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News at Noon: High security for college football championship; Republicans ready to repeal Obamacare; soldier accused of online sex with minor; best albums of 2016

From left, corporal Ellen Schantz on  "Chad" and officer Mariana Goncalves on "Red," both of the Tampa Police Department, are seen at a media event at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa. First responders on horse and bike are preparing to staff the College Football national championship game. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

From left, corporal Ellen Schantz on "Chad" and officer Mariana Goncalves on "Red," both of the Tampa Police Department, are seen at a media event at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa. First responders on horse and bike are preparing to staff the College Football national championship game. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

First responders on horses and bicycles will patrol the huge crowds expected for the College Football Playoff Championship at Raymond James Stadium when Tampa becomes the center of the college football universe next month. Tampa police and fire officials gathered Thursday in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to brief reporters on the massive effort to provide security at the high-profile event.

HOW VIEW-MASTERS AND 3-D GLASSES HELPED TAMPA LAND THE BIG GAME

Before Tampa could win the bidding war to host this year's College Football Playoff National Championship, the city had to lose one first. What was it about Tampa that ultimately secured next week's game? Here's what people close to the bid, both within the community and college football, had to say:

REPUBLICANS READY SWIFT OBAMACARE REPEAL WITH NO REPLACEMENT

The first major act of the unified Republican government in 2017 will be a vote in Congress to begin tearing down Obamacare. But the euphoria of finally acting on a long-sought goal will quickly give way to the reality that Republicans — and President-elect Donald Trump — have no agreement thus far on how to replace coverage for about 20 million people.

SHOPPING YEAR IN REVIEW: MORE STORES CLOSED AND STRUGGLED

Sports Authority closed all its stores, Aéropostale, Pacific Sunwear and American Apparel filed for bankruptcy protection and Macy's and Wal-Mart struggled. It was a tough 2016 for retail, but a new wave of fresh retail companies are lining up to take over the spaces of those that sputtered out before them.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF MEDIA DAY

[Matt Baker | Times]

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts chats with reporters during Thursday's Peach Bowl media day at the Georgia Dome.

Times staff writer Matt Baker was at the Peach Bowl's media day in Atlanta where Nick Saban, Chris Petersen and Jalen Hurts spoke, and has some quick nuggets from the news conference with No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Washington. Check out our Road to Tampa for additional updates and coverage throughout the college football playoffs, leading to the national championship game on Jan. 9.

WATCH THE BIRMINGHAM BOWL WITH US

You can follow live coverage of the University of South Florida Bulls taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Birmingham Bowl starting at 2 p.m. on our live blog.

SOLDIER ACCUSED OF SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH PINELLAS MINOR

A Fort Campbell, Ky, soldier was arrested Wednesday after Pinellas County deputies say he had a 10-month sexual relationship with a minor over the Internet. Peter Maxx Matlock, 23, was arrested at his parents' home at 1566 Ridgewood Street in Clearwater around 7:45 p.m.

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2016

Radiohead's latest is one of critic Jay Cridlin's top albums of the year.

It was the year of surprise releases, the year of celebrity deaths, the year that the only thing predictable about the music industry was that no one could predict the future. It was also the year of Beyonce. All of that and more, you'll find in critic Jay Cridlin's Top 10 list of the best albums of 2016.

10 BOOK-INSPIRED TV SHOWS COMING IN 2017

In a time when the glut of primetime network television is melodramatic cop sagas and cheesy family comedies more and more book-based series are popping. Here are just 10 of them premiering in the next year.

News at Noon: High security for college football championship; Republicans ready to repeal Obamacare; soldier accused of online sex with minor; best albums of 2016 12/29/16 [Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2016 12:36pm]
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