News briefs: Florida unemployment remains low; seaweed blob shrinks; Latvala case returns

by | Jul 6, 2023

Quick news briefs summarizing the latest news

Florida unemployment claims remain low as consumer sentiment improves

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor reveals that Florida’s unemployment claims remained relatively low last week, with 5,691 first-time claims filed, down from the previous week. Nationally, there was a slight increase in claims, with an estimated 248,000 filed. The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research predicts a continued improvement in consumer sentiment, driven by Floridians’ positive outlook on the national economy and increased willingness to spend. With Florida’s unemployment rate holding steady, further gradual improvements in consumer sentiment are expected.

Pleasant surprise: giant seaweed blob headed for Florida shrinks

Researchers have discovered that the massive clumps of seaweed, known as sargassum, that have been plaguing Florida’s coastlines for months have suddenly decreased beyond expectations. Initially washing up on Florida’s East Coast in May, the sargassum caused unpleasant odors and skin irritations due to the release of hydrogen sulfide. However, the University of South Florida researchers reported a significant decrease in the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, which extends from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, with only a total weight of about 9 million metric tons by the end of June. The decreasing trend is predicted to continue for the next few months, providing relief to residents of Florida and the western Caribbean Sea. Nevertheless, some regions may still experience occasional beaching events, although the exact timing and location are difficult to predict. Continued monitoring of the seaweed’s movements will be carried out by researchers. (Full story)

Florida Engineering Society awards $36,000 in scholarships to inspire future engineers

The Florida Engineering Society (FES) has granted $36,000 in scholarships to twelve talented individuals who are committed to pursuing engineering careers. Administered by the FES and Florida Engineering Foundation, these scholarships have been awarded to six recent high school graduates and six continuing university students from across Florida. Through initiatives like these scholarships, the FES aims to cultivate interest in engineering and promote educational opportunities in the field, contributing to the preservation and advancement of the engineering profession. (Full story)

Former Florida state senator Jack Latvala misconduct case returns to Ethics Commission due to uncooperative witnesses

The case regarding alleged misconduct by former state Senator Jack Latvala has been sent back to the Florida Commission on Ethics after two key witnesses refused to testify. Latvala, who resigned in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment, denied wrongdoing but admitted to having an extramarital affair. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an investigation but did not press charges. The ethics commission initially rejected a proposed settlement reached by Latvala and an attorney representing the commission. With the unwillingness of the witnesses to participate, the attorney stated she could not proceed without their testimony, leading the case to be sent back to the ethics commission for further consideration. The rejected settlement would have involved Latvala admitting “poor judgment” in his relationship with a lobbyist and potentially facing a public censure and reprimand.


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