Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Morning briefing: Early fog and an early spring, and Florida justices hear death penalty arguments

This morning's dense fog was forecast to break up around 9:30 or 10 a.m., according to 10Weather WTSP. Expect high temperatures around 80, then more fog tonight and tomorrow morning.

• Waking up from the Iowa caucuses and ready to think about New Hampshire? So are we. Times political editor Adam C. Smith is on the ground and Washington bureau chief Alex Leary will be soon. Who won last night? Well, the big Republican winner might have finished in third place — and the Democratic caucuses were still too close to call this morning. Follow our live blog for the latest news from the presidential campaign trail.

• The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, say the furry rodent has failed to see his shadow, meaning means he's "predicted" an early spring. (Actually, his handlers make the prediction, and they make it ahead of time, but don't get us started.) Records going back to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times. (There are no records for the remaining years.)

• Today, President Barack Obama meets with the Republican House and Senate leaders to discuss issues ranging from taxes to criminal justice to national security. Obama, Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to speak privately about several matters on which they appear to agree, including a sweeping trade pact with Asian countries, battling the heroin epidemic and authorizing the fight against the Islamic State.

• The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 9 a.m. this morning on whether the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling striking down Florida's death penalty system means that death-row inmate Cary Michael Lambrix should be granted a stay for his execution set for Feb. 11. The high court's ruling, Hurst vs. Florida, will also be the focus of a Florida Senate hearing today. Follow tampabay.com/politics for the latest developments on that plus other legislative action today — from a new round of debate on the open carry and campus carry gun bills to the sanctuary city movement.

• Pinellas County will announce its Outstanding Educator of the Year award tonight during its annual "Evening of Excellence" at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door for general admission; students and teachers pay $5. The 10 finalists represent a wide cross section of the school district, hailing from Palm Harbor to Gulfport and from elementary school to high school. Check with tampabay.com this evening for news of the winner.

• Legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash plays at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre tonight. Our pop music critic talked with the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — both with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

• Here are the top things to today in Tampa Bay, including free admission at the Glazer Children's Museum and Lion King on stage at the Straz Center.

• Lydia Ko, the hottest thing in women's golf last season, plays this week at the LPGA tournament in Ocala.

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The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

TAMPA — Police were searching Tuesday for a missing 15-year-old Plant City girl who disappeared from a Tampa girls school.Zoe Warren was last seen about 8 a.m. Monday at the PACE Center for Girls, 1933 E. Hillsborough Ave., where she attends school, ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

LARGO — Daniel Richards, on trial for the murder of his 83-year-old mother, began his own criminal defense on Tuesday by asking a few questions to the pool of prospective jurors."If you were accused of killing your mother, would you want to represent...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Two of St. Petersburg’s assistant police chiefs leaving next month

Two of St. Petersburg’s assistant police chiefs leaving next month

ST. PETERSBURG — Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three of the second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign fro...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

LAKE MARY — Hundreds more juveniles who steal cars each year could be kept off the streets under a new tool approved by a Department of Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday, a move that could put a dent in a dangerous local car theft epidemic.Secretary...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

PLANT CITY — A Largo man struck a pedestrian with a minivan last Friday, authorities said. Five minutes later, his female passenger was fatally struck by on-coming traffic after falling out of the vehicle.Plant City police arrested Todd Charles Riggs...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former Tampa police sergeant to be sentenced in tax fraud case

Former Tampa police sergeant to be sentenced in tax fraud case

TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston admits that she benefitted from the proceeds of tax refund fraud.But the former Tampa police sergeant denies that she was ever an active participant in a fraud scheme, according to a memo filed in her federal criminal case. An...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 1 hour ago