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Parkland trial, a new peek into space, a lifeguard shortage and ‘The Everglades: River of Grass’

An enormous mosaic of Stephan's Quintet from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
An enormous mosaic of Stephan's Quintet from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

The latest from the Parkland trial. We take a closer look at deep space. Plus, how a lifeguard shortage is affecting South Florida beaches. And for this month’s Sundial Book Club we chat about the River of Grass.

On this Tuesday, July 19, edition of Sundial:

Parkland trial

The Parkland shooting trial began this week. The trial's penalty phase began yesterday after a long jury selection process.

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The chosen jurors now need to decide if gunman Nickolas Cruz will get life in prison or the death penalty for killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and wounding 17 others in 2018.

WLRN's Broward County Reporter Gerard Albert III has been stationed at the courthouse this week, and he joined Sundial Tuesday for an update as the second day got underway.

He mentioned the lack of mental health support available for jurors:

"It is an obviously difficult thing to watch. This trial is expected to go at least four months. And, you know, the judge's instructions are clear: You cannot talk to anybody about the trial, even your fellow juror. You cannot talk to a therapist. You cannot talk to your spouse. You cannot talk to your priest or a rabbi. You know, they're having to deal with this pretty much on their own," Albert said. "There are resources for victims. There are resources for the victims' families and even the witnesses. But for the jurors, they're kind of on their own."

You can find more of Gerard's coverage of the first day in the courtroom, here.

Also of note, the Miami-Dade County Commission will consider a recently filed resolution by Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. It urges state lawmakers to expedite the capital proceedings for convicted mass shooters. It says there's "almost never" a question of guilt and that delayed capital punishment costs more money, acknowledging the heartbreak that these cases can cause families. You can find the text of that resolution, here.

Editor's Note: we know the following conversation is a difficult one, with disturbing details for many in our community.

Parkland trial
parkland_cruz_court_date.jpg

A new peek into space

NASA recently released images from the new James Webb Space Telescope.

They’re old images of space but with more vibrancy and clarity. Giving us on this planet a further look into space than ever before — 13 billion years back.

The new telescope will help us better understand our solar system, galaxy and the universe.

Space reporter Brendan Byrne with WMFE in Orlando joined Sundial to discuss the significance of these images.

Find more of Byrne’s interesting conversations about space on his podcast ‘Are We There Yet?

A new peek into space
An image of the Carina Nebula captured by NASA's James Webb Telescope.

A lifeguard shortage 

“Swim at your own risk” signs are popping up around beaches around the country.

In South Florida, more and more lifeguard towers are sitting vacant. Lifeguards are having to work overtime to make up for a shortage in this emergency response profession.

Vacancies are hitting a new record and cities are working on creative ways to get more people interested in the job.

“In the past, we've always had lists of applicants waiting to either test out or people wanted to work for us, whatever capacity part-time or full time,” said Gio Serrano, the acting Fort Lauderdale ocean rescue chief. “It's more of a profession now than a summer job, at least in Florida and South Florida. It's a year-round job. It's a career. And the standards have been going up throughout the years.”

A lifeguard shortage
dorian_south_beach_lifeguard.jpg

‘The Everglades: River of Grass’

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a journalist before she became one of the greatest champions for protecting the Everglades.

She supported the efforts to turn it into a National Park and served on the park’s founding committee.

Her book, “The Everglades, River of Grass,” came out in 1947, the year Everglades National Park was finally dedicated. Two decades later, she convinced President Richard Nixon to nix a project for a major airport in what is now the Big Cypress National Preserve.

We’re reading her book for this month’s Sundial Book Club.

Eve Samples, Executive Director of Friends of the Everglades, joined Sundial to discuss the book and the role that Marjory played in this region.

‘The Everglades: River of Grass’
Everglades.jpg

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, produces WLRN's midday public affairs program, Sundial weekdays at 1 and 8 p.m. Prior to transitioning to production, Caitie covered news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.