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News at noon: Debate preview; Zika virus; Open-carry bill; St. Pete city council on noise ordinances and marijuana; Barbie's got a new, realistic figure; Lightning podcast

Mattel, the maker of the famous plastic doll, said it will start selling Barbie's in three new body types: tall, curvy and petite. She'll also come in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. [Mattel via AP]

Mattel, the maker of the famous plastic doll, said it will start selling Barbie's in three new body types: tall, curvy and petite. She'll also come in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. [Mattel via AP]

GOP DEBATE: Donald Trump may not show because of Fox News' Megyn Kelly, but that doesn't mean PolitiFact won't be watching what the other candidates say. Check back to our live fact-checking starting around 8 p.m. ET tonight.

FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD: TIMES RECOMMENDS JEB BUSH

It's time to stop treating the election of the next president of the United States like a game show without serious consequences. After more than a year of constant fundraising, meaningless opinion polls and reckless rhetoric from so many candidates, voters finally will make their voices heard starting Monday in the Iowa caucuses and eight days later in the New Hampshire primary. For Republicans fighting for both the soul of their party and the White House, the best choice is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The World Health Organization says it is convening an emergency committee on Monday to decide if the Zika virus outbreak should be declared an international health emergency. So far, officials doubt the virus will be widespread in the U.S.

A controversial Florida Legislature proposal— backed by the National Rifle Association and gun-rights advocates — that would allow more than 1.4 million people in Florida to openly carry guns is going before its third and final House committee this morning.

Florida Governor Rick Scott wraps D.C. visit as transparency expert at a conservative think tank. His two-day visit to the nation's capital was a busy one and culminates with a speech to AEI later this afternoon.

Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco is being admitted to Florida Hospital last week with pain that may be related to a hernia, his family said Thursday. Greco is now recovering from surgery.

Almost 170,000 Tampa Bay homeowners are still "seriously" underwater on their mortgages even as rising home values are making others "equity rich."

ST. PETE LOCAL GOVERNMENT: A City Council committee voted unanimously to require downtown businesses to lower the volume on their outdoor speakers after 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Another committee voted unanimously to have city attorneys draft an ordinance for the St. Pete to start a civil citation program for marijuana.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is headed to his first NHL All-Star game, and it is well deserved. In the latest podcast, Joe Smith discusses the latest developments in the Stamkos contract saga, breaking down the potential of a Jonathan Drouin trade.

Curvy has caught on. Mattel, the maker of the iconic plastic doll, said it will begin selling Barbie in three new body types — curvy, tall, and petite. She'll also be available in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.

British actor Joseph Fiennes will star as Michael Jackson in a one-off TV comedy set to broadcast later this year — a casting decision that has added fuel to a raging debate about opportunities for non-white actors in movies and TV.

Persall: Truth is duller than fiction in The Finest Hours, a film of real-life Coast Guard heroism that coasts on patriotic goodwill.

If you can't make it to Gasparilla 2016, our

News at noon: Debate preview; Zika virus; Open-carry bill; St. Pete city council on noise ordinances and marijuana; Barbie's got a new, realistic figure; Lightning podcast 01/28/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:01pm]
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  1. Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush

    Military

    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

  2. In the military, trusted officers became alleged assailants in sex crimes

    Military

    The Army is grappling with a resurgence of cases in which troops responsible for preventing sexual assault have been accused of rape and related crimes, undercutting the Pentagon's claims that it is making progress against sexual violence in the ranks.

    Christina Radomski (left) once walked into a print shop to pick up a project for her husband Mike Radomski (right) and saw the bulletin board behind the counter full of thank-you notes her Mike had written. Mike Radomski, 29, died Oct. 12, 2017 in a car accident near his home in Wildwood, Fla.
  3. Trump on his Puerto Rico response: 'I'd say it was a 10'

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump gave himself a "10" on Thursday for his response to the widespread devastation Puerto Rico suffered after back-to-back hurricanes created a situation that the island's governor described as "catastrophic" as he met with Trump at the White House.

    Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello speaks with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday.
  4. Editorial: Rubio, Bilirakis owe Floridians answers on drug law

    Editorials

    Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor have some explaining to do. They were co-sponsors of legislation making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after drug companies that distribute prescription pills to unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists, contributing to the deadly opioid crisis …

    Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor has some explaining to do. He was a co-sponsor of legislation making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after drug companies that distribute prescription pills to unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists.
  5. Former Hillsborough school official files lawsuit alleging high-level corruption

    K12

    TAMPA — The fired human resources chief of the Hillsborough County School District is accusing district leaders and two School Board members of committing corrupt acts and then punishing her when she would not go along.

    Stephanie Woodford rose through the ranks of the Hillsborough County School District, then was fired as Chief of Human Resources on April 28. She's now suing the district, alleging numerous acts of corruption. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times]