Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Afternoon update: Potential replacements if Pam Bondi joins Trump administration

Attorney General Pam Bondi's absence from Tuesday's one-day organizational session of the Legislature is fueling more speculation that she's a short-timer in Tallahassee. A member of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, she's seen as a likely pick for a White House job. If she does leave, Steve Bousquet presents five potential replacements.

RUBIO PRAISES TRUMP'S SELECTION OF NIKKI HALEY AS UN AMBASSADOR

Sen. Marco Rubio has found another Trump appointment to praise — Gov. Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador. Like Rubio, she harshly criticized Trump during the primary and endorsed Rubio. But Trump still won South Carolina, putting him on a path to roll through Florida and end Rubio's hopes. "I've been impressed with Governor Nikki Haley's leadership of South Carolina and welcome her nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations," Rubio said today in a statement.

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT HANDS DOWN NEW RULING IN FIGHT OVER DEATH PENALTY

The Florida Supreme Court threw out the death penalty of a man convicted of murdering a state prison guard with a knife, ruling that because the jury did not unanimously recommend a death sentence, he should get a new penalty phase. The ruling appeared to strike down the death penalty of every person on Florida's death row who was sent there following a jury vote that was not unanimous, said Orange-Osceola Public Defender Robert Wesley. The court's ruling was in the case of Richard Franklin, who was serving two life sentences for murder and robbery in March 2012 when he fatally stabbed 24-year-old Sgt. Ruben Thomas in the neck with a handmade knife.

LIVE NOW: HAPPY HOMECOMINGS AT TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

SAMANTHA PUTTERMAN | Times

There are lots of smile, hugs — and a few tears — as family and friends welcome their loved ones home for Thanksgiving. Christopher Spata (@SpataTimes) and Samantha Putterman (@SamPutterman) are there; check out their photos in our live blog.

WASTING NO TIME AS HOUSE SPEAKER, CORCORAN ATTACKS TEACHER'S UNION

In his first remarks earlier this week as the new Florida House speaker, Rep. Richard Corcoran lashed out at the state's largest teachers union, calling the organization "downright evil" for continuing to challenge a Legislature-approved tax credit scholarship program in court.

STEELMAKERS LIKE TAMPA'S GERDAU ARE HOPEFUL OF A RENAISSANCE UNDER A DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENCY

Steelmakers nationwide, over the din from their mills and processing plants, heard the promises from Donald Trump on the campaign trail. In Tampa, at the North American headquarters of one of the largest steelmaking operations in the country, Peter Campo was listening, too. And now that candidate Trump has become President-elect Trump, Campo is hopeful that a renaissance of his long-suffering industry might be at hand.

KILLER IN TEMPLE TERRACE SHOOTING SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN PRISON

Authorities say Johnny Gaston Alicea fatally shot 20-year-old Jillian Rae Boone and then shot himself in front of onlookers in the parking lot of a Temple Terrace bowling alley in August 2015. Alicea, now 47, survived and on Tuesday pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella then sentenced him to 30 years in state prison followed by 10 years of probation.

NERVOUS ABOUT THANKSGIVING DINNER? KEEP POLITIFACT'S 2016 GUIDE HANDY

Be honest with yourself: Politics is on the table this holiday season, like it or not. The best advice we have is to try keeping the conversation rooted in reality. Here's PolitiFact's guide to navigating politics this Thanksgiving.

STILL PLANNING YOUR THANKSGIVING MENU?

iStockphoto

If you're looking for a way to jazz up your standard corn dish, try one of these two recipes for something a little different.

If you're still not sure how to round out your Thanksgiving offerings (and brave enough to head to the store today for those last-minute ingredients), we have you covered. From some creative corn dishes to an easy sweet potato spoon bread, there is no shortage of ideas on our cooking page.

HEADING TO THE MOVIES ON THIS LONG WEEKEND?

Focus Features

Amy Adams as Susan Morrow in the film "Nocturnal Animals."

The long Thanksgiving weekend is generally a good time to catch up on your movie watching. Times movie critic Steve Persall says Dwayne Johnsonlifts otherwise placid Moana on his character's beefy shoulders, while Nocturnal Animals gives America a bad reputation. Check out our list of movies opening this weekend.

OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO WITH GUESTS

If movies aren't necessarily your thing, there are plenty of other things to do to pass the time. Check out our things to do database for a calendar of events.

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Column: In Trump World, the need for disobedience

LONDON — Dog lovers tend to find each other in life, for the rest of humanity is, after all, suspect. On a long flight recently, I fell into a conversation with a woman about dogs. It turned into a conversation about disobedience, and the world’s cur...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

When to see the Geminid Meteor Shower light up Tampa Bay (w/video)

Folks around Tampa Bay will be treated to quite the light show Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.And it has nothing to do with Christmas.The Geminid Meteor Shower will produce as many as 120 meteors per hour.The best time to view? We hope yo...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Federal Reserve boosts key interest rate for third time this year

Federal Reserve boosts key interest rate for third time this year

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve is raising its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, signaling its confidence that the U.S. economy remains on solid footing 8˝ years after the end of the Great Recession. The Fed is lifting its short-...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
St. Petersburg police sergeant demoted after throwing bullet at fellow officer

St. Petersburg police sergeant demoted after throwing bullet at fellow officer

ST. PETERSBURG — A long-tenured St. Petersburg police sergeant and executive vice president of the local police union is being demoted to the rank of officer after he threw a bullet at another officer while on duty, the department said on Wednesday.J...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Where have the stone crabs gone? Shortage of Florida delicacy drives up prices

Where have the stone crabs gone? Shortage of Florida delicacy drives up prices

Less than halfway through Florida’s lucrative stone crab season, traps are drying up, dealing another blow to a fishing industry still recovering from a beating delivered by a brutal Hurricane Irma."Everybody’s feeling it," said Walter Flores, owner ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Early signing period, coaching vacancies made for high drama

Early signing period, coaching vacancies made for high drama

Florida State president John Thrasher lost his national championship-winning coach, Jimbo Fisher, to Texas A&M on a Friday.Thrasher spent that weekend considering possible replacements and flew across the country to woo Willie Taggart on Monday. By W...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Andrew Warren announces stepped up Hillsborough effort to disarm domestic abusers

Andrew Warren announces stepped up Hillsborough effort to disarm domestic abusers

TAMPA — Saying too many defendants accused of domestic violence still have guns, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has embarked on a new effort to disarm them.Warren on Wednesday announced an initiative he said will fill in gaps in enforcing ...
Updated: 2 hours ago