Obama signs nearly $578 billion defense bill for fiscal 2015

By Reuters on Dec. 20, 2014, at 5:38 a.m.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed an annual defense policy bill on Friday that authorizes U.S. training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting Islamic State rebels and sets overall defense spending at nearly $578 billion, including about $64 billion for wars abroad. The legislation, approved by Congress earlier this month, …
Michael Phelps speaks at a news conference following his final competitive race, at the London 2012 Olympic Games in this Aug. 4, 2012 file photo.

Olympian swimmer Phelps sentenced to 18 months probation for drunken driving

By Steve Ginsburg, Reuters on Dec. 20, 2014, at 5:34 a.m.
BALTIMORE — American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, pleaded guilty on Friday to driving under the influence of alcohol and received 18 months of supervised probation and a one-year suspended jail sentence. The 18-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested for drunken driving early on Sept. …

Amazon’s cloud business a harder sell in post-Snowden era

By Deepa Seetharaman and Bill Rigby, Reuters on Dec. 20, 2014, at 5:30 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO/SEATTLE — This spring, Taser International Inc. won a small but high-profile contract to supply body cameras to the London police. But the deal nearly collapsed over one issue: where the video footage would be stored. In the end, the deal survived only after Taser dropped Inc. as …

Supreme Court denies stay, same-sex marriage in Florida set to begin Jan. 6

By Steve Rothaus, Miami Herald on Dec. 20, 2014, at 5:19 a.m.
MIAMI — Same-sex marriage will begin Jan. 6 in Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday denied Florida attorney general Pam Bondi’s request to Justice Clarence Thomas that he extend a stay in the federal case of eight gay couples. “The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by …

US offers reward for poacher who shot bald eagle in Connecticut

By Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:35 p.m.
BOSTON — U.S. wildlife authorities are on the hunt for a poacher who shot a bald eagle to death last week in Connecticut, officials said on Friday, announcing a $5,000 reward. The bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, is protected from hunting by federal law and killing …

Influential Rabbi Harold Schulweis dies at 89 in California

By Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:33 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — Rabbi Harold Schulweis, a tireless innovator who implored followers to fight against genocide and see Judaism as a religion with universal significance, has died at age 89 at his Los Angeles home, his synagogue said in a statement. Schulweis, who was regarded as one of the most …

Obama says Sony ‘made a mistake’ in pulling ‘The Interview’

By Roberta Rampton, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:31 p.m.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday said Sony Pictures “made a mistake” in pulling the satirical film “The Interview” after suffering a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea. “I wish they (Sony) would have spoken to me first,” Obama said at a news conference. “I would have told them, …

Five dead, dozens ill from bacteria linked to caramel apples

By Mary Wisniewski, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:29 p.m.
Five people have died and 21 others have been hospitalized in recent weeks in a listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples, federal health officials said on Friday. A total of 28 people infected with listeria have been reported from 10 states, according to a statement from the U.S. Centers for …

UN: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014

By Kay Johnson, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:27 p.m.
KABUL — At least 3,188 Afghan civilians have been killed in the intensifying war with the Taliban in 2014, making it the deadliest year on record for non-combatants, the United Nations said on Friday. The numbers are a sharp reminder that the Afghan war is far from over, even as …

Gold tooth lands in Missouri Salvation Army kettle

By Kevin Murphy, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — People have tossed gold and silver pieces into Salvation Army holiday kettles but a gold tooth found this week in Kansas City was a local first, an organization leader said on Friday. “It’s the whole tooth, with the root and everything,” said Rick Carroll, who is …

Decision expected in McDonald’s labor cases

By Alejandra Cancino and Jessica Wohl, Chicago Tribune on Dec. 19, 2014, at 2:30 p.m.
CHICAGO — The National Labor Relations Board said it will issue a decision Friday on labor-practice complaints that have been filed nationwide against McDonald’s and its franchisees. The details of the decision have not been announced by the labor board. But the group organizing fast-food workers, known as Fight for …

Teen contraband cigarette use linked to other drugs

By Kathryn Doyle, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 7:34 a.m.
Teens who smoke illicit tobacco are more likely to try other illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, compared with those who don’t, according to a recent Canadian study. The researchers used survey data from one point in time, so they can’t say that smoking illegal cigarettes leads to drug …

Google looks to head off US antitrust lawsuit over Android

By Dan Levine, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 6:47 a.m.
SAN JOSE, California — Google will try to persuade a U.S. judge on Thursday to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit over its Android smartphone operating system, as the Internet search company faces increased regulatory pressure from European authorities. The hearing in San Jose, California, federal court is over the lawsuit filed …

Fraternity closed at California university over anti-rape march harassment

By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 9:09 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — A San Diego State University fraternity whose members were accused of harassing people taking part in an anti-rape march has been closed, the school said on Tuesday, a move that comes amid a renewed debate over the handling of sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses. The university …
Zedric Joseph

Prosecutors claim former UMaine football player charged with murder tried to intimidate ex-girlfriend from jail

By Stephen Betts on Dec. 18, 2014, at 6:03 p.m.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — A state judge agreed Thursday to allow a former University of Maine football player — awaiting trial for murder and attempted murder — to have his mother and grandmother visit him for the holiday. But at the request of the prosecution, the visit will be …
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is shown in a courtroom sketch during a pretrial hearing on Thursday at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts.

Accused Boston Marathon bomber says he’s satisfied with defense lawyers

By Scott Malone, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 5:15 p.m.
BOSTON — The Boston Marathon bombing suspect, in his first court appearance in more than a year, told a judge on Thursday that he was satisfied with his lawyers’ preparations for the January start of his trial over the deadly 2013 attack. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was dressed in a dark …

Trial date set for Pennsylvania family accused of starving 7-year-old boy

By Elizabeth Daley, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 5:14 p.m.
PITTSBURGH — The trial of three members of a western Pennsylvania family accused of beating and starving a 7-year-old boy nearly to death will begin on March 10, court officials said on Thursday. The boy’s mother, Mary Rader, 28, his grandmother Deana Beighley, 48, and her husband, Dennis Beighley, 59, …
Grower Steve Jenkins checks out his marijuana plants at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado Dec. 31, 2013. The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers, catering to Colorado's newly legal recreational market for pot, are stocking their shelves ahead of their Jan. 1, 2014, grand opening that supporters and detractors alike see as a turning point in America's drug culture.

Neighboring states take Colorado to court over legal pot

By Daniel Wallis, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 5:01 p.m.
DENVER — Nebraska and Oklahoma challenged neighboring Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday amid complaints its pot was seeping across their borders, and Colorado vowed to defend its laws. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said he joined Oklahoma in filing the action against Colorado, where …
A judge ordered a competency hearing for one of two Wisconsin 12 year-old girls accused of stabbing their friend 19 times to please the fictional Internet character "Slenderman" after experts deemed her mentally incompetent to proceed with her defense, July 2, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Both girls where recently found competent and the trail will proceed.

2 Wisconsin girls who stabbed classmate to please ‘online bogeyman’ ruled competent to stand trial

By Brendan O'Brien, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 3:41 p.m.
WAUKESHA, Wisconsin — Two Wisconsin girls accused of luring a classmate into the woods and repeatedly stabbing her to please a fictional Internet character named Slenderman are competent to stand trial, a judge ruled on Thursday. Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, both 12 at the time, were charged as adults …
Jim Burke of LaGrange and his wife, Susan, run Care by Cannabis, a limited liability company and they grow their product for patients with medical marijuana cards.

Colorado awards $8 million to study medical marijuana use

By Keith Coffman, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 2:34 p.m.
DENVER — Colorado health officials awarded $8 million in research grants on Wednesday to study the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, childhood epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. Colorado was one of the first U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana use, and it …
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