AP U.S. NewsBrief at 9:54 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) In gun debate, video game industry defends itselfWASHINGTON (AP) _ The video game industry, blamed by some for fostering a culture of violence, defended its practices Friday at a White House meeting exploring how to prevent horrific shootings like the recent Connecticut elementary school massacre. Vice President Joe Biden, wrapping up three days of wide-ranging talks on gun violence prevention, said the meeting was an effort to understand whether the U.S. was undergoing a "coarsening of our culture."
Flu more widespread in US; eases off in some areasNEW YORK (AP) _ Flu is now widespread in all but three states as the nation grapples with an earlier-than-normal season. But there was one bit of good news Friday: The number of hard-hit areas declined. The flu season in the U.S. got under way a month early, in December, driven by a strain that tends to make people sicker. That led to worries that it might be a bad season, following one of the mildest flu seasons in recent memory.
Could janitors be one school's line of defense TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A rural school district in Ohio is drawing attention with its plans to arm a handful of its non-teaching employees with handguns this year _ perhaps even janitors. Four employees in the Montpelier schools have agreed to take a weapons training course and carry their own guns inside the district's one building, which houses 1,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, school officials said.
NY looks at 800 rape cases for possible DNA errorsNEW YORK (AP) _ The New York City medical examiner's office confirmed Friday that it is reviewing hundreds of rape cases for possible errors in DNA analysis. Officials said it appears so far that the testing in the vast majority of the cases was valid. But in one instance, the review uncovered evidence that resulted in an indictment last year accusing a man of raping a minor more than a decade ago in Brooklyn.
Terrorism suspect's mindset debated at Ore. trialPORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ There's no dispute that a 19-year-old Muslim college student tried to set off a car bomb at Portland's 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony, but how he reached that point is the crux of a trial that began in federal court this week. A jury of seven men and nine women will decide whether this was a case of the U.S. government preventing the radicalization of a young Somali-American man, or was instead the FBI's coercion of an impressionable, hotheaded braggart into a plan he was otherwise incapable of carrying out.
Key Things to Know About This Flu SeasonNEW YORK (AP) _ Some key things to know about the flu season: THE SITUATION: The annual flu season hit about a month early this year, and illness is now widespread in 47 states. Many cases are caused by a flu strain that tends to make people sicker. But so far experts say it's too early to know whether this will end up being a bad season. Maybe not: There are signs the flu may have already peaked in a few states, though it's too early to tell for sure, health officials say.
No charges for NBC host over ammunition magazineWASHINGTON (AP) _ NBC journalist David Gregory won't face charges for displaying a high-capacity ammunition magazine on his "Meet the Press" news program last month, District of Columbia prosecutors announced Friday. The city's Office of the Attorney General, which handles low-level crimes, said criminal charges wouldn't serve the public's best interests even though possession of the magazine _ capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition _ was clearly against local gun laws.
Late scramble for vaccine as flu season heats upWASHINGTON (AP) _ Missed flu-shot day at the office last fall And all those "get vaccinated" ads A scramble for shots is under way as late-comers seek protection from a miserable flu strain already spreading through much of the country. Federal health officials said Friday that there is still some flu vaccine available and it's not too late to benefit from it. But people may have to call around to find a clinic with shots still on the shelf, or wait a few days for a new shipment.
Obama, Karzai agree: It's time to wind down warWASHINGTON (AP) _ Uneasy allies, President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai demonstrated Friday they could agree on one big idea: After 11 years of war, the time is right for U.S. forces to let Afghans do their own fighting. U.S. and coalition forces will take a battlefield back seat by spring and, by implication, go home in larger numbers soon thereafter. "It will be a historic moment," Obama declared.
Official: Abducted Ind. boy's mother lived in carCLARISSA, Minn. (AP) _ In 2006, an 18-year-old Minnesota man legally changed his name to Michael Jeff Landers. Six years later, authorities determined Landers was really the Indiana child who had been abducted by his paternal grandparents in 1994. Richard Wayne Landers Jr., was reportedly abducted when he was 5 years old. The 24-year-old Michael Landers now lives in the small central Minnesota town of Browerville, the Todd County Sheriff's Office said Friday.
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