley in the Mutt March to ensure JHS has the funds needed to care for all of the pets waiting for families with which to share their love,” Everly said. “Dogs like Miley stand by us offering us unconditional love, greeting us with enthusiasm and making us smile through the saddest of tears.”

To register for Mutt March, visit jaxhumane.org/muttmarch.   More

THE FLOG

Batter Up for the Bridge

 

The Jacksonville Suns and the contractors on the repair and repainting of the Mathews Bridge have reached an agreement to make it easier for fans to get to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for Suns games.

The bridge will remain open both ways until 10:30 p.m. on the first six Friday night games: April 5, April 26,  May 10, May 24, June 14 and June 21.

The Mathews will also remain open for opening night on April 4 and on Memorial Day weekend and the Southern Leaguer All-Star Game on July 17.

The $22.7 million repair and repainting program on the Mathews Bridge, which began in September 2011, is scheduled for completion later this summer or early fall, said Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The Jacksonville Suns are the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and are members of the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs.

 

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Folio Digital

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY REMAIN THE SAME

Folio Weekly Magazine happily announces that founding publisher and co-owner Sam Taylor has finally completed his “layaway program” to consolidate ownership of the news magazine and other media assets. Taylor is now the sole owner of Folio Media House. Former co-owner and vice president Farrar Martin will remain with the team as an associate publisher.

The consolidation is a “lifelong dream” of Taylor’s, and he looks forward to many more years as the fearless leader of Northeast Florida’s alternative voice.

*A previous version incorrectly spelled Farrar Martin's name   More

DIG THIS GIG

JAKE MILLER, JASMINE V, ALEX ANGELO

Credited with building his own “Millertary” (good grief), the 22-year-old pop singer Jake Miller is on tour promoting his latest release, Rumors. After releasing two EPs independently, he has been signed to Warner Bros. Records. Miller’s music is surprisingly well received, a mixture of Pop and Hip-Hop that is admittedly difficult to master. However, Miller’s sound is more of a combination of Disney Pop star and passable rap. Fortunately for Miller, this type of music appeals to the wide fan base of young teens. If nothing else, his current tour/teeny bopper recruitment drive will most certainly be successful in a probable expansion of his “army.”

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THE FLOG

Training Scenario in Orange Park Only a Drill

If you see a gaggle of law enforcement officers along Wells Road in Orange Park on Wednesday afternoon it is not an actual emergency, it’s only a drill. Some 65 people from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the Orange Park Police and Fire Departments, Clay County Fire Rescue and Everest University staff and students are working together on a training exercise. The college students will be acting out scenarios such as an active shooter on campus to a hostage situation, and the officers and first responders will be honing their skills for an actual emergency. Remember, it is only a drill.

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