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Thursday's Afternoon Update

Layoffs rise in November in Florida, nationally

Planned layoffs rose in November to 2,758 in Florida, compared to 1,134 for the same month in 2011, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks layoffs announced by employers. But year to date, layoffs totaled 21,624 in Florida, which is lower than the 21,812 from January to November 2011. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Art Basel brings full rooms, high rates to Miami Beach hotels

Tech Trend

Fishing out fake grouper

Matt Loder estimates nearly 12 percent of business at his Crabby Bill's restaurants is grouper, Florida's most economically important seafood product.

But if he's charging $19.99 for a grouper dinner while a competitor is charging $6.99 for what in fact may be fake grouper, "that makes me look like the bad guy in the marketplace," he says.

So imagine if there was a hand-held device — think a fish Breathalyzer — that would help Loder, seafood wholesalers and food inspectors know for sure that the grouper is grouper and the Asian catfish is not.

» More from the Tampa Bay Times.

See also:
» State agency rejects later grouper-catching season in Southwest Florida

Hotels in Miami-Dade are full this week — of guests, art and events. In some cases, they’re even being taken over. See: Lords South Beach at 1120 Collins Avenue, which has been turned from a sunny hotel into an intimidating, super-sized, crowd-interacting black dog. More at the Miami Herald.

Illegal immigration drops after decade-long rise

New census data released Thursday affirm a clear and sustained drop in illegal immigration, ending more than a decade of increases. The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. dropped to an estimated 11.1 million last year from a peak of 12 million in 2007, part of an overall waning of Hispanic immigration. More at the AP.

Voiceover artists in demand during holidays

They are the unseen voices in South Florida: The ones who greet you on behalf of Target, Costco or AutoNation when you're placed on hold. And they are busy this time of year. The Christmas season is a merry one for voice talents, as clients request more holiday greetings and winter updates to entertain their captive callers. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Is NASA lost in space?

NASA's much-touted mission to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025 as part of a trip to Mars is being undermined largely because most agency workers don’t enthusiastically support the mission, a new report says. That finding reflects the space program’s broader struggles to chart a long-term course that can inspire and win broad support, but is also affordable, given tight budgets and political turf wars. More at Florida Today.

Out of the Box
Snake Bounty

python Think you can catch a $1,000 snake? The state wildlife commission is enlisting the profit motive in the fight against the Burmese pythons that have colonized the Everglades. The 2013 Python Challenge will be held next month on South Florida's public hunting lands, with members of the public invited to compete for cash prizes. Winners will receive $1,000 for catching the longest snake and $1,500 for catching the most.

» Full story from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
» Python Challenge 2013