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News at noon: Closer look at Michigan ahead of primary; Pedestrian deaths surge; CentCom general steps down; #HulkvsGawk trial; Grand Prix preview

Police and emergency crews respond to the scene of a car accident along Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas, after a woman drove her car into a crowd of tourists outside the Planet Hollywood and Paris casino-hotels. Pedestrian deaths surged by an estimated 10 percent last year as the economy improved, the price of gas plunged and motorists put more miles behind the wheel than ever before, according to an analysis of preliminary state traffic fatality data. [Associated Press]

Police and emergency crews respond to the scene of a car accident along Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas, after a woman drove her car into a crowd of tourists outside the Planet Hollywood and Paris casino-hotels. Pedestrian deaths surged by an estimated 10 percent last year as the economy improved, the price of gas plunged and motorists put more miles behind the wheel than ever before, according to an analysis of preliminary state traffic fatality data. [Associated Press]

• Michigan is the big kahuna as voters in four states deliver verdicts on the presidential campaign. It's the first big industrial state to weigh in, and should offer clues about how the candidates will play in important Midwest contests to come.

• Pedestrian deaths surged by an estimated 10 percent last year as the economy improved, the price of gas plunged and motorists put more miles behind the wheel than ever before. According to an analysis of preliminary state traffic fatality data, the growing use of cellphones distracting drivers and walkers may factor into these higher fatalities.

• In 2011, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, wanted to keep a residual force of up to 24,000 U.S. troops in the territory. In the summer of 2014, U.S. troops were fanning out across Iraq as the Obama administration scrambled to help a weakened Iraqi government stave off a powerful Islamic State assault. As he prepares to step down this month, the uncertain future of the Iraq and Syria conflicts will weigh on Austin's legacy.

• Legislative leaders put the final touches on an approximately $80 billion budget Monday night with a last-minute flurry of education construction, water projects and other spending items, adding $7 million in police radios amid heavy static from lobbyists. What the last few budget items means for adjournment in Tallahassee.

• The ongoing trial of Terry Gene Bollea (a.k.a. Hulk Hogan) is live right now. Hogan is looking to win $100 million in damages from Gawker, a New York-based news website, for publishing an excerpt of his sex tape in 2012. Follow our live blog and watch as Hogan talks about Bubba and other distress he felt were connected with the release of the tape.

• A driver commuting from St. Pete Beach to Westshore recalls seeing -- and hearing -– a Hyundai Sonata speed past him on one rim as he approached the Howard Frankland bridge on Monday morning. Moments later, he passed the accident scene where authorities say the Hyundai lost control and caused a crash involving 10 other vehicles.

• The much publicized discontent of giant GE, so eager to find a new headquarters outside of Connecticut, sensitized many other companies in that state to re-think whether they might be better off operating elsewhere. So much so that last week three locals — Tampa/Hillsborough EDC interim chief J.P. DuBuque, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chair Les Miller — held back-to-back-to-back meetings with senior executives at 11 Connecticut companies, trying to sell Tampa as a great place to relocate.

• As Windermere's Spencer Pigot crisscrossed Florida for go-cart events, he hoped to one day advance to the top rung of open-wheel racing. So it's only fitting that the 22-year-old will make his IndyCar debut only two hours from his hometown, in Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

• The Rays are heading to Lakeland today to face the Detroit Tigers in a 1:05 pm. game. Matt Moore has looked sharp thus far in camp during bullpen and batting practice sessions. He is a key part of the Rays rotation after finishing last season strong having struggled in his initial return from Tommy John elbow surgery. Find Marc Topkin's updates in our live Rays blog.

• In Pop Culture: The Okeechobee Music Festival: According to music critic Jay Cridlin, Florida's big indie-rock experience lived up to the hype. And no, to the heartbreak and distress of many fans, Notebook 2 is not being filmed in Clearwater.

• Kensington Palace has released photos of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and their children George and Charlotte on a ski holiday in the French Alps. It's too cute for words, so we made an All Eyes photo gallery:

John Stillwell | WPA pool via Getty Images

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, with their children, Princess Charlotte and Prince George, enjoy a short private skiing break on March 3 in the French Alps, France.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

News at noon: Closer look at Michigan ahead of primary; Pedestrian deaths surge; CentCom general steps down; #HulkvsGawk trial; Grand Prix preview 03/08/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 12:07pm]
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