Clouds in the Sunshine State

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The city's Hispanic population, composed of Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from all over South and Central America, make up 50 percent of Miami's residents. This community has been hard hit by the epidemic: statewide, 16 percent of HIV cases are in Hispanics and that number jumps to 32 percent in Miami-Dade.

Added to the population of minority groups and new immigrants is a steady influx of retirees from around the U. The connection to the southern hemisphere is a strong one, and a source of concern to Luis Penelas, a gay activist and Executive Director of Union Positiva, which provides outreach services to Miami-Dade's Hispanic communities.

A state of cloud in the sunshine state

You've already spread it and if you wait until symptoms develop it's a lot harder to control the disease. And the exchange of people is just constant," he says.

Clouds over America's Sunshine State | RenewEconomy

The concern is that these are regions where HIV prevalence is high and testing rates are low. But immigration is not the sole culprit in the HIV epidemic. Poverty, drug use, risky sexual behavior, and a culture of denial in many minority communities are fueling a steady climb in HIV rates in these populations.

Penelas sees some cultural "idiosyncrasies" in his own community hindering his group's HIV prevention message. Penelas is also concerned that the Catholic Church's condemnation of condoms is particularly harmful in the Hispanic community. And in communities where machismo is admired and homosexuality is a taboo, sex between men "on the down low" in secret is rampant, leaving women in the dark and at high risk for contracting HIV.

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And our community is totally in denial about that," says Penelas. High-risk behaviors—particularly unprotected sex and drug use—have been rising across the country and Florida is no exception. Rooftop solar threatens their bottom line. Clean energy advocates say Florida utilities wield outsized influence on state politics.

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Utilities rank among the largest campaign donors in Florida politics. Utilities also enjoy an unusually close relationship with the government.

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For this reason, solar was practically untouchable in Florida politics until recently. But the tide is beginning to shift. Utilities now face opposition from an unlikely source. Dooley and Perfetti united libertarians and pro-business trade groups with environmental organizations.

No clouds forecasted for Sunshine State’s retail market

While Floridians for Solar Choice failed to gathered enough signature to get their measure on the ballot, they nonetheless managed to demonstrate the broad support for solar. Amendment 1 would meet a different fate come November. Florida ultimately rejected the measure at the ballot box. Perfetti said the deceptive tactics of the anti-solar coalition were a wake-up call for voters.

Despite their resounding defeat at the ballot box, utilities have continued to undermine solar.

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The legislature recently authored a bill implementing Amendment 4. If the economy is the only issue that matters, then Mr Obama is the one who benefits. Economic shock has come to Florida only recently and far more savagely.

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The state is first -- or worst -- in job-loss statistics in the US. Nowhere has the property market deflated more quickly. The gloom is also depressing tourism, including Orlando, the hub of America's theme parks, such as Walt Disney World. If Mr Obama has an edge in Florida, it is tenuous and within the margin of error. The average of state-wide polls showed the Democrat ahead in the state by a flimsy 3. But it comes after a period of many months when Mr McCain held a respectable lead in the state and Republicans were confident.

Now Mr McCain may lose it. It is a state of affairs that has left many Republicans in Florida angry at a campaign they believe has been both complacent and utterly outmanoeuvred by the Democrats, who have spent heavily on a 'get out the vote' campaign, especially along the I-4, where most independent voters are found. Tellingly, official state data released last Sunday night showed that since the start of this year, the Democrats have outdone the Republicans in persuading Floridians to register to vote next month by a staggering ratio of two to one.

That is a lot of new voters already inclined to vote Democrat. While Mr McCain has built-in support in the north-west of the state, among most of the Cuban-Americans in Miami and among the state's deep pool of evangelical Christians whose radio stations dominate the radio dial here, Mr Obama is working to tear away the independents in the state's central swath.

A close result in Florida would raise the spectre of and the legal conflagration over voting patterns and recounts that ended with the Supreme Court giving the state and the nation to George Bush. As many as 5, lawyers are on standby to monitor voting across the state and take hold of any disputes. Both candidates hope lawyers won't be needed.