SARASOTA, Fla. — What happened to 26-year-old Icarus Randolph sounds like the rehash of a tired script: the Fourth of July in an African-American neighborhood, a call for assistance, white cops respond, tensions escalate in the front yard, gunfire erupts as the entire family recoils in horror and another young black man gets wheeled on a gurney to the coroner's office.

This one occurred in Wichita, Kansas, on Independence Day, 2014. But the incident may well exceed the scope of a #blacklivesmatter scenario.

"We don't think it was racial, but we don't know what that cop may have seen when my brother came out of the house," says Elisa Allen of Wichita. "My brother had that 1,000-yard stare, like he was somewhere else. I wish I had grabbed him and hugged him and he might still be alive today."

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Some dank nugs. (Flickr/Creative Commons/Dank Depot)

SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.

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(Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

VENICE — Packed with 600 tons of ammo and explosives, the USS Serpens died in a flash beneath a full moon at 11:18 p.m. on Jan. 29, 1945.

The blast was so violent it rained shrapnel and debris on the island of Guadalcanal a mile away, killed a soldier onshore, knocked everyone standing within that radius off their feet, and flung one sailor into another vessel moored 650 yards away. That ship, the USS YP 514, had its bow and crow's nest demolished, and counted 14 injuries as "missiles" and "screeching shells" continued to explode and turn night into day.

Witnesses said the calamity generated an 8-foot tidal wave, and that the ground shock rippled five miles out. Some said the sky drizzled oil for up to two hours. When bystanders regained their senses, the 100-ton barge that had been transferring bombs onto the Serpens had vanished, and all that was left of the 441-foot cargo ship was its sinking bow, keel up.

Miraculously, two sailors who had been asleep in a forward hold survived. Few other bodies were recovered intact. When the counting was done, 193 Coast Guard crewmen, who had been manning the Navy ship, were gone — along with 56 Army stevedores and an onboard civilian doctor. It was, in short, the most catastrophic single-event loss of life in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Four years later, in what Arlington National Cemetery describes as "the largest group burial" ever hosted, the remains of the 250 casualties from that disaster were retrieved from Guadalcanal, placed in 52 flag-draped coffins, and laid to rest in 28 graves.

According to the Navy, which conducted the investigation, the Serpens blew up during the accidental mishandling of bombs, torpedoes and depth charges. But the son of a crew member isn't buying it.

After pressing Florida politicians and pursuing government records with Freedom of Information Act requests, Robert Breen of Venice has discovered curious gaps in the Serpens' obituary. And at 76, the retired Central Intelligence Agency senior finance officer and certified fraud investigator wonders if he's onto one of the last coverups of World War II.

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(Flickr/Creative Commons/Dank Depot)

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of veteran suicides, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube said on Wednesday he supports removing marijuana from its wrongly classified Schedule 1 status.

"And I think you'd be surprised by the amount of Republicans that would support it," said the Sarasota Republican, who added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely block a descheduling bill. But Steube said a vote would enjoy broad bipartisan support in the House and could come up for a vote this session.

"I think as you're seeing a younger generation of elected officials — I mean, look at (Florida Gov. Ron) DeSantis and some of the things he's done — and their positions on those issues are very different."

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Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Henry Cobb

A Vietnam veteran and career educator at an elite military training school now finds himself resorting to a Reagan-era executive order in hopes of clearing his name. Henry Cobbs' crime — vaping a non-psychoactive form of cannabis to treat his prostate cancer.

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