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Friday's Top Stories

Key West pharmacy is top whistleblower

Citing a tiny Key West pharmacy as the top whistleblower in the country, a national study released Tuesday showed that whistleblowers are gaining billions of dollars for state and federal governments by exposing fraudulent practices in the pharmaceutical industry. The study from Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, reported that in 2012, whistleblowers have sparked $6.6 billion in penalties to be assessed against drug manufacturers, primarily for fraudulently charging high prices in the Medicaid program. Almost half of the actions came from Ven-A-Care, a Key West pharmacy owned by four men. [Source: Miami Herald]


Ammunition for a trade war between U.S. and Mexico

Stat: Nearly one out of two tomatoes eaten in the United States comes from Mexico. The U.S. Department of Commerce said it may be willing to end a 16-year-old agreement between the United States and some Mexican growers that has kept the price of Mexican tomatoes relatively low for American consumers. Florida tomato growers say the price has been so low that they can barely compete. However, Mexico has threatened to retaliate. Read more from New York Times.


Mini-shuttle talk stirs optimism in Brevard

The military’s mysterious mini-shuttle operations might be consolidated on Florida’s Space Coast, and the upcoming third flight of the Air Force vehicle might land at Kennedy Space Center’s three-mile shuttle runway. In what could be an economic boon for an area still reeling from the retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, the Air Force said Thursday it was considering moving X-37B operations to KSC or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Moreover, the upcoming third flight of the unmanned X-37B — a hush-hush vehicle also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV — could be capped with a return to NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility. [Source: Florida Today]

Related: » New law says Apollo astronauts can keep, sell artifact


New noncitizen voter purge has its own problems

With 39 days until Election Day, local officials say they can't comply with notice requirements before removing voters, meaning some noncitizens could cast ballots in Florida; the situation Gov. Rick Scott wanted most to avoid. The state flagged 198 voters of questionable U.S. citizenship by comparing a state database of drivers with a federal citizenship database at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The state released a list showing 38 of them have voted in elections. [Source: Times/Herald]


From Business Florida

Doing business in Florida: Economic development organizations are ready to help

One of the popular areas on Business Florida is a comprehensive list of all the Economic Development centers and organizations around the state. The list is organized by region and then by county. Agencies listed know their communities well and are ready to help expanding businesses establish local connections, find the right sites and settle in to their perfect homes in Florida. Go to site.


ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› GenTV sees ad dollars in South American audiences
In a relaunch, Caracol’s Channel 8 will drop its Colombian focus and aim for a broader niche in Miami’s crowded Spanish television market.

› Lee Schools awarded $17.6M to pay teachers, principals
The district announced it is receiving a big grant from the U.S. Department of Education, with the money aimed at attracting talented teachers and principals through bonuses if they boost student performance at “high-need” schools.

› Everglades' excess water hurting drainage system, wildlife
One month after the huge system had engineers scrambling to move record amounts of water away from our houses and off the streets, canals are brimming, water continues to spill south into the Everglades, and levels in Lake Okeechobee — now above 15 feet — continue to rise.

› Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem keeps building
News of Tampa Bay start-up activity and the efforts to support entrepreneurs is gathering steam even as eyes remain focused on the potential of the First WaVE Venture Center as a one-stop shop for business start-ups coming soon to downtown Tampa. Here's a sampling ...

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

Opinion › Florida's water bill
Floridians can pay a little more now or a lot more later. That was the message delivered to Gov. Scott last week in a letter signed by 20 former water management district board members from across the state. The letter urged the governor to restore $240 million in funding he stripped from the five water district budgets last year.

› Disney 'flexing its bicep' in Florida elections
Walt Disney World has spent nearly $2.5 million on political candidates and causes in Florida so far this election cycle, according to a review of state records.

› UF has exceeded $1.5 billion fundraising goal
Bernie Machen told the Faculty Senate on Thursday that the campaign has raised a "heck of a lot of money" and exceeded its five-year, $1.5 billion goal. An announcement of the exact amount will wait until an event next Friday on campus, he said.

› Proposed FPL rate increase settlement advances
Regulators voted Thursday to move ahead with consideration of Florida Power & Light Co.’s proposed four-year settlement to increase utility rates. The Florida Public Service Commission decided to conduct a formal hearing on the proposal despite opposition from the Office of Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers.

› Nova Southeastern opens $50 million reef research center

The university’s spectacular new research center, built with the help of a $15 million federal grant, will focus on protecting disappearing corals.