Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

DayStarter: Fog closes the Skyway again; SeaWorld says it will end orca breeding, theatrical shows; happy St. Patrick's Day

It'll look a bit more Halloween than St. Patrick's Day this morning, as another patch of dense fog rolls in along with more clouds, according to 10Weather WTSP. The Sunshine Skyway was closed for the second morning rush hour in three days as sea fog dropped visibility. Later on, temperatures will likely climb as high as the low 80s. Tampa could see a stray shower or two later tonight.

• SeaWorld announced this morning that it's ending its practice of killer whale breeding after years of controversy over keeping orcas in captivity. The company announced the breeding program will end immediately. The company will also end theatrical shows and introduce "new, inspiring natural orca encounters." The new shows will begin next year at the SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s San Diego park. The company also announced a partnership with the Humane Society.

• If they can make their way through the clouds, residents can take a peek today at what St. Petersburg's new pier might look like. Architects will present their schematic designs for the $46 million project at a City Council workshop that begins at 8 a.m. The designs will be used to develop the construction drawings for the new pier, which is projected to open in 2018. We all got a glimpse of the $20 million approach earlier this week.

• If you're reading this, what's wrong with you? Time is running out to finish filling out your March Madness brackets before today's first game, 4-seed Duke vs. 13-seed UNC Wilmington, which tips off at 12:15 p.m. for East Coast viewers. But help is here. Read this cheat sheet from Times sports columnist Tom Jones.

• The Tampa City Council was set to meet at 9 a.m. Members are expected to weigh in on the Go Hillsborough transportation initiative; examine its lobbying rules in the wake of the Go Hillsborough controversy that resulted in a six-month investigation that found no wrongdoing by county officials; and hear a report on the potential costs of hosting the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020. Follow Times reporter Richard Danielson on Twitter (@Danielson_Times) for updates.

• At 10 a.m., Planned Parenthood activists in Tallahassee are delivering more than 12,000 petitions to Gov. Rick Scott, asking him to veto HB 1411, a set of new abortion restrictions. Follow Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Michael Auslen on Twitter (@MichaelAuslen) for more.

• A new analysis by ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative news organization, sheds light on doctors in Florida and around the country when it comes to what drugs they choose to prescribe for their patients. It shows that a certain group of doctors who received payments from the medical industry were more likely to prescribe brand-name drugs than those who didn't. ProPublica shared its data with the Tampa Bay Times, and it shows that Florida is on the high end in the percentage of doctors who receive these payments.

• President Barack Obama hit North Korea with new sanctions yesterday in response to the country's "illicit" nuclear and ballistic missile tests earlier this year. An executive ordered signed by the president implements two sets of sanctions: those that unanimously cleared the U.N. Security Council and a separate round of U.S. sanctions enacted by Obama after Congress overwhelmingly approved and sent him legislation.

• Who are the happiest people in the world? Forget Hamlet. According to the fourth World Happiness Report, it's the Danes. They ranked themselves closest to "the best possible life," followed by Iceland, Norway, Finland and Canada. The U.S. moved up two spots from last year, to 13.

• After lots of hype earlier this year, the Restoration Hardware grand opening at Tampa's International Plaza was a little disappointing. As the high-end furnishings company has struggled with recent earnings, its Tampa location hasn't always been bustling. In fact, on one recent afternoon there was no one in the four-story building except employees and Times business reporter Justine Griffin. Read her report on what's going on with RH nationally and here in Tampa.

• It's St. Patrick's Day, and it's no surprise that there are loads of parties to make anyone turn green. Find them all on our holiday page. Before you go, writer Robbyn Mitchell suggests the sheer volume of things to do means every sense can be tickled by St. Paddy's Day, if you know where to look. Here's a five-senses guide to the greenest holiday.

• With craft beer now a big deal in the Tampa Bay area, researchers at the University of Florida are trying to grow hops in the Sunshine State, including right here in Hillsborough County. Hops typically grow in climates like those in the Pacific Northwest — in fact, most of the nation's hops are grown there. But UF researchers hope it can be done here.

• A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack in the Turkish capital which killed 37 people. In a statement posted today on its website, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons said the attack in Ankara was in response to Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels in the southeast. The Turkey-based group is considered an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and has carried out several attacks in the past including one in Ankara in February that killed 28 people.

• Making your travel plans? Watch our Travel page for a chronicle of what our writer found in an extensive trip to Japan: the centuries-old temples and shrines interrupting corporate buildings, the memorials and, importantly, the distinctive cuisine of Tokyo and Hiroshima.

• One of the most popular bands ever to come from Tampa Bay, Christian metalcore group Underoath, reunited Wednesday at Jannus alive in St. Petersburg, the first of many sold-out shows on a new North American tour. After three years on hiatus, how did they sound? Times pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin has a review at tampabay.com/soundcheck.

• In a birthday toast to Mr. Warmth, film critic Steve Persall talked to comedy icon Don Rickles as he gets ready to celebrate his 90th birthday with a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall next week. (It's Rickles' 90th birthday, that is. Not Persall's.)

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

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