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  1. Countering Aaron Rodgers and Hans and Franz: 5 wrestlers who could help the Bucs vs. Packers

    Bucs

    Before professional wrestling appeared regularly on cable television, its main avenue into homes was nationally syndicated programming on weekend mornings. On these taped shows, it was rare to see stars go head-to-head. Instead, you saw "squash" matches in which an established wrestler would dominate some no-name who …

    Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has Hans and Franz to hold him accountable, but what if the Buccaneers had some help to make the odds less insurmountable? Former pro wrestler Lanny "The Genius" Poffo has some mercenaries in mind. [State Farm, World Wrestling Entertainment]
  2. Rays agree to trade Wil Myers in 11-player, three-team deal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had hoped to see more out of Wil Myers after a disappointing second season. Instead they decided they had seen enough of him.

    Outfielder Wil Myers, who was expected to be a middle-of-the-order slugger for years to come, instead is headed to San Diego after two seasons with the Rays.
  3. Can Jeff Vinik the hockey owner also become Tampa's rainmaker?

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — If the man with a $1 billion "vision plan" for Tampa's downtown Channelside district —Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik — can deliver on his "world class" and newly dubbed "Waterfront District," then all the hype at Wednesday's project unveiling can be forgiven — and may prove well …

    An artist's rendering shows what the southern end of downtown Tampa will look like once Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's new project is complete, bringing 3 million square feet of new development around Amalie Arena. [Strategic Property Partners LLC]
  4. Tampa police seek missing baby

    Crime

    Tampa police are asking for help finding missing infant Jaidyel Valdes.

    Tampa police are seeking the public's help in finding a missing baby girl. It's believed 10-month-old Jaidyel Valdes is with her mother, Char-Ann Santana, who lost custody of her. [Photo courtesy of Tampa Police Department]
  5. No rubber stamp from City Council for St. Petersburg's deal with Rays

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rubber stamps appear to be scarce at City Hall.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman’s deal lets the Rays look in Hillsborough. The City Council will vote the plan tonight.
  6. Sen. Marco Rubio takes aggressive turn as face of opposition to President Obama's Cuba decision

    National

    WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama dropped the bombshell about Cuba on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio was hurrying to the Capitol where a packed room of reporters awaited.

    Sen. Marco Rubio reacts to President Barack Obama's announcement about revising policies on U.S.-Cuba relations on Dec. 17, 2014, in Washington. Rubio called the president a bad negotiator and criticized what he claimed was a deal with no democratic advances for Cuba. [Getty Images]
  7. Romano: Rays deal is a risk for St. Pete, but one that a city on the rise can handle

    Local Government

    "I believe it is a risk, but it is more of an opportunity."

    The Rays are seeking the city’s approval to seek a new site for a stadium so they can move out of Tropicana Field.
  8. Locale Market opens to gaga shoppers at St. Petersburg's Sundial

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG

    On the opening day of Locale Market, a Pop Craft artisanal popsicle stand offered free samples to the more than 200 people waiting in line Wednesday. Most of the would-be shoppers were saving their calories for what lay inside. A good call.

    Customers peruse the interior of the new Locale Market on Wednesday, opening day for the two-floor, 20,000-square-foot upscale epicurean marketplace and farm-to-table restaurant at downtown St. Petersburg’s Sundial.
  9. Man dies after he is pulled from submerged car on Clearwater Beach

    Accidents

    CLEARWATER BEACH — An 86-year-old man died Wednesday after crashing a car into the intercoastal waters off Bayway Boulevard, damaging several poles and a small boat, authorities said.

  10. U.S. spy freed by Cuba was longtime asset

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Cuban government on Wednesday freed a U.S. spy whom President Barack Obama described as one of most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in the Communist country and who helped unravel several long-running Cuban espionage operations.

    Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, are shown in this February, 2009 handout image in Washington. The former U.S. State Department official and his wife were arrested for spying for the Cuban government on June 5, 2009, the U.S. Justice Department said. The two were charged with conspiracy to act as illegal agents of the Cuban government and to communicate classified information to Cuba. [Times files]
  11. Tampa woman accused of shooting boyfriend in buttocks during argument

    Crime

    TAMPA — A lovers' quarrel ended with a man shot in the buttocks and his girlfriend in handcuffs Tuesday night, according to Tampa police.

  12. Pope Francis played crucial role in U.S.-Cuba thaw

    World

    VATICAN CITY — The crucial role played by Pope Francis in bringing Cuba and the United States together signals that history's first Latin American pope has no qualms about putting the Holy See on the front lines of diplomacy, especially for a cause it has long championed.

    In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis is presented with a cake during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Pope Francis got a cake, cards and a tango demonstration for his 78th birthday Wednesday, and 800 kilograms of chicken meat for the poor. [L'Osservatore Romano via Associated Press]
  13. More in Tampa Bay seeking home equity credit lines as underwater mortgages fall

    Real Estate

    The number of Tampa Bay homeowners who are under water on their mortgages has plunged, fueling a surge in applications for home equity loans.

    The number Tampa Bay homeowners who are underwater, owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth, has decreased from 48.4 percent in early 2012 to 22 percent this September.
  14. Released from Cuba, Alan Gross says freedom is not free

    National

    WASHINGTON — U.S. contractor Alan Gross, released from Cuban captivity Wednesday, said he was grateful to the efforts of his family, lawmakers and the White House for securing his freedom, and supportive of President Barack Obama's newly announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba.

    Alan Gross holds his wife Judy's hand while during a news conference at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after five years in a Cuban prison. [Assocaited Press]
  15. Tampa International adds nonstop flights to the Bahamas

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Silver Airways will begin twice-weekly flights from Tampa International Airport to the Bahamas in February.