AP Top News at 11:59 p.m. EST
Firemen's killer left chilling note, deaths at 3
WEBSTER, N.Y. (AP) — An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and ‘‘do what I like doing best, killing people,’’ police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found. William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.
US holiday retail sales growth weakest since 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. holiday retail sales this year grew at the weakest pace since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession. In 2012, the shopping season was disrupted by bad weather and consumers’ rising uncertainty about the economy. A report that tracks spending on popular holiday goods, the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, said Tuesday that sales in the two months before Christmas increased 0.7 percent, compared with last year. Many analysts had expected holiday sales to grow 3 to 4 percent.
Christmas Day storms blamed for 3 deaths
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Twisters hopscotched across the Deep South, and, along with brutal, straight-line winds, knocked down countless trees, blew the roofs off homes and left many Christmas celebrations in the dark. Holiday travelers in the nation’s much colder midsection battled treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions from the same fast-moving storms. As predicted, conditions were volatile throughout the day and into the night with tornado warnings still out for some parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The storms were blamed for three deaths, several injuries, and left homes from Louisiana to Alabama damaged.
Obama to fly to home early as 'fiscal cliff' looms
HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama will cut short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii, planning to leave for Washington on Wednesday evening as he and lawmakers consider how to prevent the economy from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama was expected to arrive in Washington early Thursday, the White House said Tuesday night. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s two daughters will remain in Hawaii.
DC hotels less busy for Obama's 2nd inauguration
WASHINGTON (AP) — Visitors coming to the nation’s capital for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration can’t stay in the one place President Ronald Reagan’s family once called an eight-star hotel. That spot is the White House, and it’s booked for the next four years. Still, inauguration-goers have a range of lodging options — from crashing on a friend’s couch to rooms that cost thousands of dollars a night. With second inaugurations tending to draw fewer spectators, finding a place to stay in Washington won’t be nearly as difficult as in 2009.
In Egypt Islamists' bastion, discontent creeps up
FAYOUM, Egypt (AP) — When election-time rolls around, this impoverished province of farmlands south of Cairo has proven one of the most die-hard bastions of support for Islamists in Egypt, producing lopsided victories for the Muslim Brotherhood and its ultraconservative allies. Last weekend’s referendum that approved Egypt’s Islamist-backed constitution was no exception. According to final results released Tuesday, nearly 90 percent of voters in Fayoum backed the charter, the second highest margin among the country’s 27 provinces, mirroring the levels Islamists received here in other votes since the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.
Hero dog missing snout seems to have beaten cancer
DAVIS, Calif. (AP) — A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, has some good news about a dog from the Philippines who became an international hero after sacrificing her snout to save two young girls. After completing six weekly intravenous chemotherapy infusions, Kabang appears to have beaten the cancer she was suffering from, Gina Davis, the primary care veterinarian at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis, told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/Ti87pl).
Ben Affleck won't run for US Senate in Mass.
BOSTON (AP) — Ben Affleck is taking his name off the list of possible candidates for U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state. Affleck says in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office.Continued...