Dateline Florida

By Times Wires
Published January 3, 2008

Evolution of new science standards creates hot debate 

What better way to start a new year in the 21st century than with a ruckus that seems stuck in the 19th. The debate over the state's proposed science standards heads to Jacksonville today for what is expected to be a heated public hearing over the theory of evolution. Scientists dig the proposed standards - which students will be tested on - because they embrace Charles Darwin's theory as a fundamental pillar of modern biology. But some religious conservatives say the standards should also reference faith-based theories such as intelligent design, or fully air what they believe to be evolution's "faults." The Board of Education is slated to vote on the standards Feb. 19.

Sperm whale was in very poor health

The 15-ton sperm whale euthanized in the waters off Fort De Soto on Tuesday was an emaciated adult female who was in poor health, a necropsy of the massive mammal revealed Wednesday. "It was obviously not a healthy animal," said Laura Engleby, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service. Biologists originally believed the 30-foot whale was an adolescent, based on its size. After trying to coax the whale back to deeper waters, marine biologists decided it could not be saved. It was at least the third whale - a federally protected species - to wash up along Florida shores since 2002.

Let local lawmakers know your views

Want a say in how the state spends your tax dollars in 2008-09? Pinellas County's state lawmakers are holding a public forum this morning to prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Nearly four dozen community groups are expected to make their pitch in what is shaping up to be a tight financial year for state government. The forum is 9 a.m. to noon at the Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S, Gulfport.