TIME Accident

A Bee Swarm in Florida Has Left Three Men Hospitalized

Honey bees
Kerstin Klaassen—Getty Images

The men were trying to get honey from a hive that may have contained up to 30,000 insects

Three men were swarmed by enraged bees and stung repeatedly outside of Tampa on Sunday, while trying to get honey from a wild hive. They were subsequently hospitalized, WTSP reports.

“They were covered in bees, their beards, their hair, their clothes — bees were everywhere,” a neighbor told WTSP.

Pasco County fire rescue fended the swarm off with a hose, but a local woman was also stung while leaving her home and officials are cautioning residents of New Port Richey to remain vigilant in case the bees return.

There could have been as many as 30,000 bees in the hive.

[WTSP]

TIME

Why Religious Freedom Bills Could Be Great for Gay Rights

Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally at Monument Circle in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.
Nate Chute—Reuters Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally at Monument Circle in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.

"Anyone involved in social change has often had to take something that looked pretty bleak and turn it into an opportunity"

Opponents of the religious freedom laws recently passed in Arkansas and Indiana criticized the measures as a license to discriminate against LGBT people, but the battle over the bills may come to benefit the very people who led the charge against them.

Suddenly, a community that has been unsuccessfully championing LGBT non-discrimination measures for decades has the nation’s attention. A civil rights movement needs an outraged public to enact reform, and this fight —from grassroots protests against the bills to disapproving tweets from Walmart executives—generated plenty of it. Gay rights advocates strategically used the showdown as a megaphone to decry the absence of discrimination protections for LGBT people in many states. While nearly 90% of people believe that it’s already illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender people, there are no such laws in the majority of the United States.

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved changes to the state’s newly passed religious freedom law that make it clear the measure can’t be used to discriminate, but his opponents are taking this opportunity to push for more—demanding that Indiana become not just the 20th state to pass a religious freedom act but also the 20th to pass comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT residents.

“Anyone involved in social change has often had to take something that looked pretty bleak and turn it into an opportunity,” says Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). “And you better believe that everyone who believes in justice is going to keep making a way out of no way. And this is another one of those moments. Let’s let people know what the stakes really are.”

This silver lining may have already sparked change in Florida, where gay rights advocates have long been pushing a non-discrimination bill that would protect LGBT people in the realms of employment, housing and public accommodations. For nearly a decade, the bill has been filed each year without coming up for a vote, says Carlos Guillermo Smith of Equality Florida. His group has built a coalition of more than 300 businesses who support the measure—including prominent companies like Walt Disney World and the Miami Heat—but that hasn’t moved the needle. Now, in the wake of Indiana, Smith says it looks like the bill may finally get taken up by a committee next week.

“It’ll be the first hearing we have had on the issue, ever,” says Smith.

In Pennsylvania, advocates preparing to introduce a non-discrimination measure in the next two weeks have used the fallout in Indiana to highlight the potential economic costs to Republican lawmakers. Companies have halted expansion in the Hoosier State, lucrative conferences have threatened to convene elsewhere and recruiters tasked with luring executives to the area are worried about companies already there choosing to relocate.

“It’s the severity of the backlash,” says Equality Pennsylvania’s Ted Martin, “that really and truly serves as an example that discrimination is just not the way to move a state forward economically. I think the leadership in our capitol will pay attention to that.”

This is already the tack that many LGBT advocates have been taking, concentrating on the dollars-and-cents arguments instead of just acceptance-and-tolerance. In Florida, the non-discrimination bill is pointedly named the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, positioned as a way to attract the broadest range of the best talent. What’s happening in Indiana, Smith says, “is making the argument for us.”

Some worry that support for non-discrimination measures will be hard to drum up, partly because the realm of marriage equality has been a double-edged sword for LGBT Americans. As the Supreme Court appears poised to make same-sex marriage the law of the land, advocates are ready to celebrate securing a right with enormous emotional and practical importance. At the same time, says Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, “The concern has always been that we might make the mistakes of every other civil rights or human rights struggle. Women win the right to vote and mistake that for full equality. Brown v. Board of Education rules that segregation is unlawful, and there’s a mistaken notion that somehow we’ve won the war on racism and bigotry.”

The fear, she says, is that casual supporters of gay rights would get the impression that the work is finished, brush off their hands, put away their pocketbooks and go home. “The notion that we’re done is something that we’re fighting,” Kendell told TIME in 2014. The fight in Indiana has made it clear that the war is not over. It has also demonstrated to the likes of Kendell that they have wells of support that are bigger than they realized, as everyone from the NCAA to Angie’s List balked at the law. “We have seen a cascade of support for basic, fair treatment for LGBT people in the public square that I could never have imagined,” Kendell says. “I want to bottle this lightning.”

While the national conversation has focused on the theoretical same-sex couple seeking a hypothetical cake from a traditionalist baker, Sarah McBride of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, says that the controversy has been an opportunity to point out that the LGBT discrimination is not only real but that the vast majority is more “life-altering” than having to seek out a second pastry shop. “The economic numbers don’t lie,” she says, noting that LGBT Americans experience higher levels of poverty, homelessness and unemployment than the general population. A report she authored in 2014 found that 27% of LGBT people have experienced “inappropriate treatment” or hostility in a place of public accommodation like a shop or restaurant.

McBride says that another difficulty that comes along with wins for marriage equality is that there are more opportunities for discrimination. Heartened by court rulings, people are more willing to come out of the closet and may even be forced to effectively out themselves at work when, for the first time, they’re filling out paperwork to add a same-sex spouse to their health insurance policy. Those are opportunities to encounter backlash that didn’t exist before, she says. A favorite rhetorical example among such advocates is that in several states, a lesbian could now be married on Sunday and fired for being gay on Monday, left with only patchy and confusing legal recourse. “The confusion around the legal landscape needs to be clarified,” McBride says. “That’s why there needs to be a comprehensive federal response.”

Members of Congress have tried and failed to pass non-discrimination legislation that would protect LGBT people in employment nearly every session since 1994. In a “historic” 2013 vote, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. Then the Republican-controlled House didn’t take it up. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, said in late 2014 that rather than fight the same fight again, he plans to go bigger: introducing sweeping legislation that covers not only employment but housing and public accommodations. And the controversy over religious freedom restoration bills—which are still pending in six states beyond Indiana—may help jump start a measure that has stalled so many times. It will need a jolt for a GOP-controlled Congress to consider taking it up.

“Senator Merkley’s hope is that with the news out of Indiana and Arkansas we can finally get the support we need to get LGBT Americans the rights they deserve,” a spokesperson for Merkley tells TIME.

In some ways, fighting for marriage equality is an easier task for gay rights supporters than fighting for LGBT non-discrimination bills. Part of it is Americans’ widespread belief that those protections are already in place and confusion about what legal options LGBT people have if they’re fired from a job for being gay or transgender, while it has always been obvious and indisputable where same-sex marriage was not legal and what that meant. A lack of marriage rights is a straightforward issue, while discrimination isn’t always easy for outsiders to see, says Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal. “Non-discrimination is proactive and not reactive,” Pizer says. “That is a different kind of social change process.”

But the religious freedom bills, which have been considered in more than a dozen states so far in 2015, could change that. McBride says such incendiary proposals may prove the “tangible” means of activating support for their cause, just like constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage provided them a target at which to aim when fighting for marriage equality.

People like Smith will be watching closely to see whether backlash against the new religious freedom law is indeed enough to boomerang the state legislature beyond fixes to passing stand-alone non-discrimination legislation. That would be a telling lesson in a state run by a politician who once declared that he opposes “any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a discreet [sic] and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”

“Their version of our bill is still in the works,” Smith says. “If we can’t even get that in Indiana, then I don’t know if we’ll be able to get it in Florida.” But if Smith’s team does get their hearing next week, you can count on them pointing a lot of fingers in a northwesterly direction.

TIME Crime

Vanilla Ice Accepts Plea Deal in Florida Home Burglary Case

Vanilla Ice at the Student Filmmakers showcase on March 12, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Larry Marano—Getty Images Vanilla Ice at the Student Filmmakers showcase on March 12, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida.

A pool heater was among the missing items

Rapper Vanilla Ice accepted a community service plea deal on Thursday allowing him to avoid prosecution in the break-in and burglary of a Florida home.

The rapper, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, agreed to 100 hours of community service and to pay more than $1,000 in restitution after appearing in West Palm Beach Circuit Court Thursday morning, according to prosecutors.

Van Winkle, 47, was arrested and charged with grand theft and burglary on Feb. 18 after furniture, a pool heater, bicycles and other items disappeared from a foreclosed South Florida home between last December and the time of…

Read the rest from our partners at NBC News.

 

TIME Drugs

Meet Flakka, the Dangerous New Drug Sweeping Florida

It can be even stronger than crystal meth or bath salts

Its effects can be as potent as crystal meth, bath salts or cocaine. It causes people to act erratically, uncontrollably and dangerously. It’s called flakka, and it’s the new designer drug hitting the streets of Florida.

In recent weeks in Florida, this new drug has led to a man trying to break down the door to a police station, a man impaling himself while trying to scale a fence, and an armed and naked man shouting about hallucinations from a rooftop, CBS reports.

The health effects of taking flakka, which can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed, can be dire.

MORE: The World’s Deadliest Drug: Inside a Krokodil Cookhouse

“We’re starting to see a rash of cases of a syndrome referred to as excited delirium,” Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University, told CBS. “This is where the body goes into hyperthermia, generally a temperature of 105 degrees. The individual becomes psychotic, they often rip off their clothes and run out into the street violently and have an adrenaline-like strength and police are called and it takes four or five officers to restrain them. Then once they are restrained, if they don’t receive immediate medical attention they can die.”

Flakka is usually made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone, the same class of chemical used to make bath salts, a drug that rose to national prominence in 2012 during a high-profile case of one man chewing another’s face while supposedly high on the drug (it later turned out that he wasn’t).

“On a scale of one to 10, Flakka is a 12,” Lt. Dan Zsido of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told 10 News Tampa Bay Sarasota. “It comes from a place where we don’t know how it’s being made, who’s making it, and what’s been added to it before it reaches the end user so it’s very dangerous.”

Read next: See Which State Has the Highest Daily Use of Mood-Altering Drugs

TIME Military

All But 2 Bodies Found After U.S. Military Copter Crash

A wheel and pieces of fuselage from an Army Black Hawk helicopter sit along the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre, Fla. on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Devon Ravine—AP A wheel and pieces of fuselage from an Army Black Hawk helicopter sit along the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre, Fla., on March 11, 2015

The chopper was carrying four guardsmen and seven Marines when went it crashed

Search teams on Thursday found the wreckage of a crashed Army Black Hawk helicopter and recovered all but two of the bodies of servicemen killed in the Tuesday accident off the coast of Florida.

According to officials, the Louisiana National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps were operating a nighttime training exercise when the helicopter, carrying four guardsmen and seven Marines, went down. Media reports say the night was heavy with a thick fog.

Nine bodies have been identified so far.

Another helicopter accompanying the crashed Black Hawk during the training drill returned safely.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is currently under way.

TIME faith

Florida Church That Hosts Naked Paint Parties Loses Tax-Exempt Status

Officials said activities like a slumber party with "the sexiest ladies on the beach" were unbefitting of a church

A church in Panama City, Fla., that hosted naked paint parties and slumber parties with the “sexiest ladies on the beach” has lost its tax-exempt status after authorities were alerted to its activities.

The Life Center: A Spiritual Community has been hosting a daily party schedule called “Amnesia: The Tabernacle” since Feb. 28, the Panama City News Herald reported. The string of parties — including the pyjama-and-lingerie Sunday slumber party and an event called “Wet n Wild” described as “White Water meets Tabernacle PCB with a little twerkin'” — is reportedly sponsored by a company called iDrink, and caters to college students on spring break.

Partygoers must pay $20, a donation that a sign at the front says goes back to the church, to enter a room with walls bearing t-shirts of stick-figures performing oral sex and the words “I hate being sober.”

The property is owned by Markus Bishop, a former pastor of the Faith Christian Family Church, who could not be reached by the News Herald for comment.

“I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches,” said Panama City Beach police chief Drew Whitman. “That isn’t a church.”

[News Herald]

Read next: 5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From Pope Francis

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME climate change

Florida Reportedly Bans Environment Officials From Mentioning Climate Change

Climate Change Impacts South Florida Ecosystems
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Phillip Hughes, an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, walks through an area of buttonwood trees killed by a saltwater incursion in Big Pine Key, Florida. Hughes says over the past 50 years, as sea levels rise, the Florida Keys upland vegetation has been dying off and replaced by salt-tolerant vegetation

An investigative report claims that global warming and sustainability are also prohibited terms

Underscoring the divisiveness of climate change in American politics, government officials at Florida’s main environment agency have reportedly been asked to refrain from mentioning it.

Officials from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were given an unwritten order not to use the words climate change or global warming in any official communication or reports, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) claimed on Sunday.

“We were told not to use the terms climate change, global warming or sustainability,” Christopher Byrd, an attorney in DEP’s Office of General Counsel from 2008 to 2013, told FCIR in an interview. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Other former DEP employees claimed to FCIR that the unwritten rule was implemented after Rick Scott, who has repeatedly denied climate change is the result of human activity, became governor of Florida in 2011.

The DEP denies that it has a policy on the matter.

Read more at the FCIR.

MONEY Shopping

5 Astounding Things About America’s Biggest Mall Planned in Miami

150306_EM_mall_1
Courtesy of American Dream Mall

There will be hundreds of stores and an indoor ski slope. More surprising is the possibility of sea lion shows, submarine rides, and which group will likely be the most important customer base.

If a proposal first revealed this week in the Miami Herald is approved and actually built, the suburbs of Miami would become home to the largest mall in the U.S. It’s been estimated that the megamall will cost $4 billion to complete, but that’s hardly the only eye-popping factoid attached to the monumental project. Here are a few more:

It’ll occupy a whopping 200 acres. That’s roughly double the acreage of the Mall of America in Minnesota. The Miami megamall, dubbed the American Dream, has been proposed by a Canadian company called Triple Five. The firm also owns and manages the Mall of America, as well as another American Dream, a much-maligned complex near the East Rutherford, N.J., sports venues once known as Xanadu that’s taken more than a decade to develop and still isn’t open; and North America’s largest mall, the 5.3-million-square-foot behemoth with two hotels, a water park, and 800+ stores in West Edmonton, Canada.

The project is supposed to employ tens of thousands. Construction will reportedly require 25,000 workers, and about that many permanent jobs are expected to be needed to keep the complex running as imagined, according to Triple Five. As for the criticism that many of these jobs would be low-paying retail and tourism gigs, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Miami Herald that all jobs are good jobs, though there seems to be some confusion as to how many jobs will actually be created. “Everybody is focused on high-paying jobs,” Gimenez said. “Not everybody is qualified for them. Twenty-thousand jobs are twenty-thousand jobs.”

There will be sea lion shows and submarine rides. Triple Five isn’t in the business of creating mere places to shop. Instead, it develops “tourism retail and entertainment complexes,” and points to a quickie Time.com post as proof that the Mall of America is the country’s “Most Popular Attraction,” drawing some 40 million visitors annually. (Meanwhile, a story from sister publication Travel & Leisure left the Mall of America off its “Most Visited Tourist Attraction” list because it wasn’t deemed culturally or historically significant.)

In any event, Triple Five markets its malls as full-fledged destinations, not simply shopping centers; one particularly ambitious plan envisioned chartered flights heading to Newark, N.J., just so rich folks the world over could visit the American Dream in the swamps of Jersey. Among the over-the-top features in the works for the American Dream Miami are an indoor ski slope, skating rink, water park, amusement park with a roller coaster, Ferris Wheel, live sea lion shows, hotels, condominiums, and submarine rides.

It’ll be neighbors with two other enormous malls. As the Miami New Times pointed out, the proposed American Dream mall is planned to be built in Miami Lakes, at the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and I-75. Given the location and scope, it would likely compete directly with two existing monster malls in greater Miami, the Aventura Mall and Sawgrass Mills—which currently rank, respectively, as the third- and seventh-largest malls in the U.S.

The mall isn’t necessarily aimed at Floridians. Instead, the key demographic that may lead to the American Dream Miami’s success (or failure) is that of wealthy international tourists. Foreign visitors constitute one-third of foot traffic at shopping hubs like the Aventura Mall, according to Miami Today, with an outsized portion coming from Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. Canadians and Europeans come in abundance as well, and the foreigners tend to spend far more time and money during their shopping excursions than Americans because 1) they’re rich foreigners; and 2) it’ll likely be a while before they get another opportunity to go on a wild spending spree in America in the future.

Foreign visitors have even begun flocking to South Florida around Thanksgiving, and it’s not for turkey dinners. “More and more South Americans now really understand that because of the great discounts, Black Friday is a terrific time to travel to the U.S. to shop,” a Saw Grass Mills executive explained.

MONEY identity theft

Here Are the Places Where You’re Most Likely to Get Your Identity Stolen

best travel rewards credit card
Robert Hadfield

Watch out in Florida.

Fraud can happen anywhere, but certain places seem to have it worse than others. The Federal Trade Commission recently published its annual report on consumer complaints, and it includes rankings for cities with the most fraud reports, and in a separate list, the most identity theft reports. Did your hometown make the top 10 list?

Florida dominated the identity theft list: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach was No. 1 with 316 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents. In fact, it was a runaway leader. No. 2 was Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, with just a hair over 200 per 100,000.

Three other Florida locales made the top 10 identity theft complaints list — Tallahassee at No. 4, Naples at No. 5, and Jacksonville at No. 10. It should come as no surprise that Florida was also the No. 1 state for identity theft complaints. And this is no short-term issue. Miami was also No. 1 for ID theft last year; Naples, Tallahassee, Port St. Lucie and Tampa all made the top 10 list in 2013.

Largest Metropolitan Areas for Identity Theft-Related Consumer Complaints

  1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.
  2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.
  3. St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.
  4. Tallahassee, Fla.
  5. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.
  6. Olympia-Tumwater, Wash.
  7. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.
  8. Pueblo, Colo.
  9. Jacksonville, Fla.
  10. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.

As for the generic category of “fraud and other” complaints, which excludes identity theft reports, Florida didn’t fare quite as badly. Only Homosassa Springs at No. 2 cracked the top 10, with Jacksonville hitting 11. Who was No. 1? Little Sierra Vista, Ariz., home to Army base Ft. Huachuca, near the Mexico border. It jumped from No. 8 in 2013, and the number of complaints per 100,000 nearly doubled from last year.

Mayor Rick Mueller of Sierra Vista replied “no comment” when asked about the city’s fraud complaint rate.

The “other fraud” top 10 list is much more diverse, hitting all regions of the country.

Largest Metropolitan Areas for Fraud and Other-Related Consumer Complaints

  1. Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz.
  2. Homosassa Springs, Fla.
  3. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  4. Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio
  5. Bellingham, Wash.
  6. Santa Fe, N.M.
  7. Dover, Del.
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va
  9. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.
  10. Prescott, Ariz.

This notorious top 10 list is remarkably consistent — nine out of the top 10 cities were in the list last year. The only new entrant was Steubenville, near the West Virginia border, which was ranked 11 in 2013.

While you can’t entirely prevent identity theft from happening to you, you can take measures to reduce your risk. That means it’s all the more important to stay on top of your financial data to look for signs of fraud. Check your financial statements regularly (every day, even) for unauthorized charges or activities, and check your credit reports for fraudulent accounts or other inaccuracies. There are also services that allow you to monitor your credit — doing so can alert you to changes — good and bad. You can get your free credit report summary, updated every month on Credit.com, to watch for problems so you can address them as soon as possible.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME LGBT

TV Chef Guy Fieri Officiates at 101 Gay Weddings in Florida

Fellow chef Art Smith began planning the mass wedding after Florida lifted its ban on same-sex marriage

The host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Guy Fieri officiated at a mass wedding ceremony in Miami, Florida on Saturday for 101 same-sex couples.

Celebrity chef and Florida native Art Smith, who has cooked for Oprah Winfrey and former governor Bob Graham, organized the giant wedding on Miami Beach, writes the Associated Press. He summoned some of the country’s top chefs, who were in town for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, to help out.

Smith started planning the event in January, when he heard Florida had lifted a ban on same-sex marriage. He went to Twitter using the hashtag #101gayweddings and invited the first 101 couples to take part in the free wedding.

Smith explains the ‘101 Gay Weddings’ event was inspired by the movie 101 Dalmatians and is a dig at Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has fought against lifting the ban on same-sex marriage.

“We have our own Cruella De Vil, Pam Bondi. She was determined that she was going to prevent equality from coming to Florida,” he said.

After the couples walked down the aisle they were treated to a delectable wedding feast and a seven-tier cake made by Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman.

[AP]

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