NY firemen's killer mapped out plan for slayings
WEBSTER, N.Y. (AP) — The ex-con turned sniper who killed two firefighters wanted to make sure his goodbye note was legible, typing out his desire to ‘‘do what I like doing best, killing people’’ before setting the house where he lived with his sister ablaze, police said. Police Chief Gerald Pickering said Tuesday that the 62-year-old loner, William Spengler, brought plenty of ammunition with him for three weapons including a military-style assault rifle as he set out on a quest to burn down his neighborhood just before sunrise on Christmas Eve.
Obama cuts vacation short as 'fiscal cliff' looms
HONOLULU (AP) — With a yearend deadline looming before the economy goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama is cutting short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii, planning to leave for Washington on Wednesday evening. Obama was expected to arrive in Washington early Thursday, the White House said late Tuesday. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s two daughters are scheduled to remain in Hawaii until Jan. 6.
US storm's toll up to 6 dead as system heads east
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm system that blew through Christmas Day with Gulf Coast tornadoes and snow in the nation’s midsection headed for the Northeast on Wednesday, spreading blizzard conditions that slowed holiday travel. The death toll rose to six with car accidents on snow and sleet-slickened highways in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Russian parliament endorses anti-US adoption bill
MOSCOW (AP) — The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday unanimously voted in favor of a measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It now goes to President Vladimir Putin to sign or turn down. All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the United States and from Russian activists who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape often-dismal orphanages.
Well-wishers console Conn. residents on Christmas
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — This Christmas was unlike any other in Newtown. When a gunman wiped out nearly an entire first-grade class and killed students and adults in two other first-grade classrooms just 11 days before Christmas, it made it impossible for the holiday to be the same this year.
Syrian interior minister leaves Beirut hospital
BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s interior minister, wounded in a Damascus bombing, headed home on a private jet Wednesday after treatment in Beirut, airport officials said, despite calls from some Lebanese to put him on trial for Syrian actions in their country. Mohammed al-Shaar’s departure coincided with the defection of the commander of Syria’s military police.
New Japan PM: Saving economic crisis top mission
TOKYO (AP) — Shinzo Abe took office as Japan’s seventh prime minister in six years Wednesday and vowed to overcome the deep-rooted economic and diplomatic crises facing his country. Abe was elected as Japan’s leader hours earlier Wednesday, bringing back to power the conservative, pro-business Liberal Democratic Party that governed for most of the post-World War II era. It replaces the liberal-leaning government of the Democratic Party of Japan that lasted three years.
GOP willing to bend on issues after election
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For years, Republicans have adhered fiercely to their bedrock conservative principles, resisting Democratic calls for tax hikes, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. Now, seven weeks after an electoral drubbing, some party leaders and rank-and-file alike are signaling a willingness to bend on all three issues. What long has been a nonstarter for Republicans — raising tax rates on wealthy Americans — is now backed by GOP House Speaker John Boehner in his negotiations with President Barack Obama to avert a potential fiscal crisis. Party luminaries, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have started calling for a wholesale shift in the GOP’s approach to immigration after Hispanic voters shunned Republican candidates. And some Republicans who previously championed gun rights now are opening the door to restrictions following a schoolhouse shooting spree earlier this month.
Conn. woman: Why did I survive '11 Christmas fire?
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Since the fire at her Connecticut home on Christmas Day of last year that took the lives of her three daughters and her parents, Madonna Badger has wondered why she survived. Badger, a New York advertising executive until the 2011 fire in Stamford, made it through the funerals for her children and parents. Then she fell apart, she told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group (http://bit.ly/UsPBvi).Continued...