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News at noon: Pope in Mexico; North Korea developments; Florida death penalty revisited; GOP political ad spending; Howard Franklin hit-and-run update; Bonefish to close 14 restaurants; New 'Cobra's Curse' at Busch Gardens

Mark Rose, a vice president of design and engineering at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, talks about integrating Cobra's Curse into the existing Egypt section. Construction continues on Cobra's Curse, a family thrill ride, at Busch Gardens on Wednesday February 17, 2016 in Tampa.

The ride has a spinning vehicle. During the last third of the ride, it spins 360 degrees, with rotation patterns dependent upon the weight of the riders. 

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Mark Rose, a vice president of design and engineering at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, talks about integrating Cobra's Curse into the existing Egypt section. Construction continues on Cobra's Curse, a family thrill ride, at Busch Gardens on Wednesday February 17, 2016 in Tampa. The ride has a spinning vehicle. During the last third of the ride, it spins 360 degrees, with rotation patterns dependent upon the weight of the riders. MONICA HERNDON | Times

• Pope Francis urged Mexico's young people to resist the lure of easy money from drug dealers and instead value themselves as the future of their country during a visit Tuesday to the heartland of the nation's narcotics trade.

• Four of the most advanced U.S. fighter jets flew over South Korea on Wednesday in a clear show of force against North Korea, a day after South Korea's president warned of the North's collapse amid a festering standoff over its nuclear and missile ambitions.

• Today Iran snubbed a proposal agreed to by four influential oil producers to cap their crude output if others do the same, with a senior Oil Ministry official saying Tehran has no intention of freezing oil output levels.

• Hours after a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters who carried out the Dec. 2 terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., the technology giant's chief executive declared that he would fight the government's "unprecedented" demands.

• A political compromise to repair Florida's broken death penalty sentencing system is in sight — and the magic number is 10. According to new discussion, all future death penalty cases in Florida will require at least 10 of 12 jurors to agree on a punishment of death for a defendant.

• Jeb Bush has spent nearly $81 million on TV ads, by far the leader in either nomination fight, according to new figures. And Marco Rubio is second with $50 million.

• As authorities hunted for her in connection to a fatal hit-and-run crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge, Allison F. Huffman showed up at an apartment in the Carillon area.The man who lived in the apartment at the Promenade at Carillon, however, clearly did not want her there, calling St. Petersburg Police. Meanwhile, family and witnesses tell their story after the hit-and-run that killed a tow truck driver on the bridge Monday.

• Under a new measure Hillsborough County commissioners announced today, sex offenders in Hillsborough County would be barred from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park and the like.

• A former University of Tennessee football player was arrested last night as part of "Operation Wayfarer," a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office sting operation targeting men seeking sexual relationships with young girls they meet online.

• Trigaux: Is Florida really a 'best state' for business? Here's a shortcut to the top.

• Bonefish Grill will close 14 restaurants this year as the seafood chain restructures following several quarters of disappointing sales results, according to a recent earnings report.

• On a hotel room television, Darlene Love instantly recognized a cellphone commercial's music, and wasn't pleased. Whether Google legally needed to obtain Love's permission will be determined in California federal court.

• A Busch Gardens sneak peek: See the progress of a new spinning coaster called "Cobra's Curse," a hex on your stomach and a test if what's in it will stay there.

• Luke Beevor doesn't think his 6-foot-10 frame will give him much of an advantage when he lines up for the 15K at Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. "If it is windy, as it can be on Bayshore (Boulevard), then my height can really be a disadvantage."

• Our photo for Caption Contest #19 makes you wonder what this guy was thinking (or what the rhinoceros was thinking)! Can you come up with a clever caption for this image?

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: Pope in Mexico; North Korea developments; Florida death penalty revisited; GOP political ad spending; Howard Franklin hit-and-run update; Bonefish to close 14 restaurants; New 'Cobra's Curse' at Busch Gardens 02/17/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 4:44pm]
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