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Morning briefing: Warmer today, but cloudy; a confrontation between two Gov. Scott appointees and state senators (and a mayor and some pirates), and a WWE smackdown

It's a little less nippy this morning as you make your way into work, according to 10Weather WTSP. Highs should crack 70, though it will be cloudy and we may see some rain late at night.

Times political editor Adam C. Smith writes this morning that prominent Florida Democrats have a message for voters in Iowa and New Hampshire: Vote for Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, because she can win Florida in November. From Bob Buckhorn to Alex Sink and Bill Nelson, Florida Democrats agree Clinton is a stronger general election candidate.

• President Barack Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement yesterday for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

Global stock markets are sinking this morning, led by a plunge in the Shanghai index after a renewed slump in the price of oil kept investors on edge about the world economy.

• That's one big snake. A Florida Fish and Wildlife officer shot and killed a nearly 17-foot burmese python. Check out the video and photo.

• Two of Gov. Rick Scott's appointees face tough confirmation hearings in the Senate today. Surgeon General John Armstrong will have to answer questions about rising HIV infection rates, budget cuts and the removal of 9,000 sick kids from the Children's Medical Services program in a health policy committee. Meanwhile, senators on the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will cast the first vote on Secretary of State Ken Detzner's confirmation after clashing with him last year over online voter registration. Both hearings start at 9 a.m.

• Separately on the legislative front, bills to regulate fracking and to make school recess mandatory are also being considered. Follow tampabay.com/politics for all developments.

• The Florida House K-12 Subcommittee today will tackle the issue of recess, which has gained traction in recent weeks as thousands of parents have joined a push to bring back free, unstructured play time during the school day. The state mandates physical education, but recess has been crowded out of the schedule at many schools. The panel will take up a measure that would mandate 20 minutes of daily recess in elementary schools. Some state officials are cool to the idea; a legislative report (PDF) says it may reduce classroom time and increase costs. But parent groups (see #recessmatters) insist free play time is sorely lacking in Florida schools. If you want to follow the debate, watch at 9 a.m. today on the Florida Channel.

• Here are the top things to do this week in Tampa Bay, including the WWE Smackdown live from Tampa's Amalie Arena tonight and some classic doo-wap with the Drifters at Busch Gardens.

• Pirates are poised to invade Tampa today and, as usual, the city is expected to quickly capitulate. Mayor Bob Buckhorn is scheduled to officially surrender the city to Gasparilla's pirates outside City Hall at 11:30 a.m. The surrender heralds the annual Gasparilla parade, which is set to take place Saturday. Follow Tony Marrero for live coverage of the surrender via Twitter at @TMarreroTimes.

• And if you are looking for details on the parade Saturday, check out our Gasparilla tips, posted on our Things to Do page.

• The Tampa Bay area is on the verge of a serious avalanche of new restaurants, our dining critic Laura Reiley reports, with 40 new eateries opening this spring. She has the lineup that includes everything from grasshopper tacos (with actual grasshoppers!) to a cannoli bar.

[10Weather WTSP]

[10Weather WTSP]

Morning briefing: Warmer today, but cloudy; a confrontation between two Gov. Scott appointees and state senators (and a mayor and some pirates), and a WWE smackdown 01/26/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 12:12pm]
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