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Politics
11:01 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Florida Roundup: Fidel Castro On U.S.-Cuba Relations

Fidel Castro in 2014.
Credit ALEX CASTRO / AP FILE

Six weeks after President Barack Obama announced efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, former Cuba leader Fidel Castro writes a letter of reserved-approval for the plan.

Cuba President Raul Castro said this week that relations with the United States can only be rehabilitated if  the U.S. returns Guantanamo Bay to the island and the embargo is lifted.

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Miami Worldcenter
11:33 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Church Meeting About Overtown Development Ends With Activist In Chokehold

Activist Renita Holmes started shouting during a community meeting in Overtown about the multimillion-dollar Miami Worldcenter deal. Other attendees tried to hold her back, a scuffle broke out and the meeting ended with Holmes filing a police report.
Credit Daniel Ducassi / WLRN

About 100 people gathered inside the fellowship hall at the historic St. John’s Baptist Church in Miami’s Overtown community to discuss the Miami Worldcenter, a multimillion-dollar development project.

The meeting opened with a prayer and some ground rules. First, stay on topic.

And second, “Be mindful where you are. Tempers can flare, passion can run high, [but] first of all, this is the Lord’s house,” said Bishop Dean Adams.

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Centennial
11:12 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Looking For Miami Beach At 100, In Sound And Screens

New World Symphony rehearses for the world premiere of El Sol Caliente, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Miami Beach. Morrison's film stretches across eight screens.
Credit Alicia Zuckerman / WLRN

The composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison have been fusing their visions for upwards of 17 years. Some of their work together is included in a Bill Morrison retrospective up now at the MoMA in New York. Their first piece was for Bang on a Can, the new-music collective Gordon co-founded. It was called "City Walk," and over the years, a lot of their work has been about cities.

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Liberty City
6:41 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Liberty Square Housing Project To Be Redeveloped By 2020

Liberty Square housing project will be redeveloped into a mixed-income housing development by 2020.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

Miami-Dade County’s oldest and largest housing project, Liberty Square -- or the Pork and Beans, as many locals know it -- is going to be redeveloped.

The county is rolling out an ambitious plan to transform the sprawling Liberty Square site into a mixed-income housing development. 

The project, still in its infancy stages, will require several votes from the county commission and a competitive bidding process to choose a developer.

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Health Care
6:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Billions Of Dollars At Stake In Medicaid Expansion Choice

TO EXPAND OR NOT Florida and the individual counties would suffer or prosper, according to the decision. For Florida, the difference between the two is $7 billion.
Credit Florida Legal Services

State health policy experts said Thursday prospects for expanding Medicaid in the Legislature this year remain dim because of unwillingness in the leadership and possibly fatal flaws in the two leading proposals. And those experts warn another refusal could come with a stunning economic cost for Florida.

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News
6:26 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senators Move To Eliminate Cuba Travel Ban – But Do They Have The Votes?

Cuban taxis wait for tourists in front of Havana's Grand Theater.
Credit exfordy / Flickr/Creative Commons

As President Obama moves ahead to normalize relations with communist Cuba, Congress is weighing in with its own measures. The first big bill was introduced today in the Senate – a measure to eliminate the Cuba travel ban – but its passage is hardly certain.

The legislation would end all restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, which have been in place since 1963. Right now Americans can legally visit the island for certain reasons like cultural exchanges. But tourism remains prohibited.

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Politics
3:44 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Jorge Ramos: Republicans Have An Immigration Problem

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos is pictured in the studio in Miami, Florida on Dec. 14, 2011. (Alan Diaz/AP)

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 1:34 pm

With the Department of Homeland Security’s funding deadline less than a month away, Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for what may be the next stage in Congress’ fight on President Obama’s immigration policies.

House Republicans have already passed their own version of DHS funding that would also block the president’s November immigration orders and deport up to four million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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Politics
3:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Pam Bondi Blames Gov. Scott's Staff in FDLE Case

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to the press during a pre-legislative news conference on Jan. 28 in Tallahassee

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 1:16 pm

Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday she believes Gov. Rick Scott's staff acted without his knowledge in the way former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey was pushed out last month.

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Opinion
10:01 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Venezuela's Collapse Looks More Like Economic Suicide

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga/Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has warned us all this week that “a hell of solitude awaits anyone who betrays” his nation’s socialist revolution.

Duly noted, Señor Presidente! But we also can’t help noting that nobody’s in a lonelier hell right now than Nicolás Maduro.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Bondi Says Same-Sex Couples Suffer Lack Of Consistency

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke Wednesday at an Associated Press media event at the Capitol.

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:10 pm

Same-sex marriage gets a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court this April, and in Florida, the Attorney General is making a familiar argument against a piecemeal approach. 

Florida began issuing same-sex marriage licenses at the beginning of this month.  At the time, officials argued the federal ruling throwing out the state’s marriage ban was narrow and only applied to the couples named in the case.  Wednesday Attorney General Pam Bondi argued the greatest harm is lack of consistency.

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Culture
4:41 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Opa-Locka: A City Reenvisioned Through Art

Opa-locka's first art and recreation center.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

In the city of Opa-locka, a colorful park stands where liquor bottles and trash once collected in an empty lot.

New and chic affordable housing is popping up. Bright murals decorate buildings downtown.

Three years into a citywide arts transformation, Opa-locka is challenging how outsiders perceive the north Miami-Dade enclave, once better known for its prolific drug trade and gun violence.

Much of this transformation involves collaborations with artists. Artists and their ideas infused are in affordable housing development, urban planning and landscaping.

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News
4:30 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Department Of State Opens Media Hub Of The Americas At Freedom Tower

Valerie Fowler, a spokesperson for the Department of State, and Miami-Dade College's President Eduardo Padron signed a memorandum of understanding at Wolfson Campus.
Credit Junette Reyes / WLRN

The State Department has had a relatively small presence in South Florida, despite Miami being an important nexus for the U.S. and Latin American relations.

The federal agency hopes to change that by partnering with Miami Dade College to expand what it calls the “media hub of the Americas.”

With its new home at Miami’s downtown Freedom Tower, the hub will have a physical location to hold conferences, seminars and interviews with dignitaries about foreign policy.

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Latin America Report
10:10 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama's Top Negotiator In Cuba Says Human Rights, Private Sector Will Be U.S. Drumbeat

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents last week in Havana.
Credit State Department

Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:

When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.

Here’s another:

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Pageants
6:42 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Miss Colombia Wins Pageant; Miss Jamaica Wins Twitter?

Miss Universe contestants congratulate fifth-place-finisher, Kaci Fennell of Jamaica. Many pageant watchers on social media argued that Fennell should have won.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 7:25 am

After Miss Colombia's Paulina Vega won the Miss Universe pageant on Sunday, she was greeted with a scepter, tiara and a kiss from the first runner-up, Miss U.S.A. But even as Vega took her first steps as Miss Universe, something that was happening elsewhere on stage caught a lot of attention.

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Testing
8:58 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Opting Out Of State Tests Isn't An Option, Education Commissioner Tells Lawmakers

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told lawmakers that nothing in state law allows students to refuse state-required exams.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students cannot skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

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