Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about in Florida today.
Ready for its close-up: first spacecraft to explore Pluto
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was expected to get up-close and personal with Pluto on Tuesday, on track to zoom within 7,800 miles of the small icy world left unexplored until now. It’s the final destination on NASA’s planetary tour of the solar system, which began more than a half-century ago. Pluto was still a full-fledged planet when New Horizons rocketed away in 2006, only to become demoted to dwarf status later that year. The 3 billion-mile journey from Cape Canaveral culminates Tuesday morning when the spacecraft is due to fly past Pluto at 31,000 mph.
Auto safety agency chief stops in Florida on air bag tour
The head of the federal government’s auto safety agency is making two stops in Florida this week on a tour dealing with defective air bags. National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind is making a stop in Orlando on Tuesday to encourage drivers to check if their vehicles are affected by recalls of Takata air bag inflators. At least eight people have been killed and 100 have been injured by Takata air bags, which can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. One of the deaths was in Orlando.
4 new license plate designs available to Florida drivers
Four new license plate designs are now available to Florida drivers. A new plate honoring the American Legion depicts a soldier, the U.S. flag and the American Legion emblem. Joining the list of 27 military specialty plates is a tag honoring the Florida Veterans of the Armed Services. That plate will be available to any military veteran who meets eligibility requirements. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plate first issued in 1998 now features the team’s logo on a pewter background. The redesigned Florida International University plate now shows the school’s panther mascot and “Go Panthers” on a white background.
Attorney General Pam Bondi warns Floridians about robocall scams
Attorney General Pam Bondi says robocall scams are on the rise across the state in part because technology allows more of them than ever. Bondi says 1,000 robocalls per minute can now be easily made. Many of the products or services being offered are fraudulent. Bondi says other tips include never pushing a button on the phone if a suspected robocall is received. Pressing a button confirms the call was connected and may trigger more robocalls.
Sarasota, Florida City accept BP oil spill settlements
Two Florida cities are accepting settlements from BP for damage caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill — even though neither saw any oil. Although Sarasota beaches never saw gloppy tar balls on its beaches, the perception that the damage was spreading across the region led to vacant hotels, shuttered restaurants and layoffs. City commissioners are accepting a $3.2 million settlement. Landlocked Florida City is accepting a $1.01 million settlement as compensation for losses experienced by hotels, restaurants and gas stations after fearful tourists stopped visiting the Everglades and Florida Keys.