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Florida’s News in 90: Trump in court, extreme weather and cruise passengers assault

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Florida’s News in 90: Trump in court, extreme weather and cruise passengers assault


Support local journalism. Unlock unlimited digital access to your local USA Today Florida Network news site.

Looking for the stories included on today’s News in 90 Seconds? Click the links below:

Trump in Fort Pierce live updates: Crowd awaits his exit from courthouse; could be hours

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Tornado watches issued for several Florida counties as another cold front moves through

2 women on cruise out of Florida reported being drugged, raped in Bahamas. What we know

Rob Landers is a veteran multimedia journalist for the USA Today Network of Florida. Contact Landers at 321-242-3627 or rlanders@gannett.com. Instagram: @ByRobLanders Youtube@florida_today

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Florida Gators elevate Russ Callaway to co-OC | Ron Roberts has a sense of urgency for the defense

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Florida Gators elevate Russ Callaway to co-OC | Ron Roberts has a sense of urgency for the defense


Recent coaching changes at the University of Florida are ushering in an exciting period of transformation. In this episode of Gators Breakdown, David Waters examines the recent staff changes, announced on Saturday. These include the promotion of Russ Callaway from tight ends coach to Co-Offensive Coordinator, and the departure of graduate assistant Kali James. Besides these shifts, the Gators have also welcomed a new strength and conditioning coach. This episode also features intriguing comments from Ron Roberts, another recent addition to the coaching staff. Roberts, now serving as Executive Head Coach, Co-Defensive Coordinator, and Linebackers Coach, has underscored the urgent need for improvements to the Gators’ defense.

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LISTEN: Catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown

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Follow David Waters on Twitter @GatorDave_SEC to stay plugged in, or click one of the following to tune in:

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Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.





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No. 24 Florida bounces back with win over Vanderbilt

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No. 24 Florida bounces back with win over Vanderbilt


21 minutes ago
Florida Athletics

What Happened

Florida junior guard Will Richard equaled his career high with five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 21 points to help pace the Gators to a 77-64 victory Saturday afternoon in their Southeastern Conference meeting against Vanderbilt at Exactech Arena/O’Connell Center. Junior guard Walter Clayton Jr. added 19 points, grad-forward Tyrese Samuel posted 15 points and six rebounds and backup freshman forward Alex Condon had eight points and nine boards, as UF won its eighth game over the last 10. The Commodores, with just two league wins, came into the game ranked near the bottom of the league in a slew of offensive and defensive categories and they didn’t improve any of them much, if at all. UF scored the game’s first five points, took an early eight-point lead, then withstood something of a drought before taking first double-digit edge at 23-13 at the 7:30 mark while Vandy was 11 of 13 field-goal tries. Florida led at halftime 35-20 after holding Vandy to 26-percent shooting and its lowest-scoring first period of the season. The margin went to 19 early in the second half, then down to 10 when the Commodores went on a run of five straight makes to close within 47-37 with just under 14 minutes to go. Five minutes later, the Gators were up by 22 on the way to shooting 54 percent in the second half. Vandy scored the game’s last seven points after UF emptied its bench, with the subs commiting four turnovers over the last two minutes.

What it Means

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The Gators protected their home floor for the ninth consecutive game, improving to 12-1 at the O’Dome this season and guaranteeing no worse than a .500 record in SEC play for the ninth consecutive season. By days end, UF will remain no worse than in fifth place in the SEC standings, but could (pending results around the league) find itself in a tie for fourth place. That would be an enviable spot, considering the top four teams at season’s end get double byes in the SEC Tournament bracket.

In the Spotlight

Richard came into the game shooting 28.4 percent from the 3-point line in SEC play. He went 5-for-9 from the arc to go with four rebounds and three assists. If the Gators can get him back to anywhere near his career average of 35.0 percent from distance a really good offense could get even better.

Staggering Statistic

Clayton, with his 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting and 3-for-7 from deep, fell a single point shy of becoming the first Florida player since Dwayne Schintzius in 1989 to score at least 20 points in five consecutive games. That’s a long time, with a lot of good players having coming through here. Meanwhile, UF grad-transfer point guard Zyon Pullin finished with just two points (his first non-double figure outing of the season, but had six assists and just one turnover. Oh, and he was also a plus-25 in the box score, the highest plus/minus by a Gator in SEC play this season.

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Florida (19-8, 9-5) is back home Wednesday night for a second consecutive game a SEC cellar-dweller, this time against last-place and still-winless-in-the-league Missouri (8-19, 0-14), which got drummed at Arkansas 88-73 earlier Saturday.



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New Florida Bill Could Force Unhoused People Into Encampments

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New Florida Bill Could Force Unhoused People Into Encampments


A Florida bill that would ban houseless people from sleeping in public places and force them into encampments is progressing through the House and Senate after receiving vocal support from Gov. Ron DeSantis. Senate Bill 1530 and House Bill 1365 would prohibit city and county governments from allowing houseless people to sleep or camp on public property and rights of way. The bills call for the creation of encampment sites where houseless people will be allowed to stay and for a portion of funding to be directed toward mental health and shelter facilities. Houseless advocates and formerly houseless individuals say the bills are discriminatory and dehumanizing toward houseless people.

“It’s an incredibly discriminatory, racist, elitist, and repressive bill that looks to dehumanize the poor, the Black, and the homeless and designate people as undesirable and take them out of the cities where they can’t afford these increasingly unaffordable, escalating skyrocketing rents and put them into camps outside of cities,” said David Peery, a formerly houseless advocate and the founder of Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity. “This has been a longstanding goal of certain really fascist repressive people throughout the years.”

The bills are now advancing through the Fiscal Policy committee in the Senate and the Health and Human Services Committee in the House. DeSantis expressed support for the bill during a press conference in Miami Beach on Feb. 4 but said he did not support the creation of encampments, “particularly in areas that would interfere with the public conducting normal business.”

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The disapproval mirrors a similar “NIMBY”-ism (not in my back yard) that Miami commissioners faced when they tried to move houseless individuals to a historic Black beach in 2022. After thousands of locals protested the decision, some because of the inhospitable living conditions it would create for houseless individuals and the environmental implications and others because of prejudice against having houseless individuals near their recreational area, the idea was rejected. A location is still being determined.

“One of the reasons why this proposal is unlikely to work is because … nobody is going to want any type of homeless camp [anywhere] near where they work or live,” Peery said, adding that legislators are “blinded” by their hatred of the poor. “That just tells you that in their mind it’s, ‘Let’s just deport them to uninhabited islands. They’re out of sight, out of mind.’”

Florida has had the third-largest houseless population in the nation since 2020, behind California and New York. In 2023, the state had 30,809 unhoused individuals, according to the annual report by Florida’s Council on Homelessness.

Peery and other advocates have been calling for a housing-first approach, which prioritizes providing housing for people so that their most basic needs can be addressed. Conservative think tanks like the Cicero Institute strongly oppose this model and have created model legislation that further criminalizes houselessness.

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“These efforts have been spearheaded by very conservative think tanks, very conservative people that simply want to relegate the poor into the areas where they cannot see them,” Peery said. “They certainly want to use and exploit the poor for their labor in order to produce their wealth that they can use, but they don’t want to see them.”

In the 2018 case Martin v. Boise, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to criminalize camping on public property when the people in question have nowhere else they can legally sleep. In 2019, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of that case. The case could now be overturned in Grants Pass v. Johnson, when the Supreme Court decides whether cities can legally ban or limit unhoused people camping in public spaces. If the Supreme Court rules that this prohibition is not cruel and unusual punishment, they could open the door for anyone camping out anywhere in the country to be arrested, whether a shelter bed is available or not.

“It’s a very serious thing, and it can absolutely have implications for this law that they’re trying to pass in Florida,” said Florida houseless advocate and member of Food Not Bombs Jeff Weinberger. “I think this is a horrible, horrible law. They are trying to control individuals’ freedom of movement … We have a constitutionally protected freedom of movement in this country, and to tell people that the only way they can exist in this world is if they’re living in a sanctioned encampment, where their lives are very much going to be controlled by the state, there’s another name for that, and it’s not encampment, it’s prison.”

Weinberger urges citizens to contact their local officials and voice their concerns with the bills.

Prism is an independent and nonprofit newsroom led by journalists of color. We report from the ground up and at the intersections of injustice.

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