Florida Is Sick of Florida, Wants to Secede from Florida

Florida is like a parfait. The bottom layer is made up of Miami, gays, and rich people; the middle is basically Disney World, stucco palaces, and suburban sprawl; and the top is more or less South Georgia run-off. In the mind of the average citizen, the state is essentially three different places with distinct cultures—or lack thereof. But what would happen if a man with a vision decided he wanted to make the idea of multiple Floridas a reality?

On October 7, the city of South Miami’s vice mayor proposed just that. His resolution, which passed 3-2, suggests that the new state of South Florida would start from Orlando and go all the way to the Keys. And although the city of North Lauderdale passed a similar resolution in 2008, that version was largely symbolic. This one, according to its author, Walter Harris, is deadly serious. But Harris’s determination doesn’t make the split any more plausible, and the likelihood of South Florida becoming the 51st state are slim, to say the least. As the Sun Sentinel notes, “In order for secession to be enacted… the measure would require electorate approval from the entire state and Congressional approval.”

Nevertheless, one can’t blame Harris—or anyone, for that matter—for at least trying to secede from Florida. And his issues with his northern neighbors are valid. One of the main themes in the resolution is that, despite generating 69% of the state’s revenue, southern Florida doesn’t feel the government in Tallahassee is doing enough to address the unique problems that climate change pose to them. “South Florida’s situation is very precarious,” the resolution reads, “and in need of immediate attention. Many of the issues facing south Florida are not political, but are now significant safety issues.” One of those issues, of course, is the sea-level change that some say will soon cause places like Miami to sink into the ocean.

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My dear friends,

For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.

Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honor. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.

2014 has become one of the most significant years in my career and my life. This year was full of amazing highlights, which included winning my second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open and sharing the extraordinary experience with my country, my team, my husband and my fans. It was also a year filled with difficult moments, such as having to deal with the inevitable - making the decision to end my professional tennis career.

The amazing moment in Australia was filled with joy, happiness and extraordinary sense of accomplishment. The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.

Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee. The black brace I wear over it when I step on the court has become my tennis birth mark. And while the brace completes my tennis look, the knee problems have at times overtaken my life.

After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court.

While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.

Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No.2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis. As hard as it’s been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets. I was not supposed to be here in the first place, remember? Not many people believed in my talent and my abilities, yet I found a way to persevere, to prove them (and sometimes myself!) wrong.

I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China. What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.

In 2008, there were two professional women’s tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary! Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – with thirty Grand Slam singles titles among them - are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China! Just as I didn’t think I could ever be a Grand Slam champion, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of the best female athletes in the world could play tennis in Wuhan, in my backyard.

My contributions to the growth of the sport in China are very special to me. But I don’t want to stop here. Together with IMG, my management company, we are putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China. These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars. I will also stay involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport. My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality.

On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing. I can’t wait to revisit all the amazing places I played tennis in and see the world through a new set of eyes. I look forward to slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace.

Tennis is an individual sport and as players, our job is to spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves. But no player can ever become a champion alone and nobody knows this better than me. There isn’t enough space here to thank everyone who has travelled on my journey with me and contributed to my success. But I must thank those that have stuck with me through the highs and the lows and have helped me become the person that I am today.

THANK YOU TO: 

• My mother – for your never-ending support. Through the laughs and the tears, you’ve always been there for me.

• My father – you were taken away from me way too early and I haven’t been the same since. You’ve remained the sunshine in my life and I am who I am because of you. 

• Jiang Shan – you’ve been by my side for 20 years. You are my everything and I am grateful to have shared my life with you. 

• My first coaches Ms. Xia Xiyao and Ms. Yu Liqiao - for putting me on the tennis path. 

• Madame Sun and the Chinese Tennis Association - thank you for being trailblazers for tennis in China. 

• Mr. Hu Dechun and the Hubei Sports Bureau – for understanding me and supporting me through the years. 

• Women’s Tennis Association – for your passion for women’s tennis and hard work growing it around the world. 

• Mr. Chan Hongchang – for supporting me when I first decided to become a professional tennis player in 2008. You helped me make up my mind. 

• Thomas Hogstedt – for introducing me to professional tennis. 

• Michael Mortenson – for helping me win my first Grand Slam. 

• Carlos Rodriguez – for pushing me beyond the limits I thought I could reach. 

• Alex Stober – for taking care of me all of these years and pulling me together when I was falling apart.

• Erich Rembeck and Johannes Wieber – for finding a way to make me pain free, over and over again. 

• Fred Zhang and the Nike team – you’ve been my guiding light, my support system and my biggest cheerleader. I will never forget it. 

• To my agent Max Eisenbud and the entire IMG Team - for being the best management company in the world and for taking care of me every day. 

• To all the sponsors that have supported me through every stage of my career. 

• To my relatives, friends, and everyone who has helped me throughout my career – for always being there for me and for your never-ending support. 

• To my fellow tennis players – for being a part of my journey all of these years. I have so much respect for all of you. 

• To everyone in the media who’s covered my career and helped the growth of tennis in China and around the world. 

• To the amazing tennis fans around the world – for your unyielding support of our sport and for playing every tennis match along with me. 

• And lastly, to tennis fans in China – for getting on the bandwagon and staying on it! I am grateful to each and every one of you for pushing me to be my best, embracing me and loving me unconditionally. There is no limit to how far we can take the sport of tennis in China, together.

When I started playing tennis, I was just a neighborhood kid with an after-school hobby, not realizing what magical journey lay ahead of me. If I only knew what a vehicle the sport of tennis, along with my success, would become for my beloved China. While my journey hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding. I’ve seen change happening in front of my eyes, young girls picking up tennis racquets, setting goals, following their hearts and believing in themselves. I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to inspire young women all over China to believe in themselves, to set their goals high and pursue them with vengeance and self-belief.

Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true.

LI NA

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I will never forget what Saku Koivu did for not only the Montréal Canadiens, but for Montréal as a city. He is a favourite living captain for a lot of Habs fans & he embodies what it is to be a truly great human being on and off the ice. Saku is the reason the NHL should have $100 one-day contracts, because I absolutely hate seeing him go out this way.

To our leader & our survivor - may you have every happiness in your retirement, Saku! 😢♥

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100-year-old math teacher who refuses to retire says she ‘can’t sit back and do nothing’

BROOKLYN (PIX11) – For most of us, hearing about your birthday on the radio is a seldom occurrence.

However, in the case of Brooklyn math teacher Madeline Scotto, it’s pretty much warranted.

“This is very exciting!” Scotto said as she and her daughter Michelle crowded around a radio in a quaint living room, listening to a news report honoring her birthday.

Mrs. Scotto is celebrating a milestone turning 100 years old. What’s even more incredible, she is still part of the workforce, working as a math instructor at Saint Ephrem’s Elementary School in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn.

“You know I’m into math so I actually sat down one day and did [the math] with pencil and paper,” Scotto told PIX11 News, admitting she just couldn’t wrap her head around turning 100. “I couldn’t believe it.”

A life-long resident of Brooklyn, Mrs. Scotto is a mother to five, a grandmother to nine and a great grandmother to 16.

She became a teacher when she was 40, returning to Saint Ephrem’s elementary – the same school where she was part of the first graduating class in 1928.

Currently she works three days a week at the school – which is conveniently located across the street from her home – where she helps prep students for the annual math bee.

“Oh that’s a bad word,” Scotto said, referring to retiring. “I don’t ever want to hear that word.”

“Some people like what they’re doing but I have a passion for what I’m doing and when you have a passion for something, you never give up,” she said.

“Yea, it’s challenging but that’s what the world is about, you just can’t sit back and do nothing.”

Today, it is bittersweet that I announce my retirement from competitive swimming ….. For 18 years, swimming has been a significant part of my life and has helped shape the individual I am today. I’ve had some major injuries the past few years, including a significant back injury that required surgery 3 months before making the 2012 Olympic Team. My goal upon moving to Charlotte, NC this past year was to train with pro team Swim MAC Team Elite and ultimately make the 2016 Olympic Team. Due to a chronic elbow injury and the recurrence of my pre-existing back injury, I have been unable to compete. This has been an incredibly tough decision, but despite my strong desire to compete, my body has had enough. I want to thank all of those who have cheered me on and believed in me over the years. Thanks to my age group coach, Casey Charles, who first encouraged me to dream big. Thank you to my college coach, Mark Bernardino, who helped me reach the pinnacle of my sport. Thanks to David Marsh and Swim MAC Team Elite who have been patient with me throughout my injuries this past year. Finally, thank you to David Arluck, CEO of Arluck Promotions and the Fitter & Faster Swim Tour, as well as TYR Sport for their ongoing support. It was an honor to represent the United States of America in the Olympics and I am forever grateful for the opportunities swimming has provided. I will continue to stay involved and give back to the sport in every way possible. Thank you and God Bless.

This day, 15 years ago, was the last (publicly official) flight of the SR-71, at the Edwards AFB air show. The aircraft used was NASA 844. The aircraft was also scheduled to make a flight the following day, but a fuel leak grounded the aircraft and prevented it from flying again. The NASA SR-71s were then put in flyable storage, where they remained until 2002. They were then sent to museums.

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