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The Splash Mountain ride at Disney parks in California and Florida is being recast.

A massive cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is arriving along the U.S. Gulf Coast this week after traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. The phenomenon happens every year – but the 2020 version is especially large and imposing, experts said.

The dust cloud is "quite large" this year, said Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered. "I think that's why it's garnering so much attention."

Unemployment claim form
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Florida had a slight uptick in first-time jobless claims last week, as the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday reported 1.48 million initial unemployment applications nationally.

Skies over the Caribbean have become filled with dust, as the thickest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) in over half a century continues to march west from massive dust storms in West Africa.

The haze will begin to fill the skies in parts of the Florida Panhandle Thursday, then spread across the rest of the state through the weekend.

The killing of George Floyd has ignited protests and inspired conversations — and changes — across the globe.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, according to the FBI.

A day-long investigation by 15 special agents into the discovery of a noose in Wallace's garage at the Talledega Superspeedway revealed that the rope had been in the stall since at least October.

A plan to improve how public schools in Miami-Dade County teach students about racism drew a racist backlash last week — a response that reflected a long history of denying anti-Black prejudice in a place where race relations are more complicated than Black and white.

The economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is stifling a federal program meant to spur new investment in low-income neighborhoods, according to a new survey from an advocacy group that backs the initiative.

Updated at 6:41 p.m. ET

The funeral for Rayshard Brooks, the Black man who was fatally shot during an encounter with police at a fast food restaurant earlier this month, was an emotional and triumphant send-off for a man killed in the midst of the nation's latest moment for racial and social reckoning.

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

The fourth named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has formed in the North Atlantic, but is no threat to land.

The early start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season — the sixth in a row and the first with three named storms by June 1— has rekindled calls to move up the season’s official start.

Saharan Dust is on the Way to Florida Next Week

Jun 20, 2020

A large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert is enveloping the tropical North Atlantic and has the potential to reach the Sunshine State next week.

Coronavirus cases are surging in Florida, with more than 89,000 cases and 3,104 reported at the time of this story's publication. 

Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

After numerous delays, the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg has a new scheduled reopening date.

In a statement, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced it will now open on July 6 at 5 p.m.

Downpours are returning to Central and South Florida over the next few days, following a brief period of unusually dry conditions.

 

Statue of woman raising hands to sun man stands next to her
Jennifer Rangubphai

This Friday is Juneteenth - a celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in America and groups across the Tampa Bay area will be recognizing the day.

CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs announced in an email Thursday afternoon a lengthy list of changes the school will be enacting as part of its effort to address racism and inequity following global protests and discussions sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to expand body camera footage to full-time use within the Sheriff's Office. 

Sheriff Chad Chronister said this will create "trust through transparency" within the community.

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

Aunt Jemima will change its name and logo, acknowledging the brand's origins rooted in a racial stereotype, which hearkens back to nostalgia for the South in the times of slavery.

Toward the end of 2020, the 130-year-old pancake and syrup brand will remove the image of "Aunt Jemima" from packaging, parent companies Quaker Foods and PepsiCo said on Wednesday. The name change will follow.

Renewed calls are ringing out for state leadership to remove the confederate monument from the lawn of Florida’s Historic Capitol in Tallahassee.

“It’s part of a revisionist history used against minorities in our state as a symbol of hatred and false supremacy,” said prominent progressive political consultant Kevin Cate.

Marriott Hotel in downtown Tampa
GOOGLE maps

Hotels in the Tampa Bay area had their second best month ever in February. But, what a difference a month makes.

An Unusually Dry Air Mass is Moving into Florida

Jun 16, 2020

Rain chances will be unusually low and nights surprisingly comfortable across the northern half of Florida this week.

The circulation behind an area of low pressure off the coast of South Carolina has allowed a much drier, and consequently more comfortable air mass to spread as far south as Central Florida. As a result, nearly all of Monday’s showers and thunderstorms were concentrated in South Florida and near the Florida Keys. And this will be a trend that lasts through at least midweek.

Rainbow wristbands
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

LGBTQ advocates are hailing Monday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that gay, lesbian and transgender workers are covered by federal anti-discrimination laws, but they say Florida needs to do more.

In the wake of George Floyd's death, a flashpoint in the debates over police reform has been the push to ban chokeholds nationwide. Advocates believe that enshrining a ban into law will deter police violence.

And it's gaining traction. Congressional Democrats have proposed a legislative package that calls for a ban on all neck restraints. President Trump, though he stopped short of full support of a ban, said late last week that police should avoid using chokeholds. And the state of New York passed a law banning the tactic.

Floridians looking to get their concealed weapons license can apply starting Monday. Online applications had been suspended since March 20.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is holding a press conference Thursday to announce that the Tallahassee regional licensing office is reopening. The office has been closed since March. Despite the closure, Fried says the department has still processed more than 84,000 concealed weapons licenses.

JESSICA MESZAROS/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

This weekend, thousands marched off of Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa protesting police brutality and racial injustice. We spoke with a black Tampa couple, Mike Eubanks and Sasha Glasper. They explain why they wanted to bring out their twin sons, Maxwell and Grayson, to the march.

Jessica Meszaros

WUSF is amplifying the voices in our community speaking out about racial justice.

It's now week three of nationwide demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

This weekend, we spoke with people marching in this weekend's Black Lives Matter protest along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

Updated at 10:08 p.m. ET

For the third weekend in a row, protesters took to the streets in the United States — and in at least two foreign capitals — to demand racial justice in the wake of George Floyd's killing by police.

three boats bearing U.S. and Trump flags
Susan Giles Wantuck/WUSF Public Media

Boaters and fans of President Donald Trump rallied in Tampa Bay and waterfront settings Sunday to celebrate Flag Day and the President’s birthday.

As demonstrators gathered around the White House last weekend, Howard University law student Tope Aladetimi leaned her cardboard protest sign against the street median and took a load off her feet. She had already been out protesting for a few hours, and the temperature was climbing into the 90s.

"There's a power in using your body, and actually physically being here," Aladetimi said. "Oftentimes, our voices aren't heard and this is the only way we're able to get our message across."

Domonique Dille, a Howard law school classmate, feels an urgency to this moment.

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