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Florida News

  1. Obama drops by Our Lady of Charity, becoming first U.S. president to visit Miami shrine to Cuban saint (w/video)


    MIAMI — President Barack Obama extended a symbolic olive branch Thursday to Miami's Cuban Americans by paying his respects to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Coconut Grove.

    President Barack Obama looks at a mural with the Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity during an unannounced stop before heading to airport Thursday in Miami. Obama was being shown a replica of Our Lady of Charity, the original statue resides at the shrine of El Cobre outside the city of Santiago, Cuba. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida gun owners without concealed weapon permit get exemption for hurricanes

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida gun owners who don't have a concealed weapons permit can now take their firearms with them while fleeing a hurricane.

    Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg sponsored the bill. He said, "We looked at the real life examples of what happened in Louisiana when people were trying to evacuate, some on foot, and they were stopped at bridges and certain checkpoints and their firearms were seized." [Times (2014)]
  3. Theme parks introduce food apps for restaurant orders



    Theme parks are using technology to reduce waits, but not just for rides.

    Self-serve kiosks let customers order food and pay for it at Manta Soft Serve in SeaWorld Orlando. Smartphone apps are also increasingly used at theme parks, to appeal to people who don’t like to wait.
  4. Judge clears way for Charlotte's Web strain of medical marijuana in Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida regulators said they expect to provide access to a limited strain of non-euphoric marijuana for medical purposes by the end of the year after a Tallahassee judge on Wednesday dismissed the final challenge to the long-awaited rule.

    A special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web grows inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. The Florida Department of Health is expected to start accepting applications within three weeks from eligible growers for the marijuana that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD. Growers could start selling to eligible patients who are put on a state-run "compassionate use registry'' within months. [Associated Press]
  5. High-speed shark-themed thrill ride Mako coming to SeaWorld next summer


    Opening next summer next to its shark encounter, SeaWorld Orlando announced on Wednesday that its newest roller coaster named Mako will be a killer ride, the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.

    SeaWorld has announced that Mako, a new coaster coming in 2016, will mimic the quick turns and speed of sharks - and will be the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.  Mako will be a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track (that's nearly a mile long) and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. [SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.]
  6. Tampa Bay business leaders push Gov. Rick Scott to support expanding Medicaid

    State Roundup

    The pro-business, largely Republican coalition of Tampa Bay executives and power brokers looks like a group that would be largely supportive of Gov. Rick Scott.

  7. Two hurricane hunter planes at MacDill AFB to get $42 million upgrade


    TAMPA — The hurricane planes known affectionately as "Miss Piggy" and "Kermit" are getting new Rolls-Royce engines, new wings and better radar.

    Technicians remove the forward radar cover of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s turboprop aircraft “Miss Piggy” Friday at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
  8. Fort Bragg-based soldier from Florida dies in Afghanistan


    FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A Fort Bragg-based Special Forces soldier from Florida has died in Afghanistan.

  9. Seeking budget break­through, Florida Senate offers to change its health plan

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Hoping to break the Legislature's worst budget stalemate in two decades, the Senate tweaked its Medicaid expansion plan Tuesday in the face of continued opposition from the House and Gov. Rick Scott.

    It didn't work.

    The State of Florida seal on the plaza level of the state Capitol building in Tallahassee. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  10. One man's millions turn around a community in Florida

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — Two decades ago, Harris Rosen, who grew up poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into a troubled community with the melodious sounding name of Tangelo Park.

    Harris Rosen visits a day care center for 3- and 4-year-olds, part of the education initiative he has spent the last two decades financing, in Tangelo Park. Rosen, who became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into the troubled community of Tangelo Park, and with an infusion of $11 million so far, it is a striking success story. [Melissa Lyttle | New York Times]