Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Morning briefing: Warmer temps, reaction to the firing of Bucs coach Lovie Smith and a stock market watch

• It should be a bit warmer today than yesterday, and fairly sunny early, according to 10Weather WTSP, but rain and cooler temperatures are on the way.

• You may have been asleep when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they were firing coach Lovie Smith after just two seasons. We'll catch you up and take you forward. There was instant mass speculation on a replacement Wednesday night and there is sure to be more today. How are the fans and players reacting? What were the Glazers thinking? And are the Bucs becoming the Browns? Sports columnist Tom Jones says only one thing matters: The Bucs can do better than Lovie Smith.

• China's stock market had another catastrophic day, as a plunge in stock values halted trading about a half-hour after opening. A similar price plunge Monday triggered a sell-off on Wall Street and other global markets. Chinese markets have lurched up and down as regulators gradually withdraw emergency measures imposed after the main stock index plunged in June following an explosive rise. Financial analysts have warned Chinese markets are likely to see extreme volatility for a few more months as they seek a stable level following last year's rout.

• A lottery official says there was no jackpot winner in last night's drawing for a Powerball prize worth an estimated $500 million, the sixth-largest lottery jackpot ever offered in North America. A spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery said that means the estimated prize for Saturday's drawing is $675 million, the largest jackpot of any lottery game in U.S. history.

• The state Board of Education, which for years has pushed to toughen standards for Florida students, voted yesterday to compromise on test scores and school grades while the state continues to wrestle with its newly revised accountability system. The board adopted Education Commissioner Pam Stewart's recommendations for scores that would see more than half of students passing the Florida Standards Assessments. It also approved a more forgiving grading formula that will maintain the current distribution of A- through F-rated schools statewide.

• The White House will nominate a veteran Special Operations commander to lead U.S. Central Command, underscoring the Obama administration's affinity for using secretive elite military forces in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Senior officials this week approved Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who has headed U.S. Special Operations Command since Aug. 2014, as the White House nominee to command CentCom, according to a Washington Post report that cited an unnamed defense official.

Officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man with wires protruding from his clothes at a police station in northern Paris this morning, French officials said, a year to the day after an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo launched a bloody year in the French capital. A Paris police official said police were investigating the incident at the Paris police station Thursday as "more likely terrorism" than a standard criminal act.

Iran claimed today that the Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite rebels in Yemen of hitting its embassy there in an overnight airstrike, although the building bore no visible damage. The accusation comes amid a dangerous rise in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia in recent days following the kingdom's execution of a Shiite cleric and attacks on Saudi diplomatic posts in the Islamic Republic.

• In response to North Korea's latest nuclear test, South Korea announced today that it would resume the cross-border propaganda broadcasts that Pyongyang considers an act of war. Seoul also began talks with Washington that could see the arrival of nuclear-powered U.S. submarines and warplanes to the Korean Peninsula. From Seoul to Washington, Beijing to the United Nations, world powers are looking at ways to punish Pyongyang for the test of what it called a new and powerful hydrogen bomb.

• Emergency crews were working this morning to rescue 17 miners stuck for hours in an elevator 900 feet underground at a central New York salt mine that's the deepest in the Western Hemisphere, officials said. An elevator large enough to accommodate a forklift got stuck around 10 p.m. Wednesday while descending to the floor of the 2,300-foot-deep mine. Emergency workers were able to communicate via radio with the miners, who had blankets, heat packs and other supplies lowered to them.

• California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over a massive natural-gas leak that has been spewing methane and other gases into a Los Angeles neighborhood for months, sickening residents and forcing thousands to evacuate. The well, owned by Southern California Gas Co., has been gushing up to 1,200 tons of climate-changing methane daily, along with other gases, since it was first reported in October. It will be months before workers can stem the leak, experts say.

• Today, the families of Oscar Ray Bolin Jr.'s three victims may finally see justice. The 35-year-old Bolin, one of the most infamous killers in Tampa Bay history, is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. He is being put to death for the 1986 murder of Terri Lynn Mathews, 26, but was also convicted in the murders that same year of Stephanie Collins, 17, and Natalie Blanche Holloway, 25. Last night, more than 100 family members and friends gathered to remember Collins and think about the kind of person she might have grown up to be. Follow Dan Sullivan on Twitter (@TimesDan) for updates from Florida State Prison in Starke.

• Manatees didn't have an easy 2015, with 87 dying from speedboats, or 14 more than the prior year. This year isn't looking any better for the sea cows. But during a 1:30 p.m. news conference in Miami, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce that manatees are no longer an endangered species. Check out tampabay.com later this afternoon for coverage.

• With a deal near to redevelop a city block in St. Petersburg abandoned for a decade, Times reporter Susan Taylor Martin and photographer John Pendygraft toured the inside of the "cheese grater buildings," which stand "frozen in time." Read the story to see what they found inside.

• Ongoing construction at Tampa International Airport slowing you down? Starting today, access to the short term and long term parking garages will be limited as workers waterproof the entry and exit ramps. Travelers should park in the $10-a-day economy garage instead. Follow business reporter Justine Griffin on Twitter (@SunBizGriffin) for thoughts from travelers in the morning at the airport, then check tampabay.com/money around noon for a full story.

• Here are the top things to do today, including checking out one of the top sand mandala artists in the world working on his latest work in St. Petersburg and later introducing the Martin Scorcese film about the Dalai Lama. Also the circus is in town.

• Is your postholiday wallet decidedly empty? Fret not, we have 5 things to do under $5 this week, including a doggie Gasparilla called the Barkarilla pooch parade, free talks by top sports executives and a New Moon Star Party hike in a local preserve.

• Speaking of deals, Busch Gardens just announced you can get a free Adventure Island water park pass with its 2016 Fun Card but the offer ends soon.

• And in case you missed it, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo rolled out a new pricing deal that lets you "pay for a day and come back all year" — a nice perk for locals.

• You've heard it all before. Healthy food doesn't have to be boring. Our health writer Irene Maher takes the New Year's resolution challenge seriously. Here's what she came up with.

• Sunday is Hollywood's prom night, better known as the Golden Globe Awards, one of the few awards shows that are fun to watch because glamorous celebrities say embarrassing things thanks to the bottomless champagne bottles at every table. Brittany Volk predicts this year's winners. And check out our pop culture blog, the Feed, for our predictions for the top movie prizes and the TV shows we predict will get some Globe love.

• Check out beat writer Joe Smith's latest Lightning Strikes podcast this afternoon on the developing Jonathan Drouin situation at tampabay.com/lightning.

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Published: 12/16/17

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