Latest Florida news, sports, business and entertainment


Eyeing 2016, Sen. Rubio stresses border security

MIAMI (AP) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio emerged as a leading Republican voice on immigration last year.

But the potential presidential candidate in 2016 saw his political standing fall among conservatives, so he's now focusing on border security — more in line with party leaders and activists with much influence in how a White House nominee is picked.

Rubio's aides say the senator always has stressed the security issue.

But immigrant advocates contend that in emphasizing only that angle and dismissing the broad bill he helped write, Rubio really is switching sides in the heated debate.

That could help him repair relations with important party supporters.

But it could undercut Rubio's credibility with Hispanic voters. That's a critical factor for the Cuban-American politician in a country that has never elected a Latino president.


Parents of slain US journalist criticize handling

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The parents of a New Hampshire journalist slain by Islamic extremists in Syria say they never knew what the U.S. government was doing to help their son and were told they could be prosecuted for raising money to pay a ransom.

James Foley was kidnapped in 2012. He was beheaded by members of the Islamic State militant group, a killing depicted in an Internet video posted Aug. 19. Two weeks later, another video showed the slaying of another journalist, Jonathan Sotloff.

John and Diane Foley tell WMUR-TV in New Hampshire they hope the government has learned lessons to spare other American lives.

Also Friday, Foley's family announced the James W. Foley Legacy Fund, to support families of American hostages, aid American journalists reporting from conflict zones.


Police: Zimmerman accused of threatening driver

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Police say a driver has reported that George Zimmerman threatened to kill him after a confrontation on the road.

Police are investigating two reports involving the driver and 30-year-old Zimmerman, who was acquitted last year of a second-degree murder charge for shooting an unarmed teenager.

Police say that on Tuesday, the man called police after a truck pulled up next to him and the driver yelled, "Why are you pointing a finger at me?"

Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett says the man recognized the truck driver as Zimmerman. The man says Zimmerman asked, "Do you know who I am?" and threatened to kill him.

Two days later, the man says he saw Zimmerman in his truck outside his work. He called police but declined to press charges. His name hasn't been released.


Florida health centers get $13M grant from feds

MIAMI (AP) — Florida health centers are getting more than $13 million from the federal government to improve access to primary care.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Friday that 48 health centers across the state would receive the grant money. The funds will allow health centers to hire an estimated 215 additional staff, expand clinic hours and add new services including oral health, mental and behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision.

The money is expected to help health centers reach an estimated 69,144 new patients in Florida.

As more Americans get insurance under the Affordable Care Act, health centers are a popular location for services, especially primary care.

Florida has a severe shortage of doctors. The state estimates it would take at least 753 primary care physicians to eliminate the shortages.


Florida fires 11 prison employees in crackdown

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — State prison officials did some major house cleaning this week in the wake of abuse allegations.

The Florida Department of Corrections on Friday fired six more employees, bringing the week's total to 11.

It dismissed three officers and two sergeants for punching and kicking a prisoner at Lancaster Correctional Institution.

Two other officers were also fired in separate incidents. One for a DUI arrest and the other for driving with a suspended license.

On Thursday, the department fired six other prison staffers for battering an inmate at Northwest Florida Reception Center in Chipley while the prisoner's hands and legs were shackled.

The crackdown comes after repeated allegations of systemic abuse, cover-ups and failure to punish guards when inmates are harmed. Department Secretary Mike Crews has been visiting all 49 facilities.


La. Gov. Jindal helping out Florida GOP

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is helping Florida Republicans focused on trying to get Gov. Rick Scott re-elected.

Jindal is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Florida's annual fundraising dinner being held Saturday at Walt Disney World.

Jindal is another potential 2016 presidential candidate helping Scott in his bid to win a second term. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned with Scott on Friday.

The party's "Victory Dinner" is the last big event for the party prior to the final push for the November election.

Both Scott and Democratic rival Charlie Crist have already spent tens of millions on television advertising in the increasingly bitter contest.

Crist is scheduled to campaign in central Florida on Saturday as well.


Judge: Florida can't tax Seminole electric, rents

MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge has sided with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in a dispute with state revenue officials over collection of taxes on electricity and certain rental income.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said in a recent decision that federal law bars the state from collecting tax on electricity at the tribe's reservations. The state had argued in part that the tax benefits the tribe through such things as school construction projects.

Scola also ruled that Florida can't collect taxes on lease agreements the tribe has with companies that operate food courts at casinos in Hollywood and Tampa.

The state contended the tax was being properly applied to the non-tribe companies, but Scola says it was expressly prohibited by federal law if applied to the tribe's leases.