WEST PALM BEACH — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a complaint in South Florida alleging that an anti-abortion protester violated federal law prohibiting the blockage of clinic entrances.
In a complaint filed last week, federal attorneys say Mary Susan Pine routinely paces across the driveway of the Presidential Women’s Center in West Palm Beach, and in November 2009 she physically prevented a car from entering.
Attorney General Eric Holder is asking a judge in Florida’s Southern District of U.S. Court to levy a $10,000 fine and prohibit Pine from entering the driveway.
Pine said Monday that she has been helping women, at the center for the past 20 years and has not broken any laws.
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Federal, Fla. officials to review Medicaid pilot
MIAMI — The federal agency that is overseeing Florida’s controversial Medicaid pilot program says it will work with the state to review the program.
In 2005, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration received a federal waiver to conduct the pilot, which privatized care in five counties for five years. The agency asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for an extension.
A letter from CMS last week said it’s considering the extension under a different statute that would allow Florida health officials to make changes to the program to address complaints.
UF student’s hand severed in accident
OCALA — A University of Florida student had her left hand severed over the weekend in an accident involving a horse.
Authorities say the student was sitting in a vehicle at UF Equine Research Center in Marion County. She was holding a rope lead line out of the vehicle window, which was attached to the horse and wrapped around her wrist.
The horse became spooked and pulled away vehicle and thus severing her hand from her arm.
The hand was recovered, packed in ice and sent with her to the hospital.
— Herald wire reports
Key West residents at odds over coconut palm trees
KEY WEST — Residents in Key West are at odds on a divisive city issue: Coconut palm trees.
City commissioner voted earlier this month to remove the coconut palm trees lining North Roosevelt Boulevard and replace them with “another variety of tree or landscaping.”
A Key West spokeswoman says the trees are expensive to maintain and must be trimmed regularly. Especially before hurricane season, or the coconuts can became a hazard to cars, buildings and pedestrians.
Critics of the decision say the trees have historic significance and only grow in certain parts of Florida.
City officials say the trees will be replaced with a similar type of palm.
Arm-wrestling loss sets off man who drove at 4
FORT PIERCE — Fort Pierce police say a 25-year-old man sprang into a violent rage after losing an arm-wrestling match.
Erick Lee Blanton allegedly drove his pickup truck across a lawn, over a mailbox and at several people after losing on Sunday. Witnesses told police he also drew a rifle and pressed the barrel against forehead of the man who beat him.
Police arrested Blanton at his home shortly after arriving on-scene. He faces four counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
It could not be immediately determined if Blanton had an attorney.
Divers to help remove invasive lionfish from Keys
KEY LARGO — Forget the snapper and amberjack. A Florida Keys foundation is inviting divers to participate in a series of cash prize derbies to remove lionfish.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Reef Environmental Education Foundation will host a series of derbies to remove the invasive species starting in September.
A sanctuary spokeswoman said divers could win more than $10,000 in cash and prizes.
The lionfish population has been growing rapidly in waters off the Keys, concerning environmentalist who say they could devastate coral reefs and disrupt the marine ecosystem balance.
— Herald wire reports