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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency on Saturday in preparation for the potential arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa.
The storm, which was downgraded from a Category 1 Hurricane on Saturday and last checked in with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, is set to track over Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Sunday morning before heading near Cuba through Early Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Elsa should move near the Florida Keys by late Monday and near the west coast of the state by Tuesday.
DeSantis issued the state of emergency for 15 counties including: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.
“While we continue to provide resources to support the response at Surfside, impacts from Elsa will begin affecting the Florida Keys and portions of southern Florida as early as Monday,” DeSantis said.  “All Floridians in the potential path of this storm need to prepare for the risk of isolated tornadoes, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding.”

Two people died during the storm in the Domincan Republic on Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Another person died in St. Lucia, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency reported.
Elsa formed on July 1 and is the earliest fifth named storm of any Atlantic hurricane season on record, according to the Weather Channel, which noted the 2021 season is already off to a faster start than the 2020 season. The storm beat out the previous record, which was set just last year by Edouard on July 5, 2020.

That’s also over six weeks earlier than the average date of the fifth storm – August 18 – from 1991 through 2020. In eight of those 30 years from 1991 through 2020, the fifth storm didn’t arrive until September.

Elsa became the season’s first hurricane on July 2 near Barbados in the Windward Islands — 23 days earlier than 2020’s first hurricane, which was Hanna in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Weather Channel:

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Typically in June or early July, very little development occurs east of the Windward Islands due to the early-season progression of dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert – such as what happened late last June – and stronger wind shear over the Caribbean Sea.
But Elsa developed in the “main development region” east of the Windward Islands and became a hurricane, no less.

In 2020, there were 30 named storms with 14 of those becoming hurricanes — just shy of the seasonal record. While Elsa’s origins suggest an active season, it’s too early to tell if there will be as many or more storms than last year, according to to the NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division.
“If anything, this early activity is a reminder that the time to prepare for another hurricane season is now,” the Weather Channel reported.

For information about how to prepare for a severe storm or hurricane, click here.

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Big Tech

Florida, Texas lead states’ rights resistance against Big Tech and Big Government

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From open borders and COVID-19 to critical race theory and censorship, Florida and Texas have formed a vanguard against the leftward tilting of America by the Biden administration, the Democratic Congress and Big Tech.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas have created a model for other GOP executives to use the states’ rights enshrined in the Constitution’s 10th Amendment to confront creeping government and monopolization, rallying conservatives who at times are frustrated that Republicans in Washington have failed to muster much resistance.

They’ve already rolled up a few wins, and unmistakably caught the attention of the Biden Justice Department, which on Friday sued Abbott for issuing an executive order prohibiting the transportation of illegal migrants through his state if they may be infected with COVID-19.

Texas seemed to relish a fresh chance to contest DOJ in federal court — where it has won other recent victories — and open another legal front for states’ rights.

“I will always fight to protect the individual rights of Texans to decide what is best for themselves and their families,” Paxton tweeted shortly after DOJ announced its action. “I will continue to oppose the Biden Admin as Democrats demonstrate their willingness to sacrifice freedom for government control.”

Led by DeSantis, Florida has picked several of its own battles with Big Government and Big Tech.

When Democrats and their teachers’ union allies began pushing earlier this year a school curriculum known as critical race theory — which espouses America is inherently racist — DeSantis mustered an executive order from his Education Department banning indoctrination in such ideologies.

“Florida’s education system exists to create opportunity for our children,” he noted in explaining his action. “Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other. It is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools.”

Likewise, after a rash of conservative voices were censored from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, DeSantis worked with the Florida Legislature to enact a law banning censorship based on political ideology.

Former President Donald Trump, who is banned on some of those platforms, immediately sued them under the state law as a Florida resident, and Twitter countersued the state to challenge the law, initiating a long legal process that will determine whether states can govern in the censorship debate.

DeSantis said the law was particularly important for Florida, where many exiles fled to from communist and socialist oppression.

“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” he noted.”If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”

Texas and Florida have also combined forces on occasion.

When the Biden administration eased border restrictions and created a wave of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, Abbott summoned law enforcement and National Guard from around the country to help guard the border and protect local ranchers and residents overrun by the crush of illegal migrants.

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DeSantis was one of the first to send reinforcements from his state law enforcement agencies.

“We are witnessing a catastrophe at the southern border under the Biden Administration,” the Florida governor declared. “In recent months, we have seen people from the terrorist watch list, known sex offenders and a flood of fentanyl cross over the border. This is a national security crisis, and we must get it under control.”

The aggressive, unbowed counteroffensive by Florida and Texas comes as many consveratives remain frustrated that Washington Republicans have not been able to muster an adequate resistance to Biden and the Democrats.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently addressed the issue in his monologue, shining a spotlight on a grievance often kept behind closed doors.

“For quite some time now we’ve wondered what’s going on with congressional Republicans,” Carlson lamented. “There are a lot of nice people in the Republican Party, but the point of a political party is not to be nice, it is to represent the interests of its voters. That’s the only reason political parties exist. There is no other reason to have them except to represent their voters.”

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy casts aside such concerns, saying his team is focused on winning back the House in 2022 to provide a true roadblock to the liberal agenda, and he likes the prospects.

“Majorities are not given, they’re earned,” McCarthy recently told Just the News. “But I believe in a 10. We’re going to do it.”

With that election still 17 months away, the Texas-Florida nexus has prompted a series of legal battles that constitutional experts believe could be historic.

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, for instance, says the Florida/Trump lawsuits against the social giants will be the most important free speech case of the 21st century so far and it is likely to end at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The current situation is absolutely intolerable,” Dershowitz told NewsMax. “You have these giant media tell us what we can see and what we can hear and being exempted by congressional legislation. And then we have them claiming their rights under the First Amendment because they are a private company.”

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Florida Governor DeSantis signs order letting parents decide if kids wear masks in schools

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Ron DeSantis Florida Governor signed an executive order on Friday to “protect parents’ freedom to choose” whether their children wear masks in schools. 

“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”

The order bars school districts from forcing students to mask up, despite new guidance from the CDC, and as COVID-19 cases climb in the state like never before. This week, the CDC said masks should be required of everyone inside K-12 schools.

District school boards that are “unwilling or unable to comply” with DeSantis’ law, the executive order states, will be susceptible to losing state funding. 

In a notice about the executive order, the governor’s office said the action is in response to Florida school boards considering or implementing school mask mandates. The office also falsely claimed the Biden administration has issued “unscientific” recommendations about school-aged children wearing masks. 

The executive order states that “forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification” and that there is “no statistically-significant evidence” suggesting that counties with mask mandates fared better than those without in the previous school year. 

The CDC says, however,that mask wearing is a critical step people can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Studies have shown their effectiveness. In one recent study — a peer- reviewed study of mask adherence and COVID transmission across the U.S. that was published in April — researchers found that 14 of the 15 states that had no mask policy for the public from April to September 2020 had a high rate of COVID-19. Eight states had at least 75% mask adherence during that time frame, the study found, and of those, none reported a high rate of the virus. 

COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiration, which is why officials have pushed for people to wear masks. The U.S. is also now facing the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant.

DeSantis argued in his executive order that masks could “inhibit breathing,” and lead to a buildup of “bacteria, parasites, fungi and other contaminants.” 

But the American lung Association says masks do not cause low oxygen levels, and that “there is absolutely no scientific evidence that mask wearing or physical distancing weakens the immune system.” 

“Proper laundering of cloth masks removes any viruses, bacteria or respiratory secretions that may build up on the mask,” johns Hopkins says.

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DeSantis’ order comes as Florida is experiencing its highest numbers of daily COVID cases to date. On July 30, the state had 110,724 new cases of COVID-19, a record high, and 409 deaths, according to John Hopkins university. 

More than 160 people in the state 29 years or younger have died from COVID-19, including seven children under the age of 16. The Florida Hospital Association said on Wednesday that the “average age of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 is younger than previous peaks.” 

“The virus has a new target: the unvaccinated and younger people,” said Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary C. Mayhew in a statement. “Previously healthy people from their teens to their 40s are now finding themselves in the hospital and on a ventilator…What you heard last year and last spring about this virus mostly targeting seniors and those with pre-existing conditions is not true today.”

More than 95% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida are people who are not fully vaccinated, the association said. As of July 30, there were 9,329 confirmed COVID hospitalizations in the state. 

Some of the most prominent supporters of DeSantis’ actions are Republican state legislators. State House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a statement Friday they “demonstrate his faith and trust in our fellow Floridians.” 

“While there are some public officials who will seek to use the power of government to compel uniformity and adherence to their preferred course of conduct, that approach is not in keeping with Florida values,” he said. 

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said, “I trust Florida parents to decide” if their children should wear a mask, adding that he’s “grateful” for DeSantis’ “steady leadership at every stage of this pandemic.” 

Many, however, have criticized the move, including the Florida Education Association, the statewide teacher’s union. 

“Schools should be the safest place in Florida. No matter if we live in urban South Florida, in the rural Panhandle or somewhere in between, we all want our children to be healthy and safe, and for learning to continue uninterrupted for every child,” the union said in a statement. “…Unfortunately, through his words and actions, Gov. DeSantis has made it clear he does not respect the freedom of locally elected officials to do what they feel is best for their communities.” 

On Thursday, the Florida Chapter of the American academy of paediatrics said it supports use of masks in schools. 

“Since children under 12 years of age are still not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine will most likely not be available for this age group until winter of 2021,” the group said, “most children are still at risk for Coronavirus infection and transmitting the infection to others.”

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Ron DeSantis Win: Federal Appeals Court Reverses CDC Order Regarding Vaccination Rules

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A federal appeals court, which previously sided with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) amid Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) battle against the federal health agency over the vaccination rules it is imposing on the cruise industry, reversed its decision, ultimately siding with the state over the CDC’s No-Sail Orders.

The saga between DeSantis and the CDC began in April after the governor announced the lawsuit over the federal health agency’s restrictions on the cruise industry — a major economic driver in Florida. DeSantis’s administration scored a victory in June after a federal district court in Tampa issued a preliminary injunction favoring DeSantis. The court concluded the CDC’s rules on the cruise industry “are likely unconstitutional and overstepping their legal authority.” But last weekend, prior to the lower court’s ruling, which would have taken effect July 18, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit voted 2-1, issuing a temporary stay of the injunction.

Notably, the judges who voted for the stay were Clinton appointee Charles Wilson and Obama appointee Jill Pryor. Judge Elizabeth Branch is a Trump appointee who dissented.

“It is unacceptable that a federal agency would single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely,” Lauren Cassedy, director of Public Affairs for Attorney General Ashley Moody, told Breitbart News on Monday in response to the ruling.

“We are currently reviewing all available legal options and will continue to fight on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihoods,” she added.

On Friday, Florida “filed an Emergency Application to Vacate the Eleventh Circuit’s Stay on the Preliminary Injunction.” That same day, the Eleventh Circuit reversed its earlier decision, allowing the cruise industry to resume operations without adhering to the CDC’s restrictions, including what effectively amounts to vaccine passports, which are illegal in the Sunshine State:

The panel sua sponte VACATES its order of July 17, 2021, and substitutes the following order in its place:

The appellants’ “Team Sesitive Motion for Stay Pending Appeal and Administrative Stay” is DENIED because appellants failed to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal. See Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009).

There are four factors a court considers under the Nken standard. One is if the appellants have a substantial likelihood of ultimately winning on the merits. The appellate court’s reversing course suggests that upon further review, even this liberal panel decided that DeSantis is right on the law here.“I’m glad to see the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reverse its prior decision and free the cruise lines from unlawful CDC mandates, which effectively mothballed the industry for more than a year,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“The importance of this case extends beyond the cruise industry. From here on out a federal bureau will be on thin legal and constitutional ice if and when it attempts to exercise such sweeping authority that is not explicitly delineated by law,” he added.

Christina Pushaw, press secretary for the governor, told Breitbart News that the impact of the victory “extends beyond any one industry.”

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“This is a win for common sense and rule of law. Unelected bureaucrats don’t have any right to prohibit people from doing their jobs or enjoying their lives, and vaccine passports are an invasion of privacy,” she said. “Yet again, Governor DeSantis stood up for Floridians against an unconstitutional bureaucratic power grab — and won.”

In May, DeSantis signed a measure banning the use of vaccine passports in the state. That law went into effect on July 1:

“It’s the CDC who is mandating, effectively, a vaccine passport which is discriminatory because we have 100 million-plus Americans who have recovered from COVID. They have immunity,” DeSantis told Breitbart News during an exclusive interview in June.

“Many of them are not getting vaccinated because they’re already immune. So we don’t believe that that’s good policy to allow that,” Desantis explained.

“Just understand. If the CDC would take their boot off the necks of the industry, they would sail from Florida. This is not as much a disagreement between Florida and the cruise lines as it is between [the] CDC. So cruise lines are kind of caught in the middle, because [the] CDC has issued all these mandates saying, ‘OK, you can finally sail, but you got to do all this stuff.’ So they’re in the position where they have the feds coming down on them and saying they have to do it one way,” he added.

Florida is home to some of the busiest ports in the world — Port Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades.

The case is Florida v. Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, No. 21-12243, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

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