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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Florida adopting nationwide education standards

Florida's schools are adopting uniform academic standards shared with most other states, but the move is not creating the kind of uproar that's surrounded some other major changes in public education. Common Core State Standards, which are designed to help American children compete with their peers around the world, are getting mostly high marks from Florida's teachers, administrators and politicians alike. [Source: AP]

Mexico finds unlikely allies in trade fight

As tomato growers in Florida and some other states fight a 16-year-old agreement that they contend allows farmers in Mexico to export tomatoes at a price below their costs, the Mexican farmers are finding allies in the United States. [Source: New York Times]

Returning a gift? Better have an ID and receipt ready

This year, consumers are expected to take back $62.7 billion worth of holiday merchandise. Some retailers have tightened their return policies in an effort to reduce fraud, which increases during the holidays. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Trend-setting Baby Boomers lead to booming business

With millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age, fears are mounting of the economic impact if they follow the pattern of previous generations by curbing spending and draining Social Security and Medicare benefits. But the 78 million boomers — born from 1946 to 1964 — have always broken the mold in terms of setting trends, and some investors and business and community leaders see their retirement as no different. [Source: McClatchy]

Witnessing decades of Florida through a camera lens

A half century ago, as General Development Corp. started selling lots to northerners for $30 down and $20 a month, Mike Swain was there, filming it. Swain had left college to work as a cameraman for his father's company, Hack Swain Productions, in Sarasota. For the next 50 years, he chronicled life in Florida through a camera lens. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]


› New generation of judges serving on federal bench in South Florida
The federal court in South Florida has undergone a generational sea change with the addition of three new judges.

› Customized letters from Santa, via Lakewood Ranch
Seems Santa Claus had some special helpers this year, far from the North Pole, to assist with his letters to children. Click Magnets LLC, an Internet marketing company, is located in, of all places, Lakewood Ranch.

› Orlando simulation engineers develop 'spiritual triage' training for military chaplains
With the U.S. out of Iraq, operations winding down in Afghanistan and military spending under budget-cutting pressure, the Army is calling on Central Florida's computer-simulation training industry to create new "virtual" exercises for chaplains — at a bargain price.

› Port Canaveral still no. 2 despite South Florida report
For a few hours on Monday, area port officials were thrilled to think Port Canaveral had surpassed PortMiami with the most number of cruise passengers of all ports in the world for the past fiscal year.

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› Shoppers disappoint retailers this holiday season
U.S. shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, a disappointment for retailers who slashed prices to lure people into stores and now must hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending.

› Tavares sees its future — in seaplanes
Company picks Lake County city to manufacture 'light sport aircraft' that can land on water.

› If Hostess splits off brands, Florida bid could gain traction
The bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc. is now expected to divide its brands to find the right buyers, a move that could help Sarasota's Hurst Capital win a bidding war for Twinkies.

› Hulk Hogan to open Tampa restaurant New Year's Eve
Hulk Hogan has added a new line to his resume: semi-retired professional wrestler, actor, television personality and now Tampa restaurateur.