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  1. PolitiFact Florida: Rubio largely right that Cuba promised no democratic reforms

    Politics

    Sen. Marco Rubio has taken the lead opposing President Barack Obama's overhaul of U.S.-Cuba relations. His main complaint: The United States isn't getting enough out of the deal, especially when it comes to democratic reforms.

    Sen. Marco Rubio on Cuba: “The White House has conceded everything and gained little.”
  2. Suspect charged in Tarpon Springs police officer's slaying (w/video)

    Crime

    TARPON SPRINGS — A veteran Tarpon Springs police officer and father of five was shot and killed early Sunday while responding to a call about a man banging on doors at an apartment building.

    Tim Stevens, volunteer chaplain placed flowers on the memorial for Tarpon Springs police officer Charlie Kondek, 45, outside of the public safety facility in Tarpon Springs on Sunday December 21st, 2014.

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES
  3. Dunedin's Honeymoon Island undergoing beach renourishment

    Environment

    DUNEDIN — Come spring, even more Honeymoon Island visitors than before will be able to watch shore birds frolic among beach plants and sea turtles nest along a sandier coast, officials say.

    Beach renourishment is underway at Honeymoon Island State Park as crews are placing large rocks to make T-groins. Construction crews in September embarked on the project to install three T-groins which will hold in place sand just off shore from the furthest north beach parking lots. The park attracts more than 1 million visitors a year.
  4. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Barack Obama on Guantanamo, Iran

    Politics

    President Barack Obama took on critics of his foreign policy Sunday in a year-end interview with CNN, defending decisions to better relations with Cuba and Iran while arguing that "shooting first and thinking about it second" does not project strength.

    President Obama said he has been “consistent in saying that where we can solve problems diplomatically, we should do so.”
  5. Puzzle Pieces: Dozier's neglected cemetery yields more bodies than expected, but names are harder to find

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — There wasn't much left of the boys.

     University of South Florida assistant professor Dr. Erin Kimmerle watches over excavation efforts in the Boot Hill cemetery at Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. on February 5, 2014. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times]
  6. FSU clears quarterback Jameis Winston of code of conduct violations

    Sports

    Jameis Winston has been cleared of sexual assault accusations and possible violations of Florida State's code of conduct, a retired judge has ruled.

    Florida State Seminoles quaterback Jameis Winston leaves his student conduct code hearing this month in Tallahassee. The hearing continued Wednesday morning. [Getty Images]
  7. Lightning strike, multiple injuries reported at Raymond James Stadium

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Lightning struck an SUV in the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium shortly after Sunday's Buccaneers-Packers game, sending seven people to the hospital, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

  8. Temple Terrace Police seek to ID shooting victim

    Crime

    TEMPLE TERRACE — Police investigating a killing late Friday night behind a shopping center are still trying to determine the victim's identity.

  9. Rain through Christmas Eve could slow holiday travel

    Weather

    TAMPA — Holiday travelers should allow extra time this week as a low-pressure system moves into Florida and across much of the East Coast, bringing possible rain, windy conditions and fog.

  10. Punchless Bucs fall to Packers, 20-3

    Sports

    TAMPA — The Bucs defense did its best to limit Aaron Rodgers on the scoreboard, but the Bucs offense barely showed up Sunday, struggling to get even 100 yards of total offense in a 20-3 loss before a sellout crowd at Raymond James Stadium.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) gets sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52). [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  11. Petition drive for 2016 would make it easier for ex-felons to regain voting rights

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Civil rights and voting rights groups have quietly launched a grass-roots petition drive in Florida to make it easier for ex-felons to regain the right to vote.

  12. Gunman warned on Instagram he planned to kill NYPD officers

    Crime

    NEW YORK — The warning came just moments too late: A man who had shot his ex-girlfriend a few hours earlier had traveled to New York City and vowed online to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.

    Mourners stand at attention as the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers are transported from Woodhull Medical Center, Saturday, in New York. An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, killing one and critically wounding a second before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said. [Associated Press]
  13. President Obama says U.S. can influence a new generation in Cuba

    National

    WASHINGTON — In a spirited defense of his foreign policy, President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Sunday that normalizing relations with Cuba would bolster American influence there and that his diplomatic strategies to contain Russia and Iran are working.

    In this Dec. 17, 2014 pool photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington to announce the U.S. will end its outdated approach to Cuba that has failed to advance U.S. interests. Frequently criticized as cautious on foreign policy, President Barack Obama’s secret negotiations to overhaul U.S. policy toward Cuba suggest he is willing to make risky moves, if he can keep tight control of the mission and rely on a handful of close aides to carry it out . [Associated Press]
  14. Lightning loses to Islanders

    Lightning Strikes

    UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Coach Jon Cooper figured rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy would want to "make a statement" Saturday night, especially considering starter Ben Bishop is getting closer to returning.

    The Lightning’s Matt Carle takes the puck from the Islanders’ Mikhail Grabovski as goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy focuses.
  15. Using Gates money, Pinellas schools plan a shift toward 'personalized' learning

    K12

    The Pinellas school system is planning to restructure its classrooms to meet students' individual interests, beginning with a handful of secondary schools but eventually refiguring the entire district.

    Lealman Intermediate, an alternative school in St. Petersburg, will reopen as Lealman Innovation Academy and accept districtwide applications for grades 6 through 12.