Culture
4:23 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Ceremony Remembers Those Lost in Coast Guard Disaster

The bell retrieved from the wreckage of the Blackthorn. It rang once for each of the victims lost on January 28, 1980.
Credit M. S. Butler

It still stands as the U.S. Coast Guard's worst peacetime disaster. And 35 years later survivors, family members and supporters still gather near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge each year to remember the sinking of the Blackthorn.

On Wednesday morning, a memorial service was held to remember the 23 crew members who lost their lives when the Blackthorn sank near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The ship sank when it collided with a tanker, the Capricorn.

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11:11 am
Wed January 28, 2015

USF Under Federal Investigation for Handling of Rape Case

The accuser, a 22-year-old woman who spoke with the Tampa Bay Times this month, said the university failed to properly investigate her case, which she said happened last February when she was still a student. The woman did not report the incident to the police. She said she feared they wouldn't believe her because she was dating the man and also worked with him on campus. However, she reported it to university officials, who conducted an investigation and an appeal, both times finding insufficient evidence.
TAMPA - The University of South Florida is under federal investigation for possibly mishandling a sexual assault case, making it the second Florida school to face scrutiny since the White House created a task force on campus rape last January.
10:58 am
Wed January 28, 2015

American Businesses Preparing to Flood Cuba

As part of the deal between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro to normalize relations, the two sides agreed to open new trade channels for farming equipment, construction materials and a wide variety of other resources for Cuba's emerging private entrepreneurs. That interest has been so intense that membership in the United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, a group of businesses that want to increase trade to the island, has doubled to 50 in the month following the announcement.
MIAMI - American diplomats completed their first high-level meetings with their Cuban counterparts in Havana last week. Now come the suits. A wave of U.S. business leaders are preparing to flood the island to explore new opportunities and to learn about a market that has been largely closed for 50 years.
Health News Florida
10:14 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Senate Bill Targets Troubled Prison System

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 9:32 am

With Florida's corrections system under scrutiny because of inmate deaths and alleged misconduct, a Senate committee next week will take up a wide-ranging bill aimed at improving prison safety and addressing issues such as the use of force by guards.

The 29-page bill is slated to go Monday to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which heard testimony last week from newly appointed Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. During that testimony, Jones pointed to problems including understaffed prisons and a lack of training for guards who deal with mentally ill inmates.

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Law & Order
8:55 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Marissa Alexander Released From Prison Into House Arrest; Protesters Say It's Not Enough

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 3:39 pm

A Jacksonville woman went home from prison yesterday after originally being sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her estranged husband. Marissa Alexander will serve two years under house arrest but a judge stopped short of tacking on two additional years of probation prosecutors had sought.

Dozens of activists descended on the Duval County Courthouse lawn Tuesday afternoon. The caravans traveled from as far away as Berkeley, California, all for the expected release of Marissa Alexander.

Annie Thomas came from Miami with the Power U Center for Social Change.

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Education
6:15 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Opting Out Of State Tests Isn't An Option, Education Commissioner Tells Lawmakers

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told lawmakers that nothing in state law allows students to refuse state-required exams.

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 2:34 pm

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students cannot skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

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Environment
6:00 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott Announces Budget Plan For Florida Panthers, Everglades

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 8:49 am

Governor Rick Scott spoke to reporters with a caged Florida panther present Tuesday at Gator Park in Miami. He announced that $150 million will go toward Everglades restoration this year and $5 billion throughout the next 20 years. Part of the plan he announced funds projects to protect panthers-- 2014 was a bad year for panther deaths. The other part is to move, clean and store Florida’s water supply.

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Politics
10:21 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

CFO Atwater Not Ready to Replace Insurance Commissioner

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater isn't ready to discuss a Louisiana official tabbed by Gov. Rick Scott as a possible replacement for Florida's longtime insurance commissioner.

Atwater's office reiterated Tuesday that he wants Cabinet members to clearly establish a new process to replace Cabinet-level appointees before discussing a potential move by Scott to replace leaders at the Office of Insurance Regulation, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Revenue.

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Transportation
10:17 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Tampa Bay Commutes May Get Shorter - And More Expensive

Simulation of the proposed express toll lanes.
Credit Express Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay interstates may be getting express toll lanes, but drivers won't see the changes anytime soon.

The plan, called Tampa Bay Express, is in its beginning phase, so it may take almost a decade before drivers see the final product.

To cut down on drive times, current interstates would have additional middle lanes that would require drivers to use a SunPass. These express lanes would alleviate some traffic on the regular highways by offering a faster option to drivers willing to pay the toll.

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NPR Story
9:17 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

HUD Awards Florida $84 Million To End Homelessness

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 6:47 pm

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Florida $84.3 million to support homeless services and housing facilities across the state.

Nationwide, HUD gave $1.8 billion, making Florida the sixth-largest recipient, trailing New York and California.

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Law & Order
8:55 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Expunging Juvenile Records Earlier Among Fla. Legislative Black Caucus' Priorities

Rep. Mia Jones standing last week with members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, outlining their priorities.

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:27 pm

Two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill to make it easier for minors to have their records expunged.

Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) says getting a record expunged is particularly problematic for African American youth who want to do things, like get a job, go to school, or join the army—but can’t because of mistakes made when they were younger.

“It puts them in a situation where they become the marketplace for recidivism. And, we want to be able to help to clear their records once they become 18 as opposed to waiting until they’re mid-to-late 20s.”

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University Beat
5:16 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

USF, MOSI Strike Up 'Innovative Partnership'

Rocky the Bull and MOSI's "steampunk scientist" Sky Captain Fallwind pose after the signing ceremony
MOSI

Previously, the main connection between the University of South Florida and MOSI was a physical one - a walkway over Fowler Avenue that joined USF's campus to the museum.

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Fl Wildlife Corridor Expedition
4:55 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

The Florida Wildlfife Corridor Expedition on the Withlacoochee

Kayakers on the Withlacoochee River "Trail Mixer"
Robin Sussingham

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is crossing the state to bring attention to Florida's wilderness and the need to connect it all. Expedition members Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Joe Guthrie and Carlton Ward recently met up with several dozen friends and fellow environmentalists in their first "trail mixer" along the Withlacoochee River.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Fact-Checking Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on the Economy

Credit politifact.com

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's reelection campaign is off and running with an ad playing on local cable TV.

And the 60 second commercial makes a lot of claims, especially about the fiscal health of Tampa under the Buckhorn administration.

For one thing, the commercial says that the Tampa Bay area leads Florida in job creation.

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Culture
1:52 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

NPR's Alan Cheuse With His Current Favorites

Credit Josh Cheuse

Alan Cheuse has been reviewing books for NPR's All Things Considered since the 1980s. He's giving a talk this week at All Saints' Academy in Winter Haven, where he'll also be teaching student workshops.

He sat down with WUSF's Robin Sussingham to talk about his favorite books now, and what advice he'd give to book clubs.

The books he suggested:

"Honeydew" by Edith Pearlman

"Twelve Days" by Alex Berenson

"The Other Joseph" by Skip Horack

"The Architect's Apprentice" by Elif Shafak

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