Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

DayStarter: Clear and cool today; one last day to campaign before South Carolina's primary, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia lies in repose

Temperatures around the bay area were in the mid 50s this morning with mostly clear skies. That sunshine should stick around all day, with afternoon highs around 74 degrees, says 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Kate Wentzel.

• The Associated Press was reporting this morning that an unnamed U.S. official had said American warplanes struck multiple targets in Libya overnight, hitting what the official described as an Islamic State training camp and a senior extremist leader.

• Florida's overwhelmingly pro-Jeb Bush political establishment has lost confidence in the former governor's presidential campaign. More than six in 10 of the more than 125 veteran Florida politicos participating in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, say Bush should suspend his campaign if he finishes no better than fourth place in Saturday's South Carolina presidential primary.

• Hours after praying for Mexican migrants who died trying to reach the United States yesterday, Pope Francis singled out Donald Trump, telling reporters aboard the papal plane that "a person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian," according to a translation from the Associated Press. "This is not in the Gospel." He added: "I'd just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way." Trump, a Presbyterian, strongly rebuked the pope's comments. "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful," the Republican presidential front-runner said in South Carolina, where he is campaigning. "I'm proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president."

• Barbara Bush is expected to join Jeb in South Carolina — and Marco Rubio will campaign with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — in the last day before Republicans there vote in Saturday's primary. Times political editor Adam C. Smith and Washington bureau chief Alex Leary are on the road with the candidates. Follow their reporting all day long on our live blog.

• Thousands of mourners are expected to pay their respects as the late Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose today at the U.S. Supreme Court. Scalia's casket will be on public view in the court's Great Hall from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

• British Prime Minister David Cameron forged ahead at tougher-than-expected talks with European partners Friday after meetings through the night failed to make much progress on his demands for a less intrusive European Union. It's potentially a pivotal moment for the 28-nation bloc, which is proud of its decades of integration among once-enemy nations across Europe. At a tense summit in Brussels, Cameron and other E.U. leaders staked out firm positions — in part to show voters back home that their interests are being defended.

• After a sewer pipe burst in a Snell Isle home several years ago, real estate reporter Susan Taylor Martin writes, the property was in such bad shape that buyers were warned of mold contamination. But recently the property appeared back on the market at an increased sales price and no mention of those issues. So is the house a lovely and spacious home, as described in the listing? Or a mold-infested teardown?

• The tech industry is starting to line up with Apple in its fight against the federal government over the encryption it uses to keep iPhones secure. Earlier this week, a U.S. magistrate ordered Apple to help investigators break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino mass shooters. Apple has until next Tuesday to challenge that ruling, setting the stage for a legal clash that could determine whether tech companies or government authorities get the final say on just how secure devices like smartphones can be.

• What is justice for someone caught with a small amount of marijuana: criminal punishment or a second chance? A second chance, the Tampa City Council said yesterday. The council voted 6-0 to set a March 3 vote on an ordinance that would decriminalize possession of 20 grams — about three-quarters of an ounce — or less of marijuana. "Things are changing in this country, and our sense of what's fair and unfair, what's right and wrong, continues to evolve," said council member Harry Cohen, who asked for a discussion of the issue.

• A sweeping lands bill that gives state regulators the power to repurpose state parks and preserves for hunting, grazing, tree farming and even RV camping passed its final committee in the state House yesterday after its sponsor removed provisions environmentalists feared would undermine the state's conservation programs. Some environmentalists warn that the broad-based changes gives regulators too much control by allowing them to change whether land that was acquired for conservation can be changed to be used for recreation, thereby diluting the oversight of the governor and Cabinet.

• President Barack Obama has made it official: He is going to Cuba next month. "I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people," the president announced yesterday via Twitter. "We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly," Obama said. "America will always stand for human rights around the world." The president and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to arrive March 21 and stay through the following day. The trip will be followed by a two-day stopover in Argentina.

• Here are the top things to do around Tampa Bay today, including the popular PBS show on Wild Kratts Live! at the Mahaffey and virtuoso Shai Wosner joining the Florida Orchestra for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4.

• Before his concert tonight in Clearwater's Coachman Park, Canada's most unappreciated rock star Bryan Adams talked with our pop music and culture critic Jay Cridlin about his career's 'uncharted' heights, relating to young artists and more.

• Since 1978, more than 635,000 participants have crossed the Gasparilla Distance Classic finish line. This year, the Tampa Bay Times will be there every step of the way, from training to race day. Whether you'll be walking, skipping, jogging or sprinting across the 5K, 8K, 15K or half-marathon finish, join us by using #gasparillarun on your favorite social media. Follow along all weekend and get race results on our live blog.

Plan your weekend! From date night ideas to family fun, our critics have the top picks for the weekend ahead on our Weekend Planner page. Among them: the Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival, Matilda the Musical and the high-flying dirt bike action of Arenacross.

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