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Watch for gridlock: President arrives Friday

President Bush plans to visit Tampa on Friday, so count on traffic slowdowns. Bush is expected to visit the Port of Tampa about 1:30 p.m. for remarks on terrorism. The president also is due at MacDill Air Force Base for a briefing at Central Command. Police would not specify the roads motorists should avoid because of security concerns. But police don't think rush hour traffic will be worse than usual.

Judge saves earlier

date for Al-Arian trial

The federal judge in the Sami Al-Arian trial, which ended in December with acquittals and a hung jury, fired a warning shot of impatience Wednesday. Prosecutors say they can't retry Al-Arian and co-defendant Hatem Fariz until June.

But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. set a new trial anyway: for April. Al-Arian

and Fariz are charged

with conspiring to finance the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Kevin Bech, Fariz's defense attorney, speculated Moody is trying

"to force the government

to resolve the ongoing

negotiations" over plea agreements.

Schiavo's family sad

over a change of heart

Once their champion,

Sen. Mel Martinez has stirred disappointment among the late Terri Schiavo's family. On the Political Connections show on Bay News 9 Sunday, Martinez said he now thinks such cases should be left to state courts.

In a statement released by the new Terri Schiavo Family Foundation, her brother, Bobby, said Wednesday he worried Martinez has been swayed by news reports that his fight to keep Schiavo's feeding tube inserted was unpopular. "Our foundation hopes he will not be swayed from acting as a public servant."

Tampa hopes to host

2008 GOP convention

Tampa is among 31 cities invited this week by the Republican National Committee to bid on the party's 2008 convention. Other Florida cities include Miami and Orlando. "We're going to be fighting very, very hard to be No. 1," said Tampa developer and Republican fundraiser Al Austin. Tampa lost the 2004 convention to New York City. Mayor Pam Iorio likes the idea (even if she is a Democrat). The convention would be an economic jolt and provide a week of national exposure, she said.

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