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Book removals; speaker of the House ousted; Florida wildlife stories

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's harshest critics, speaks to reporters on the steps of the Capitol in Washington on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.
Mark Schiefelbein
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's harshest critics, speaks to reporters on the steps of the Capitol in Washington on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.

Schoolbooks in Florida

Katie Lyons’ second grade daughter brought home a book from her school library last spring. It was a biography written by a best-selling author that had been published a few years earlier.

In April, Lyons asked the school district to review the book. She asked for the book to be removed from the school library. In her request, she wrote, “I do not believe it is suitable for elementary students.”

More books have been pulled from public schools in Florida than any other state, according to PEN America — a free-expression advocacy group.

Dozens of school districts have taken action against hundreds of books. New Florida laws championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis have empowered parents and activists to file more reviews.


  • Brad Meltzer, an author from Florida who had his book series I Am Billie Jean King reviewed.
  • Jeff Solochek, an education reporter at the Tampa Bay Times.

Republican speaker of the House removed

This week saw a Florida Republican, almost single-handedly, take down the person third in line for the Oval Office. Congressman Matt Gaetz followed through with his threat to kick Kevin McCarthy out as U.S. speaker of the House.

It happened in less than 24 hours. The legislative effort began Monday when Gaetz made his motion to vote McCarthy out of office.


  • Ledge King, managing editor at the National Journal Daily.
  • Greg Allen, an NPR Correspondent who covers Gaetz’s congressional district in the Panhandle.

Florida wildlife stories

Let’s start with the story of a sea turtle found not in the picturesque sands of the Gulf Coast but in a common retention pond of freshwater — not the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico. That reptile is back in its native environment thanks to a little human assistance. WGCU Senior Environment Reporter Tom Bayless has the tale.

Federal environmental officials want to help other animals move about around Southwest Florida, including the elusive Florida panther. The idea is to create a conservation area and stitch together a wildlife corridor. Steve Newborn reports from our partner station WUSF in Tampa.

In other parts of Florida, bears are finding themselves in places where people are. A sheriff in Franklin County, southwest of Tallahassee, said his county is “inundated and overrun by the bear population.” Last month, you might’ve seen video footage of a black bear that wandered into a wooded area near Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Tens of thousands of us have watched a family of eagles through the years in North Fort Myers — thanks to the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam Livestream on YouTube. The livestream has no fewer than three separate cameras to watch the nest and surrounding branches high above Bayshore Road, not far from a Publix at a shopping mall named, appropriately, Eagle Landing. WGCU’s Mike Braun reports in Fort Myers.

Florida also had some Canadian guests this week. Not snowbirds, but air pollution. Air quality across a large part of the peninsula and parts of the panhandle on Tuesday was considered unhealthy for people with asthma or breathing problems thanks to smoke from Canadian wildfires drifting this far south.

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