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News at noon: Florida jobs; Syrian refugees; Mali gunmen; Adele; Cuban sandwiches; and the Bucs

Security force personnel escort people fleeing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Friday. The company that runs the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital says assailants have takenhostages in a brazen assault involving grenades. [Associated Press]

Security force personnel escort people fleeing from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Friday. The company that runs the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital says assailants have takenhostages in a brazen assault involving grenades. [Associated Press]

Florida's unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.1 percent in October as the state added a robust 35,200 jobs over the month, state officials said Friday.

Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White says he now has reservations about the county joining a national program that helps refugees who relocate to the U.S. White says he's worried that Syrian refugees relocating could be "a Trojan horse situation" where Islamic State "sympathizers are intermixed with the refugee groups."

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush respond to Donald Trump's calls to close down mosques in the U.S. and create a database to track Muslims.

Amid the burgeoning anti-refugee sentiments, Phil Klay, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, has posted a powerful series of tweets in which he explains why the U.S. should welcome the Syrians.

Three simple letters have ignited a civic rebellion in Florida that could reshape the state's politics for decades to come. The letters are NPA. It's short for no party affiliation, for voters who refuse to label themselves Republicans or Democrats. They are deserting the two major parties in droves and they are the fastest-growing segment of Florida's electorate, but they are a sleeping giant.

Gunmen stormed a hotel in Bamako, the capital of the West African nation of Mali, seizing scores of hostages and killing at least three people. Reports shortly before noon were saying the seige had been broken up.

Jay Cridlin stayed up late to review Adele's new album, 25. He says it will be the massive, expansive "soundtrack to the next two years of your love life. You might as well plug in and press play today."

Ybor City's 110-year-old Columbia restaurant will be featured on CBS News Sunday Morning at 9 a.m. Sunday. Correspondent Susan Spencer stopped in recently to get a tutorial from fifth-generation owner Andrea Gonzmart Williams and her dad, Richard Gonzmart, on how to make the perfect Tampa-style Cuban sandwich.

In this week's Buccaneer's Scouting Report, we look at Philadelphia. In the Eagles, the Bucs face their greatest challenge since their 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 4. While Philadelphia also is 4-5, it's a team that's capable of playing much better football than it has.

Vote in the Tampa Bay Times Picture of the Week poll. Cute puppies!

News at noon: Florida jobs; Syrian refugees; Mali gunmen; Adele; Cuban sandwiches; and the Bucs 11/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2015 11:59am]
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  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]