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Associated Press

University of Florida Police

Four separate but similar attacks on women on or around the University of Florida campus over the past nine days has the school on edge and police searching for a man they believe is responsible for all of them.

The most recent attack happened Sunday evening, just before 9 p.m., when a man tackled a woman walking on campus. The victim, a 20-year-old, kicked the suspect in the groin before he ran away.

The Florida Supreme Court won't consider the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban in order to settle a same-sex divorce case.

The high court said Friday the 2nd District Court of Appeal first should rule on the case, in which a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts and is now seeking a divorce in Florida.

A lower court judge ruled that the couple couldn't get divorced in Florida because the state's constitution doesn't recognize gay marriage.

Alan Diaz / Associated Press

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been crossing the state this past week, vowing at campaign stops that if he's re-elected he will enact another $1 billion in tax cuts over the next two years.

Scott has said he can enact the tax cuts as well as boost spending on education and pay for new projects to help the environment because the state has a budget surplus.

"We know there's no question about it, it's your money, it's not government money," Scott said about his tax-cutting plans during a campaign stop held in Plant City.

BP bears the majority of responsibility among the companies involved in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, a federal judge ruled Thursday, citing the energy giant’s reckless conduct in a ruling that exposes the company to billions of dollars in penalties.

BP PLC already has agreed to pay billions of dollars in criminal fines and compensation to people and businesses affected by the disaster. But U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling could nearly quadruple what the London-based company has to pay in civil fines for polluting the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 spill.

More than 200,000 immigrants who bought insurance through President Barack Obama's health care initiative could lose their coverage this month if they don't submit proof this week they are legally in the country, but language barriers and computer glitches are hindering efforts to alert them.

The government mailed letters in English and Spanish last month notifying about 300,000 people that if immigration and citizenship documents aren't submitted by Friday, their coverage under the Affordable Care Act will end Sept. 30.

AP Photo

An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading by the Islamic State group of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who went missing in Syria last year.

The extremist group, which has claimed wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq and declared itself a caliphate, said Sotloff’s killing was retribution for continued U.S. airstrikes targeting its fighters in Iraq. It brazenly killed American journalist James Foley last month in the same manner and again threatened to kill another hostage, this one they identified as a British citizen.

Republicans have had control of the Florida Legislature and governor's office since 1999 and have used their power to restrict abortions, loosen gun laws, strip state workers of benefits, allow private school vouchers and enact a slew of other policy changes that Democrats opposed but could do nothing to stop.

Now Democrats, desperate for relevancy again, are trying to stop the Republican agenda by defeating Gov. Rick Scott while essentially ignoring the rest of the ballot.

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."

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.

Lynne Sladky/AP

The tourists stream to Florida in their cars, intent on a week at Disney or a sugar-sand seashore or a nonstop party on South Beach. Road weary and thirsty, they pull over at one of the state’s five official welcome centers. They walk inside, and then they look up.

“The best start under the sun,” reads a big sign. “FLORIDA ORANGE JUICE.”

Behind a counter, a woman sits with a stack of paper cups. “Welcome to Florida,” she says with a big smile. “Orange or grapefruit?”

The juice is cold and sweet. It tastes like the Sunshine State.

Ricardo Arduengo / AP Photo

A strengthening tropical depression that dumped heavy rains on parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic was upgraded early Sunday to Tropical Storm Cristobal as it passed closer to the Bahamas, the U.S. Hurricane Center said.

Cristobal originally formed as depression over the Turks and Caicos Islands on Saturday. It was the fourth depression of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Alan Diaz / Associated Press

Hammered by his chief rival over cuts to school budgets, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday made an election-year promise to boost money for public schools if he's re-elected.

Scott vowed to recommend a roughly $700 million increase to public schools for 2015 — which would push the amount of money for each student to record levels and bring total state and local funding to just under $20 billion.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Former Sen. Nan Rich is hoping a solid lifetime record as a Democrat, 28 months of campaigning and outreach to the hardcore grassroots of her party are enough to overcome the name recognition and millions of dollars raised by Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist in Tuesday's primary for governor.

 A California billionaire environmentalist is pouring millions of dollars into the Florida governor's race to buy television ads attacking Gov. Rick Scott as a friend of polluters and utility companies, giving the campaign of Democratic front-runner Charlie Crist a boost as polls show a tightening race.

Eckerd College

Five scientists who met with Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday are convinced that climate change is real, but what they are less sure about is whether the governor believes them.

The scientists had 30 minutes to make a presentation in Scott's office and the first seven minutes were taken up by small talk.

Florida had a record number of visitors during this past spring.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that 24 million tourists visited the state during the second quarter of 2014.

That's a three percent jump over the same time period a year ago, and the largest second quarter ever for the state.

Community Health Systems, which operates 24 hospitals in Florida, said a cyber attack took information on more than 4 million patients from its computer network earlier this year.

Associated Press

After more than a year of public criticism of its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld said Friday that it will build new, larger environments at its theme parks and will fund additional research on the animals along with programs to protect ocean health and whales in the wild.

The clock is ticking for hundreds of thousands of people who have unresolved issues affecting their coverage under the new health care law. Florida has the most cases at 93,800.

The Obama administration said Tuesday that letters are going out to about 310,000 people whose citizenship or immigration details don't match what the government has on file. 

These consumers need to send in their documentation by Sept. 5. Otherwise their coverage will end Sept. 30.

Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.

Officials said Tuesday that 11 cases were reported statewide in 2014 and 41 cases in 2013. The two Sarasota people who contracted vibrio vulnificus were middle-aged and had medically compromising conditions.

Vibrio is an infection caused by a bacteria found in warm salt water. It's in the same family of bacterium that causes cholera.

Florida State University is hiring a Title IX director and two sexual violence prevention coordinators before the fall term starts in five weeks.

Interim President Garnett Stokes tells the Tallahassee Democrat  that the university is not waiting for a federal investigation to conclude before addressing campus safety and sexual assaults.

Stokes says the university has formed several committees to assess its response to sexual violence complaints and is preparing to make changes.

Florida is being forced to stagger payments to schools and health care providers because of limits with its 30-year old computer-based accounting system.

State officials took the drastic actions because the current system can't pay out $1 billion or more in a single 24-hour period. The state was forced to delay payments twice in June because it had gone over the daily limit.

On a recent afternoon, Scott McKenzie watched torrential rains and a murky tide swallow the street outside his dog-grooming salon. Within minutes, much of this stretch of chic South Beach was flooded ankle-deep in a fetid mix of rain and sea.

"Welcome to the new Venice," McKenzie

   joked as salt water surged from the sewers.

There are few places in the nation more vulnerable to rising sea levels than low-lying South Florida, a tourist and retirement mecca built on drained swampland.

Arizona will host the College Football Playoff championship in 2016 and Tampa, Fla., will be the site of the 2017 title game.

The conference commissioners who oversee the playoffs announced Monday their choices for the sites of the second and third championship games in the new postseason system that goes into effect next season.

"This was not an easy decision," said Bill Hancock, executive director of the playoff. "It was a very competitive process. The decision was difficult because we received eight excellent proposals."

Pool/Edmund D. Fountain / Tampa Bay Times

University of South Florida researchers unearthed the remains of two children buried at a former Panhandle reform school that had a history of extreme abuse, and the bones will be analyzed in hopes of identifying the children and determining how they died, the anthropologist leading the excavation said Tuesday.

Based on the size of the remains, the children probably were between the ages of 10 and 13 when they died, said Erin Kimmerle, the USF professor who is heading the project to exhume an estimated 50 graves.

Pool/Edmund D. Fountain / Tampa Bay Times

On the second day of an excavation project, University of South Florida researchers worked Sunday on two graves at a former reform school in the Florida Panhandle where students say they were abused decades ago.

The researchers continued the slow, painstaking process of unearthing remains in the hopes of identifying those buried at the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School in the Panhandle. The digging and work will go on through Tuesday.

Pool/Edmund D. Fountain / Tampa Bay Times

University of South Florida researchers began work to exhume dozens of graves Saturday at a former Panhandle reform school in hopes of identifying the boys buried there and learning how they died.

USF spokeswoman Lara Wade said in a message Saturday that the work had begun, with researcher measuring and marking the site. Researchers then will remove dirt with trowels and by hand to find the remains, which are believed to be 19 inches to 3-plus feet under the surface.

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