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June 14th, 2013
08:55 AM ET

Deck holding 100 people collapses at Miami sports bar

(CNN) - One moment, dozens of sports bar patrons were cheering the Miami Heat as they watched the NBA finals on a deck above South Florida's Biscayne Bay on Thursday night.

The next - just as they stood to cheer a Heat basket, a hostess recalled - the packed deck collapsed, spilling them into water.

About 100 people were on the deck of Shuckers Bar & Grill at the time of the collapse, Miami-Dade Fire Lt. Eugene Germain told reporters.

READ MORE: Packed restaurant deck collapses into Florida bay

Filed under: Florida
March 27th, 2013
09:32 AM ET

Rick Scott: Florida to be better 'braggers' than Texas on jobs


(CNN) – Gov. Rick Scott in Florida has a message for his counterpart in Texas: Bring it on.

The first term governor, who's struggling with low approval ratings, said Wednesday he wants Florida-not the Lone Star State–to become the state known for job growth. And as he approaches re-election next year, Scott is staying focused the economy.

"Gov. (Rick) Perry's always bragging about how great Texas is, well look, 230,000 people moved here last year," Scott said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

READ MORE: Rick Scott: Florida to be better 'braggers' than Texas on jobs

Filed under: Florida • Jobs
February 27th, 2013
11:27 AM ET

Zimmerman attorney: Evidence supports George was confronted and injured by Trayvon Martin

Vigils across the country marked the first anniversary of the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. On Tuesday in New York City, Trayvon's parents were joined by hundreds of supporters for what they called the "Million Hoodie March." Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx was among those who spoke.

George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Martin on February 26th of last year, is awaiting trial for second-degree murder, which is set to begin June 10. This morning, Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara talks with Soledad on “Starting Point” to discuss the anniversary of the shooting as well as the next steps in the murder trial.

In April, O’Mara and his client will have the opportunity to ask the court to dismiss the charges under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law at an immunity hearing. O’Mara says the case is “a self-defense case” because his client “did not have the chance to retreat; so calling it a "Stand Your Ground" law is really not accurate.”

Regarding the public opinion of his client, O’Mara says things have improved since the initial reporting of the story.

Over the past year O’Mara says, “people have finally decided to wait or they've looked at the other information that has come out to see there are not only two sides to the story.” He adds, “it really looks at though the evidence supports George did not do anything wrong and that he was after the initial coming together confronted and injured by Trayvon.”

“It’s horrible to say when you’re talking about a young 17-year-old who’s now passed away that he may have caused his own death but the injuries that George had support nothing but that he was attacked by Trayvon and that he was fighting for his life,” O'Mara says.

"The evidence doesn't support anything that George is the aggressor in the fight. Trayvon had no injuries on him but for the fatal gunshot and George had significant injuries to his face and to his back. I know the prosecutor's position but they have to have the forensic evidence to support it,” O'Mara adds.

Filed under: Florida • Stand Your Ground • Trayvon Martin
October 1st, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Lawrence Norden: Florida voter registration controversy ‘undermines confidence in elections'

A voter registration controversy in Florida has left many asking questions after suspicious registrations have been reported in nearly a dozen counties. Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm working for the Republican Party, was fired last week after turning in falsified and illegible registration forms. Lawrence Norden, an expert in voter registration laws and deputy director of the Democracy Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, joins Soledad O’Brien to discuss the alleged fraud and how it undermines Americans’ confidence in elections.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Elections • Florida • Voting issues
August 15th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Wildlife expert Ron Magill on the danger of rapid population growth of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades

In the Florida Everglades, Burmese pythons have established a rapid breeding population as a result of being brought into the state via the exotic pet industry. Recently, a record-sized 17.5 foot long, 164.5-pound pregnant Burmese python was discovered and examined in Miami by University of Florida researchers to address the spread of snakes in the area. This particular snake is the largest Burmese python ever caught in the national park.

Wildlife expert and Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill tells Soledad on "Starting Point" that that this snake is just the tip of the problem facing the everglades. Magill says, “South Florida is basically the Ellis Island for exotic animals here in this country and once they get out here in the south Florida environment most of these tropical animals feel like they’re in Club Med.”

Magill says Florida’s national park and its native species could be destroyed by an onslaught of non-native species like the python which has no known natural predator and population estimates ranging from the thousands to hundreds of thousands. “The python thing started many years ago but really came to a crescendo when hurricane Andrew…the urban legend is that a warehouse full of hundreds of these snakes was annihilated and these snakes just basically escaped into the wild and now they’re all getting to breeding age … and it’s a big problem.”

Filed under: Florida • Snakes
June 12th, 2012
09:45 AM ET

Gov. Rick Scott on voter purge: We have no choice but to sue Justice Department for voter database

In response to the Justice Department's threat to sue the state of Florida over its move to purge names from its voter lists, Gov. Rick Scott says "we don't have a choice but to sue them to get the database we're entitled to, to make sure that U.S. citizens votes are not diluted."

Florida, a key voting state in the presidential elections later this year, is in the spotlight for spearheading the removal of names from voter registration lists. Under Republican governor Rick Scott, the state has sought to remove names of non-citizens from voter registration lists using information compiled by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Department of Justice issued a letter Monday indicating the Federal government will initiate legal action against the state of Florida for a program the Federal government views as in conflict with voting rights laws.

The letter written by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez says in part, "One of Congress's concerns in enacting the protections of the VRA and NVRA, and one of the Department's concerns in enforcing federal law as enacted by Congress, is ensuring that state efforts to find and purge ineligible persons from voter registration lists do not endanger the ability of eligible U.S. citizens to register to vote and maintain their voter registration status...Because the State has indicated its unwillingness to comply with these requirements, I have authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in federal court."

The "voter purge" movement has been criticized as a targeted effort to reduce the amount of minority voters in the November election—voters who tend to swing left. Meanwhile, proponents of the movement to eliminate ineligible voters from the lists say the so-called purge protects eligible voters.

Florida Governor Rick Scott talks with Christine Romans on "Starting Point" today about the voter purge, and the Assistant Attorney General's move to take the state of Florida to federal court. He responds to the criticism, saying "This is not a partisan issue. This is not a Republican, Democrat or Independent issue."

See more clips from the interview below.

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Filed under: 2012 Race • Florida • Politics • Voter purge • Voting issues