MONEY Housing Market

WATCH: Cities with the Most Underwater Homes

In some cities, a huge number of homes are worth less than what their owners owe on their mortgage. See where the market is hardest hit — and how first-time homebuyers are suffering.

TIME States

Dengue Fever Infections in Florida Make Health Experts Wary of Mosquito-Borne Outbreak

Deadly disease on the rise in the Sunshine State

After 42 Floridians came down with dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, state officials advised citizens on Wednesday to take steps to protect themselves against bug bites.

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

Dengue is a potentially fatal disease and both can cause long-term problems.

“The threat is greater than I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Walter Tabachnick, director of the Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory in Vero Beach. “Sooner or later, our mosquitoes will pick it up and transmit it to us. That is the imminent threat,” he said.

[Reuters]

 

 

 

TIME Crime

Florida Judge Deals Out Justice With His Fists

Lady Justice will want to keep the blindfold on for this video

It took less than 30 seconds for a public defender and a judge to take a courtroom dispute “out back” and settle the disagreement mano a mano.

Closed-circuit camera footage shows a debate about “docket sounding” escalating into openly stated desires to beat and bludgeon one another. “You know if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now,” Judge John Murphy says to public defender Andrew Weinstock.

“You know what? I’m the public defender, I have a right to be here,” replied Weinstock.

“I said sit down,” the judge says. “If you want to fight let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.”

Moments later the two men walk off screen and presumably out back, where cursing and loud pounding noises can be heard from inside the courtroom. Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Florida Today that Murphy grabbed Weinstock and punched him in the head.

Only the judge returns from the scuffle winded. “I will catch my breath eventually,” he says. Applause from those in the courtroom can be heard.

Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Florida Today “I hope it’s not a reflection on Judge Murphy’s really outstanding legal career,” Trettis said, adding, “If it’s true, you know, I think it’s really an uncharacteristic, isolated incident.”

 

TIME Bizarre

Man Who Stole a GPS Device Calls Police Because He’s Lost

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Getty Images

Ah yes, a perfectly logical sequence of events

Last week, a Florida man called 911 to report that he was lost and being chased by wild boars. Sure, that sounds like just another day in central Florida, but here’s the thing: he was carrying a backpack stuffed with stolen items. Among them was a GPS device.

Look, I’m no street-savvy criminal here, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the best idea to call the police when you’re technically on the lam. (Police discovered that the man, Andrew Joffe, had an open warrant for driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, WKMG reports. Plus, you know, he had committed theft.)

Also, if you’re going to steal a GPS and then you get lost, try USING IT.

“We have had people with warrants call us to turn themselves in before, but it’s unusual for someone with an active warrant, who just burglarized a car, to get lost and call us for help,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “In his defense, it does get pretty dark out on Deen Still Road in the middle of the night.”

Other items police found in Joffe’s backpack included electronic equipment, cellphones and earrings. He was promptly arrested and taken to jail, because obviously.

TIME States

Investigators Target eBay Over Massive Data Breach

More than 100 million eBay users' account information may have been compromised in a cyberattack

Attorneys General in three U.S. states along with European officials are investigating a massive data breach at eBay which may have compromised more than 100 million users’ passwords.

“The magnitude of the reported eBay data breach could be of historic proportions, and my office is part of a group of other attorneys general in the country investigating the matter,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement Thursday.

The Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General in Illinois and Connecticut have also vowed to conduct a probe into the incident.

“My office will be looking into the circumstances surrounding this breach as well as the steps eBay is taking to prevent any future incidents,” said Connecticut Attorney General Jepsen in a statement Thursday. “However, the most important step for consumers to take right now is to change their password and to choose a strong, unique password that is not easily guessed.”

Officials in the UK have promised to investigate as well, the Guardian reports.

“We’re certainly looking at the situation,” Christopher Graham, the UK’s Information Commissioner, told the BBC. “We have to work with colleagues in Luxembourg where eBay is based for European purposes. We were in touch with the Luxembourg data protection authority yesterday.”

EBay notified users of the data breach Wednesday. The company has urged all users to change their passwords, but it said no financial data was compromised in a cyberattack that took the company weeks to detect.

Need tips on how to set a strong password? Watch the video above.

TIME animals

Well, Here’s An Elephant Wading In the Ocean in Florida

Does not compute

This weekend, some Florida beach-goers spotted an elephant wading in the water, just kind of standing there stoically as the waves rippled around him.

Luckily, Todd Unbehagen, who was visiting North Redington Beach with his family, captured video of the bizarre sight. Apparently, the elephant was part of someone’s private beach party, the St. Petersburg Tribune reports.

TIME Crime

Florida Mom Convicted of Murdering Her 2 Teenage Kids

Julie Schenecker Convicted Murder
With the jury in deliberations, Julie Schenecker is escorted from Judge Emmett Lamar Battles' courtroom on May 15, 2014 in Tampa. Daniel Wallace—Zuma Press

Julie Schenecker of Tampa will face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility for parole for killing her teens in 2011.

A Florida woman was convicted Thursday of two counts of first-degree murder for killing her two teenaged kids. Jurors rejected an insanity plea for Julie Schenecker, a former Army linguist from Tampa who shot her 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son in 2011.

Schenecker will face a mandatory life sentence. She will not be eligible for parole.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Schenecker’s attorney’s argued that she was medicated and suffering from depression and bipolar disorder at the time of the killings. The prosecutor, however, said she deliberately drove 27 miles to purchase the gun she eventually used to kill her children. On Thursday, a jury of her peers agreed with the prosecution.

Following the conviction, a visibly distraught Schenecker addressed the court. “Your honor I’m prepared and I accept your sentence,” she said through tears, before taking responsibility for shooting her teens, Calyx and Beau. “I apologize. I apologize to every in this courtroom.”

“I know our children are in heaven,” she said. “I want people to try to find comfort in believing as I do that they are in no pain and they are alive and enjoying everything and anything heaven has to offer.”

TIME Infectious Disease

2 Hospital Workers Treating MERS Patient Show Virus-Like Symptoms

Ken Michaels
Ken Michaels MD talks at a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) press conference at Dr. Phillips hospital on May 13, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. Reinhold Matay—AP

Flu-like respiratory symptoms have been seen in health care workers exposed to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome patient in Orlando, Fla. A total of 20 are being tested for the disease

Two health care workers at the Orlando, Fla. hospital treating a confirmed Middle East Respiratory Sydrome patient are showing symptoms associated with the virus.

Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, where the MERS patient is being treated, confirmed to TIME that two health workers are experiencing flu-like symptoms. One has been hospitalized, while the other is currently isolated at their home, and is being monitored. Neither has yet been diagnosed with MERS, the hospital said.

A total of 20 health care workers at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital are now undergoing testing for MERS after being exposed to the patient, the hospital confirmed to TIME. The virus is not a severe risk to the general public, but human transmission appears to happen among people who interact with those who are infected, typically in a health care setting.

Like the first patient in Indiana, the new patient lives in Saudi Arabia and is a health care worker there. The patient flew from Jeddah to London, and then to Boston, before traveling to Atlanta and finally Orlando to visit family. The patient started feeling ill during the flight from Jeddah to London, and had symptoms like fever, chills and a slight cough. The patient visited the emergency room at an Orange County hospital, and was isolated.

MERS is a respiratory virus that is in the same family as the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The disease appeared two years ago in Saudi Arabia, and to date, there are over 500 total cases, and over 100 deaths. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the risk to Americans is extremely low, and there are currently no travel restrictions in place.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier today that President Obama has been briefed on the two cases of MERS in the U.S, and that the White House is “watching this very closely.”

The MERS patient is Florida is said to be in stable condition, and the first patient in Indiana has already been discharged from the hospital.

TIME Infectious Disease

Officials Confirm Second U.S. Case of MERS

This undated file electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
This undated file electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow. AP

Health officials have confirmed a second case of the MERS in an Orange County hospital less than two weeks after the first appeared in Indiana. They told reporters the newly infected patient is a health care provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia

Updated 3 p.m. ET

Federal and state health officials confirmed a second U.S. case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Monday, less than two weeks after the country’s first case appeared in an Indiana hospital.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health told reporters the newly infected patient is a health care provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia. The person flew from Jeddah to London, and then to Boston. From there, the patient traveled to Atlanta and then Orlando to visit family members, officials said.

The person began feeling unwell during the flight from Jeddah to London—suffering from symptoms like a fever, chills and a slight cough—and then continued to feel ill on subsequent flights, officials said. The person went to the emergency room of a hospital in Orange County on May 8 and was admitted the same day. The patient was then placed in isolation, and remains in stable condition.

John Armstrong, Florida’s state surgeon general and secretary of health, said the patient’s family was “staying home” at the moment and that the hospital would release more information later Monday.

Officials said they are reaching out to anyone who may have had close contact with the patient before the person entered the hospital. That includes more than 500 people who were on the patient’s last few flights in the U.S.

On desktop, roll over this graphic to get a closer look; on mobile, click to zoom.

Heather Jones

The first U.S. case of MERS appeared in Indiana in late April after having popped up in more than a dozen countries around the world. That patient is currently in good condition at Community Hospital in northern Munster and is expected to be released in the near future. The unnamed victim is a hospital worker in Saudi Arabia, home to about 450 lab-confirmed cases and 118 deaths.

The patient in Indiana, who was on a planned visit to see family, was placed in full isolation and all staff members who had contact with him previously have tested negative for the disease. Health officials have been contacting people who might have come into contact with the patient on public transport.

MERS is in the same virus family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed more than 700 people about a decade ago. It has no vaccine or treatment, but researchers believe it may have originated from bats or camels. Human transmission has so far largely occurred between people with close contact with those infected, especially in health care settings. To date, there have been at least 538 confirmed cases and 145 deaths.

TIME Crime

If You Lost Your Coffin Full of Weapons, Florida Police Have Recovered It

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Weapon symbols Getty Images

From nunchucks to crossbows

Well this is weird. Police found an abandoned wooden coffin filled with 43 weapons — ranging from ball-and-chains to nunchucks — by the side of the road in Florida late last week. Weapon arsenals can be so hard to keep track of these days!

Here are the 43 bizarre weapons that a sad Floridian is currently missing, according to a local Fox affiliate:

  • Black crossbow
  • Black ball and chain
  • Set of nun chucks
  • Metal pair of forceps
  • Ball with metal spikes
  • Double-sided axe with handle
  • Baseball bat with numerous screws attached
  • Small black sheath
  • Scissors, silver in color
  • Wooden handle with attached metal hook
  • Wooden handle with attached metal knife
  • Plastic tube with black handles
  • Wide black metal hook
  • Black folding knife
  • 2 black arm weights
  • Broken yellow dart
  • Silver baseball bat
  • Small wooden handle with attached knife
  • Black metal crowbar
  • Silver antenna
  • Black metal hooks
  • Black sword sheathe
  • Silver metal chain
  • Black handle with attached long knife
  • Wooden handle with attached rusted knife blade
  • Black stick with attached chain
  • Single metal hook
  • 2 wooden metal hatchets
  • Silver boat anchor
  • Black fire poker
  • Black metal crowbar
  • Pair of blacksmith pliers
  • Silver metal sword blade with missing hand grip
  • Wooden blocking stick
  • Metal hammer
  • Double sickle handle
  • Single handle sickle
  • Large pair of black metal tongs
  • 2 wooden axe handles
  • Wooden sword

Non-weapons included:

  • Black hoodie
  • Small red square punching bag
  • Black leather pouch

Just go to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to claim your goods!

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