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Naomi Osaka Tops Angie Kerber in Miami as 11 Seeds Fall



Naomi Osaka, of Japan, reacts as she wins her second round women's match against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Two days, two wins and making it look easy.

Naomi Osaka sure seems like herself again.

The former world No. 1 is through to the third round at the Miami Open, easily handling 13th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. It was every bit as one-sided as the score made it seem, with Osaka winning 89% of first-serve points and 61 of the 100 points played in the match overall.

“It means a lot to me,” said Osaka, unseeded in Miami after falling to No. 77 in the world because she’s missed considerable time to focus on her mental health in recent years. “She’s the first high-seeded player I’ve beaten this year.”

Osaka’s win set the tone for a day where 11 seeded women were ousted from the tournament, a stunning series of results headlined by Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu defeating top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-4. Begu had lost 17 of her last 18 matches against top-10 players entering Thursday.

Also gone: No. 3 seed Anett Kontaveit. She lost to Ann Li, a 21-year-old American who got her first win over a top-10 opponent — a 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 triumph.

Kerber is ranked 15th in the world; the last time Osaka defeated a top-15 ranked player was when she topped then-No. 10 Serena Williams in the 2021 Australian Open semifinals. Osaka went on to win that tournament and hasn’t been to a final since, but her win over Kerber — who had been 4-1 against Osaka entering Thursday — certainly made her look the part of a Miami contender.

“I went into the match just really wanting to play my game,” said Osaka, who has yet to drop a set in her two matches in Miami; she beat Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday. “I still have the memories of all the matches she’s beaten me before. So yeah, I just wanted to play as well as I could. It worked out.”

The rest of the ousted women’s seeds: No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 11 Emma Raducanu, No. 15 Elina Svitolina, No. 18 Leylah Fernandez, No. 19 Tamara Zidansek, No. 25 Daria Kasatkina, No. 31 Alize Cornet and No. 32 Sara Sorribes Tormo, all of them defeated Thursday.

Pliskova — in just her second match after missing about four months with a broken arm — lost 6-3, 6-3 to qualifier Anna Kalinskaya.

Olympic doubles gold medalist Katarina Siniakova of the Czech Republic needed just under three hours to beat Raducanu, the reigning U.S. Open champion, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Siniakova was nearly reduced to tears while getting worked on during a medical time-out in the first set because of an upper-body injury.

“I think I just felt better as the match was going on,” Siniakova said. “I was fighting in the beginning.”

Svitolina, who had a number of fans wearing pro-Ukraine shirts watching her match in tribute to her homeland, lost to Britain’s Heather Watson 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

“I really feel for Elina,” Watson said. “I can see she’s not her normal self. … She must just have so much on her mind. I think it’s amazing that she’s out here still competing.”

Fernandez — a U.S. Open finalist last year — lost to Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Muchova, who hasn’t played since the U.S. Open nearly seven months ago because of an abdominal injury, will face Osaka for a spot in the round of 16.

“For me, it was a win to play and compete again,” Muchova said.

Vera Zvonareva topped Zidansek, 6-3, 6-2. Cornet lost to Alison Riske of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2. Kasatkina fell to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-6 (5), 6-4, and Sorribes Tormo was ousted by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.

No. 9 seed Danielle Collins of the U.S. escaped the upset bug, holding off Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur was another winner, getting past Poland’s Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2, and No. 22 Belinda Bencic eased by Maria Kostyuk 6-3, 6-1.

Among the men’s winners was two-time Miami Open winner Andy Murray, a 7-6 (4), 6-1) winner over Federico Delbonis to earn a second-round matchup against No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev. Murray won the event in 2009 and 2013 when it was held at its former Key Biscayne home.

“Obviously, a tough match,” Murray said of the looming matchup with Medvedev. “He’s played extremely well on hard courts the last few seasons. He appears to be right up there at the top of the game. It’ll be a big challenge, a great test.”

Sebastian Korda of the U.S., who made the quarterfinals at Miami last year, rolled past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match. He got off the court in just over an hour on a summer-like day in South Florida.

“I’m a Florida boy,” Korda said. “I love the humidity. Heat and humidity, those are my two favorite things. I just play some really good tennis in them.”

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Trump prepares to launch 3rd campaign for the White House



PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is preparing to launch his third campaign for the White House on Tuesday, looking to move on from disappointing midterm defeats and defy history amid signs that his grip on the Republican Party is waning.

Trump had hoped to use the GOP’s expected gains in last week’s elections as a springboard to vault himself to his party’s nomination. Instead, he finds himself being blamed for backing a series of losing candidates after Republicans failed to take control of the Senate. While the party was on the cusp of retaking control of the House on Tuesday, it could end up with its narrowest majority in decades.

“Hopefully, tomorrow will turn out to be one of the most important days in the history of our Country!” Trump wrote on his social media network on Monday. An announcement was expected at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday from his club in Palm Beach.

Another campaign is a remarkable turn for any former president, much less one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the U.S. Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on Jan. 6, 2021. Just one president in U.S. history has been elected to two nonconsecutive terms: Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892.

Trump is also facing a series of intensifying criminal investigations, including a Justice Department probe into the hundreds of documents with classified markings that were discovered in boxes and drawers at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Aides and allies had urged Trump to wait until after the midterms were over — and then until after a Dec. 6 Senate runoff election in Georgia — to announce his plans. But Trump, eager to return to the spotlight, is also hoping to stave off a long list of potential challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who cruised to reelection last week and is now being urged by many in his party to run for president a well.

Trump has tried to blame Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s performance — and McConnell allies have criticized Rick Scott, the Florida senator who heads the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee.

However, Trump has received the brunt of criticism for elevating candidates in states like Pennsylvania and Arizona who were unappealing to general election voters because they embraced his lies about the 2020 election or held hard-line views on issues like abortion that were out of step with the mainstream.

While Trump has the backing of the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik, others were already moving on.

Asked whether she would endorse Trump in 2024, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told reporters Monday: “I don’t think that’s the right question. I think the question is, who is the current leader of the Republican Party?”

Her answer to that question: “Ron DeSantis.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a longtime Trump critic, compared Trump to a pitcher who keeps losing after GOP disappointments in 2018, 2020 and now 2022.

“He’s been on the mound and lost three straight games. If we want to start winning, we need someone else on the mound. And we’ve got a very strong bench that can come out,” Romney said. “I know, there’s some fans that love him. Just like, you know, an aging pitcher, they’re always fans that want to keep them there forever. But if you keep losing games, try to put some new players on the field.”

Others expressed concern that Trump’s announcement would be a distraction from the Georgia race and urged potential candidates to focus there.

“What’s really important for anybody who wants to be a 2024 candidate is to help us right now in 2022 to finish the cycle by winning the state of Georgia,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

“We obviously had higher expectation in the Senate, which didn’t pan out. I think there are a lot of different things that contribute to that,” Thune added. “But I do think that, you know, folks who were unduly focused on the 2020 election, that’s not a winning strategy with independent voices.”

Even the former president’s right-flank allies in the House Freedom Caucus kept their distance ahead of Trump’s announcement.

“I am focused on what’s happening here,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the Freedom Caucus chairman, as lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill on Monday. “I’m just not paying attention to any of those things, so I don’t want to comment on that.”

Meanwhile, in Utah, 86 Republican lawmakers on Monday sent out a news release urging DeSantis to run, reflecting dissatisfaction with having Trump as their party’s standard-bearer. The state’s Mormon majority has long been skeptical of Trump’s isolationism and foul language.

And in Michigan, Paul Cordes, chief of staff of the Michigan Republican Party, penned a four-page internal memo that criticized Trump-backed candidates for “statewide sweeps” that will give Democrats full control of the state’s government for the first time in 40 years. That includes Tudor Dixon, who lost the governor’s race to Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer by double digits.

Trump, Cordes wrote, was “popular amongst our grassroots and a motivating factor for his supporters, but provided challenges on a statewide ballot, especially with independents and women in the midterm election.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, another Trump critic who is considering her own run in 2024, highlighted losses by Trump-backed candidates while speaking Tuesday morning at The Washington Post’s Global Women’s Summit.

“This is certainly not the rollout I’m sure Donald Trump wanted for his announcement tonight. But it’s also not the first time he’s been totally detached from reality,” Cheney said. “There’s no question he’s unfit for office. And I feel confident he will never be president again.”

Meanwhile, Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant close to McConnell, said Trump remains “far and away the favorite” as he enters the race. But Holmes also said that a third presidential bid will be considerably different for Trump.

“There’s never once been a primary victory by a presidential nominee that is waged in a backward-looking fashion. Everything is about the future,” Holmes said.

As for DeSantis, Holmes said: “His national profile right now is undeniable. … We’re going to find out” whether he can maintain that strength.

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Attorney General Moody Secures $390 Million Through Historic Multistate Action Against Google Over Location Tracking Practices



TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody today announced a historic multistate action against Google over the tech giant’s location tracking practices. The announcement follows a historic multistate investigation by Attorney General Moody and 39 other state attorneys general into the company’s location tracking practices and cybersecurity disclosures. As a result of the investigation, the business will pay the states $390 million—including $26 million to Florida. Google must also provide consumers more information and clearer options as it relates to tracking practices.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Big Tech is watching us, but Silicon Valley needs to know that we are watching them too, and if they violate our consumer protection laws, we will take strong action to protect our citizens. This is a historic case for the privacy of Americans and the protection of consumers nationwide, and I am proud our office helped lead this massive, nationwide investigation.”

Location data is a key part of Google’s digital advertising business and is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information the company collects. Even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s identity by tracking routines that can be used to reveal personal details.

The attorneys general initiated the multistate investigation following a 2018 Associated Press article that revealed the company records users’ movements, even when explicitly told not to. The article focused on two account settings: Location History and Web & App Activity. Location History is turned off by default, but Web & App Activity, a separate account setting, is automatically turned on when users set up a Google account, including all Android phone customers.

As detailed in the agreement, the attorneys general found that Google allegedly violated state laws by misleading consumers about location-tracking practices in various ways since at least 2014. Specifically, the company caused confusion among those who thought location tracking could be limited by turning off Location History, while Web & App Activity continued to track users’ locations.

Under the agreement, Google agreed to a series of provisions designed to give consumers more transparency into the company’s practices, including:

  • Showing additional information whenever account settings are turned on or off;
  • Making key information about location tracking unavoidable; and
  • Creating an enhanced Location Technologies webpage where users can get detailed information about the type of location data Google collects and how it’s used.

The agreement also places limits on the usage and storage of certain types of location information and requires account controls to be more user-friendly.

Florida took a leading role in the investigation and agreement negotiations, represented by Consumer Protection Division Multistate and Privacy Bureau Chief Patrice Malloy.

Attorney General Moody is joined in this final action by the attorneys general of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

To view a copy of the agreement, click here.

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GOP has advantage among Florida ballots already cast



A poll worker directs voters at an early voting site, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Miami. Midterm elections are Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Nearly 4 million people have already voted in Florida’s election and early numbers indicate Republicans could have a huge advantage once voting ends Tuesday.

Through Thursday, 1.7 million Republicans have already cast ballots for the races that will determine whether Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio will be reelected. That compares to 1.4 million cast by Democrats.

The Florida GOP could also increase its representation in the U.S. House, thanks partly to a new congressional map that was drawn to favor Republican candidates.

DeSantis is facing Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who served as a GOP governor from 2007-2011 and recently left office as a Democratic congressman. Rubio is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who was previously Orlando’s first female police chief.

Four years ago, when the vote was so close there were recounts for governor, U.S. senator and agriculture commissioner, Democrats had slightly more voters cast ballots before Election Day, nearly 2.2 million compared to more than 2.1 million for Republicans.

This year, Republicans are even leading the early vote in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade County. Republicans have cast more than 2,500 more ballots in Miami-Dade than Democrats. In 2018, Democrats cast nearly 254,000 ballots before Election Day, compared to just more than 180,000 for Republicans.

Voters registered with minor parties or no party at all have cast about 750,000 ballots through Thursday.

Republicans have far outperformed Democrats in registering new voters in recent years. In 2016, Democrats had about 327,000 more registered voters than Republicans. That has since flipped, with the GOP now having a 300,000 advantage over Democrats.

While Democrats have requested more vote-by-mail ballots, Republicans are returning them at a higher rate so far, with about 60% of GOP mail ballots having already been received compared to 53% for Democrats.

The campaigns will be active the final weekend before Election Day encouraging voters to turn out. Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally with Rubio and candidates for U.S. House on Sunday, while DeSantis separately campaigns at several stops throughout the state. Demings and Crist also plan multiple events around the state.

During the Trump rally, Demings plans to run a campaign ad on Fox News showing clips from the 2016 GOP presidential primary, with Trump calling Rubio as “Little Marco,” saying Florida voters hate him and that he conned voters by not showing up to vote.

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