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TRUMP-DAYTONA

Trump takes Daytona 500 warmup lap in presidential limousine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump is giving an election-year embrace to NASCAR and its fans. He's the second president ever to attend the Daytona 500 and as grand marshal, he had the honor of commanding drivers to start their engines. The presidential motorcade took to the track to join in a warm-up lap after he had told the crowd that the racers and their teams were competing “for pure American glory.” Trump made a grand entrance before the start of the race. He gave thousands of fans a flyover of Air Force One and then rode onto the track in the presidential motorcade as the audience roared with delight.

WRONGFUL CONVICTION-REPARATIONS

Florida AG grants reparations for wrongfully convicted man

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Attorney General’s office has announced it was wrong to deny reparations to a Jacksonville man wrongfully convicted of murder. On Saturday, officials granted a petition to compensate Nathan Myers, who spent 43 years in prison for a murder Jacksonville prosecutors said he didn’t commit. A judge last summer granted Myers’ petition for reparations for his time in prison, but last month, the Office of Attorney General vetoed that court order. That veto said that even though a judge determined there was clear and convincing evidence of Myers’ innocence, the judge was wrong. The Times-Union reports the state should now pay Myers $2 million, the maximum allowed under the state’s Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act, for his more than four decades behind bars.

SANDRA THE ORANGUTAN

Orangutan granted 'personhood' turns 34, makes new friend

WAUCHULA, Fla. (AP) — An orangutan who was granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina and later found a new home in Florida celebrated her 34th birthday on Valentine's Day with a special new friend. The director of the Center for Great Apes says Sandra has adjusted beautifully to her life at the sanctuary. Prior to coming to Florida, Sandra had lived alone in a Buenos Aires zoo. The center is home to 22 orangutans and Sandra was a bit shy when she arrived. An Argentine judge's landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, and thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people.

FLORIDA PRIMARY-PARTY

Florida deadline to register to vote, switch parties nears

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Eligible Florida voters have until Tuesday to register or switch their party affiliation if they want to vote in the March 17 Democratic presidential primary. Florida has closed primaries, which means anyone not registered as a Democrat by Tuesday will be unable to vote to choose the party’s nominee. The Orlando Sentinel reports that some areas, like Orange County, had extended hours this weekend to accommodate new registrations and party switches. Two million vote-by-mail ballots are also going in the mail. Early voting begins at the beginning of March and lasts through the weekend before the primary.

CONSTRUCTION WORKER KILLED

Crash on I-95 in Miami kills construction worker

MIAMI (AP) — The Florida Highway Patrol says a worker was killed when a car careened into a construction road closure on I-95 in Miami. The construction worker’s name is being withheld until his family is notified. The Miami Herald reports the crash happened at 2:15 a.m. Sunday, and all southbound lanes of I-95 were shut down until about 7:30 a.m. The FHP says a black SUV and a white Toyota collided as they drove on Interstate 95, sending the SUV into the construction zone. The SUV hit the man, a Ford pickup truck and some construction equipment. The worker was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead..

MACHETE ATTACK-GIRLS

Man accused of slashing girls with machete held without bond

LAUDERHILL, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities say a man accused of slashing two children with a machete is being held in jail without bond on charges that include attempted murder. The Sun-Sentinel reports 47-year-old Dennis Anthony Reid appeared in court Saturday in Broward County. A judge ordered him not to contact the girls, who remain in Broward Health Medical Center in serious condition. According to police, Reid went to care for the children on Friday while their mother prepared to fly to Jamaica. But the visit turned violent, and  witnesses said he grabbed a machete and started slashing the children.

BLOOMBERG-CAMPAIGN OFFICES

Bloomberg opens new campaign offices throughout Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg opening seven new campaign offices in Florida, bringing the total number to ten throughout the state. Offices in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Sanford, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach opened Saturday. The former New York mayor already had offices in St. Pete, Orlando, and the Little Havana area of Miami. Campaign officials say 10 additional offices will open in coming weeks, as will a statewide campaign headquarters in Tampa. Bloomberg has blanketed the TV airwaves with ads in Florida. According to the ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics, Bloomberg has already spent over $300 million on TV, radio and digital advertising.

LEGISLATURE PREVIEW

Florida Legislature is past the halfway point of its session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Linked Media (0)The Florida Legislature is past the halfway point of its annual 60-day session and hasn't tackled any major issues. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been sent seven bills, and most of them are housekeeping items. But in the week ahead, a bill that's on DeSantis' priority list could be heading to his desk. It's a measure that would require girls under the age of 18 get a parent's permission before having an abortion. The House and Senate will also start working out the $1.4 billion gap in their budget proposals.

TRUMP-DAYTONA

Trump looks to rev up his base at Daytona 500

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is looking to rev up his appeal with NASCAR fans, who are a key voting demographic, when he takes in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. NASCAR drivers may drive toward the left on their trip around the oval racetrack, but their fans lean right, which helps explain the regularity with which GOP presidents have made their way to the track. Trump will be the second sitting president to attend the race. George W. Bush was the first. Like Trump, he also attended the race during a presidential election year. Both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush visited the track, but during races other than the Daytona 500.

MATING SNAKES

Mating snakes prompt closure of part of Florida park

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A Florida city has shut down a section of lake after receiving reports that numerous snakes had swarmed the area to have sex. The Lakeland Parks & Recreation department wrote on its Facebook page Thursday that a group of non-venomous water snakes congregated to mate near a traffic roundabout. City officials said the snakes aren't aggressive as long as they aren't disturbed, adding that once mating is finished, they should disperse. Water snakes are native to Florida.