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News at Noon: A stand your ground industry; Trump reverses on 'birther' issue; sewer plant operator seeks whistleblower protections; states adds $10M for Zika

A memorial for Yaileen Ayala's ex-husband Carlos Juan Garcia sits inside the Tampa home where he was shot to death. The neighbor was never arrested. [Luis Santana | Times]

A memorial for Yaileen Ayala's ex-husband Carlos Juan Garcia sits inside the Tampa home where he was shot to death. The neighbor was never arrested. [Luis Santana | Times]

Before Carlos Garcia, a 37-year-old father of three, had even been declared dead, the man who shot him was already on the phone with the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. The association offers a 24-hour hotline, an attorney on retainer, bail money and a wallet-sized card instructing members on what to say after a shooting — starting at $13 a month. It's one of a handful of organizations handful of organizations that says they can help members strengthen their claim of self-defense from the moment they pull the trigger.

TRUMP REVERSES ON 'BIRTHER CONTROVERSY'

Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. As he did so, the Republican presidential nominee repeated the theory that Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign for president started the so-called the "birther controversy."

SEWER PLANT OPERATOR FILES FOR WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS

A chief plant operator at the St. Petersburg's Northeast wastewater treatment facility filed for whistleblower protection Friday, saying the city knew sewage dumps and spills were possible if it shut down the Albert Whitted sewer plant.

$10 MILLION IN STATE FUNDS AUTHORIZED TO CONTROL ZIKA

Gov. Rick Scott announced today that he had authorized an additional $10 million in state funds to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Scott had used emergency executive authority in June to authorize $26.2 million in state funds for Zika preparedness, prevention and response. The $36.2 million in funding will be allocated as needed for mosquito control, enhanced laboratory capacity and the purchase of Zika prevention kits.

IS ANOTHER RECESSION IS COMING TO TAMPA BAY?

Tampa Bay Times reporters have talked to dozens of business owners, Realtors, bankers, economists, tourism leaders, retailers and others to gauge the arrival of the next recession. The main questions are: When will it arrive and how severe will it be? For the answers, read our special report.

MOSAIC SINKHOLE DUMPS REPROCESSED WATER INTO AQUIFER

A massive sinkhole that opened up underneath a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry has dumped tens of millions of gallons of reprocessed water into the Floridan aquifer. The company reported that it immediately began to sample regimens and extensively monitor groundwater and found no off-site impact from the water loss.

IS USF'S BIG 12 DOOR SLAMMED SHUT?

Anybody get the feeling USF and the other 11 Big 12 hopefuls are about to get played? Columnist Martin Fennelly believes it is difficult not to think that way after Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman David Boren told reporters: "I would just caution you and say I would not take expansion as a given."

[SAM OWENS | Times]

Veteran tattoo artist "Gentle" Jay Blondel says for someone who's considering their first tattoo, a convention is a great place to start.

FUN THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND

Have you made your weekend plans? There are plenty of things to do around Tampa Bay, including the Tampa Tattoo Arts Convention and dozens of new shows coming to Tampa Bay regional museums. Check out our weekend planner for even more fun things happening this weekend.

NEGRON DOES CLEAN SWEEP OF APPROPRIATIONS HIGH-LEVEL STAFF

Fresh off a bitter two-year fight to become Florida Senate president, Sen. Joe Negron is shaking up the Senate's professional staff in a way the Legislature hasn't seen since former Senate President Mike Haridopolos six years ago. The biggest turnover will occur in the Appropriations Committee, where nearly every high-level staff director has been moved out.

FORMER TAMPA WATER EXECUTIVE TO PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Donald Polmann , a water utilities veteran who has spent a career navigating the water wars of Tampa Bay, has been named Florida's next public service commissioner by Gov. Rick Scott. Polmann is Scott's fourth appointment to the influential five-member panel that has the power to raise or lower customer utility bills.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

News at Noon: A stand your ground industry; Trump reverses on 'birther' issue; sewer plant operator seeks whistleblower protections; states adds $10M for Zika 09/16/16 [Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2016 12:03pm]
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  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding

    Environment

    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida

    Editorials

    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths

    Editorials

    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.