Friday, July 20, 2018
News Roundup

DayStarter: Warm with some scattered showers; Nevada caucuses today, and Tampa's new police review board has its first meeting

A warm front and rising humidity bring a few light showers today, and maybe some fog this afternoon. A cold front tomorrow afternoon will bring another round of storms, according to 10Weather WTSP.

• In today's Republican caucuses in Nevada, presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz hope to derail Donald Trump's lead and boost their momentum ahead of next week's critical "Super Tuesday" contests. Polls close at 10 p.m. Florida time, but we'll offer updates throughout the day.

• Tampa's police Citizens Review Board meets for the first time at 6 p.m. in city council chambers. The board was created last year after a public outcry over stark racial disparities in how the police department issued bike tickets. The volunteer board will discuss how the board will be run and feature time for public comment.

• Decades in the making, a $192 million project to build elevated lanes over Gandy Boulevard in Tampa took a key step forward yesterday. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority approved paying up to $2.6 million to the engineering firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff to prepare conceptual and road plans for the project. The firm also will help put together the criteria for a contractor to design and build the project, which would extend the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway 1.6 miles from its existing end at S Dale Mabry Highway to the Gandy Bridge.

• As a member of the state House when Florida rewrote its Constitution in 1968, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham believes a lot of people are missing the point in the current gaming debate. Graham filed a friend of the court brief yesterday in the case involving Gretna Racing LLC, arguing that the Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott's administration and the company that is trying to get a slots permit in the rural community, have misread the Florida Constitution. His argument: There is no authority to open the door to additional slot machines, or any other forms of gambling, without a statewide referendum, and the court should reject Gretna's argument. It's the third argument offered in what is shaping up to be a landmark case before the Florida Supreme Court this spring. It could have immediate implications on the gaming compact signed by Scott and the Seminole Tribe and could influence the legislative debate over expanded gambling.

• As details emerge about the night authorities say Jason Dalton has admitted gunning down six randomly chosen victims in and around Kalamazoo — attacks apparently carried out over hours during which he also ferried passengers around town as an Uber driver — any hint as to why remains stubbornly elusive. A prosecutor said yesterday that Dalton picked up fares for the ride-hailing service after the first shooting Saturday that left a woman seriously wounded and probably got more riders after the two subsequent shootings that proved fatal. But none of the shootings appeared to be connected to fares.

• The Ashley Global Retail facility opens this morning in Ybor City. Attendees include Gov. Rick Scott, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. Follow Times business reporter Justine Griffin for updates on Twitter (@SunBizGriffin).

• Dr. John Armstrong will face his second confirmation hearing to keep his job as the state surgeon general when the Senate's Ethics and Elections Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. The Gov. Rick Scott appointee has been under fire for rising HIV rates and changes to an insurance program the Department of Health offers for the state's sickest kids. It's expected that the vote on whether to recommend Armstrong keep his job will be close. Follow Michael Auslen on Twitter (@MichaelAuslen) for the latest developments.

• Fight for the Future, a nonprofit advocacy group that has pushed for net neutrality and free speech online, has set its sights on Apple's battle with the FBI. To that end, the organization said it is organizing rallies in more than 30 cities on Tuesday, including in Brandon and Tampa. The protests are in support of Apple's decision to fight the FBI's attempts to force the company to hack into an iPhone used in December's terrorist attack in San Bernardino. The 5:30 p.m. rallies are set to take place at International Plaza and Westfield Brandon. Both malls have Apple stores. Follow Sara DiNatale on Twitter (@sara_dinatale) for more.

• The Syrian government and the main umbrella for Syrian opposition and rebel groups announced today their conditional acceptance of a proposed U.S.-Russian cease fire that the international community hopes will bring them back to the negotiating table in Geneva for talks to end the war. The announcement came after the United States and Russia agreed on a new cease-fire for Syria that will take effect Saturday, even as major questions over enforcement were left unresolved. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it accepts the proposed truce, adding that operations will continue against the Islamic State group, al-Qaida's branch in Syria and "other terrorist groups linked to them." "The Syrian government stresses the right of its armed forces to retaliate against any violation carried out by these groups," the ministry's statement said.

• U.S. officials say the Pentagon's long-awaited plan to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer the remaining detainees to a facility in the United States calls for up to $475 million in construction costs that would ultimately be offset by as much as $180 million per year in operating cost savings. The plan, which will be delivered to Congress today, is the administration's last-ditch effort to make good on President Barack Obama's campaign vow to close Guantanamo and convince lawmakers to allow the Defense Department to move nearly 60 detainees to the U.S. But the plan provides few details, and may only further antagonize members of Congress who have repeatedly passed legislation banning any effort to move detainees to the U.S.

• Joint teams of U.S. and Brazilian health workers will fan out across one of Brazil's poorest states today in search of mothers and infants for a study aimed at determining whether the Zika virus is causing babies to be born with unusually small heads. Brazil's health minister, Marcelo Castro, says he is "absolutely sure" mosquito-borne Zika is responsible for a spike in cases of the rare birth defect microcephaly, which sees babies born with small heads and brains and can cause severe developmental problems. But with scant scientific literature published on the matter, some doctors in Brazil and elsewhere say there is not yet enough scientific data to prove the connection.

Times photographer Lara Cerri visited a handful of the local farmers amid prime produce season to get a glimpse of how they tend their farms. Meet them on their home turf and see the amount of effort it takes to sell what you've grown.

• Here are the top things to do today around Tampa Bay, including Tony winner Matilda, based on the book by Roald Dahl, opening at Tampa's Straz Center.

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For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Rays come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Marlins. Here's the lineup for Tampa Bay, which dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami:Kiermaier CFHechavarria SSBauers 1BRoberts...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly has added some offensive line depth, adding Virginia Tech transfer Thomas Hopple.It appears 247Sports had the story first. Hopple, not projected to be a part of the Hokies' two-deep chart in 2018, must sit out this season per NCAA tran...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

HOLIDAY — The mother of a 12-year-old girl was arrested Thursday after authorities said she faked a kidnapping attempt on her daughter in an effort to frame a former business partner.Tammy Steffen, 36, is charged with child neglect, filing a false po...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

A Volusia County woman was brought to tears Tuesday after she returned to her car to see her 8-month-old son still alive and healthy after she left him inside with the windows closed.Accompanying her baby, however, was a Volusia County deputy.Meagen ...
Updated: 27 minutes ago

Authorities identify victims in Spring Hill shooting

SPRING HILL — Deputies on Friday identified three victims in a string of shootings Thursday that left the shooter and one victim dead.The shootings began in Hudson, where deputies said Theodore Antonia Parker, 59, shot at 44-year-old Tonya Haseman ar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Times Staff Writer INDIAN SHORES — The sun had yet to rise. A strong breeze from the Gulf of Mexico cooled the otherwise warm and muggy Indian Shores beach. The surf was choppy Friday morning as Bonnie Charity began her daily walk, unlike some days w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Friday that his agency will not arrest a man deputies say fatally shot another man during an argument over a handicap parking space.The incident falls under Florida’s self-defense law known...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

TAMPA — When it comes to filling a ballpark, the Tampa Bay Rays are Major League Baseball’s perennial bottom-dweller. The team has finished last in average attendance the past six seasons at Tropicana Field. As of the All-Star Game, the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

The Rays made the easiest move to replace injure C Wilson Ramos, calling up journeyman Adam Moore from Triple-A.Moore, 34, has played parts of eight seasons in the majors, last with the Indians in 2016 and before that with the Mariners, Royals and Pa...
Updated: 3 hours ago