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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has struck down a Florida law requiring recipients of welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing. It's the latest in an ongoing court battle between Governor Rick Scott and the American Civil Liberties Union over a bill Scott signed into law in 2011.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it’s creating an emergency plan to coordinate research on a disease ravaging Florida’s citrus crops. Citrus greening infects most of Florida’s commercial orange groves and threatens a  $9 billion industry.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday the federal agency needs to better coordinate with state and local officials and people in the citrus industry to fight back. The department has spent $250 million over the past four years – that’s in addition to millions in industry-funded research.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the Associated Press.

A statement on the actor's Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend's car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

"We ... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news," the statement said.

Americans Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller won the Nobel prize for economics on Monday for developing new methods to study trends in asset markets.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three had laid the foundation of the current understanding of asset prices.

While it's hard to predict whether stock or bond prices will go up or down in the short term, it's possible to foresee movements over periods of three years or longer, the academy said.

Sascha Cordner (scrolls) / WFSU-FM

Updated 02/26/13 5:21 pm:

Broward/Palm Beach New Times

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A retired Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of boys for decades has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Fort Lauderdale court.

Father Neil Doherty was sentenced Monday after pleading no contest in a deal that reduced the sex abuse charges from a capital felony to a second-degree felony. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

The plea comes after several other alleged victims came forward and were planning to testify.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Police in South Florida say rapper Rick Ross crashed his Rolls Royce into a building after hearing shots fired nearby.

Fort Lauderdale police say Ross and a female companion reported hearing multiple shots fired in their direction at around 5:00 a.m. Monday. Police say Ross lost control of the silver Rolls and crashed into an apartment building.

Neither Ross nor his passenger was injured and police say it did not appear that any bullets struck the Rolls.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Tampa socialite is speaking out on the loss of privacy that she says made her a prisoner in her own home after she was linked to a scandal involving two top military generals.

In an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Jill Kelley and her husband Scott Kelley recounted how their lives were upended on Nov. 9 after Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Two winners of the "Fantasy 5" game will collect $103,601.84, the Florida Lottery said Wednesday.

The winning tickets were bought in Brandon and Davenport, lottery officials reported.

The 234 tickets matching four numbers won $142.50 each. Another 7,909 tickets matching three numbers won $11.50 each, and 81,434 tickets won a Quick Pick ticket for picking two numbers.

The numbers drawn Tuesday night were 15-20-23-29-35.

BUNNELL, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man accused of riding his horse while intoxicated during a police chase has changed his plea and was sentenced to time served.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal  reports 29-year-old Charles Larkin Cowart pleaded no contest Tuesday to obstructing an officer without violence and interfering with railroad tracks. He originally pleaded not guilty to the Sept. 24 ride through Bunnell, north of Orlando.

Circuit Judge David Walsh also sentenced Cowart to three years of probation. He had been held in the Flagler County Jail on $7,000 bail.

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The father of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has died.

Bondi's office confirmed that Joseph Bondi died on Tuesday.

Bondi, 76, was mayor of Temple Terrace between 1974 and 1978 and he also served as a city councilman. He was a longtime educator and a professor at the University of South Florida. Joseph Bondi served as a curriculum consultant for many school districts including Miami-Dade.

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.

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