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Your DayStarter: More beautiful weather; Obama plans a Cuba trip, and the Rays kick off spring training

The streak continues — it'll be another beautiful, blue-sky day in Tampa Bay. Expect temperatures near 70 degrees and a breezy evening, according to 10Weather WTSP.

• After endorsing Marco Rubio for president yesterday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will join the Florida senator at campaign events today and Friday in advance of the Palmetto State's Republican Primary on Saturday. Follow the latest from the campaign trail in our live blog.

• Florida lawmakers have struck a compromise to rewrite the death penalty law in hopes of avoiding more legal attacks and to allow executions to resume in a state with nearly 400 death row inmates. Under the deal, a Florida jury could no longer recommend a death sentence by a simple majority. At least 10 of 12 jurors would have to agree to impose a death sentence under a plan that surfaced in the House yesterday and requires passage by both houses and Gov. Rick Scott's signature. "The Senate offered that as a solution and we're agreeable to that," said state Rep. Charles McBurney, a Jacksonville Republican who brokered the compromise with a fellow ex-prosecutor, state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

• There are so few places for newly registered sex offenders to live in Pasco County that Hillsborough County officials worry they'll start moving in. The solution? Make it as hard for them to live in Hillsborough as it is to live in Pasco. Hillsborough commissioners voted 7-0 on Wednesday to advance a proposal modeled after Pasco County's 2015 ordinance that bars sex offenders whose victims were 16 or younger from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park and the like.

• Manager Kevin Cash and baseball operations president Matt Silverman have a news conference at noon to mark the opening of spring training as they prepare for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training Sunday. Check our Rays blog, The Heater, and follow Marc Topkin on Twitter (@TBTimes_Rays) for updates.

• Yesterday, Apple announced it would fight federal demands to help mine data from an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December's terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. For months, Apple CEO Tim Cook has engaged in a sharp, public debate with government officials over his company's decision to shield the data of iPhone users with strong encryption — essentially locking people's photos, text messages and other data away so securely that even Apple can't get at them. Law enforcement officials from FBI Director James Comey on down have complained that terrorists and criminals may use that encryption as a shield.

• British Prime Minister David Cameron is convinced he needs to clinch a deal at a European Union summit opening today to fundamentally reform the bloc to make sure a U.K. referendum on continued British membership can be won. With as many as four core issues still outstanding going into the two-day summit of EU leaders, EU President Donald Tusk said hours ahead of the opening summit session: "One thing is clear to me though. This is a make or break summit, I have no doubts."

• An official announcement about President Barack Obama planning to travel to Cuba in March is expected today, according to reports by ABC News and the Miami Herald. We'll have coverage of the announcement.

• Turkey's leaders are blaming blamed enemies including Kurdish militant groups in Turkey and in Syria as well as the Syrian government, for yesterday's suicide bombing in Ankara and vowed strong retaliation against the perpetrators, threatening to further complicate the Syria conflict.

• A local Tampa chef and Bern's Steak House are semifinalists for the prestigious James Beard Awards, among the few Florida bright spots in this year's list.

• Check out beat writer Joe Smith's latest Lightning Strikes podcast this afternoon at tampabay.com/lightning.

• Here are the top things to do around Tampa Bay today, including Melissa Etheridge at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre and Latin and ballroom dancers high-stepping it to the Vinoy for the Florida Superstars Dancesport Championships.

• A Jonas brother in concert and a tall ship are among our five things to do under $5 this week.

[10Weather WTSP]

[10Weather WTSP]

Your DayStarter: More beautiful weather; Obama plans a Cuba trip, and the Rays kick off spring training 02/18/16 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2016 10:32am]
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