12:32 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Florida Sees Record Number Of Homeless Kids

A record number of homeless students are attending Florida schools according to new numbers released by the U.S. Department of Education. Almost 70,000 kids in the state were homeless during the 2012-2013 school year, a 10 percent increase compared to the national average of 8 percent.

However, most of those kids are not recognized as homeless by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which acts as a clearinghouse for many social services available to the homeless.

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Health News Florida
11:10 am
Wed September 24, 2014

FL Marketplace Adds 4 Insurers

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 10:54 am

The number of health insurance companies offering plans in the marketplaces this fall will increase by 25 percent, giving consumers more choices for coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced Tuesday.

When the marketplace enrollment reopens in November, 77 new insurers will be offering coverage in the 44 states for which HHS had data, which includes the 36 states that use the federal marketplace and eight states that run their own, the department reported.

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Law & Order
6:15 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Florida Police Use Body Cameras

West Midlands Police

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 9:24 am

More Florida police departments are equipping their officers with body cameras. Some cities like Miami Beach even plan to have other types of employees including code enforcement officers wear cameras. And the US Border Patrol will begin testing them on agents next month. In the aftermath of last month’s police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri the devices are garnering support but they’re also raising privacy concerns.

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6:05 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Civil Rights Group Holds Silent Protest At Cabinet's Clemency Hearing

Live Free campaign supporters gathering in the Capitol rotunda before heading to the Cabinet meeting room.

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 6:37 pm

The Florida Cabinet’s clemency hearing Tuesday brought out a group called Faith in Florida.  The group’s Live Free campaign aims to restore the voting rights of former prisoners.

In the Capitol courtyard Tuesday, men and women wearing shirts or holding signs with the slogan ‘Let My People Vote’ signed their names to large cardboard letters made out to the state’s cabinet members.  The Live Free campaign’s state director Desmond Meade says helping former convicts reintegrate in society isn’t just the right thing to do – it lowers recidivism, and helps people get back to work.

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1:55 am
Wed September 24, 2014

PolitiFact Florida: Dissecting Ads by Pam Bondi, Charlie Crist

It's election season, and the ads are coming fast and furious on the airwaves. So we talk with PolitiFact Florida's Josh Gillen to cut to the chase with ads by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi - and Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist.

First, Bondi's new TV ad is called "Streets," and shows a serious-looking Bondi touting her accomplishments during her first term in office. One of those is a claim that she has closed down all of the state's so-called "pill mills." Those are the rampant cases of prescription drug abuse by Florida doctors.

"With our amazing law enforcement, we closed down the pill mills. Of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctors in the country, 98 of them lived in Florida. Today," she says, "there are none."

Here's PolitiFact Florida's take:

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9:55 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Crist Reaching Out To Black Voters, Calls Their Vote 'Critical' To Winning Election

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist was at FAMU Tuesday for a campaign event.
Charlie Crist's twitter

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 10:42 am

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist says the black vote is crucial to winning the upcoming general election against Republican Governor Rick Scott. On Tuesday, Crist made those remarks in Tallahassee at the historically black university, Florida A and M.

During a campaign event touting higher education, Crist said the turnout in the African American community is very critical, and encouraged FAMU students to help get others to the polls.

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6:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Florida State Picks Thrasher as President, Despite Opposition

State Sen. John Thrasher is a former state House speaker and chairman of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign
Credit Associated Press

Florida State University is hiring powerful state Sen. John Thrasher as its next president despite significant opposition from people on campus who contended he isn’t qualified for the post.

The FSU board voted 11-2 Tuesday to hire Thrasher over three academics, pushing aside objections from FSU faculty who cited his lack of education credentials. Thrasher, a former state House speaker and chairman of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, also drew criticism after he sidestepped questions during a campus forum about climate change and evolution.

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Off The Base
6:03 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Congressman Jolly Helps Kick Off Cell Phones for Soldiers Campaign

People can drop off unused cell phones at Freedom Square in Seminole.
Credit Yoselis Ramos / WUSF

Freedom Square, a continuing care community in Seminole, is a drop-off site for Cell Phones for Soldiers: a program that lets soldiers serving overseas connect with their families.

The Cell Phones for Soldiers program collects unused cell phones. Funds from recycled, unused cell phones and cash donations go towards mailing free calling cards to soldiers.

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University Beat
4:51 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

WATCH: USF President Judy Genshaft joins Red Sofa Tour

USF President Judy Genshaft (center) takes a selfie with Ashley Furniture Founder Ron Wanek (left), and Lily Reisman of the American Heart Association
Lucielle Salomon WUSF News

The American Heart Association's Tampa Bay Red Sofa Tour stopped by the University of South Florida to encourage people to take a seat and talk about heart disease.

The campaign is an effort to bring awareness to cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Ashley Furniture Home Store is a sponsor of the campaign and they donated a custom-made red sofa, which will tour around the Tampa Bay area until Oct. 3.

Health News Florida
3:20 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Cabinet Taps St. Lucie for Vets' Nursing Home

The Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Augustine opened in 2010. It was the newest veteran nursing home before Tuesday's vote to build a seventh facility in St. Lucie County.
Credit Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday selected St. Lucie County as the site of the state's next nursing home for military veterans -- and indicated they might consider another new nursing home next year.

Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam voted unanimously to approve the western Port St. Lucie site, which the Department of Veterans' Affairs had recommended for the state's seventh veterans' nursing home.

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Health News Florida
1:23 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

HCA Closing St. Petersburg Hospital

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 2:25 pm

For the first time since 2012, a hospital in Florida is closing its doors.

HCA West Florida announced Tuesday the 38-year-old Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg will close by the end of November and consolidate services to three nearby hospitals it also owns.

Officials said operating costs at the aging facility continued to grow. And it pointed to a glut of hospital beds in the area: more than 1,000 in southern Pinellas County alone.

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Associated Press
10:17 am
Tue September 23, 2014

DCF Investigated Home Where 8 Died

This undated image provided by the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office shows Don Spirit, who's suspected of killing six of his grandchildren, his daughter and himself near Bell.

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 9:33 am

Two weeks before a Florida man fatally shot his daughter and six grandchildren, someone called the state child abuse hotline, worried that adults were doing drugs in front of the kids, according to documents released Monday.

Authorities said 51-year-old Donald Spirit called 911 from his mobile home Thursday warning he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived, Spirit had committed suicide. And he had killed 28-year-old Sarah Spirit and her six children, including an infant girl born in June.

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University Beat
6:00 am
Tue September 23, 2014

USF Professor Teaches While at Sea

USF geochemist Dr. Jeffrey Ryan talks to his class via video feed from a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean
Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Geology 3311, “The Solid Earth,” is a required course for University of South Florida students pursuing an undergraduate degree in geology.

This semester, it’s being taught by Assistant Research Professor, Zachary Atlas.

"This course is really geared towards trying to get them to know minerals, mineral formation, the chemistry of minerals and how all of that comes together to form rocks," Atlas said after a recent class.

It's also being taught by the Chair of the USF School of Geosciences, Dr. Jeffrey Ryan - when they can dial him up.

You see, Ryan is currently halfway across the globe on board a ship in the Pacific Ocean.

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Law & Order
10:20 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

UPDATE (7:40 p.m.): Jury Selection Underway in Dunn Retrial

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 8:12 pm

After a lengthy first day, 42 people remain in the jury pool that could decide the fate of Michael Dunn for a second time.

Jury selection began around 10 a.m. Monday in the case.

Dunn is accused of killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis during a confrontation over loud music at a Southside Gate gas station in November 2012.

In February , as eyes across the country watched, a jury deadlocked on whether to convict him of murder.

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9:15 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Wyllie a Libertarian Alternative in Governor's Race

Adrian Wyllie

Beer containers aren't usually a topic in Florida gubernatorial races, but for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie, the state's ban on small brewers filling half-gallon jugs illustrates how regulations reward campaign contributors and stifle competitors.

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