Florida

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Sen. Marco Rubio announces bid for 2016 election

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced his presidential candidacy in a conference call to his top donors Monday morning.

The phone call precedes a political event Monday night at Miami’s Freedom Tower, where he will formally announce his campaign to the rest of the public.

The Freedom Tower was a processing center for Cuban refugees escaping Fidel Castro’s leadership, and it reflects both his Cuban heritage as well as his immigration work in the U.S. Senate. Rubio helped draft a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that diluted his support from the right and the left as both were unsatisfied with the middle-of-the-road legislation.

Rubio, 43, is the youngest candidate to enter the race. He has previously served as a state representative for his home state Florida as well as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also expected the formally enter the race, creating state divide between Bush and Rubio.

Rubio is the third Republican and the fourth candidate to enter the race. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced March 23, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced last Tuesday. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday.

Earning a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships, the men’s tennis team improved its record to 4-0 and won its 20th consecutive home opener Sunday. 

The Longhorns started off slowly — losing two of their three doubles matches — but they were able to cruise to a 4–1 win against No. 49 Minnesota on Saturday. Texas picked up two singles wins over ranked opponents and an upset when junior Nick Naumann defeated No. 117 freshman Felix Corwin 6–2, 6–4.

The doubles struggles continued Sunday, as No. 34 Florida State earned the doubles point, creating an early 0-1 deficit.

Freshman John Mee earned Texas its first point after defeating Florida freshman Terrance Whitehurst 6–2, 6–1, but the Longhorns fell behind again after Florida redshirt freshman Jose Gracia defeated junior Michael Riechmann 6–3, 6–4.

A pair of wins from seniors Søren Hess-Olesen and Adrien Berkowicz gave the Longhorns their first lead at 3–2, but the Seminoles evened the score when Florida junior Michael Rinaldi defeated senior Lloyd Glasspool, 7–5, 6–4.

With a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships on the line, Naumann battled back from a set down and defeated Florida senior Cristian Gonzalez Mendez 6–7, 7–5, 6–1 securing a 4–3 win for the Longhorns.

“Nick has just been a warrior for us,” head coach Michael Center. “I just kept telling him, ‘You’re tougher, you’re tougher. Just keep going and keep competing,’ and that’s what he did. And to win decisively in the third set like that, after the first two were so close, shows his determination.”

Texas will return to action Saturday against Southern Methodist University in Dallas as a part of the ITA Kick-Off event.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Two four-star Florida recruits  — tight end Devonaire Clarington and defensive back Tim Irvin — announced their verbal commitments to Texas at the US Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

A 6-foot-5, 224-pound player out of Miami Booker T Washington High School, Clarington held a long list of offers before choosing Texas. He is considered No. 38-ranked tight end in the nation, according to Rivals.com. On the defensive side of the ball, Irvin, who also held multiple offers from top-ranked schools, comes ranked as the No. 23 safety from Westminster Christian in Palmetto Bay, Florida.

The duo's commitments come in the midst of Texas' recruiting hot streak, which started with the commitments of five-star outside linebacker Malik Jefferson and four-star athlete Deandre McNeal on Dec. 19.  In addition, four-star defensive back Devante Davis pledged Thursday, while Dallas four-star linebacker Anthony Wheeler committed to the Longhorns at Friday's Under Armour All-American Game.

Texas' recruiting class now consists of 25 recruits, leaving just six open spots in the 2015 class. With National Signing Day approaching on Feb. 4, the Longhorns have heard interest from a number of top-named recruits, including five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack, five-star wide receiver DeMarkus Lodge, four-star wide receiver Ryan Newsome and four-star wide receiver Carlos Strickland, among others. 

Currently, Texas has the No. 4 rated recruiting class, according to Scout.com.

Sophomore guard Damarcus Croaker will transfer and has been given an unconditional release from his scholarship, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-2 guard will probably transfer somewhere closer to his hometown--Orlando, Florida—where his 10-month-old son, Damarcus Jr, lives.

After averaging 9.5 minutes per game as a freshman, Croaker has seen a sharp decline in playing time this year. Despite being healthy, Croaker has played in just five of the team’s nine games and has the least time on the floor of any scholarship player.

Croaker was a heralded recruit coming out of high school in Florida, as Rivals.com had him the 105th best prospect in the nation and ESPN.com had him ranked the sixth best in Florida.

He has just eight points on the year, on 3-of-10 shooting.  

 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For senior outside hitters Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell, the upcoming NCAA tournament will be a bittersweet moment.

On the one hand, the duo is ready to get going on another run toward a national championship; however, they know that any game from here on out could be their last in a Texas uniform.

“We want it to start, but then we don’t want it to,” Eckerman said. “We just know that we have to go in one game at a time.”

The Longhorns’ road back to the Final Four will go back through Austin and then through Minneapolis. Sunday, Texas was announced as the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament.

Joining the Longhorns in Austin for the first and second rounds, respectively, is Northwestern State, Texas’ opponent Thursday,  and then either Arizona State or Texas A&M — the third-straight year the selection committee has tried to put the two rivals against each other in the second round.

If another edition of the instate rivalry occurs, Bell said it would be like playing Oklahoma.

“Texas is our home state, and we want to own our home state as well,” Bell said.

For the second time in the past three years, the Longhorns enter the tournament off of a loss in the regular season finale after losing a difficult five-set match to Florida on Saturday afternoon. In the loss, Texas failed to capitalize off of 16 Florida
service errors.

Still, the last time Texas entered the tournament after a loss in 2012, the Longhorns went on to win the national championship. Eckerman said the loss to Florida refocused them and motivated them not to let that losing feeling occur again.

“That’s what happened in 2012; we didn’t want to feel that feeling of sitting in the locker room knowing that we had just lost,” Eckerman said. “So that gave us some motivation to change and move forward.”

Although Texas will face a difficult challenge in the second round — no matter whether the opponent is Texas A&M or Arizona State — the Longhorns’ path to get back to the Final Four in Oklahoma City is considered by many to be the easiest of the top-four overall seeds.

The next highest seeded team in Texas’ region is No. 7 North Carolina, which Texas would possibly face in the “Elite Eight.” The Longhorns have a potential “Sweet 16” matchup with tournament dark horse No. 15 Colorado State.

Even with a “weaker” regional bracket, head coach Jerritt Elliott said their focus is on their first two rounds.

“Both Arizona State and Texas A&M are very, very good,” Elliott said. “They’re both a threat.”

But, looking ahead toward her final games as a Longhorn, for Bell, it would mean everything to go out as a two-time national champion.

“To end my senior season with that win would be great,” Bell said.

Sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu and sophomore outside hitter Paula Prieto Cerame fail to block a kill from No. 6 Florida.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Texas volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott scheduled No. 6 Florida for the last regular season match to give the Longhorns one final challenge before the NCAA tournament.

Saturday afternoon, Elliott and the Longhorns found that challenge and more against the SEC champion Gators, capping off regular season play with their second loss.

Florida seemed to handle everything Texas threw at it: blocking, senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman on the service line and sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu up the middle. Executing a dominant fifth set, the Gators overpowered the Longhorns.

“I think Florida played extremely well,” Elliott said. “We just weren’t very efficient from the start from the service line or serve receive line. We made mistakes late in the games, but I think it’s something we can learn from and grow from and keep moving.”

The dogfight kicked off from the start as neither side built a lead of more than 2 points until Texas took a 10-8 lead behind a kill from sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame and an attack error by Florida. The Gators later took a 22-19 lead before the Longhorns fought back with a 5-0 run.

“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was important to, obviously, win the first game and take control of the match,” Elliott said.

The second set, though, belonged to Florida. The Gators jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead and never looked back before stealing the set 25-20. In the set, the Longhorns were held to just a .125 hitting percentage — their lowest of the match.

The third set started as a role reversal of the second set, as Texas jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead. The Longhorns eventually found themselves with a 22-21 lead late in the set, but the Gators went on a 4-1 run to take the set 25-23.

Texas won the fourth set to keep the match alive but dropped a back-and-forth fifth set 15-12.

With the win, the Gators avenge their loss to the Longhorns earlier this season in Gainesville, Florida. Elliott said Florida — especially sophomore right side Alex Holston, who had 29 kills — was much improved this time around.

“I thought their defense was really good and their passing was exceptional,” Elliott said. “Their out-of-system game was just better, some of their pin hitters we couldn’t control.”

Texas has now lost two of its last three regular season finales. In 2012, Texas finished regular season play with a 3-2 loss at Iowa State and then went on to win the national championship.

Ogbogu said the loss will motivate the team in the tournament.

“I think, if anything, this is going to make us hungrier and realize that this year, anyone can win the national championship,” Ogbogu said.

The Longhorns received the No. 2 overall seed and the top in the Minneapolis Region in this year’s championship bracket. Texas will open against Northwestern State at home Thursday. The winner faces either Texas A&M or Arizona State on Friday.

Auburn at Alabama

The last time these two teams met, Chris Davis had his 15 minutes of fame after returning a missed Alabama field goal for a game-winning touchdown and helping Auburn leapfrog into the national title game. A year later, the stakes aren’t exactly the same, but the drama should be similar. Auburn has dropped off a bit with losses to Mississippi State and Georgia and then literally fumbling the game away against Texas A&M. Alabama, on the other hand, will be looking for revenge against the team that knocked it out of the national title game last year. Despite a close loss at Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide have run through the SEC West gauntlet and have put themselves in a position to get into the playoffs. These teams are headed in different directions, but this is the Iron Bowl, which is always must-watch television.

Mississippi State at Ole Miss

The stakes aren’t nearly as high as we thought they might be in October, but this should still be a great game between two rivals. Mississippi State still has a shot to make the top four for the playoffs, and a win over Ole Miss would be a big résumé builder. Bulldog junior quarterback Dak Prescott remains a Heisman candidate after throwing for 2,714 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. Ole Miss, on the other hand, is heading in the wrong direction after a promising start to the season. The Rebels knocked off Alabama but then lost to LSU, Auburn and Arkansas. Senior quarterback Bo Wallace has been less than stellar the past four games, with only five touchdown passes and four picks. Still, this game is in the national spotlight for the first time in quite some time and is well worth a watch. 

Florida at Florida State

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a matchup. Florida has seemingly dropped off the face of the college football landscape along with former head coach Will Muschamp, and Florida State has won 27 games in a row. But there are a lot of unknowns in this rivalry game. Florida could be inspired by its coach’s last game and come out like world beaters, similar to what it did to Georgia a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Florida State has made a habit of struggling against lesser teams in the first half and barely pulling out a win at the very end. No, this isn’t the Gator-Seminole rivalry of old, but it’s suddenly all the rage to see if this is the week Florida State finally falls.

Georgia Tech at Georgia

This could be the most underrated rivalry matchup this week, which says a lot considering both teams come into the game ranked pretty high. Georgia Tech has quietly worked its way through a tough schedule and put an exclamation point on it with a 28-6 win over then-No. 19 Clemson. Meanwhile, Georgia has at times looked like a national championship contender, with wins over Missouri and Auburn, but looked mediocre in the loss to Florida. Still, the Bulldogs need this win to stay alive in the race for the SEC East title. At any rate, this is a game that deserves to be watched.

Amy Neal, junior libero and outside hitter, has had great success since returning from an injury. She’ll look to lead the Longhorns to vic- tory in their final two games of the regular season against TCU and Florida.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

As the volleyball regular season winds down and the NCAA tournament looms, No. 3 Texas (22-1, 14-1 Big 12) plans to use its last two games to secure a top seed.

The Longhorns have already secured the Big 12 Championship, their fifth title in six years and 21st in school history. Texas has also defeated two ranked opponents — No. 7 Florida and No. 13 Arizona — and toppled then-ranked Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Despite the regular season success, head coach Jerritt Elliott said he plans to use the final two games to ensure his team earns a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

“Right now, we are just working on some areas that we feel we have deficiencies in,” Elliott said. “But we have a tough schedule still — we have [TCU, then] Saturday we play Florida here, so we have some work to do. It’s going to be a lot of work to uphold our seed now. That’s what we are trying to do with the RPI.”

Currently, Texas ranks second in RPI behind undefeated Stanford. In the most recent AVCA coaches’ poll, the Longhorns find themselves third — ranked below No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Wisconsin. If the season ended today, Texas would be a lock for a top-four seed. The Longhorns have a chance to improve their standing in the RPI against TCU on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and against No. 7 Florida on Saturday.

Texas has already defeated both TCU and Florida this season. In its first match of the season, Texas swept the Horned Frogs to win its 34th straight home game — a streak Oklahoma ended Oct. 25. The Longhorns had a harder time getting past Florida in Gainesville, as the Gators took the match to four sets, but Texas prevailed.

“We just want to focus on how we can improve and get better every day,” said Amy Neal, junior libero and outside hitter. “In practice, we need to go hard and not let up at all because every game is going to be hard, and everyone is going to come out and play well against us.”

In its final two games, Texas will rely on Neal, as she has come back and played well after being sidelined by an injury. The Longhorns will also look to their seniors — outside hitter Haley Eckerman and middle blocker/outside hitter Khat Bell — who will play their final regular season games in burnt orange this week.  

As they look to nail down a top seed, Neal said this may be the most talented Longhorn team she has seen during her three years as a Longhorn.

“This team is really deep in talent,” Neal said. “I think that anyone on this team could be starting. Every day at practice is super competitive, and everyone is so good. I think, in the practices this year, the work ethic is at a high level.”

Brittany Rhea Deputy, communications librarian at the Perry-Castañeda Library, assists with research.

Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

During her undergraduate years at the University of Florida, Brittany Rhea Deputy wanted to be in Disney parades and on Broadway. But she realized she was too tall to be Tinker Bell, and, once she graduated, she ended her musical theater career. When she got a research job through the University, she fell in love with libraries.

Rhea Deputy started re-reading old archives and databases in her office. She did not feel like it was a profession. Her new career would lead her to rural Alabama and eventually to Texas.    Rhea Deputy is now a communications librarian at UT and works in a corner office at the Perry–Castañeda Library. She wears plaid, long-sleeved shirts to stay warm in the air conditioning. She carries a walkie-talkie, in case someone has a research meltdown, and displays her engagement photos on her desk. Although she organizes books, she said that is only a fraction of her job. She holds one-on-one consultations with graduate students and professors when they work on their research.

She said not all librarians have cats or wear cardigans. Instead, she said librarians have special interests — her specialty is playing piano with her fiancé, who is a composer. 

Rhea Deputy enjoys her job but is frustrated by the large size of UT. She wants to make genuine connections with the patrons. She does not
expect much, but she believes her humor, knowledge and stories will help her students grow. 

When Rhea Deputy is not in the library, she is adjusting to Texas. She likes Austin because she said it reminds her of the diverse communities in Florida. She said Austin is a town full of cowboys and start-up companies. 

“It wasn’t that big of a jump from singing musicals to being a librarian because plays are stories,” Rhea Deputy said. “I went from musical stories to research stories. These are just as important.” 

Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers gather outside their community center in rural South Florida, the epicenter of the U.S. fresh tomato industry.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Emiko Laura Soltis | Daily Texan Staff

Thirteen years ago in a Florida beach town, a small group of farmworkers from a dusty agricultural town a half-hour away filed out of their old van, hand-drawn signs in tow, to declare a national boycott of Taco Bell.

In a modern incarnation, David, fed up with injustice, had thrown the gauntlet against Goliath.

For decades, farmworkers in the U.S. have endured grinding poverty, powerlessness and violence, but these tomato-picking picketers were bent on transformation by building awareness of their plight and vision for change.

Their quest — to demand accountability for human rights abuses in the fields from multi-billion-dollar food retailers that profit more than anyone else in the chain of supply — perhaps seemed improbable.

But by forging alliances with consumers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers built a movement that triggered dramatic change for tens of thousands of women and men toiling in our nation’s tomato fields.

UT students were among their earliest allies in the fledgling struggle. In November 2001, just months after the CIW quietly launched its campaign, several Longhorns met Immokalee farmworkers at a gathering in Georgia, bringing back to the 40 Acres a commitment to organize in solidarity.

Members of Campus Greens and Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Atzlán began handing out flyers every Friday at the Taco Bell stores in the Texas Union and Dobie Mall, at times even donning bulbous tomato costumes.

Provocative posters, churned out of the Fine Arts school, graced electric boxes for miles around campus. A vibrant coalition of dozens of student groups and Greek organizations endorsed a call to “Boot the Bell” from campus.

In 2003, Student Government debated, but cowardly voted down, a resolution directing UT’s food-service provider Aramark to sever its contract with Taco Bell. Following this legislative defeat, the issue was taken in 2005 to the Texas Union Board, which also declined to take a stand. But weeks later, in March 2005, Taco Bell gave in to national pressure and joined farmworkers’ efforts.

(Years later, after the world’s four largest fast-food chains signed with CIW, Aramark found itself in student protest crosshairs, ultimately conceding in 2010.)

Today, 12 major buyers — from WalMart to Whole Foods, McDonald’s to Taco Bell — have joined the Fair Food Program, whereby they pay a tad extra for tomatoes, to boost farmworker pay, and condition their purchases on farms’ compliance with a worker-drafted, worker-monitored code of conduct.

The White House praised the Fair Food Program as among the nation’s “most successful and innovative programs” to combat human trafficking. Since the mid-1990s, the CIW had uncovered and helped prosecute seven brutal cases of forced labor, involving more than 1,000 farmworkers in the Southeast U.S.

Yet a front-page New York Times article in April described the tomato industry today, because of CIW’s achievements,  as “probably the best working environment in American agriculture.”

In September, former President Bill Clinton selected CIW for his prestigious Global Initiative Award, lauding the group as “the most astonishing thing politically happening in the world we’re living in today.”

Inexplicably, however, Wendy’s has rejected CIW efforts. A nationwide student campaign dubbed “Boot the Braids” aims to overturn their resistance.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, CIW member Silvia Perez will be on campus giving classroom presentations.  “My hope is UT students will join us in calling on Wendy’s to do the right thing by ending its refusal to join the Fair Food Program,” Perez told me. 

Perez is in town for the Texas premiere of “Food Chains,” a penetrating film on the Immokalee farmworkers, whose producers include actress Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation.” 

The film will screen at The Marchesa on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and costs just $5 with a student ID. Mexican folk music from Son Armado precedes the film, with a panel afterward composed of Perez; Smriti Keshari, the film’s producer; and Tom Philpott, food correspondent for Mother Jones.

Truly, it is an honor to have CIW on the 40 Acres. 

Lamentably, given their inexcusable refusal to join Fair Food efforts, the same cannot be said for Wendy’s. 

Buckley is a Spanish and sociology alumnus who worked as a Daily Texan columnist during his time on the 40 Acres. He has lived in Immokalee, Florida, for seven years.