It's been a hell of a few weeks in Orlando, but we're finally getting back to some sense of normalcy, and that's partly due to the weirdness happening in the rest of the state.
Take a seat, Florida: The state's newest restrictions on abortion clinics just can't catch a break. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional HB 2, a Texas law that imposed restrictions on abortion clinics, because it imposed an undue burden on women's abortion access. Wouldn't you know it, Florida put a similar law on the books earlier this year called HB 1411. Despite the Sunshine State law's backers saying it's super-duper-constitutional, it looks a tad vulnerable from here.
Congratulations, Florida, you keep playing yourself: Then late Thursday, HB 1411 got knocked down again when a federal judge ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and blocked parts of the law hours before it went into effect. The injunction stops Florida from ending contracts for preventative care like cancer screenings and STD tests with abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood, and blocks a rule requiring state officials to inspect half of patient records at abortion clinics each year. Just witness this legal shade U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle threw at Florida: "The defendants' assertion that the unconstitutional-conditions doctrine does not apply in this context is incorrect. ... No court has embraced the defendants' position. And there is no logic to it. That a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion does not mean a legislature can impose otherwise-unconstitutional conditions on public funding."
Orlando's Pulse keeps beating: We learned more terrifying details about those long hours inside Pulse after the massacre started. Public records show people trapped inside called 911 for help and dispatchers heard screams, moans and final words. Orlando Police Department records show no shots between around 2:18 a.m. and until the hostages are rescued around 5 a.m., but dispatch records from the Orange County Sheriff's Office show reports of gunfire at 2:30 a.m. and 2:34 a.m. This is important because it's the reason OPD gives for switching their response to the emergency from "active shooter" to "gunman with hostages."
Would you like guac with your sunscreen? The catastrophic blue-green algae bloom currently floating along Florida's Treasure Coast has been described as "green goop," "chunky green-pea soup" and this gem from the Miami Herald, "guacamole-thick muck." The contamination via water releases from Lake Okeechobee angered residents so much it forced Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in several counties and the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the flow of the lake going into the St. Lucie Estuary. Locals blamed Scott, Scott blamed Obama, and the green goop keeps spreading.
Parks and sexreation: Colohatchee Park in Wilton Manors, a gay-friendly city, has a "wild life" problem – and for once in Florida, it's not a wildlife problem, aka some animal whose habitat we've destroyed. The New Times Broward-Palm Beach reports residents are complaining about too much sex in the park, which "has been known as a cruising destination for gay men for years," according to the weekly newspaper. Residents have proposed creating more interest in the park through a fitness trail and a dog park to attract other activities, while one resident is reportedly all in for the first sex-in-public adult park.
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