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Florida captain known to hand-feed sharks hospitalized after bite from ‘sea creature’

The captain of a Florida dive boat that specializes in shark encounters was bitten on the hand Sunday, suffering injuries severe enough that he was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the sheriff’s Marine One unit picked up Randall Jordan, the captain of Emerald Charters, after a distress call that he was bitten by a “sea creature.” 

Jordan was in good condition, but still in the hospital Tuesday, according to a St. Mary’s Medical Center spokesman. His sister, Deborah Toohey, said he had to undergo “reattachment surgery.”

>> Read more trending news

“He tries to teach people to not be afraid of sharks,” Toohey said. “He’s an avid environmentalist when it comes to sharks.” 

Jordan did not return calls Tuesday.

In 2015, Jordan was sentenced to a year of probation, a $1,500 fine and 100 hours of community service after he was convicted of three misdemeanor charges stemming from illegally feeding sharks in Florida waters. 

Florida banned feeding sharks in state waters in 2001, but it is still legal in federal waters, said Amanda Nalley, public information specialist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management

George Burgess, who investigates bites for the International Shark Attack file at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said a bite that occurs when someone is feeding a shark is considered a “provoked” incident. 

Burgess said he will investigate the bite. 

“The impression that shark diving operations give is that it’s a perfectly safe operation,” Burgess said. “It’s generally safe, but not perfectly safe.” 

Jordan isn’t the first charter operator bitten while on a shark excursion. 

In 2011, Jim Abernethy was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center after being bitten on the arm. The bite happened about 18 miles north of West End, the Bahamas.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley booked into jail, resigns

Embattled Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned today after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges, ending two years of scandal and intrigue that resulted from an affair with one of his top political advisors. 

As part of the plea deal, Bentley will submit to 12 months of unsupervised probation, surrender more than $36,000 in campaign funds and will serve 100 hours of public service. He can never run for office. 

Montgomery County Judge Troy Massey sentenced Bentley to 30-day suspended jail sentence – meaning he will spend no time in jail. 

Jail records show that Bentley posted $600 bond. 

He spent Sunday “negotiating terms of a resignation with state lawmakers and law enforcement,” according to the Alabama Political Reporter.

>> Read more trending news

Bentley, 74, has battled to outlast a scandal involving recordings that surfaced in 2016 of him making sexually explicit comments to his former aide. 

Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Dianne, divorced him in 2015.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, WHNT reported that Bentley will resign Monday.

Last week, the Alabama Ethics Commission said they had found reason to believe he committed four crimes, all of them felonies, in his attempt to cover up the relationship with aide Rebekah Mason. 

“Gov. Bentley directed law enforcement to advance his personal interests and, in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia, subjected career law enforcement officers to tasks intended to protect his reputation,” Sharman wrote in a report released Friday.

According to the Alabama Reporter article, talk of Bentley’s resignation began on Friday with legislators set to begin impeachment hearings Monday.

The Alabama Republican Party on Sunday called for Bentley to step down. 

AL.com columnist John Archibald wrote on Monday that, “Sources in Montgomery say his lawyers have been involved in negotiations to step down from the governorship and plead to lesser charges, allowing Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey to step up as governor. Sources believe he will resign the governorship by Wednesday.”

Archibald added, “It is possible that Bentley, who has changed his mind often during his term, could change his mind.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Avoid Christmas tree fires with simple safety measures, three-pronged plugs

Just days before Christmas, a family in Yulee, Florida has almost everything after a fire destroyed part of their home.

Fire investigators blamed an electrical cord for starting the fire that caused the family's Christmas tree to goup in flames.

>> Read more trending stories 

While the Sheffield's home is still standing with no exterior  damage, the interior is coated in soot and filled with melted belongings.

"Pretty much within 10 minutes it was done. Yes, everything gone," homeowner Thomas Sheffield said. Sheffield said he was home with his son on Tuesday evening when he heard a loud noise in the living room. "I opened up the door to the house and just saw black smoke and heat. All I could think about was just trying to get the animals out of there." 

What's left of a Yulee family's Christmas tree after it caught fire and destroyed their home days before Christmas @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/yB1XpbEvL3— KatieMcKee (@KatieMcKeeANjax) December 21, 2016

Sheffield and his wife Carina have five children. What's left of their Christmas presents were scattered throughout the living room.

The state fire marshal determined the fire started in the living room where their Christmas tree stood.

"He concluded that it was the extension cord to plug to our Christmas tree that caused it. We have probably 10 of them in our house," Sheffield said.

He and his wife said they fear others do as well.

"I don't want to see other families suffer. It hurts to see your kids hurt. It's not just Christmas, but every memory they have is gone," Carina said.

Couple says state fire marshal determined the fire was caused by an extension cord plugged into their Christmas tree lights @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/FW7Rzs9Lsm— KatieMcKee (@KatieMcKeeANjax) December 22, 2016

She said firefighters had finished putting out the fire when she came home from the pharmacy. She sobbed after walking inside the house to see what was left.

"Pictures of our family vacations, everything just gone, and all because I bought a cheap cord instead of spending a few extra dollars to get a three-pronged one," Carina said.

Investigators said the type of cheap two-pronged extension cord the family used was unsafe. 

A spokesperson with the state fire marshall's office said he couldn't comment about what types of extension cords homeowners should buy, but he did say you get what you pay for.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, it's recommended people use extension cords with polarized and/or three-pronged plugs.

The National Fire Prevention Association reports there is an average of 210 fires annually involving a Christmas tree or decorations. Christmas trees and any decorations need to be 3 feet from any heat source, and people should water their tree daily.

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

>> Read more trending stories

Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Here's how to endorse a political candidate on Facebook

For those who use Facebook as an outlet to voice their political opinions, one feature makes the boldest statement: officially endorsing the candidate of your choice on the social media platform.

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To endorse a candidate, users only have to complete five steps: 

  1. Click the Endorsement tab on the political figure's Facebook page
  2. Click Endorse
  3. Choose the audience you want to see your endorsement post
  4. Write something to go along with your post
  5. Click Post

According to Facebook, users who post their endorsements to a public audience can be featured on candidates' pages if the candidates decide to repost any specific endorsement status.

Only pages that mark a figure as a politician, political candidate or government official can have the endorsement option.

Among those who can be endorsed are presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Duke, a Great Pyrenees that won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in August, and Mayor Stubbs, a cat that has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since the 1990s.

police-homeless-man-bitten-on-shoulder-by-gator

Police: Homeless man bitten on shoulder by gator near Melbourne bridge

Gator snatches family dog at Florida park

A family dog was snatched and killed by an alligator during the weekend when it ran from its owner to chase a rabbit.

Sue Fortenbery told WFTS she was walking with her grandson and her 1-year-old Jack Russell, named Bolt, over the weekend in Pinellas County when Bolt ran off to chase a rabbit. The next thing she could hear was his yelping after he went through a hole in the fence and into the waterway at the preserve.

“The screams is what you can't stop hearing, the yelping," she told WFTS.

There are several openings on the trail, and Fortenbery said those openings are what led to Bolt being taken away by the alligator.

"If the fence wasn't open like this, he couldn't have gone through and the gator couldn't have got him," she said.

Fortenbery told WFTS that she is upset with Pinellas County officials after they told her they wouldn’t remove the gator but would keep an eye on the area. At the moment, the gator is not considered a nuisance “because they had no other complaints” and a better description of the animal would be needed.

WFTS reports the county has yet to survey the area and is asking the public to contact the Parks Department if the gator shows up again.

Gator attacks have been in the news recently with the incident at the Disney resort in Orlando when a child was dragged into the water and killed. A gator was found in Florida with a body in its mouth, and a 10-foot gator had to be put down after it attacked a woman.

Read more at WFTS.

Manatee romance causes traffic jam in Florida

An intimate moment among a group of manatees led to a standstill with traffic in Tampa on Tuesday.

WFTS reports that dozens of people exited their cars to view the “manatee mating ball,” which is when at least seven male manatees are competing for the attention of a single female, with the end goal being to push her into shallow water in order to mate. The act is a rare sight, with WFTS adding that it only can be seen every three to five years.

“The easiest way to identify a mating herd is when there are groups, a large number of manatees that look to be frolicking with each other in shallow waters, generally climbing on top of each other,” Kane Rigney, a manatee biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a video from May. “There will be up to 20 to 25 manatees in some circumstances with a single focal female, and there will be a lot of splashing, a lot of physical interaction with the manatees, kind of like a big bait-ball of fish, but you’ll see the manatees up on shore, rolling on top of each other and climbing.”

Rigney added that manatee mating season begins as early as March, but can take place through the summer and into October and November.

“We generally ask the public to stay away from mating herds — we like to allow that natural process to take place,” he said in the video. “Any interruption to that process can be considered harassment — but not only for manatee safety, but also for human safety. A lot of these manatees that you will see are thousand-pound animals, and at any time, those animals can change their behavior and roll onto a human causing very serious injury.”

Read more at WFTS.

Mothers who brought babies to 'Bad Moms' screening asked to leave, reports say

Brookynn Cahill was set to attend a showing of “Bad Moms,” the new comedy starring Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis, on Friday evening with a large group of other Florida moms at a Fort Myers, Florida, theater, but according to her and other members of the group, they were forced to leave because of their children, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

>> Read more trending stories

According to Amber Cebull, one of the moms, there is a rule in place at Regal Cinemas that doesn’t allow children under the age of 6 into R-rated movies after 6 p.m., but "no one had communicated that children under 6 were not allowed in R-rated movies," she said. "We had breast-feeding moms with infants, one 4 weeks and one 7 months, and they refused them entry."

The mothers were the only two in the group with infants.

Cebull told WTSP the group was refunded the cost of the tickets.

Cahill told the News-Press that an employee singled out, along with another member of the group of around 50 women, Juliana Valverde, mentioning that there was a showing of a more kid-appropriate movie, “Ice Age: Collision Course,” playing in an hour.

"They made me feel like a terrible person for bringing my child," Cahill said.

Cahill said she and Valverde went back into the theater playing "Bad Moms." She said the manger told them to leave when they were caught.

"I think that they have a right to have their rules for their theater," Cahill said. "But I think it needs to be a little different with the age limit. Young babies are sleeping and being perfectly fine. If our babies are going to make a noise, we know how to handle this situation."

Valverde told the News Press that the manager also asked Valverde to “cover up” while she was breast-feeding in the theater. "I am very modest about breast-feeding and, because of the fact I was doing it, I was even more embarrassed. I always have a blanket to cover," she said.

“There’s always people that are going to feel uncomfortable and they shouldn’t,” Valverde told WTVR. “I don’t need anyone’s approval to feed my baby.”

The News-Press added that Florida is among the states “that allow women to breast-feed in any public or private place and exempts breast-feeding from public indecency laws.”

According to the News-Press, the group of women left the theater with Cahill and Valverde and got refunds for their tickets.

Two Fort Myers mothers were asked to leave a showing of "Bad Moms" because they brought their infants along to the...Posted by 10News WTSP on Monday, August 1, 2016

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