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Friday's Afternoon Update

Unemployment claims in Florida tick up

Florida saw an increase in unemployment claims coming out of the short Thanksgiving holiday week. The U.S. Department of Labor issued a report Thursday that showed an estimated 5,866 initial jobless claims were filed in Florida last week, up from a revised count of 4,034 during the week that ended Nov. 25. Last week’s total is similar to numbers throughout this year. Florida has averaged 5,537 claims over the past four weeks and 5,802 weekly claims since the start of the year.  More from the News Service of Florida and the Gainesville Sun.

Florida families take the fight for disability services into their own hands

Since 2011 more than 20,000 people have been on the waitlist for Florida’s Developmental Disabilities Individual Budgeting Waiver, better known as the med waiver, funded by federal and state matching dollars. The waiver covers most medical needs, live-in care and out-of-home care for those with specific developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, spina bifida and down syndrome. More from WGCU.

Italian firm makes investment in Tampa water technology company

Ecopol, an Italian developer and producer of biodegradable films and delivery systems, says it completed an investment in JRF Technology, a leading developer of water-soluble polymer and edible-film technology. Terms of the investment by Tuscany, Italy-based Ecopol were not disclosed. More from the Business Observer.

School cellphone ban in Orange brings ‘remarkable change,’ educators say. Students miss them at lunch.

New rules that require cellphones to be silent and tucked away in backpacks all day made Sarah Speight’s classroom a better place this semester. Students were more focused on lessons, the Boone High School teacher said, and more willing to engage in discussions. When Speight caught one student passing a handwritten note to another, she couldn’t help but smile at the old-school communication. “Oh, I just was tickled by it. It made me happy,” she said with a laugh. In her view, Orange County Public Schools’ ban on phones during the school day — a rule in effect even during lunch — has been a four-month success story. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

Are direct flights to Japan close? Trade group from Miami-Dade returns with answers

South Florida travelers shouldn’t expect direct flights from Japan anytime soon, but they may get some help with a new incinerator the county needs to build to manage waste. That was the take-home message from a 10-day trip to Japan co-led by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava that ended this week. More from the Miami Herald.

Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of December 8th

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Entertainment
Aquatica Orlando’s newest waterslide will be the ‘most immersive’ in Florida

Aquatica Orlando unveiled its newest waterslide Thursday, which the park said will be the “most immersive” slide in Florida. The new waterslide, called Tassie’s Underwater Twist, will take riders on a journey through Australia’s Shark Bay seagrass meadow. Aquatica said the ride will “transport guests to the depths of the ocean, where they’ll glide through a vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life.”

» Read more from WFLA.