FEDERAL PROSECUTORS RECOVER $366 MILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY
Federal prosecutors in the Middle District of Florida recovered $366 million on behalf of taxpayers last year. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida reported Thursday that $290 million came from civil actions, and another $30 million was recovered from criminal cases. In most of the criminal cases, the money was distributed to the crime victims.
SPACE STATION ASTRONAUTS RECEIVE CHRISTMAS DELIVERY
Christmas has finally arrived for the six space station astronauts. A privately launched supply ship reached the International Space Station on Sunday morning, three days after blasting off from Virginia. The space station crew used a hefty robot arm to capture the Cygnus capsule as the two craft zoomed side by side at 17,500 mph.
TRAIN STRIKES, KILLS PEDESTRIAN
The Broward Sheriff's office is investigating after a train struck and killed a pedestrian Sunday morning. The collision happened at 7:30 a.m. on the 2900 block of Southwest 30th Avenue in Pembroke Park, according to BSO.
CREMATION BECOMING MORE POPULAR IN FLORIDA
Fewer Florida families are entombing their loved ones' bodies underground — opting instead to send the remains into the Gulf of Mexico, shoot them into the sky or wear them in a locket. The traditional burial, once so important in the grieving process, is becoming a thing of the past. More than half of Floridians who die are cremated instead of buried.
EROSION A CONCERN AT HISTORIC LIGHTHOUSE
The Lee County Tourist Development Council has tentatively committed $250,000 to an emergency erosion control measure at a seawall near the restored, 1890s-era Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and a related museum. Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 damaged the existing seawall and hastened erosion at the island's south end.
USF STUDENT VETERAN HONORED
A University of South Florida student has been named Student Veteran of the Year for raising money and attention to veterans' issues during a 3,800-mile cross-country bike from San Francisco to Washington. Kiersten Downs raised more than $50,000 in pledges during her two-month ride last year. She blogged, tweeted and met up with veterans who rode with her along stretches of the route. She got a mention on MTV and several other national media outlets.