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Thursday, December 24

Santa's on the move, and NORAD is tracking his deliveries

A holiday tradition continues as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa's journey around the world on Christmas Eve. [More]

Levi Johnston's Mother Under Home Confinement for Drug Charge

The mother of the man who fathered former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's grandson is set to serve out most of her three-year drug sentence under home confinement. [More]

Dad and Son Reunited in Brazil After 5 Years

A Brazilian family delivered a 9-year-old boy to his American father in Brazil on Thursday, ending a five-year custody battle. [More]

Man in wheelchair surrenders after Va. standoff

A disabled man in a wheelchair who authorities say held three people for more than eight hours inside a small-town Virginia post office surrendered to police after freeing the hostages unharmed. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Pugnacious [pug·na·cious] adj.  1. Quarrelsome or combative in nature; belligerent. 2. Expressing an argument or opinion very forcefully: Rather than maintaining a calm demeanor, his boss was quite pugnacious. [More]

US Senate passes sweeping health bill

The US Senate passed a sweeping health care reform bill early Thursday to extend coverage to 31 million Americans, landing President Barack Obama a major political victory. [More]

Congress raises debt ceiling to $12.4 trillion

The Senate voted Thursday to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year. [More]

More than 100 could be victims of pediatrician

A pediatrition charged with sexually abusing his patients likely attacked more than 100 children at an office he had decked out with a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel, a state official said Wednesday. [More]

Wrongly convicted, Abdullah Wilson suing accuser for $20 million

After spending 9-1/2 years in prison for a stickup he says he didn't commit, Abdullah Wilson is out to make his accuser pay. [More]

Wells Fargo repays $25 billion bailout

Wells Fargo & Co. has repaid the $25 billion in bailout money it received from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. [More]

Citigroup Repays $20 Billion in Bailout Money

Citigroup repaid $20 billion in bailout money and received a government ruling that it's no longer covered by the pay restrictions imposed on companies receiving the most rescue money. [More]

Wednesday, December 23

Ohio mom calls cops on her shoplifting 6-year-old

An Ohio woman who asked that police be called after she caught her 6-year-old daughter shoplifting a package of stickers said today that she was just trying to teach the girl a lesson early in life. [More]

Disabled man holds 5 hostage in Virginia post office

An armed disabled man was holding five people hostage nearly four hours after his takeover of a Virginia post office on Wednesday, the town's mayor said. [More]

Woman calls 911 when husband refuses to eat dinner

Prosecutors will review the case of a Texas woman authorities claim has called 911 30 times over six months for non-emergency reasons, including a call to complain that her husband refused to eat his dinner. [More]

Balloon boy parents gets jail time, strict probation

Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, including 60 days of work release that will let him pursue his job as a construction contractor while serving his time. His wife, Mayumi, was sentenced to 20 days in jail. [More]

Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split

One of Hollywood's most enduring relationships has ended - Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have broken up after more than two decades together. [More]

Nestle closes Zimbabwe milk plant

Nestle is claiming that harassment is the reason it is closing the dairy plant in Zimbabwe. In October, the company announced it was no longer going to purchase milk from a farm owned by President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace. Grace Mugabe took over the ownership of the dairy operation after it was seized from its white owner under controversial land reforms. [More]

Man with knife in chest walks into diner, gets coffee

Diners at a metro Detroit restaurant got more than a full plate Sunday when a man walked in with a 5-inch knife in his chest. [More]

Randy, Evi Quaid plead not guilty in fraud case

Randy and Evi Quaid finally appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to felony charges of defrauding an innkeeper. [More]

Michigan Teacher Convicted of Having Sex With Underage Boy

A former teacher in Michigan has been convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old boy whom she met at a Flint elementary school. [More]

Balloon Boy parents face sentencing in Colorado

The parents who pulled off the balloon boy hoax are already facing the prospect of jail time and paying tens of thousands of dollars in restitution over their stunt. An investigator also wants to forbid the couple from making any money off their newfound fame. The Heenes also face possible restitution for search and rescue costs of $46,000. [More]

Mother of dead pregnant woman blasts EMTs

Two emergency medical technicians accused of refusing to help a dying pregnant woman are "inhuman," her mother said Tuesday. A lawyer for the EMTs argued his clients are being vilified in a rush to judgment. [More]

Former Wisconsin Mayor Pleads Guilty in Underage Sex Sting

Former Racine Mayor Gary Becker has pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from an Internet sex sting. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss six other charges during Tuesday's hearing. [More]

Santa packs heat, robs bank at gunpoint

He may have been dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, but this Santa was no saint. [More]

Woman and Her Infant Daughter Shot to Death

Seattle police say a woman and her infant daughter have been discovered shot to death in their home. [More]

Woman convicted of killing man who taunted her over N.Y. Yankees decal

A New Hampshire jury on Monday found a Nashua woman guilty of second-degree murder for running over a man who had heckled her for being a New York Yankees fan. [More]

Deputy resigns after prisoner escapes during stop at McDonald's

While the deputy was in the drive-thru lane, a prisoner arrested on auto burglary and theft charges used his own handcuff key to free himself. [More]

Warning: Knock on door may be from scammer, not from Census

The new year brings a new U.S. Census, which means that tens of thousands of census workers will pour into neighborhoods across the country. But beware, consumer watchdogs warn: scam artists may pose as official data-gatherers and try to con unsuspecting residents out of sensitive financial information. [More]

Psychologist gets 6 years in girlfriend's death

A Miami-Dade psychologist has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for giving his young girlfriend and former patient a lethal dose of painkillers and then waiting for her to die. [More]

Alaska Man Jailed for Driving Forklift Drunk

A Fairbanks man pleaded no contest to driving a forklift while drunk and was sentenced to three days in jail. [More]

Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler back in rehab

Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler has entered rehab for the second time in as many years, he said on Tuesday, after his estranged band mates went public with their concerns about his health. [More]

Unions at Odds Over Insurance Exemption

As Democrats plug away toward final passage of a health insurance overhaul, major labor unions are pressing the Senate to strip a tax on high-value insurance plans from the health care reform bill, putting them at odds with other labor groups getting exemptions from that very requirement. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Incredulous [in·cred·u·lous] adj.  1. Skeptical; disbelieving: incredulous of stories about flying saucers.  2. Expressive of disbelief: an incredulous stare. [More]

Slaying of drug war hero's family shocks Mexico

Assailants on Tuesday gunned down the mother, aunt and siblings of a marine killed in a raid that took out one of Mexico's most powerful cartel leaders — sending a chilling message to troops battling the drug war: You go after us, we wipe out your families. [More]

Police stop generous Indiana fifth-grader with $10,000

Police say a fifth-grader handed out about $300 to others on the bus ride to his eastern Indiana school. Problem is, they say, the cash was among some $10,000 he took from his grandparents' safe. [More]

Secret Santas hand out $40K in Arizona

A group of people calling themselves Secret Santas have handed out tens of thousands of dollars in $100 bills around Phoenix in recent days, organizers said. [More]

California Authorities Seize $1 Million Worth of Cocaine

Three brothers and two other men face charges after authorities say they seized more than $1 million worth of cocaine in the east San Francisco Bay city of Richmond. [More]

Miami man allegedly stiffs cabbie on $3,000 ride

A Miami man was jailed in Tennessee after allegedly taking a $3,000 taxi ride there and refusing to pay the fare. Memphis police arrested the man after the 1,600-mile drive on a charge of theft over $1,000. [More]

'Mister Ed' actress Connie Hines dies

Actress Connie Hines, who played Wilbur's wife on the popular 1960s television show "Mister Ed" has died. She was 78. [More]

Customer destroyed $1,000 in perfume

Police in Georgia said a customer angry about not being able to return items to a beauty shop smashed more than $1,000 worth of perfume bottles. [More]

Tuesday, December 22

Thou shalt shoplift, priest tells congregation

A British priest has advised people in "desperate situations" to shoplift from chain stores. [More]

Attorney Says Army Prohibits Alleged Fort Hood Shooter's Prayers

A defense attorney for the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly shooting at Fort Hood says the Army has prohibited his client from praying in Arabic with his family. [More]

Stalin's grandson sues Russian radio station

A Moscow radio station says it is being sued by Josef Stalin's grandson who claims the station wrongfully dishonored the dictator. [More]

Boater: Coast Guard vessel sped before crash

Alan DeWeese had just finished watching a fireworks display aboard his 26-foot Sea Ray when he heard an engine roar behind him in San Diego Bay. [More]

D.C. chief slams cop over gun at snowball fight

The city's police chief slammed a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight that had been advertised on Twitter. [More]

5 Big Fat Holiday Health Lies

Health misconceptions are pervasive during the holidays. [More]

Your body’s 10 weirdest health clues

What size bra do you wear? How's your sense of smell? Can you still fit into your college jeans? The answers to these questions — plus other weird body clues — may be a surprising predictor of potential future health problems. [More]

Celebrity deaths in 2009

Among those who have died in 2009: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Natasha Richardson, Bea Arthur, Dom DeLuise, Karl Malden, David Carradine, Patrick Swayze, John Hughes, Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. [More]

Police Arrest Man in Shooting Death of 5-Year-Old

Police arrested a 23-year-old man they say left an illegal, loaded handgun in the bedroom he shared with a 5-year-old child. [More]

Santa Claus: The Real Man Behind the Myth

Like America itself, the jolly figure we call Santa Claus is a melting pot of cultures, blending elements of folklore with the fantastical. Santa Claus the man is actually loosely rooted in fact, though he hasn't always looked the way he does today, having evolved from a gift-giving Catholic saint who lived during the third century. [More]

Two deputies shot in same county where four cops were killed

Two sheriff's deputies were shot and critically injured Monday night in the same Washington state county where four officers were killed last month, authorities said. [More]

Boy freed from Costco gun safe

Authorities in California said an 11-year-old boy was unharmed after getting locked inside a gun safe at a Costco store. [More]

Tiger Woods will win 'if wife gets greedy'

Tiger Woods could win public sympathy if his wife Elin Nordegren demands half of her husband?s $US600 million ($682 million) fortune, experts say. Once Nordegren appears money-grubbing, the public - particularly men - will side with Woods, sports image consultants told the Boston Herald. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Incongruous [in·con·gru·ous] adj.  1. Lacking in harmony; incompatible.  2. Not in agreement, as with principles; inconsistent: a plan incongruous with reason. 3. Not in keeping with what is correct, proper, or logical; inappropriate: incongruous behavior. [More]

Obama signs defense bill, extends jobless aid

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that combines another round of war spending with help for the unemployed. [More]

Unemployment funds going ‘absolutely broke’

The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks. [More]

Mojave Desert Solar Farm Blocked By Senator Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region. [More]

Update: Man convicted of in-home nudity

A Virginia man convicted of indecent exposure for being nude in his home said he filed an immediate appeal. [More]

Former Hollywood executive sues TMZ for $20 million

A former Hollywood executive sued celebrity gossip outlet TMZ Monday for $20 million over an article that allegedly branded him a thief and a rapist. [More]

Concessions won by lawmakers, interest groups in health bill

Here's a look at some of the concessions lawmakers and interest groups won in the latest version of the Senate's health care overhaul bill: [More]

Teen Stabbed Man With Ice Pick Over Parking Spot

A Missouri teenager is accused of stabbing a man with an ice pick in a dispute over a parking spot. [More]

Insider theft a big problem for small charities

While people worry about fraud or wasteful spending at big charities, abuse often occurs much closer to home — at the trusted local PTA or soccer club. [More]

Mobile phone thief caught after answering call

A mobile phone thief was caught after he answered a call and gave the his victim his name and address, a court has heard. Peter Gamblin, 24, answered his phone he had taken just hours before and gave him his personal details in an ''act of bravado.'' [More]

Experts Cry Wolf Over 'Faked' Wildlife Pic

An award winning wildlife photo which scooped the year's most prestigious award and a cheque for £10,000 is being reviewed by judges after claims it was faked. [More]

Monday, December 21

Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning

A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim. [More]

Mom calls 911 over over son's video game habit

Police say a frustrated Boston woman called 911 to say she couldn't get her 14-year-old son to stop playing video games and go to sleep. [More]

White Connecticut Firefighters Seeks Back Pay, Damages

A group of white New Haven firefighters who won a discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court are seeking back pay, damages and legal fees. [More]

Ex-Virginia Tech Student Pleads Guilty in Decapitation

A former Virginia Tech student accused of decapitating another student at a campus eatery pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Monday and now faces up to life in prison. [More]

Texting drivers six times more likely to crash

People who send text messages while driving are six times more likely to crash, a new study finds. [More]

Gov't imposes 3-hour limit on tarmac strandings

The Transportation Department, responding to tarmac horror stories, orders airlines on Monday to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to deplane after three hours. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Nebulous [neb·u·lous] adj.  1. Lacking definition or definite content.  2. Lacking definite form or limits; vague: nebulous assurance in the verdict. [More]

Loophole frees mentally ill youth offenders

Recent slaying cases highlight the complexities of a 1997 law meant to keep mentally ill juveniles from being held in detention centers where they can't get proper treatment. [More]

1 dead, 5 hurt in CA Coast Guard boat collision

A 33-foot Coast Guard vessel and a pleasure boat collided as a Christmas watercraft parade was going on in San Diego Bay, killing an 8-year-old boy and seriously injuring five people, authorities said. [More]

Health Care Bill Passes Critical Senate Test

All 58 Democrats and the Senate's two independents held together early Monday against unanimous Republican opposition, providing the exact 60-40 margin needed to shut down a threatened GOP filibuster. [More]

Natural gas could be the calvary in global warming fight

An unlikely source of energy has emerged to meet international demands that the United States do more to fight global warming: It's cleaner than coal, cheaper than oil and a 90-year supply is under our feet. [More]

Sunday, December 20

Girl, 4, Falls From Utah Ski Chairlift

Authorities in Utah say a 4-year-old girl has been hospitalized after falling 30 feet to 40 feet from a chairlift at a ski area. [More]

Cat Found Glued to Minnesota Highway

Maybe it was nine lives, but one feline is lucky to be alive after he was found with his paws glued to a Minnesota interstate. [More]

Actress Brittany Murphy dies

Actress Brittany Murphy, known for her roles in films such as "Clueless" and "8 Mile," died Sunday at age 32. [More]

Snowball Fights Takes Dangerous Turn After Officer Draws Gun

What started as a good-natured romp in the snow soon took a turn toward the unexpected — and potentially dangerous — when an undercover D.C. police officer became involved in a verbal altercation with members of the crowd and allegedly pulled out his gun. [More]

Woods' best pals told him to be 'careful' with trysts

They're the loyal friends who kept Tiger's secrets, warned him to be more careful - and stood by him even after his reckless behavior was exposed. [More]

At 100, Boy Scouts say they're still 'essential'

As the Boy Scouts of America heads toward its 100th anniversary in February, its first century adds up to a remarkable saga, full of achievement and complexity. [More]

FBI walks tightrope in outreach to Muslims

FBI agents and prosecutors face a dilemma as a case involving five Americans arrested in Pakistan has morphed from a missing persons investigation into a counter-terrorism probe. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Exacerbate [ex·ac·er·bate] transitive verb.  To make more violent, bitter, or severe; to irritate or make worse [the prosecution's witness may exacerbate her legal problems]. [More]

Data Shows that the Stimulus Package Was a Waste of Money

The stimulus package that President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rushed through Congress at the beginning of his presidency has been a flop. It is not just that the $789 billion package has not had the effect the White House promised it would; it's that it may actually have been counterproductive, actually lengthening the recession by effectively taking money out of the private economy, where it could have been used to create jobs and for investment purposes. [More]

Worker Dies at Denver Airport After Falling Into Pit

Denver airport officials say a contract worker died after falling into about 20 feet of water at the bottom of a 40-foot-deep pit at the airport's heating and cooling plant. [More]

Saturday, December 19

Killer Tripped Up by His Own Baggy Pants

A career criminal massacred three members of a family in their apartment but fell to his death when he tripped over his own baggy pants. [More]

Kansas dad somehow lifts car off 6-year-old girl

A Kansas mother is praising a neighbor as "Superman" after her 6-year-old daughter told her he somehow found the strength to lift a car off her. The girl escaped with minor injuries after she and neighbor Nick Harris said she was pinned under the vehicle. [More]

Whiskey hangover worse than vodka, study says

If you've ever had one too many drinks during a night out, you're probably familiar with the dreaded aftermath: the hangover. Turns out, your liquor of choice could influence your morning headache. [More]

Officer Indicted on Beating Handcuffed Woman

A Rhode Island police officer was indicted Friday on charges that he kicked a handcuffed woman in the head after removing her from a slot parlor for disorderly conduct, authorities said. [More]

Ex-NFL Player Sentenced to 31 Years in Prison for Assault

Ex-NFL running back Lawrence Phillips has been sentenced to more than 31 years in prison for attacking his girlfriend and driving his car into three teens. [More]

Tiger Woods wins PGA award despite personal woes

Despite his personal problems, golfer Tiger Woods received another accolade as he was voted PGA player of the year. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Ominous [om·i·nous] adj.  Menacing; threatening: ominous black clouds; ominous scream prior to the shooting. [More]

They are now available

Jon and Kate Gosselin officially divorced Friday after 10 years of marriage, eight children and a year of tabloid headlines. [More]

Study: New York's nation's most unhappy state

A new study declares residents of the Empire State rank dead last in happiness among the 50 states - with warm-weather spots boasting the most satisfied citizens. [More]

Update: Bain could get $1.75 million for his years in prison

Jamie Bernard Bain spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Because of that error, he will likely become a millionaire in about six months. [More]

Teacher Accused of Denying Holocaust

A Las Vegas teacher has been told to stay home while district officials investigate a claim that she denied in class the Holocaust happened, a newspaper reported Friday. [More]

9/11 hero cop wins $1M on TV poker show

After he was severely injured on 9/11, city cop Mike Kosowski started playing online poker to escape the pain. All those hours in front of a computer paid off - Kosowski just won $1 million on a TV poker show. [More]

Officer Struck and Killed by Another Patrol Car

An Arizona law officer was struck and killed by another officer's patrol car while he was laying down spike strips to stop a vehicle during a high-speed freeway chase, authorities said Friday. [More]

Arrest made in death of kidnapped Florida pilot

Missing Florida pilot Robert Wiles, who was believed kidnapped and held for ransom 21 months ago, now is believed to be dead, and a former co-worker is in custody, accused of his death, the FBI said Friday. [More]

Friday, December 18

Woman charged in beer-pouring battery

Police in Florida said a woman was charged with domestic battery for allegedly pouring beer over her sleeping boyfriend. [More]

Court papers suggest Edwards is father of mistress' baby - and now it's time to pay

John Edwards has never admitted to fathering a love child with a one-time staffer, but new legal documents suggest the failed presidential hopeful is the baby's daddy - and may soon have to pay up big-time. [More]

California Teen Admits to Killing Mother With Hammer

A 16-year-old girl has admitted killing her mother by repeatedly beating her head with a claw hammer in San Diego. [More]

Woods' wife consulting infamous Hollywood divorce lawyer

Tiger Woods' wife has the dean of Tinseltown's divorce lawyers on her side as she and the golfing great head for Splitsville. [More]

Michigan Family Helped by 'Robin Hood' Gets Clean Bill of Health for Daughter

One year after receiving $35,000 from an anonymous high-stakes blackjack player to rid themselves of debt, a Michigan family has received another blessing: A clean bill of health for their 3-year-old daughter who had battled a brain tumor. [More]

WordThink - Word of the Day

Pragmatic [prag·mat·ic] adj.  More concerned with practical results than with theories and principles [the CEO used a pragmatic approach to making his business a success]. [More]

Eatery offers discounts for tattooed

An Ohio restaurant said it is offering a 25 percent lifetime discount to anyone who gets a tattoo of the eatery's signature dish -- a grilled cheese sandwich. [More]

Vt. woman killed mom, had son bury remains

A woman fatally shot her Alzheimer's disease-suffering mother three years ago, burned the body and then had her son bury the remains — which she had placed in a suitcase — before filing a missing person report, authorities said Thursday. [More]

Cop Accused of Being Lookout During Fatal Robbery

A Washington, D.C., police officer is accused of being the lookout for a robbery that ended with a fatal shooting. [More]

Teacher on leave for taking choir to Hooters

An Arizona music teacher whose students performed at a presidential inauguration event is on administrative leave after taking 40 high school students to a Hooters restaurant. [More]

Boy, 4, found with beer, stolen gifts

Authorities in Tennessee said a 4-year-old boy apparently broke out of his home, obtained beer and broke into a neighbor's house to steal Christmas presents. [More]

Woman Charged With Killing Pregnant Friend

A woman who authorities believe faked her own pregnancy was charged Thursday with killing her pregnant friend, cutting her baby girl from her womb and kidnapping the infant. [More]

Pepsi drops Super Bowl ads

Pepsi will not advertise in this year's Super Bowl, the company confirmed Thursday, deciding to sit out the big game for the first time in 23 years. [More]

Turns out, sunshine states really are happiest

People in sunny, outdoorsy states — Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida — say they're the happiest Americans, and researchers think they know why. A new study comparing self-described pleasant feelings with objective measures of good living found these folks generally have reason to feel fine. [More]

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