The Point, August 8, 2022: Loss of Wakulla Springs Glass Bottom Boat Tours Symbolizes Florida’s Water Pollution Problems

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Today, WUFT News continues its WATERSHED series, a statewide survey of water quality marking the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the Florida Water Resources Act of 1972. Funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines National Initiative, UF Journalism Fellows have been reporting on state waters half a century after those sweeping laws. What progress can the state celebrate, and what waters are still sick or deteriorating amid climate change, pollution and outdated infrastructure? What bold actions are now possible?

This episode blends history and science to account for the loss of the Wakulla Springs glass-bottom boat tours, which celebrated Florida’s seemingly endless depths for a century. Now, with the water too murky to see through glass, the boats are beached – a symbol of the pollution plaguing the state’s fresh water and the cascade of consequences to come.

• News4Jax: Governor DeSantis reappoints Justice Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court. “Francis, who will be the court’s first Jamaican-American judge, was the only black candidate on the list presented to the governor this summer. The court has not had a black judge since former judge Peggy Quince stepped down after reaching mandatory retirement age in 2019.”

• Politico: Florida Medical Board decides to block gender-affirming treatments for minors. “The Florida Medical Board voted Friday to begin the process of banning gender-affirming medical treatments for young people, a move that comes as Republican Governor Ron DeSantis increasingly opposes such therapies.”

• New York Times ($): “This broke me”: Parkland trial reveals depth of families’ grief. “The crime scene tour capped 12 days of often gruesome video and autopsy evidence in an agonizing trial in which the jury will decide whether Mr. Cruz, 23, who pleaded guilty, should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The defense is due to begin closing arguments on August 22. The judge will first hold a non-jury hearing to decide whether defense attorneys can use a map of Mr. Cruz as evidence of the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.

• WUSF-Tampa: On video, Andrew Warren criticizes DeSantis and swears legal action after his suspension. “Andrew Warren says he will take legal action after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him last week as Hillsborough County state’s attorney. In a strongly worded video posted to his Facebook page, Warren said DeSantis is “trying to overturn democracy” and “trying to overturn the results of a fair and free election.”

• Florida Politics: Judge Knocks Rebekah Jones Out of Congressional Race. “Leon Circuit Court Judge John Cooper said Jones could not run as a Democrat because she had not been a registered Democrat for 365 days before qualifying as a congressional candidate. … Jones, a former Florida Department of Health data scientist, drew national attention when she claimed she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data, but an inspector general in May determined that his allegations were groundless and unsubstantiated.

• Palm Beach Post ($): COVID in Florida: wave appears to be flattening with new infections, hospitalizations holding steady. “The latest coronavirus surge across Florida appears to be slowing down, just at the start of the school year. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been stable for a few weeks. Viral concentrations in sewage have dropped. Statewide test positivity rates have declined. And Florida’s official caseload remains stable.

• Miami Herald ($): Saved last year, Surfside condo owners had to pay property taxes totaling approximately $800,000. “When a Surfside condominium tower collapsed last year, killing 98 people, an outpouring of sympathy reached Tallahassee: Governor Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers pardoned unit owners’ tax bills , totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their generosity, however, did not last until this year.

• Politics: Democrats have passed a major bill on climate, health and taxation. Here’s what’s inside

• Politics: President Biden tests negative for COVID again and ends isolation

• Businesses: Gasoline prices are finally falling. Here are 4 things to know

• Health: how universities are preparing for a new threat to public health: monkey pox

• World: New Zealand plans to change its name to deal with its troubled colonial past

• Books: Authors and booksellers fear that a major publishing merger will affect diversity

• Science: How many animal species have caught COVID? The first global tracker has (partial) answers

• Science: what a decade of curiosity has taught us about life on Mars

About Today’s Curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, Editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I found a home that tells stories of Florida. I’m part of a team that searches every morning for local and national stories that are important to you. please send your comments on today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to [email protected].

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