Good morning: 15+ things to know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. WHAT WOMEN ON THE FRONT LINE CAN'T DO: The Pentagon will lift a ban Thursday for women in combat, but could make exceptions for positions such as the Navy SEALS.

2. CLINTON FIERCELY DEFENDS U.S. HANDLING OF BENGHAZI: In often-combative testimony, she rejected senators' suggestions that the administration tried to mislead the country about the Sept. 11 attack.

3. GANG RAPE TRIAL BEGINS IN INDIA: Five men are accused of assaulting and killing a woman aboard a moving bus in a case that triggered national outrage over violence against women.

4. NORTH KOREA'S TOUGH TALK ON NUKES: The nation says it's ready for a nuclear test and has rockets designed to carry warheads that could take aim at the U.S.

5. BAD NEWS FOR METER READERS: The AP reports utilities are replacing the workers by the day with digital meters as technology overtakes a wave of middle-class jobs.

6. EQUALITY — BUT NOT IN A GOOD WAY: Women now smoke more regularly and at a younger age and are more likely to die because of their habit.

7. A BLOW TO ORGANIZED LABOR: The government says union membership fell last year to its lowest level since the 1930s.

8. RIFLES FOR SCHOOL GUARDS: A suburban Los Angeles district bought 14 semi-automatic Colt rifles last month for school police officers.

9. WHO'S JOINING THE FIGHT AGAINST NYC'S SODA BAN: The NAACP and Hispanic leaders say small businesses would suffer if stopped from selling the supersize drinks.

10. CHARLIE BROWN IS ARRESTED: Peter Robbins, the actor who voiced the "Peanuts" cartoon character on TV, is charged with stalking his former girlfriend.

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5 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY IN FLORIDA

1. SILVER SPRINGS SET TO BECOME FLORIDA STATE PARK: Silver Springs, one of Florida's oldest tourist attractions, is going out of business and will become a state park. The north Florida attraction, famed for its glass bottom boats, has been plagued by low attendance and pollution, which has clouded its once-clear waters.

2. FLORIDA TEACHER POLICIES RATED AMONG TOP 4 NATIONALLY: A research and policy group that advocates for accountability standards ranks Florida's teacher preparation policies among the top four nationally. The National Council on Teacher Quality on Wednesday gave Florida's teachers a grade of B-minus, the same as it received last year. That's the top grade awarded, though. The national average is D-plus.

3. JURORS TO DELIBERATE IN FLORIDA MISSING CHILD CASE: Twelve jurors are going behind closed doors to deliberate the fate of Geralyn Graham, accused of killing 4-year-old foster child Rilya Wilson more than a decade ago. Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez decided after closing arguments to begin deliberations on Thursday morning.

4. 'FAT ALBERT' TO COME DOWN AFTER 33 YEARS: Officials say a military blimp that's been tethered in the Florida Keys for more than three decades is coming down for good. An internal email by Exelis Systems Corp. — the defense contractor that operates the blimps nationally — says Air Force blimp known as "Fat Albert" that hovers over Cudjoe Key will end its 33-year flight on March 15.

5. NEW FLORIDA EDUCATION CHIEF SETTING TOP PRIORITIES: Florida's new education commissioner told a legislative panel Wednesday that his top priorities are implementing nationwide academic standards and a new teacher merit pay and tenure law.

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TODAY AND EVERY DAY: Click here for links to recent arrest reports and mug shots in Collier and Lee counties.

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