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News at noon: Wrong-way crash on 275; Dem debate fact-check; Trump in Tampa; Publix expansion; Kanye's new song reviewed; Deal Divas' Wedding Week

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump thanks photographers Thursday as he greets the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, La. [Associated Press]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump thanks photographers Thursday as he greets the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, La. [Associated Press]

• Early this morning, a wrong-way crash on Interstate 275 left two people dead. This crash is one in a long list of wrong-way driving fatalities in the Tampa Bay area.

• Politifact was up late fact-checking last night's Democratic Debate. From topics like American income stagnation to bad-mouthing Obama, the Politifact team has you covered.

• The Donald Trump show comes to Tampa tonight, and the star promises it will be family-friendly. Trump has been chastised by his rivals and commentators for having repeated a profane description of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that a woman in the audience shouted during a rally in New Hampshire earlier this week. Follow our live blog to catch all the sights and sounds of tonight's Trump rally.

• Grocery chain Publix is prepared to take on markets in new states while defending its home turf in Florida and Georgia.

• For collectors, antique dealers and garden-variety bargain hunters, there are few happier ways to spend an hour or two than hitting an estate sale. On almost every weekend in the Tampa Bay area you can find a house somewhere with dozens of people impatiently waiting for the door to open and the thrill of the hunt to begin. A behind-the-scenes look at the estate sale business.

• Cool winter weather made this year's Florida python hunt a bigger success than the event's debut three years ago, but the number of snakes killed is still a bucket drop compared to how many are in the wild.

• One of the City Council's newest members will be absent from meetings for the next few months. Ed Montanari said yesterday he will have heart surgery this month. The Feb. 23 procedure will repair his mitral valve and will be done at the Cleveland Clinic.

• Cast members of The Lion King (showing currently at the Straz Center) took a break from practice to meet some fellow feline friends at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.

• Kanye West made a lot of noise about his new album The Life of Pablo yesterday and it took about two seconds for it to all unravel. In an early-released song, "Famous," Yeezy insults Taylor Swift (again….) and the world with vulgarity.

• Taylor Swift's 1989 has sold more than five million copies, spawned five Top 10 singles (and counting), and launched the most celebrity-studded pop tour of all time. Since the day it was released in October 2014, it's been the safe bet to win Album of the Year at this year's Grammys. Our pop culture critic is here to tell you why it won't.

• Today marks the start of Deal Divas second annual Wedding Week, a time-honored tradition in which bloggers answer very important questions like "What are the consequences of going off-registry" and "How do I spend less than $500 on clothes as a bridesmaid."

• With Valentine's Day around the corner, nothing says "I love you" like a well-selected place to dine. Refer to Food Critic Laura Reiley's Top 50 Restaurants of Tampa Bay to pick the cuisine and style that suits you and your sweetie's tastes.

• Need more Kiermaier in your life? Don't we all. Among their promotional giveaways in the new season, the Rays will feature Kevin Kiermaier's 2015 Platinum Glove Award through bobblehead and glove giveaways to fans.

News at noon: Wrong-way crash on 275; Dem debate fact-check; Trump in Tampa; Publix expansion; Kanye's new song reviewed; Deal Divas' Wedding Week 02/12/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016 1:40pm]
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  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    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


    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


    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'


    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]