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News at Noon: 'Definition of Insanity' Mental Health part 4; Congress budget talks continue; Solar Power amendment; FarmTable review; Bucs analysis, sandyhook

 Chef Jeffrey Hileman poses with plates served at FarmTable kitchen on Wednesday November 4, 2015 at Locale Market in downtown St. Petersburg.   After opening in December 2014, they've decided to reimagine the upstairs wine bar as a full service, 145-seat, restaurant.

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Chef Jeffrey Hileman poses with plates served at FarmTable kitchen on Wednesday November 4, 2015 at Locale Market in downtown St. Petersburg. After opening in December 2014, they've decided to reimagine the upstairs wine bar as a full service, 145-seat, restaurant.

The official who oversaw Florida's state-funded mental hospitals from 2008 to 2010 calls it the "definition of insanity." The state spends millions making sure the mentally ill go to court, but the minute they are declared competent, they are sent back to jail and routinely fall apart again. Read the latest installment of our investigation: Insane. Invisible. In danger.

The U.S. House easily passed a $1.14 trillion spending bill to fund the government through next September, capping a peaceful end to a yearlong struggle over the budget, taxes, and Republican demands of President Barack Obama. The Senate is expected to approve the plan later today.

Fifty-six percent of Cuban-Americans support President Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba, according to a new poll. The survey from Bendixen & Amandi echoes others that have shown acceptance of the diplomatic thaw. It puts politicians such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush on the opposite side of popular opinion.

The group backing a solar power constitutional amendment is all but throwing in the towel. With a key end-of-year petition deadline fast approaching and lacking more than 400,000 petition signatures, Floridians for Solar Choice announced Thursday night that it will continue trying to qualify for the ballot in the 2016 election but it is "exploring options for 2018."

Six weeks. Six shootings. Six people dead. Beginning Nov. 10, six St. Petersburg boys and men, ranging from ages 16 to 25, have died after being shot. In response to the shootings, city leaders are planning a march down Central Avenue this evening to protest gun violence.

Offers of help have poured in after someone stole a trailer full of toys and food donated to Metropolitan Ministries' annual holiday charity drive earlier this week.

Florida Atlantic University has moved to fire professor James Tracy who outraged many by calling the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School an elaborate hoax.

Florida's unemployment rate fell to 5 percent in November, the first time since January that the state's jobless rate is lower than the national average. Three Tampa Bay area counties — Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco — have seen job growth, but they are still trailing when it comes to wages.

Management at Locale Market's restaurant, FarmTable Kitchen, seem utterly comfortable with the idea of flux. With various changes to the market/dining foodie paradise, Food Critic Laura Reiley looks at a revamped Sundial institution and sees an epicurean Eden.

Ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom and ground cloves bring lots of flavor to the Chewy Chai-Spice Sugar Cookies featured in Cooking this morning.

Mustard beats Ketchup: The Bucs took a prime-time 31-23 loss at the hands of the Rams, all but ending any playoff hopes they still had, but here are five things you might not have noticed.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Palace releases new photo of Prince William, Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte

News at Noon: 'Definition of Insanity' Mental Health part 4; Congress budget talks continue; Solar Power amendment; FarmTable review; Bucs analysis, sandyhook 12/18/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2015 1:56pm]
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  1. Steven Souza's two passions collide in charity fantasy football event

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Steven Souza knows a thing or two about football.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 23, 2017.
  2. Housing starts fall in July

    Real Estate

    WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell 4.8 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million. Groundbreakings for multi-family buildings such as apartments slumped 17.1 percent, while single-family house construction slipped 0.5 percent.

    On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported on U.S. home construction in July. 
[AP file photo]
  3. Florida man has some of Princess Di's wedding cake, plus 13,000 other royal items (w/photos)

    Human Interest

    John Hoatson recalls the day it all began with perfect clarity.

    John Hoatson poses with a photo taken in 2006 when he met Sarah "Fergie"; Ferguson, the Duchess of York, for tea at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in California.
  4. Pasco doubles tourist tax to finance sports complex

    Tourism

    DADE CITY — Pasco County is doubling its tourist tax to 4 percent to build an indoor sports complex in Wesley Chapel and improve its outdoor boat ramps in west Pasco.

    Pasco County's plan to double its tourist tax on overnight accommodations to 4 percent is intended to help finance a $25 million sports complex in the Wiregrass Ranch area of Wesley Chapel. It  would include a 98,000-quare-foot multipurpose gymnaisium of eight basketball courts and dedicated space for gymnastics, cheerleading and a fitness center. Shown here is the four-court fieldhouse with 50,000-square-feet of space for competitions at  Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.  Times photo by James Borchuck (2007)
  5. 5 things to do under $5: Where to see solar eclipse, Bucs training camp

    Events

    1 Solar eclipse: Turn around, bright eyes. Monday brings a total eclipse of the sun, and you'll need protective eyewear to see it. The bay area won't be plunged into darkness for a few minutes like the middle of the country, but with solar lenses you can see this rare event. The Museum of Science and Industry, …

    This photo shows a “diamond ring” shape during the 2016 total solar eclipse in Indonesia. For the 2017 eclipse over the United States, the National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE will have more than 200 volunteers trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way.