8:49 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Florida Supreme Court Asked to Rule on Gay Marriage

Florida Supreme Court building
Credit Associated Press

Florida's highest court is being asked to rule on whether the state's ban on gay marriage is constitutional.

A majority of judges with the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday asked the Florida Supreme Court to settle the question due to "great public importance."

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NPR Story
8:03 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

ISIS Captive Steven Sotloff's Mother Makes Video Plea To Terrorists

Shirley Sotloff pleas for the life of her son Steven Sotloff.

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 9:16 pm

It’s been a year since American journalist Steven Sotloff was kidnapped by terrorists in Syria. In that time, Sotloff’s family here in Pinecrest has not spoken publicly. But that changed Wednesday with a plea from Sotloff’s mother.

The short but moving video message from Shirley Sotloff is addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He’s the leader of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – or ISIS – which has threatened to kill her son if the United States continues bombing ISIS targets.

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3:32 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Charlie Crist Puts Aside Doubts That Democrats Support Him

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist used a decisive primary victory to cast aside doubts about whether Democrats will accept his political conversion. Now his challenge will be motivating them as he takes on a tougher task — beating Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Crist has already been the target of millions of dollars in attacks by Scott and they'll likely be ramped up over the next 10 weeks in what has become one of the state's nastiest races — Crist says he doesn't know of any Florida candidate that's faced as many negative attacks.

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Health News Florida
3:13 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Doctors Critical to Human Trafficking Fight

From left to right: WUSF's Carson Cooper, Dr. Maulik K. Trivedi, Connie Rose and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 3:13 pm

Florida Matters this week took a deeper look at human trafficking, including the role physicians in the state play in identifying those at risk, and treating those who have been victimized.

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2:49 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Fact-Checking Charge that Obamacare Blocks Florida Insurance Rate Regulation

Credit politifact.com

Health insurers want to raise rates in 2015 -- but Florida's insurance regulators are pretty much powerless to stop that.

And the Republican Party of Florida says that's Obamacare's fault.

Is that true?

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12:00 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

As The Florida Panther Rebounds, Ranchers Face Increasing Cattle Loss

A male Florida Panther at a refuge in Southwest Florida.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 2:51 pm

The endangered Florida Panther is experiencing a slight population rebound.

While this is good news for recovery efforts, it’s becoming a problem for ranchers in Southwest Florida. That’s because panthers are killing off livestock such as cattle in large numbers, and ranchers are taking a financial hit.

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8:30 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Comedy to Break Down Myths About Muslims

Comedian Negen Farsad is scheduled to appear at USF Thursday as part of the Building Bridges Project.
Credit Courtesy of Negin Farsad

A female Muslim comic is the opening act followed by a humorous documentary titled “The Muslims Are Coming” this week at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

Are you smiling yet?

The dual events kick-off the two-year grant project, Building Bridges, that has the goal of using art to span the gap between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

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5:09 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Plant City's Sheldon Advances to Take on Tampa Attorney General Bondi

George Sheldon

Democratic voters believe George Sheldon, a former Department of Children and Families secretary, is their best hope to take on Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi in November.

Sheldon, a former state legislator who most recently held a post in the Obama administration, defeated state House Minority Leader Perry Thurston on Tuesday after a mostly cordial primary campaign.

Sheldon, who received a concession call from Thurston just after 8:30 p.m., was leading with more than 61 percent of the unofficial tally at 9 p.m., according to the state Division of Elections.

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8:55 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Crist, Scott Trounce Opposition in Primaries

And the winner is...

As expected, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott have trounced their opposition in today's primaries.

On the Democratic side, Crist captured 74 percent of the vote to Nan Rich's 26 percent.

And Governor Rick Scott beat two relatively unknown challengers, with 88 percent. Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder received 11 percent.

In the Democratic contest for state Attorney General, George Sheldon has beat Perry Thurston, 68 to 32 percent.

It was a long shot especially for Rich, who barely mentioned Charlie Crist in her concession speech.

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6:13 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Undocumented Students Get Help With In-State Tuition

Undocumented students blanketed the halls of the Capitol last spring pushing a law that grants them in-state tuition.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 6:30 am

As colleges and universities begin the fall semester, some undocumented students are paying the same tuition rate as Florida residents.

A handful of schools like Miami Dade College have been doing this for a while, but now the cheaper tuition is being offered statewide.

A law that went into effect July 1st grants in-state tuition to those who meet certain requirements.

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6:09 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Florida Primary Election: More Absentee Voters But Low Overall Turnout Expected

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 10:20 pm

Update, 10 p.m. 8/26/14:

With some precincts yet to report, Detzner says he believes more voters cast ballots early and absentee than on Election Day. However, the high percentage of voters taking advantage of alternative voting methods didn't contribute to high overall turnout. In fact, Detzner said he predicts fewer people participated in this midterm primary than in 2010, when 22 percent of registered voters cast ballots. 

Original post below:

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The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

ISIS Condo Project, Others Rethink Their Names

This image is from the Facebook page of the now-renamed 3 Thirty Three Downtown. The project in West Palm Beach, Fla., was previously called ISIS Downtown.
3 Thirty Three Downtown/Facebook

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:43 pm

It's not a good time to be called ISIS. A Florida condo project, a line of adult lingerie in the U.K. and others with similar names are rethinking their names.

ISIS Downtown, a development in West Palm Beach, Fla., is changing its name to 3 Thirty Three Downtown. No reason was given, but the change was noted on the project's Facebook page, which now has an updated image with the new name.

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5:03 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Primary Elections Today, But No Votes on House District 64 Race

A primary election for a house district covering parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties has been delayed.

The race between incumbent Republican James Grant and Republican challenger Miriam Steinberg is delayed because a circuit judge ruled that a write-in candidate, Donald John Matthews - who has no party affiliation - wasn't eligible to run in this race.

A write-in candidate would mean a closed primary election. But because of Matthews' ineligibility, the election is then open to all voters in the district, regardless of party affiliation.

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10:16 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Work Begins — Finally — on Miami-to-Orlando Fast Train

Lead in text: 
The new steel rails mark the first physical work on the future service since the ambitious project was announced in March 2012. All Aboard Florida, as the project is called, is expected to begin operations in two phases: first between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2016 and then between West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2017. Once in service, the train will travel the 235 mile route between Miami and Orlando – with stops at Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — at an average speed of 78.3 mph. The maximum speed will be 125 mph.
Preliminary work has begun for construction of a $2.5 billion express passenger train between Miami and Orlando. In preparation for the project, 35,000 linear feet of new steel rails have been laid on the ground alongside existing freight train tracks at two sites in Palm Beach County just west of North Dixie Highway in Boca Raton.
10:12 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Report Accentuates Value of a Healthy Sarasota Bay

Lead in text: 
Paul Hindsley, an associate professor of environmental studies at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, ran the numbers and came up with a figure of $57.9 billion for Sarasota Bay's total economic value. That includes $11.8 billion of value for Sarasota and Manatee counties. Hindsley's analysis touches on everything from bay-related tourism spending to the increased property values that come from living near the water. It also attempts to quantify indirect benefits, such as the value of healthy mangroves in protecting against hurricane storm surge.
There's big money in a healthy bay. That's the conclusion of a new study being released today by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program that attempts to quantify the bay's economic value for the first time. Paul Hindsley, an associate professor of environmental studies at Eckerd College in St.