It’s Friday, March 4th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Abortions after 15 weeks would be banned in Florida under a bill Republican senators sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis late Thursday, capping a bitter debate in the statehouse as a looming U.S. Supreme Court decision may limit abortion rights in America.
DeSantis, a Republican, has previously signaled his support for the proposal and is expected to sign it into law. The measure comes as Republicans across the country move to tighten access to the procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a similar 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. A decision in that case is expected later this year. The Florida bill contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury to the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The state currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
No. 2 - Police are searching for a man who sexually assaulted an 80-year-old woman in Miami.
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The incident happened early Sunday in the 3700 block of Northwest 1st Street. The victim told police she was in the area when the suspect approached her from behind, dragged her and forcefully sexually assaulted her behind a building. After she was assaulted, the woman fled to a nearby business and called police. Police on Thursday released surveillance footage of the suspect in the area at the time. He's described as in his 30s, about 5-foot-11, with short curly brown hair, a beard and tattoos on both arms. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
No. 3 - Ukrainian firefighters on Friday extinguished a blaze at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant that was ignited by Russian shelling, as Russian forces seized control of the site and pressed their campaign to cripple the country despite global condemnation.
Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator said that no changes in radiation levels have been recorded so far after the Zaporizhzhia plant came under attack, and no casualties have been reported. But it caused worldwide concern — and evoked memories of the world's worst nuclear disaster, at Ukraine's Chernobyl. The shelling of the plant came as the Russian military advanced on a strategic city on the Dnieper River near where the facility is located, and gained ground in their bid to cut the country off from the sea. That move would deal a severe blow to Ukraine's economy and could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.
No. 4 - After less than a year on the job, Fort Lauderdale's top cop is being fired after an investigation into employee complaints, the city manager said Thursday.
In a brief statement, City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said it's "in the city's best interest to separate employment with" Police Chief Larry Scirotto. Lagerbloom didn't give any details on the employee complaints. It was announced in November that the city had hired an outside investigator to look into allegations of racial, gender and sexual-orientation discrimination in its police department. Former prosecutor Gregg Rossman was hired to look into complaints by four officers that the police department discriminates when it comes to internal promotions. Assistant Chief Luis Alvarez will serve as acting chief, as the city searches for its next chief, Lagerbloom said.
No. 5 - It’s all about perception. Gov. Ron DeSantis is being hailed by some and called a bully by others after an incident in Tampa on Wednesday.
DeSantis was about to speak indoors at the University of South Florida. A group of masked-up high school students was arrayed behind the podium, and the governor, appearing annoyed, admonished them to take off their masks. Reactions to that video came fast and furious, with the parents of two of those kids reminding the governor he’s been saying for months that parents should decide whether or not their kids mask up at school. Meanwhile, DeSantis is fundraising off the video, and his campaign put out its own video bragging about his stance. Click here for more on both sides of the issue in a report from NBC 6’s Ari Odzer.
No. 6 - Florida first lady Casey DeSantis is now cancer-free after battling breast cancer, she and Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday.
"There are no words to express how truly blessed, grateful and humbled I am to hear the words cancer free," she said in a statement. "To those who are in the fight, know there is hope. Have faith and stay strong." The first lady’s diagnosis was made public in October. She underwent surgery and received her final chemotherapy treatment in January. Casey DeSantis, 41, has played an active role in her husband's administration, often appearing alongside the governor at official events. The couple has three children.