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The Point, Oct. 21, 2021: Parkland shooter's case moves to penalty phase after guilty plea

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The stories near you

• WUFT News: Over 65? Under 18? You can ride Gainesville RTS buses for free through September 2022. "According to an RTS press release, both the Gainesville City Commission and Alachua County Commission approved an agreement to jointly fund a new, one-year RTS pilot program."

• WUFT News: The University Press of Florida awarded national humanities grant for $450,000. "The grant was given as part of an awards program called “Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan” or SHARP, for short. According to a press release from the (National Endowment for the Humanities), the SHARP program aims to help cultural and educational institutions rehire workers and reinstate programs that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic."

• Mainstreet Daily News: Alachua County disables comments on social media. "'Alachua County social media sites are primarily tools to share information with citizens,' the notice states. 'It is not the County’s intent for posts to be public forums. We do not view these sites as a way to communicate directly with elected officials or County staff.'"

• Florida Politics: Roll over, Cuties, University of Florida plans Gator Bite mandarin oranges. "University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Research Director Michael Rogers on Wednesday told a Senate panel they managed to get the school’s mascot approved for the new variety of orange. And he thinks his team’s Gator Bite mandarins could squeeze into the mini citrus market currently dominated by popular California varieties."

• WUFT News: Gainesville assisted living facility introduces virtual reality. "Oak Hammock at the University of Florida offers a virtual reality experience on a weekly basis for its residents. The goggles help those who are experiencing loneliness or memory issues."

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Around the state

• WLRN: Parkland shooter pleads guilty to all charges in homicide case, sentenced for battery case. "(Nikolas) Cruz was also sentenced to 26 years Wednesday for the four charges related to assault on a law enforcement officer, which he committed after he went to jail for the shooting. The next hearing, on Oct. 26, will further detail the next steps as his homicide case now moves straight to the second phase of a death penalty trial — the penalty phase."

• WMFE: DeSantis says he’ll try to thwart FBI investigations of parents threatening school officials in Florida. "Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Brevard County Wednesday to make it clear he doesn’t want the FBI investigating threats against school officials in Florida."

• WFSU: Senator Passidomo has been tapped as the next leader of the Florida Senate. She'll be the third woman to take on the job. "Passidomo follows in the footsteps of former senators Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) and Toni Jennings (R-Orlando)."

• WFTS-Tampa Bay: Items belonging to Brian Laundrie found near possible human remains, FBI says. "According to the FBI, Laundrie's notebook and backpack were found in an area that was previously covered by water. The Laundrie family attorney confirmed the items were found Tuesday morning at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near a trail that he frequented."

• News Service of Florida: Florida Board Of Education Approves Civic Curriculum Changes. "Making changes that inject patriotism into the curriculum was a priority of top Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis during the legislative session that ended April 30."

• Orlando Sentinel ($): Orange battalion chief opposed to vaccine mandate loses job, wins Gov. DeSantis’ support. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has threatened Orange County with potentially millions of dollars in fines for requiring its employees get vaccinated for COVID-19, criticized as 'ridiculous' the firing of a battalion chief for not writing up firefighters who missed a deadline to provide their vaccination status."

• Miami Herald ($): ‘Money talks’: After building collapse, developer with Trump ties sees opportunity. "(Hussain) Sajwani, a friend and business partner of Donald Trump known for flashy towers in his native Dubai, has visions of erecting an ultra-luxury condo building in Surfside where Champlain Towers South once stood, a spokesman for his company, DAMAC Properties, confirmed Tuesday. His $120 million bid for the land, one of several competing offers expected to come in, was certified by a judge last month ahead of a court auction early next year."

From NPR News

• Health: What Colin Powell's death can and can't tell us about COVID breakthrough cases

• Health: The U.S. is ready to roll out the COVID vaccine once it's approved for kids age 5-11

• Health: Pediatricians say the mental health crisis among kids has become a national emergency

• World: Haitian gang wants $1 million ransom for each of the 17 kidnapped missionaries

• Climate: Climate change is bad for your health. And plans to boost economies may make it worse

• Politics: Democrats' biggest push for voting rights fails with no Republicans on board

• National: CDC says toss onions if you don't know where they came from to avoid salmonella

About today's curator

I'm Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I've found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today's edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to emagoc@wuft.org.

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org