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AP

Cuba’s communist leadership remains reluctant to open the island to more free market reforms and foreign investment. But Cuba’s latest economic data for 2016 might make those hardliners reconsider.

Just a few months ago, Cuba’s economy was forecast to grow 1 percent this year. It wasn’t much; but at least it was growth. This week, President Raúl Castro has admitted even that was an illusion: Cuba’s GDP, he said, will actually shrink 1 percent in 2016 - the first economic contraction in more than 20 years.

Peter Haden / WLRN

A task force is making recommendations to state legislators for cracking down on fraud in the addiction recovery industry.

The Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force is putting the finishing touches on a report headed to lawmakers in Tallahassee. It outlines strategies to better regulate drug treatment providers and sober homes.

Among the recommendations: Give the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) the ability to license and inspect commercial sober homes.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

As a new federal administration takes over in Washington D.C. — after an election in which immigration issues were prominent — one South Florida city may take a stand on the issue.

Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said he wants his hometown to become a sanctuary city, adopting an official policy toward undocumented immigrants similar to the military's old "don't ask, don't tell" policy on sexual orientation.

Critics: Miami-Dade Wants To Make It Harder For Land Owners To Fight Assessment Hikes

Dec 28, 2016

Miami-Dade property owners will find it much more difficult to contest their annual property assessments under a new guideline being considered by the Value Adjustment Board, a semi-governmental agency that mediates disputes between landowners and Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, critics of the proposal claim.

Creative Commons via Flickr / Users: Adam Axon, USDA, William Warby and John Tann

What happens when you expose a Florida resident to mosquitoes, screw worms or gators?

Sammy Mack

This is the time of year when here at WLRN we like to look back at all the news that happened over the past year and remember the stories that we found especially entertaining – the stuff that got us laughing or shaking our heads around the newsroom.

CHARLES TASNADI / AP

 

Although Fidel Castro died in Havana, the impact his passing had on South Florida probably qualifies it as the most notable death in our region. 

Virtual Reality Takes You To Cuban Raves

Dec 26, 2016
Courtesy of Joyce Lanxin Zhao

Fifer Garbesi is creating a virtual Cuban rave.

She’s making a virtual reality film about the Cuban electronic music scene which so impressed her when she studied filmmaking on the island in the Spring of 2015, because she thinks there’s something special about electronic music concerts in Cuba.

 

Call Center Provides Help, Counseling During Holidays

Dec 23, 2016
EVA BEE / GETTY IMAGES

For people suffering from depression or anxiety, coping through the holiday season can be particularly tough. 

Fred Stock is the president and CEO of Jewish Community Services in North Miami. He says there are many reasons for holiday depression and anxiety.

“You’re bombarded with all this messaging and parties, gifts. And for people who are lonely, or who are suffering from depression, who are isolated, this bombardment from the media exacerbates this feelings of loneliness and depressions,” Stock says.

JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES

This week on The Florida Roundup...

2016 was a big year. It played host to a long contentious and historic election with Donald Trump winning the presidency--with a big hand from Florida. 

Monroe County Public Library

Key West residents are following William Hackley's every move - even though he has been dead for 150 years. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

It appears the endangered Key deer are winning the battle against the deadly screwworm fly.

But U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials are taking no chances as the deer head into fawning season, when the does and fawns will be especially vulnerable. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in the open wounds of warm-blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living flesh of the host.

www.i-bug-you.com

There is a room in artist Beca Gilling’s Miami house that looks a little like it should belong to a mad scientist: Candy-colored, amoeba-shaped critters smile out from specimen jars. There’s a row of tools you wouldn’t be surprised to find in a dentist’s office.

Amanda Rabines / WLRN

South Florida families who have been directly affected by immigration laws are using the holidays to convey a message of unity.

More than a dozen of the sons and daughters of undocumented parents gathered in Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office on Wednesday afternoon to sing Christmas carols and ask him take measures to protect their families for the next coming years.

Tom MacKenzie / USFWS

When most of us think of Miami International Airport, we don't think of scorpions, sloths, sharks or spiders.

But it turns out the airport is kind of a zoo. Because in addition to being one of the United States' busiest passenger airports, MIA is one of the busiest American airports for importing animals and animal products.

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