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Image: Photo via Ron DeSantis/Facebook
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

New Studies show increased public concern about climate change


After yet another record-breaking season of hurricanes, flooding and fire, never have more Americans felt concern about climate change. A study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that Americans who believe that global warming is happening outnumber those who don’t by more than 5 to 1. Sixty-two percent of the public now understands that global warming is caused mostly by humans, while a record low 23 percent think it is due mostly to natural environmental changes. Separate research by the University of Chicago found a similar level of acceptance that climate change is real, but also exposed a political divide: 86 percent of Democrats polled say climate change is underway, versus 52 percent of Republicans. In Florida, …
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Image: Orlando Weekly Cover: Lime Bike, Photo by Rob Bartlett
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Orlando is the first city in Florida with a fleet of “dockless” rental bikes


In October, city officials passed a new ordinance that allowed the electric bike rental company Lime to operate downtown. This one-year pilot program makes Orlando the first city in Florida with a fleet of “dockless” rental bikes. With dockless bikes, convenience is the point. Download the app, locate a GPS-chipped bike on the map, and you’re off. When you get where you’re going, leave the bike wherever you like, so long as it’s not obstructing vehicle or pedestrian traffic – there’s no need to return it to a docking station. Lime charges $1 to unlock the bike and 15 cents per minute to ride, with no membership fee. Also convenient is the lithium-battery power assist, which helps the less athletic …
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Image: Orlando Weekly Cover, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

UCF developed real-time mass surveillance artificial intelligence software for Orlando


Amazon’s facial recognition technology isn’t the only tool that Orlando is considering in its efforts to monitor the public using street cameras – the University of Central Florida has also developed a mass surveillance system for the city. UCF researchers have installed an artificial intelligence-powered software that can recognize facial characteristics and body movements to detect assaults, robberies and even explosions in real time. Orlando was the subject of blistering criticism last year after reports revealed that the police department was piloting Amazon’s Rekognition, a facial-recognition technology that plugs into security cameras to identify and track people of interest as they walk down the street. But by early 2016, students and professors from UCF’s Center for Research in Computer Vision …
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Image: Jose Belen photo by Jen Cray, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Central Florida veteran fights the federal government over classification of marijuana


Central Florida combat veteran Jose Belen struggled with PTSD for more than a decade after his 14 months in Iraq. After severely adverse reactions to the opiates and tranquilizers prescribed by VA doctors, including years-long bouts of suicidal urges, he began self-medicating with cannabis and found relief. That’s why he joined a lawsuit against the federal government to challenge the Schedule 1 classification of ‘marihuana.’ These drugs are said to have “no currently accepted medical use.” On December 12, his case landed in federal appeals court. During oral argument, one of the panel of judges pointed out, “We have a situation where one part of the government [FDA] said it’s a medicine and another part of the government [DEA] says …
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Image: Orlando Weekly Cover, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando: The 12 cats of Christmas


Since last year, Orlando Weekly has been writing fantastical dating profiles for 12 adoptable felines from Orange County whose Christmas wish is a home for the holidays – and this year, we’re focusing on kittens. Kittens have special needs that make shelter more challenging, such as not having a developed immune system and getting sick quicker, says Orlando resident Lisa Krakosky, who fosters kittens until they’re ready for adoption through Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. People may not realize that some shelters simply euthanize kittens under eight weeks old. Cats that young require the kind of individual nursing both feeding and vigilance against illness that most shelters can’t provide. Cathy Rodgers, who’s also with the local pet alliance, says the …
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Image: Photo via Orange County Government
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Gun Violence Analysis Report: 358 people have been shot and killed in Orlando since 2014


In the past five years, 358 people have been shot and killed in Orlando, according to an analysis from The Trace. A new map created by the nonprofit journalism organization tracks fatal and non-fatal shootings in the U.S. from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 13, 2018, using data from the Gun Violence Archive. The map excludes individual suicides committed with firearms (which make up the majority of deaths associated with guns), but nonetheless paints a stark picture of what 150,000 incidents of gun violence looks like at the local level. The map shows there have been at least 710 shootings in Orlando since 2014, leaving 358 dead and 687 people injured. Within Orlando and Orange County, there have been 19 …
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Image: Equality Florida Logo ,www.eqfl.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

2018 has been one of the deadliest years for transgender people


2018 has been one of the deadliest years ever for transgender people. The Human Rights Campaign says that so far this year, at least 24 have been killed violently. And no state has more recorded murders of transpeople than Florida. It started Feb. 4 with Celine Walker, shot dead in a Jacksonville hotel room. Four months later Antash’a English died in the hospital from gunshot wounds after she was found lying between two abandoned houses. In June, deputies found Cathalina James, gunned down at another Jacksonville hotel. Less than a month later Sasha Garden’s beaten body was discovered behind an Orlando apartment complex. In September in North Port, Londonn Moore was found lying in a road, shot to death. As …
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Image: Air gun array on a research vessel, used for reflection seismic profiles in the ocean ,HANNES GROBE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Seismic airguns approved for oil in Atlantic despite fears for marine life


Two weeks ago, this commentary addressed the latest push for offshore oil drilling, launched just days after Florida voters approved a ban on drilling in state-owned waters. So the Petroleum Council is trying to sell us — or more precisely, our elected representatives — on the benefits of drilling under federal waters, 3 nautical miles offshore. Now, this week the Trump administration has approved the use of seismic airguns to search for oil along the Atlantic Coast, from New England to Florida. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, these airguns generate pulses of sound 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine, going off every 10 seconds for 24 hours a day, often for weeks on end. These …
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Photo by Monivette Cordeiro: Parkland Rally, Orlandoweekly.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Proposed Assault Weapons Ban for Florida’s 2020 Ballot


A constitutional amendment that would ban semiautomatic assault weapons in Florida has been proposed for the state’s 2020 ballot. The amendment was pushed forward by Ban Assault Weapons NOW, a Miami-based political action committee that includes victims’ family members and survivors of the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the gay nightclub Pulse. The organization says, “The Florida Legislature won’t act. The only way to ban assault weapons like AR-15s and other weapons of war is for the people of Florida to go to the polls and vote.” The proposal prohibits possession of assault weapons, which it defines as “semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed …
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