Things That Matter

Lawmakers Call For Investigation Into Disinformation Campaign Aimed At Florida’s Latino Voters

A disturbing disinformation campaign is taking place in Florida and it is targeting the Cuban-American community. The racist insert in The Miami Herald recently brought a spotlight to the wide reaching disinformation campaign made to convince Cuban-Americans to stay loyal to the Republican Party.

Politicians are growing concerned about the increasingly aggressive disinformation campaign in southern Florida.

From Whatsapp clips to Facebook groups, there has been an aggressive and seemingly success disinformation campaign aimed at Cuban and Cuban-Americans in southern Florida. QAnon and conspiracies are mainstays in Spanish-language YouTube channels and other social media sites. The ads claim things as extreme as President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were secretly selling uranium to Russia.

The campaign to mislead Latino voters in one of the larget swing states is causing alarm.

“People see the videos and the disinformation so many times that it gets to them. They feel they can’t trust the media, and that’s the most worrisome part,” Democratic strategist Evelyn Pérez-Vedía told NBC News. “Now they call Spanish-language media fake news.”

Politicians are calling for an investigation into the disinformation campaign to end it.

Representatives Joaquin Castro and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell are calling on the FBI to launch a formal investigation. The disinformation is aiming to move Latino voters to President Trump. A recent influx of Puerto Ricans who fled natural disasters has put the Republican hold on the Florida Latino vote in jeopardy.

Rep. Murcasel-Powell is sounding the alarm that the disinformation situation in Florida is akin to the Russian influence of the past.

“As we rapidly approach election day, Latino circles in South Florida have witnessed a surge in posts containing false or misleading information on social media…While disinformation on social media is, itself, problematic, even more concerning is the fact that disinformation originating on social media is now shaping and pervading more traditional media outlets in South Florida,” reads a letter from Reps. Castro and Mucarsel-Powell “As the FBI works to secure our elections, we urge you to keep the Latino community in mind and consider efforts of foreign actors to spread disinformation and sow doubt in our election systems among Latinos, especially in South Florida.”

It’s a reminder that it is important to be critical of what you see in social media.

It is always very important to double check your sources and do your research. Don’t just believe everything you see on social media, even if it is something that your friends and family are sharing and talking about. It is also important to keep those you love accountable and let them know when they are sharing things that just aren’t true.

READ: Florida Republican Representative Shows Off Cuban Man He Claims Is His Stepson

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Naked Woman Is Stuck In Storm Drain For Weeks But How She Got There Is Even More Strange

Things That Matter

Naked Woman Is Stuck In Storm Drain For Weeks But How She Got There Is Even More Strange

DELRAY BEACH FIRE RESCUE / FACEBOOK

Rescuers are still scratching their heads after helping a woman out of a storm drain, where she had allegedly been trapped for weeks. Although her family is glad that the woman has been rescued, they have more questions than answers about the woman’s past few weeks.

Woman is rescued from storm drain after being missing for three weeks.

A 43-year-old woman who had been missing for three weeks was rescued Tuesday after she was found trapped inside a storm drain just a few feet away from a busy street in the Florida city of Delray Beach. She was naked and unable to stand on her own.

The bizarre rescue began when a good Samaritan heard yelling coming from a drain and called 911, according to Delray Beach Fire Rescue. How she ended up in the drain is even more unusual:

The woman told officers she went for a swim in a canal near her boyfriend’s home in West Delray Beach on March 3, according to Delray Beach police.

“While she was swimming, she came across a doorway near a shallow part of the canal. She stated she entered the doorway and noticed a tunnel,” reads the March 23 incident report. According to the report, she became curious and began walking down the tunnel, which led to another tunnel and so on until she became lost.

Thanks to the good Samaritan, the woman is now recovering.

Credit: DELRAY BEACH FIRE RESCUE / FACEBOOK

If it weren’t for the compassion of one bystander, the woman could still be trapped. “There’s a lady stuck in a sewer, yes ma’am, she cannot get out. She’s screaming for help … she don’t have no clothes,” a woman told the 911 operator, according to a recording of the call the Miami Herald obtained through a public record request. The woman told the operator she was in her car, with her windows down, when she heard the screams.

The woman will now undergo a mental assessment. Her mother told police she has a history of mental illness and is known for “doing odd things and making bad decisions when she is high on drugs,” according to the report. Police said she is a Methadone patient and that her last dose was the day prior to her disappearance.

Her boyfriend had reported her missing three weeks before her rescue.

The woman had been reported missing by her boyfriend on March 3, after 9 p.m., when he spoke to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Police say they don’t know how long the woman was in the tunnels. The woman claims she was walking in the tunnels, lost, for about three weeks until she “saw some light” and decided to sit there because she saw people walking by, according to the report. It’s unclear how long it took for someone to notice her.

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Florida Moves To Ban Iguanas (Among Other Animals) As They Start Showing Up In People’s Toilets

Things That Matter

Florida Moves To Ban Iguanas (Among Other Animals) As They Start Showing Up In People’s Toilets

JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP via Getty Images

There’s never a dull moment in Florida. The state is well known for its fondness for all things exotic and/or strange, it has a long history of accommodating religious cults and now the ex-President Trump calls the state home. But now the state is trying to clamp down on another unwanted resident – invasive reptiles that are overrunning the state and literally showing up in people’s toilets.

Florida moves to ban iguanas as they become an invasive species in the state.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has ruled that within the next few weeks the breeding and dealing of 16 of the most ecologically-damaging non-native species must be brought to a halt. The ban will apply to several types of python that have proliferated to crisis point in the Everglades, as well as all types of tegu lizards, anacondas, Nile monitor lizards and green iguanas.

Green iguanas have multiplied in Florida to such a degree since they were first spotted there in 1960 that they are regarded as an environmental hazard. They puncture seawalls, tear up sidewalks and carry salmonella.

An animal once prized as an exotic curiosity is now widely decried as a pest. The iguanas hang out on roofs, dig under houses and to the horror of home owners can crawl into sewers only to emerge, thrashing around, in the toilet bowl.

The state conservation commission now encourages Floridians to humanely kill the lizards, which can grow up to 5ft and 17lbs, on their own property. No hunting licenses are required.

Iguanas are just one of many exotic animals that have become a problem for the state.

In an effort to protect local ecology, economy, and human health, the state is making it illegal for Floridians to breed or sell such animals as Burmese and scrub pythons, Green anacondas, Nile monitors, green iguanas, and tegus, among several other invasive species. Finalized on February 25, the new rules are meant to improve the regulations on the ownership of invasive reptiles in Florida, and they’re expected to go into effect later this summer. 

“Stringent biosecurity measures are required for those entities in possession of Prohibited species to limit escapes,” declares the Florida wildlife commission in its guidelines. 

These reptiles are becoming a major menace in the state, ravaging sensitive ecosystems and wreaking havoc in urban environments. The Burmese python, for example, is now endemic in the Everglades, where it consumes a wide variety of prey. 

But not everyone is onboard with the idea of banning the sale of these animals.

When the commission debated the rules last month it was inundated with comments, many from exotic pet owners and breeders pleading for the ban not to go ahead. As the Washington Post reported, one woman burst into tears over the idea of losing her pet iguanas and pythons.

“If you take them away, I would be really messed up,” she wailed.

But the spread of invasive species through sensitive ecosystems such as the Everglades is happening at such speed that the state felt duty bound to act. The reptiles are also causing havoc in urban areas.

To soften the blow to pet owners, a concession has been tucked into the new regulations. Anyone who cannot contemplate the thought of being parted from their iguana or tegu can apply for a free permit. But the reprieve will last only for the life of the animal. Once the critter is gone, it cannot be replaced by a new pet from the list of banned species.

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