July 5, 2015
Looking to spend some time with the kids in the kitchen? Yankee Doodle Dandy Treats are a fun, easy and patriotic way to celebrate.
The recipe is not only easy, but it also lots of fun. It’s terrific for a “just-because” snack or as a sweet way to finish off a family picnic. And kids of all ages can help – from pouring and stirring to dipping and decorating, there’s something everyone can do.
Yankee Doodle Dandy Treats
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 package (10 ounces, about 40) regular marshmallows OR 4 cups miniature marshmallows
- 6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal OR 6 cups Kellogg’s® Cocoa Krispies® cereal
- 1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Red-, white- and blue-colored sprinkles
- In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
- Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
- Using buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Crosswise cut in half, forming two 9 x 6 1/2-inch rectangles.
- Meanwhile, in small saucepan melt white chocolate morsels over low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in oil. Add powdered sugar, stirring until combined. Add water. Stir until smooth.
- Spread chocolate mixture over one cereal rectangle. Top with second rectangle. Sprinkle with red, white and blue sprinkles, pressing lightly into cereal mixture. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Cut into 3 1/4 x 1-inch strips. Best if served the same day.
July 5, 2015
As Floridians across the state prepared to set off fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, news around state government seemed to fizzle this week.
The Legislature has been gone for almost two weeks, and Gov. Rick Scott’s list of vetoed projects is a thing of the past — except, perhaps, to some perturbed lawmakers. And with 2015 being a year free of any major elections, the campaigns did not gear up to fill the summer lull.
As a result, most of the action seemed to be taking place in the courts, which don’t take the same breaks as lawmakers and keep weighing in year-round. (Though, it should be noted, the U.S. Supreme Court was finishing up its opinions so that it could take a summer breather of its own.)
And even there, the biggest decisions of the year — the Supreme Court’s rulings upholding a key portion of the Affordable Care Act and legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide — were in the rear-view mirror. After weeks and weeks of news generated by the regular legislative session, a health-care crisis and a special legislative session, Tallahassee seemed to be quiet.
COURTS ON LIFE AND DEATH
One of the more important decisions announced this week was the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion rejecting a challenge to the lethal-injection protocol used in Oklahoma and several other states, including Florida, which uses an almost identical procedure to the one under scrutiny.
In a 5-4 majority opinion issued Monday, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Oklahoma prisoners failed to prove that the use of the drug midazolam, the first of the three-drug lethal cocktail used also used in Florida, “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”
The petitioners also failed to offer an alternative execution method that would be less painful, Alito wrote.
“…Because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain. After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether,” wrote Alito, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.
But, in a harshly-worded dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that it is essential that the first drug effectively render inmates unconscious because the following two drugs “in a tortuous manner” cause “burning, searing pain.”
Allowing the use of midazolam, Sotomayor wrote, leaves inmates “exposed to what may well be the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined Sotomayor’s dissent.
The decision quickly rippled down to the Florida Supreme Court, which in February halted the execution of convicted killer Jerry William Correll. Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a request with the Florida court on Monday, asking that the justices lift the stay on Correll’s execution.
But Correll’s attorneys pointed to another case before the U.S. Supreme Court that deals specifically with Florida’s death penalty. That case focuses heavily on Florida’s lack of a requirement that juries be unanimous in recommending imposition of the death penalty. The appeal also focuses on Florida not requiring juries to be unanimous in finding what are known as “aggravators” that justify death sentences.
“If this Court vacates the stay of execution that is in place, Correll may be executed and later found to have been sentenced under an unconstitutional death penalty sentencing scheme,” his attorneys wrote.
Meanwhile, a state law requiring women to wait at least 24 hours before undergoing an abortion was put on hold by the courts twice in two days. On Tuesday, Leon Chief Judge Charles Francis granted a request by opponents of the law for a temporary injunction, placing the law on hold. But Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed an appeal within hours, triggering an automatic stay and putting the law back into effect.
On Thursday, Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dodson granted a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights to vacate that stay and put the law back on ice.
“We are grateful that the judge blocked this dangerous intrusion by politicians into the private, medical decisions of a woman, her family and her doctor,” Jennifer Lee of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.
The state’s position is that it has a vested interest in its residents’ well-being, and that the 24-hour wait will give women more time to reflect on their decisions.
“The Attorney General’s Office is appealing the temporary injunction and is reviewing the judge’s order vacating the automatic stay,” Kylie Mason, a spokeswoman for Bondi, wrote in an email.
‘THE GAME CHANGER’
The end of the working week also brought word that Florida will receive about $3.25 billion as part of a multi-state federal settlement with BP over widespread damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The deal announced Thursday requires London-based BP to pay $18.5 billion in economic and natural resources damages to the five Gulf Coast states affected by the disaster, which pumped at least 3.9 million gallons of oil off the coastlines of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Sen. Don Gaetz, who as Senate president pushed for the creation of a consortium to oversee the bulk of the settlement funds, said the money will help boost economic development throughout the Panhandle, now largely reliant on tourism and the military industry.
“This could be a game changer,” said Gaetz, R-Niceville. “Just as the Deepwater Horizon was the worst economic disaster to befall our area, this settlement could be the best economic opportunity in our times. This kind of money allows you to build out our current economy in northwest Florida, as well as being able to development entire economic sectors that don’t exist today.”
Florida stands to receive $2 billion for economic damages, the most of any Gulf Coast state, and $680 million for restoration projects. The deadly explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and ensuing massive spill affected the environment, tourism and the fishing industry along the Gulf of Mexico but its effects rippled throughout the state.
GAMBLING ON NEW RULES
Meanwhile, state regulators released a draft of their latest version of proposed rules for pari-mutuels — which kept up with the theme of the week in part because they seemed destined to end up in court. Industry insiders predict that the rules face a challenge if they aren’t revised.
After working on them for nearly two years, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, which oversees non-tribal gambling operations in the state, released the latest proposed rules on Tuesday. This version mirrors the 2013 plan, but with changes that give some industry representatives pause.
Portions of the proposed regulation address a controversy about barrel racing at a Panhandle facility in Gretna. State regulators initially granted a pari-mutuel license for the rodeo-style horse races — the first in the country — four years ago, but an appeals court later ruled that the license was granted in error.
Unlike a previous iteration of the rule, tracks would not have to be in an oval shape, something that would benefit the Gadsden County facility, where horses now run against each other in a straight line.
But, under the proposed rules, horse tracks would have to be a certain length, have “breakaway” rails, and require starting gates for horses. That would put an end to the “flag drop” races at tracks like Gretna Racing.
“This stuff is thrown out there as an economic barrier to keep the new tracks out,” said David Romanik, a lawyer who is also part owner of the Gretna track.
The state’s own games, meanwhile, are doing just fine. The Florida Lottery announced sales reached $5.58 billion in the fiscal year that concluded on Tuesday, the fourth consecutive year of record sales.
“We’re on our way to $6 (billion),” said Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell.
STORY OF THE WEEK: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lethal-injection protocol used by Florida and several other states, which could clear the way for the state to resume its use of capital punishment.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Under the Court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the State intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake: because petitioners failed to prove the availability of sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, the State could execute them using whatever means it designated.”—Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent from a ruling upholding the lethal-injection protocol used in five states, including Florida.
by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Floriday