NPR Story
10:58 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Now Starts The Hard Part Of Pulling The U.S. And Cuba Out Of Their Cold-War Time Warp

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 5:43 pm

Like Michael J. Fox struggling to power his DeLorean back to the future, the United States and Cuba on Wednesday start the labor of propelling their relations out of a Cold-War time warp and into the 21st Century.

Senior officials from both sides will meet in Havana to make history. They’ll launch talks to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed 54 years ago in the wake of Cuba’s communist revolution.

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The Two-Way
10:49 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Google's Stake In SpaceX Puts It Closer To Goal Of Internet Access For All

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:30 pm

Google's massive investment in SpaceX gives the tech giant another avenue for its goal of providing Internet access to remote parts of the Earth, and it gives Elon Musk's company money to continue its research on space transport, re-usability and satellite manufacturing.

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NPR Story
9:08 am
Wed January 21, 2015

North Miami Beach Police Chief: We Made A Mistake

Bullet riddled target sheet shows mugshot black men arrested by North Miami Beach police.

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 7:35 am

The North Miami Beach Police Department has been using mugshots of young black men for target practice during sniper drills.

The practice drew international headlines after Valerie Deant recognized her brother’s mugshot on a bullet-riddled target sheet at a Medley gun range after North Miami Beach police left.

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Health News Florida
8:44 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Tax Preparers Get Ready To Be Bearers Of Bad News About Health Law

Lou Graham prepares taxes in Connecticut and is ready to answer client questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:17 pm

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

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Health News Florida
8:24 am
Wed January 21, 2015

New Prisons Chief Wants More Money, Oversight

Credit Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

In her first appearance before the Legislature since taking the helm of the Florida Department of Corrections two weeks ago, a candid Secretary Julie Jones painted a picture of an understaffed agency embattled by a crumbling infrastructure, skyrocketing numbers of mentally ill prisoners and private health-care vendors who aren't living up to their contract requirements.

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Fl Wildlife Corridor Expedition
4:17 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Hiking the Green Swamp with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

Cold morning steam rises from Silver Lake on the Withlacoochee River
Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are in the second week of their 10-week, 925-mile trek from Central Florida to the Alabama State line.  Part of their trip goes through the Green Swamp.  It's a mysterious place to most people, but critical to the the water supply for Central Florida.

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10:25 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Hillsborough School Board Votes to Terminate Elia’s Contract

MaryEllen Elia’s last day of work will be March 5. “This district means a lot to me,” Elia said after the vote. “I hope the district continues to move forward. I hope for the best for all employees of the district, the students and the team of Hillsborough County.” Board chairwoman Susan Valdes, who requested that the decision be placed on the meeting agenda, said there has been an air of uncertainty and tension felt across the district for months, which was heightened by the November election and recent media reports. “In my mind, this is about buying out the superintendent’s contract, not firing MaryEllen Elia,” Valdes said. “This is a business decision, not a personality contest.” Carol Kurdell, last year’s chairwoman, said she saw no common sense in this vote, adding that the district has the highest financial rating in the state and that students’ test scores are rising, despite tougher standards.
TAMPA - The Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-3 today to terminate superintendent MaryEllen Elia's contract without cause. Board members April Griffin, Sally Harris, Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes voted to end the contract, with members Doretha Edgecomb, Carol Kurdell and Melissa Snively opposed. Elia's last day of work will be March 5.
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Law & Order
10:05 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Campus Gun Bill Clears First Committee

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 6:50 pm

Florida lawmakers are considering whether to allow people to carry guns on public college and university campuses.

The bill comes in the wake of a November shooting at Florida State University, which injured three people—one critically—and left the gunman dead. During a committee hearing on the proposal, Eric Friday general counsel for the pro-gun lobby group Florida Carry, backed thebill.

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8:00 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Gov. Scott Dials Up Tax Cuts on Cell Phones, Cable Bills

Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to cut taxes on cell-phone bills and cable and satellite television to meet the first half of his re-election campaign's $1 billion tax-cut pledge.

The proposal, announced Tuesday by Scott, would reduce state tax dollars by a projected $470 million. The governor's office said it would save about $43 a year for a family that spends $100 a month on cell-phone and cable services, though spending on such services varies widely by household.

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The Two-Way
7:12 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

'Tonight, We Turn The Page': Obama Lays Out 2015 Agenda

President Obama receives a standing ovation as he prepares to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:48 am

Delivering his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama faced a Congress that's now controlled by his Republican opponents. His speech included possible areas of cooperation — and a threat to use his veto power.

Tax proposals that would boost middle-class families were in the president's speech; so were calls for a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.

Obama also called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize using military force against the extremist group ISIS.

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4:19 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Local Professor Testifies Against Campus Concealed Gun Law

If approved, the bill will allow concealed weapons to be carried on Florida college campuses.

A House subcommittee has approved a bill that would allow guns on college campuses in Florida.

If legislators pass the bill during the upcoming session, it will repeal a state law that prevents concealed-carry permit holders from bringing their guns on college campuses and universities around Florida.

Marjorie Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at Eckerd College, testified before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. She believes the rates of psychological disorders in college-age students may lead to trouble for students who have access to concealed weapons.

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2:09 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Controversial Pastor Opens Fry Stand in Bradenton Mall

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 1:21 pm

A controversial pastor, who appears on a widely-distributed al-Qaida hit list, has opened up a shop in a Bradenton mall.

His business raises questions over safety and free speech.

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2:08 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

New Flood Maps Could Be In Place By Next Year For Sarasota County Homeowners

Flooding on Kingston Drive in Sarasota on August 8, 2013.

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 11:52 am

Some homeowners in Sarasota County might have to purchase flood insurance for the first time or pay to elevate their property sometime next year. County officials are updating flood maps, which could shift more than 42,000 properties into high risk zones.

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Florida Matters
1:11 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Florida Matters Preview: The History of Gasparilla

The Tampa Rough Riders Club during the pirate invasion near the Tampa Convention Center.
Lottie Watts WUSF

When the famous and infamous Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates invades Tampa on Saturday, Jan. 31, it will be the 100th such procession along Bayshore Boulevard and the streets of downtown Tampa.

On Florida Matters Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., we take a look at this year's invasion, and the history of this curious event. Our guests are Sgt. Jarrett Seal of the Tampa Police Department, and Shamus Warren, a pirate with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

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Health News Florida
12:09 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Fl. Boy's Circumcision Spurs Lengthy Legal Battle

In this Jan. 10, 2015, Jennifer Blanchard, 34, of Miami, protests in Boynton Beach, over the case of a little boy whose parents have been fighting over whether to circumcise him. Judges have ruled in favor of the boy's father, who wants his son to undergo the procedure
Credit AP Photo/Matt Sedensky

An estranged Florida couple's fight over whether to circumcise their son has become a rallying cry for those who denounce the procedure as barbaric.

The dispute between Heather Hironimus, the mother opposing circumcision, and Dennis Nebus, the father favoring it, has sparked a prolonged court battle, protests and the rapt attention of a movement of self-proclaimed "intactivists."

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