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Last year, Florida legislators passed a bill privatizing the state’s Medicaid program, moving recipients into managed care plans – a model patterned on a pilot program that’s been running in five counties since 2006.

The statewide change still needs federal approval – and for one family already living in a pilot county, it’s a troubling prospect.

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It’s been nearly a month since self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen in Sanford, Fla.

Martin’s death has inspired a national debate about race and justice.

But at the high school Martin attended in Miami, his death had not been announced publicly until today, when the school held a moment of silence for the slain student.

Ashley Aristide is a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High in Miami, where Martin went to school.

She’s having a hard time coping with her friend’s death.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Mark Hedden lives in Key West and writes narrative nonfiction, primarily ornithology-oriented natural history, which most people refer to as “stuff about birds.” Along with the strange business of bank robbery in Key West, he has written about necrovoyeurism, his love of the Tour de France, his aversion to pirates, his hatred of clowns, the inappropriate use of firearms during photo shoots, and music.

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past, but every day hundreds of students — from preschoolers to high school seniors — are still being paddled by teachers and principals.

In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student.

"I been getting them since about first grade," says Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. "It's just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you're going to get."

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“Thank you very much and I apologize that this has happened,” Governor Rick Scott told William Dillon as he signed a bill giving Dillon more than a million dollars.

Dillon spent 27 years in prison for a murder in Brevard County. He was set free in 2008 after DNA testing showed he wasn’t the killer.

It took more than three and a half years for the Legislature to pass a bill compensating Dillon.

Sammy Mack

Fifty years ago, developers dreamed of turning a collection of isolated islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay into a resort destination. This year, the dream of Islandia quietly died.  The Miami-Dade County Commission stripped Islandia’s status as a city. In essence, they voted Islandia out of existence.

The city of Islandia is on Elliot Key. It was never populated by more than a hundred people.  Now the only people who live in Islandia are park rangers.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

On an icy night in late December, Miami native Robert Battle, the new artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, saw his past and future come together in the heart of New York City.

After a year and a half of public grooming, of working alongside his towering predecessor, Judith Jamison, Battle was finally at the head of modern dance's most famous company, and in programming the troupe's annual five-week season at City Center Theatre, a major event in the New York dance world, he had made his real debut as director.

Rick Stone

MONTICELLO, Fl. -- Late in the 1980s, crime was rising, prisons were filling up and Florida needed new places to build prisons. But a grim penitentiary full of criminals was a gift that few counties wanted back then.  

Jefferson County, just east of Tallahassee, was different. Then, as now, under populated and desperately poor, it saw an opportunity and it did something unusual. 

IowaPolitics.com

Florida’s no-fault insurance requirement is set to undergo major changes this legislative session.

Right now, Florida drivers are required to have $10,000 worth of personal injury protection, or PIP, for payout in a crash regardless of who is at fault.

But fraudsters have taken advantage of this system, and auto insurance rates are skyrocketing.

Florida is one of the most expensive states for car insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A fender bender can cost an insurance company tens of thousands of dollars.

Lost Between Two Nations

Jan 11, 2012
Jacob Kushner

When an earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, the United States stopped deporting Haitian immigrants to the devastated nation. But deportations resumed last January, and Franco Coby, 24, of Fort Myers, found himself banished from the country he grew up in since the age of 6.

Yucel Tellici/stock.xchang

Diana Abu-Jaber read her essay for Under the Sun about her family’s heritage of hosting guests during the holidays.  Here are a few recipes you might want to add to your holiday table.  One is more elaborate–perhaps for a host to serve.  The other is super simple–perhaps something a guest can contribute to a party.  These recipes are from Abu-Jaber’s memoir, The Language of Baklava (Pantheon Books).

POETIC BAKLAVA

Diana Abu-Jaber On Sharing The Table During The Holidays

Dec 14, 2011
Diana Abu-Jaber

For many of us, cooking for a holiday feast or making preparations for a party are well worn and beloved holiday routines.  All of that hosting can also be exhausting!  Listen to author Diana Abu-Jaber read her essay on her family’s heritage of hosting guests during the holidays.

How Wilton Manors Came Out

Dec 8, 2011
Kenny Malone

It used to be that Key West, Victoria Park and South Beach were the centers of gay life in South Florida.  Over the last decade, this tiny town of about 12,000 people, just outside of Fort Lauderdale – has taken over.  Wilton Manors has more same-sex couples per capita than anyplace but Provincetown, Massachusetts. The latest census numbers got screwed up, but by some estimates, 40% of the population is gay.

Muralist Makes His Mark In Little Haiti

Sep 14, 2011
Trina Sargalski

If you’ve ever visited Little Haiti, you’ve probably seen Miami muralist Serge Toussaint’s work, which is sprinkled throughout the city. How can you tell it’s his work? His signature is a dollar sign instead of an “S” in Serge. He spends most of his time in Little Haiti, but his work can be seen in Liberty City, Little River, Allapattah, the Miami River and all the way to Fort Lauderdale.

WLRN

On September 11, 2001, Tanya Villanueva Tepper’s fiancé, Sergio Villanueva, was one of the 343 New York City firefighters who didn’t make it out of the World Trade Center. Tanya is featured in the new documentary,Rebirth, which follows five people affected by those attacks, over the course of the last decade. The film airs Sunday on Showtime on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Tanya now lives in Miami, where she has found solace and a new life. She spoke with Under the Sun co-host Alicia Zuckerman.

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