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Today we kick off our series, “1968, Year of Discontent,” highlighting major events of a half-century ago, with the year’s first blockbuster story.

On Sunday, March 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the nation on live television. Two months earlier North Vietnamese troops mounted the Tet Offensive: surprise attacks across South Vietnam, including one on the U.S. embassy in Saigon and the presidential palace. The action caused U.S. and South Vietnamese forces to lose control of several cities temporarily.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s decision to step down after two terms is drawing mixed reaction at City Hall, and leading to a number of "what ifs" in the run up to the June 22 candidate filing deadline.

Mayor Hayward announced a week ago that he would forego a third and final term as allowed by the 2009 city charter. The following day he said it would be business as usual for his remaining nine and a half months in office.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Humanitarian and activist Dr. Feride Rushiti from Kosovo is visiting Pensacola this week, hosted by the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council.

Dr. Rushiti is one of ten women to receive the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award.

In Washington D.C. Friday, First Lady Melania Trump delivered special remarks at a ceremony in their honor.

Courtesty of University of West Florida

The University of West Florida is adding to its history as a military-friendly school by establishing the formation of a new Office of Military Engagement.

Additionally, retired Navy Capt. Chris Middleton has been tapped to serve as military liaison to the university president.

Michael Spooneybarger/ DRSI

University of West Florida biology and environmental science students are getting the opportunity to work on board a new research vessel that docked in Pensacola for the first time this week.

The R/V W.T Hogarth is a 79-foot-long, 26-foot-wide ship that was christened in May 2017. The ship is operated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography and replaces the more-than-40-year-old R/V Bellows. The new ship will be in the Port of Pensacola until Sunday.

In this week’s Gulf Stories Moment, Michael Thomin, museum manager and research associate for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, discusses the history of legal issues involving pirates. 

 

Danielle Laatsch

More than 500,000 teens and adults are expected to rally in Washington, DC, this weekend at the March for Our Lives, a national protest against gun violence.

A Pensacola woman is among the multitudes planning to attend.

Danielle Laatsch is a military spouse, who is well-traveled and previously lived and worked in the Washington D. C. area.

University of West Florida

Walker Wiggle will make his debut at this weekend’s Ciclovia event in downtown Pensacola.

Walker the dog is the main character of the new children’s book promoting physical activity among pre-school children. The title is Walker Finds His Wiggle.

“My name is Walker Wiggle and I live next to this park,” the story begins. “I’ve learned a way to meet new friends, just wag my tail and bark.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

After two terms in office, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward will not seek a third. The announcement came Wednesday from City Hall.

Ashton Hayward was a political neophyte when he entered the mayoral race in 2010, the first election under Pensacola’s new charter that changed to a strong mayor form of government. He was elected over incumbent Mike Wiggins and two other challengers.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Local tourism officials and related businesses are teaming up to inform the public about the economic impact of visitors to the local economy. 

“Tourism Works for Pensacola” is a campaign that will use such stories to show the common thread that tourism provides in giving many here their first jobs or a career path.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Gibson

This Friday the women’s studies collective presents the seveneteenth annual UWF Women’s Studies Conference

In this week’s Gulf Stories Moment, Dr. Alexis Janosik, assistant professor from the Department of Biology at the University of West Florida, discusses the population genetics of crabs and snapping shrimp from artificial reefs.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Expanding the lobbying ban for ex-government officials is among the proposals in a sweeping ethics package, which has been advanced by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

Proposal 39 is among 37 possible changes to the Florida Constitution through which the CRC is sifting. A co-sponsor is former state Senate President Don Gaetz of Niceville, who says if passed by voters in November, it would be the strongest state ethics rule in the nation.

cspan.org

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be doubling down on the confusion, about whether or not Florida is exempt from a five-year offshore drilling plan announced in January.

Appearing before the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, Zinke responded to Rep. Norma Thomas, a California Democrat, about why her state didn’t get an exemption like Florida.

A recent study shows that childhood obesity continues to increase across the country. With few exceptions, the rate of obesity among children is also on the rise at the state and local level.

The national study shows 35.1 percent of children in the U.S. were overweight in 2016. That’s a 4.7 percent increase compared to 2014. Overall, the statistics reflect continuation of a three decades rise in obesity among youth from age 2 to 19.

Locally, there’s reason for optimism if you consider the obesity rate among children in the 2-5 year age range.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Twenty years after first putting on the bunker gear of the Pensacola Fire Department, Ginny Cranor is set to make history.

Cranor is up for promotion from her current rank as Battalion Chief, to becoming the first woman fire chief in the department’s 208 year history.

“I feel very honored to be the first female that’s been chosen to do this,” said Cranor.

Her career in the fire services began after training as an emergency medical technician in 1993. She earned a nursing degree from the University of West Florida in 2012.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters chapters are hoping a new volunteer recruiting campaign this month, 30 matches in 30 days, will prove to be a slam dunk.

With March Madness underway, college basketball’s postseason, the agency is tipping off “March Matchness.” Paula Shell is President and CEO of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, which stretches between Pensacola and Panama City.

National Institute of Health

The University of West Florida is now conducting its first-ever clinical trial as part of a nationwide research study on Alzheimer’s disease.

Governor's Press Office

After Governor Rick Scott signed new gun restrictions into law Friday, in response to last month's massacre that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the legal challenge was not very far behind.

Three weeks of pressure from relatives and friends of the students slain in the in the February 14 massacre provided momentum for the legislation. Scott said the bill balances individual rights with need for public safety, and conceded that it’s not perfect, and may not satisfy everyone. But he added it will make a difference.

In this week’s Gulf Stories Moment, Michael Thomin, museum manager and research associate for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, discusses the history of pirates throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

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