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Digest

News and notes

By TIMES WIRES
Published October 4, 2006


Four new specialty plates unveiled

Coming soon to a tax collector's office near you: Four more specialty license tags approved by lawmakers in the spring and unveiled Tuesday before Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet. Benefiting from the new tags, at a clip of $25 per tag per year: services for the blind, agricultural education programs, affordable housing efforts and organ transplant services. That brings Florida's total number of specialty tags to 185. Getting a specialty plate requires a survey showing at least a 30,000-tag demand and $60,000 for startup costs, plus legislative approval.

Fish may help science increase immunity

The lancelet, a tiny bottom-feeding fish found in Tampa Bay, might be the "missing link" that helps scientists develop better immune-boosting drugs for humans. Researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Research Center and the University of Florida say the inch-long spineless fish produces a key immune system protein that is similar but much stronger than the version found in people. The scientists, including geneticist Gary Litman of Moffitt, report in Nature Immunology that the lancelet stands up remarkably well to the multiple bacterial, viral and chemical threats in the bay. That might lead to better biodefense systems and drugs to fight cancer and disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Decision for secular calendar still an issue

If you thought Hillsborough County commissioners were done pressing school leaders to add religious holidays back to their calendar, think again. Commissioner Brian Blair plans to raise the issue today, and he wants to ask the School Board to restore the holidays. School Board members voted last year to eliminate days off for all religious observances amid debate about adding a day off for a Muslim holiday. The religious holidays returned to this year's school calendar but a school committee has recommended nixing them for 2007-08. Nothing has been decided yet by the School Board.

 

[Last modified October 4, 2006, 00:07:13]


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