Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Your DayStarter: Chilly, then highs in the 60s; expect state redistricting developments, a gun control debate and an actual circus

After a dip in temperatures overnight, today slowly warms into the high 60s. It's the beginning of a warming trend that will continue into the weekend, according to 10Weather WTSP.

• Florida's backlog of untested rape kits is far worse than previously reported, state officials say. In their first comprehensive report examining the problem, state officials have found at least 13,435 untested rape kits in evidence rooms around the state, 25 percent more than previous estimates. It could take eight years and more than $30 million to get rid of the backlog, more than triple original cost estimates. And that estimate might be on the low side — About 31 percent of the state's police departments didn't respond to the state's four-month survey.

• While a former Justice Department lawyer was announcing his bid to become Hillsborough County's top state prosecutor Monday, his last big federal case was gasping for air. Warren told us he had already notified his Washington, D.C., bosses that he intended to resign to run against Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober when problems emerged in the case.

• St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is fast-tracking an agreement to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look outside the city for a new stadium site. He could put the plan up for a vote by Thursday's City Council meeting, if he feels he has the necessary five votes. A final vote could then come as early as Jan. 14. Will he have those votes? Kriseman is meeting one-on-one with council members to discuss the latest proposal.

• Drama over the potential trade of the Lightning's Jonathan Drouin might have temporarily stolen the spotlight from contract talks with Steven Stamkos, but the star player said Monday that there is no stalemate. While he said he didn't expect to be without a new contract in January, talks are continuing.

• The armed activists who flocked to a remote Oregon wildlife refuge to take a stand against the federal government also looked prepared for a nippy day of hunting or fishing this morning. Law enforcement had still taken no action this morning against the group numbering close to two dozen who were upset about the imprisonment of father-and-son ranchers who set fire to federal land. "These guys are out in the middle of nowhere, and they haven't threatened anybody that I know of," said Jim Glennon, a longtime police commander. "There's no hurry. If there's not an immediate threat to anyone's life, why create a situation where there would be?"

• Iran's president said today that Saudi Arabia cannot "cover up" its crime of executing a leading Shiite cleric by severing diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, even as the kingdom's allies began limiting their links to his country. President Hassan Rouhani's comments came as Kuwait announced it had recalled its ambassador to Iran over attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic.

• President Barack Obama plans to announce new gun control measures at a White House event today. On Monday, he moved to expand background checks to cover more guns sold at gun shows, online and anywhere else.

• It's a numbers game with real-life political consequences. All 40 state Senate seats will be up for election next fall for the second time in four years, an unprecedented consequence of Florida's redistricting saga. Using a random number generator, the state auditor general will assign numbers to all Senate districts at 9 a.m. today. Follow tampabay.com/politics to find out which senators may be thrown into districts with two-year terms instead of four-year terms — and which lawmakers may be forced to move districts to increase their odds of winning.

Global stock markets were weaker this morning, although China's benchmark stabilized a day after plunging nearly 7 percent.

• The circus is in town, and you can see a free parade of the animals of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus marching through downtown Tampa today. It'll be one of the final trips from the train station to Amalie Arena for the circus elephants who will soon be retired from the show.

• Rays beat writer Marc Topkin breaks down his choices for this year's baseball Hall of Fame ballot this morning at tampabay.com/rays.

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