Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

News at noon: Tiny the terrier, Hillary Clinton's ties to a St. Pete company and what the bay area's rental market means for poor families

We heard this morning about Tiny the Terrier, the dog owned by the homeless couple, Tommy Skeens and Lara Kuchar, who were found dead at a vacant Tampa gas station last month. Tiny had already been without a home. Suddenly, he was without a family, too. But Tiny's life may soon see a turnaround.

We're also learning more this morning about Hillary Clinton's 2012 intervention in a request forwarded by her son-in-law on behalf of St. Petersburg-based Neptune Minerals Inc. The company was seeking help setting up contacts in the State Department; Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, ordered a senior government official to look into the request.

More than a fourth of all Tampa Bay renters are "severely burdened'' by rent payments that consume at least half of their income and leave little money for health care and other necessities. That's among the startling findings of a report on America's rental crisis released today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. It shows that a record number of renters in the bay area and nationwide face serious affordability problems at a time when rents are growing faster than incomes and the supply of moderately priced rental housing fails to meet the surging demand.

With 10 days remaining, the final countdown to the Dec. 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has begun. We've got your daily fix, with our movie critic Steve Persall points out that the coolest Christmas present Star Wars fans opened in 1977 was a nearly empty box. In the new economics of movie merchandise, will kids will ever have that experience again? And just as importantly: If you're going to binge-watch the entire series before the new premiere, what order should you put them in?

Remember Sunday? Sunday was crazy — especially if you spent some of it watching Jameis Winston's mind-bending scramble on a key play in the Bucs-Falcons game. Even more so if you also saw Marcus Mariota's 87-yard touchdown run in the Titans-Jaguars matchup. Who's the better quarterback, now that we're three-quarters of the way through their rookie seasons? Our Thomas Bassinger digs deep into the numbers.

Carrot Top might be known as a punch line as much as a comedian, but he says he can not bomb on stage. "I've done it too long, and I think I've got too many ways to get out of it," he said during a recent phone call from his home in Las Vegas. As he comes to Clearwater's Capitol Theatre on Sunday, he's become one of comedy's most bankable acts — even if his act these days might not be quite what you're expecting. But if Carrot Top's not your cup of tea, check out our guides to this weekend's stage, movie, dining and other events at tbtim.es/weekend.

Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart issued a 2014–15 school grades simulation this morning as the State Board of Education nears its January decision on cut scores and grading guidelines, presenting a picture that's not nearly as negative as many observers anticipated.

You've heard plenty about travel visas as they pertain to the terrorism and national security debate. Have you heard the discussion that involves Disney? The theme park sparked controversy by laying off 250 workers — but requiring that they first train their replacements from an outsourcing company in India, if they wanted their severance pay. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson introduced legislation this morning to slash the number of H-1B visas to keep that from happening again.

The two San Bernardino shooters were radicalized at least two years ago and had discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013, FBI Director James Comey tells a congressional panel.

With an overwhelming show of support, the Senate passed and sent to President Barack Obama a massive education bill this morning that would return to the states significant control over school accountability and testing. Obama was expected to sign it.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Time's Person of the Year this morning. Why? Mostly because of the role she's played in Europe's Syrian refugee controversy and that Greek debt crisis you'd forgotten about.

Finally, if you're wondering what the perfect present would be for Tampa 9-year-old Julius Pfau, help him recover the stolen baseball glove that was a special gift from his ailing grandfather.

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Felled by fire, popular tower at Wall Springs Park to reopen soon

Felled by fire, popular tower at Wall Springs Park to reopen soon

PALM HARBOR — The long, strange saga of the Wall Springs Park observation tower is finally coming to a close as county officials hope the rebuilt structure, along with refurbished decking leading up to it, will be open in time for the Fourth of July....
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Carlton: Senseless death on a street like no other

Carlton: Senseless death on a street like no other

On a Wednesday morning, a mother and her little girl, not quite 2, went for a stroll along one of Tampa’s prettiest streets.It was nearly lunchtime when they were crossing back over Bayshore Boulevard, headed to the home nearby where they were stayin...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

FORT MYERS — One of the most impressive streaks in high school baseball came to an end early Friday morning.Calvary Christian lost the Class 4A state championship 5-1 to Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian at Hammond Stadium in a game that ended ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
At Pinellas Park’s iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

At Pinellas Park’s iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

PINELLAS PARK — The iconic model train store that has sat at U.S. 19 and Haines Road for close to 30 years announced on its website it will be moving to another location."It’s difficult trying to stock a store that’s bigger than the reality is these ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR — Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."It’s got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. That’s not bad." Indeed, there’s a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Deputies: Hours after birth, newborn abandoned in north Tampa

Deputies: Hours after birth, newborn abandoned in north Tampa

[UPDATE: Friday just after midnight, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office announced it has located the mother of the abandoned baby. She has yet to be identified.] TAMPA — An abandoned a newborn baby was found in the University area on Thu...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA — Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didn’t start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 6 hours ago