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Morning Watch: After cease-fire declared in Syria, Putin says Russia will scale down operations

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Putin is ordering to scale down the Russian military presence in Syria. Putin made the statement Thursday while declaring that a cease-fire in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey will start at midnight. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Putin is ordering to scale down the Russian military presence in Syria. Putin made the statement Thursday while declaring that a cease-fire in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey will start at midnight. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]

Here's what's new around the bay area this morning.

The Syrian army has announced a nationwide cease-fire as of midnight tonight. In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, the military command "declares a comprehensive nationwide cessation of hostilities as of midnight." State TV says the cease-fire paves the way for reactivating negotiations to end the conflict.

WHILE OBAMA-NETANYAHU RELATIONS HIT ROCK BOTTOM, TRUMP PROMISES DIFFERENT STANCE WITH ISRAEL

It took eight years of backbiting and pretending they got along for relations between President Barack Obama's administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to finally hit rock bottom. Though they've clashed bitterly before, mostly notably over Iran, the two governments seemed farther apart than ever after a speech Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry and last week's United Nations resolution.

RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH PROBE RULES OUT EXPLOSION, BUT TERROR STILL A POSSIBILITY

Flight recorders revealed no evidence of an explosion on board a Russian plane that crashed into the Black Sea, killing all 92 on board, but investigators haven't ruled out foul play, a military official said.

TAMPA POLICE TO DISCUSS COLLEGE FOOTBALL SECURITY

Tampa Police and Tampa Fire Rescue will hold a 10 a.m. news conference to discuss preparations for the upcoming 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. Many public events are planned in the downtown corridor leading up to the game at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 9, and first responders are preparing for the anticipated influx of visitors to Tampa next week. Follow Tony Marrero on Twitter @TMarreroTimes for updates.

ROMANO: TAMPA BAY'S PRACTICALLY PLAUSIBLE YEAR IN REVIEW, PART I

What were the top stories in Tampa Bay in 2016? Columnist John Romano offers his rundown.

TWO-WEEK DOG SHOW IN HERNANDO TO DRAW COMPETITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

[BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]

Brittany Cipriotti of Warrenton, Va., puts her 15-month-old Great Dane, Cricket, through the paces during judging at the 2016 Florida Gulf Coast Clusters dog show.

As primped and proper canines from around the globe put their best paws forward at the 2017 Florida Gulf Coast Clusters dog show, a pair of decidedly local fancier groups of man's best friend will make their debuts. The two-week extravaganza, which takes place at Florida Classic Park, east of Brooksville, begins Jan. 7 and runs through Jan. 22.

HENDERSON: TAKE 2017 ONE BREATH AT A TIME

Welcome to the day of extravagant promises, an unpainted canvas known as New Year's Day, Joe Henderson writes. You didn't hear this from me, but even if we keep our vow to lose 20 pounds and train for a half-marathon, most of us eventually will find those missing pounds stocked next to the cold cuts in the refrigerator. He whittled his resolution for the coming year to this simple rule: Take it slow.

WE'RE LIVE FROM THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF MEDIA DAYS

It's media day at the Peach and Fiesta bowls, and the Times coverage teams will be providing updates throughout the day. Be sure to follow Tom Jones and Matt Baker from Atlanta for Alabama-Washington, while Martin Fennelly and Joey Knight will be in Arizona for Ohio State-Clemson.

FENNELLY: EX-TEXAS COACH BROWN CAN RELATE TO GRIND SABAN, MEYER ARE LIVING EVERY DAY

[Associated Press]

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, speaks with Florida head coach Urban Meyer after posing with the SEC trophy during a news conference in Atlanta, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.

Mack Brown, 65, spent 16 seasons at Texas. The Longhorns had nine consecutive seasons of double-digit wins. So, Martin Fennelly said, he can definitely understand the pressure uber-successful coaches Nick Saban and Urban Meyer feel as they gun for the national title.

REVIEW: ROXANE GAY'S 'DIFFICULT WOMEN' OFFERS STORIES WITH RANGE AND INSIGHT

iStockphoto

The stories in Difficult Women range in length from a couple of pages to 20 or more. Some of the longer stories layer multiple characters and plots, like the title story, a catalog of "difficult" women and how they got that way.

Fans of writer Roxane Gay won't be surprised to hear that her new short story collection, Difficult Women, deals with such subjects as sexual relationships, motherhood and body image, or that the stories' tones range from comic to harrowing, sometimes in a paragraph or two, book editor Colette Bancroft writes. But they might be surprised that, though many of the stories are realistic, quite a few venture into the territory of magical realism.

TAMPA BAY'S TOP CONCERTS OF 2017: BRUNO MARS, TOM PETTY, VAN MORRISON, THE WEEKND AND MORE

Truth be told, you could compile a list of Tampa Bay's most anticipated concerts of 2017 entirely from the calendar of Amalie Arena, Jay Cridlin writes. Tampa's biggest venue has an utterly dynamite slate already lined up for 2017, including shows by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Church, Neil Diamond, Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Soundgarden and Shawn Mendes — and those are the shows we DIDN'T pick for this list.

Morning Watch: After cease-fire declared in Syria, Putin says Russia will scale down operations 12/29/16 [Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2016 9:03am]
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