3 US military aircraft hit in S. Sudan, 4 wounded NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country's military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before. The U.S. military aircraft were about to land in Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation's worst violence over the last week, when they were hit. The military said the four wounded troops were in stable condition.
Ice pellets and snow frustrate holiday travel rush CHICAGO (AP) - A storm with a 2,000-mile footprint threatened to frustrate Christmas travelers from Texas to Nova Scotia with a little of everything Mother Nature has to offer, from freezing rain, ice and snow to flooding, thunderstorms and possibly some tornadoes in the South. Some of the millions of people hitting the roads and airports Saturday squeaked through before any major weather hit, but as the afternoon wore on some cancellations and delays started to mount at major aviation hubs. Forecasters said roads that are passable one minute could become treacherous the next as a cold blast on the backend of the storm turns rain to ice and snow.
US releases more documents on surveillance origins WASHINGTON (AP) - The director of national intelligence on Saturday declassified more documents that outline how the National Security Agency was first authorized to start collecting bulk phone and Internet records in the hunt for al-Qaida terrorists and how a court eventually gained oversight of the program, after the Justice Department complied with a federal court order to release its previous legal arguments for keeping the programs secret. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained in a statement Saturday that President George W. Bush first authorized the spying in October 2001, as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, just after the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush disclosed the program in 2005. The Terrorist Surveillance Program - which had to be extended every 30-60 days by presidential order - eventually was replaced by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - a law that requires a secret court to OK the bulk collection.
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Memorials mark Lockerbie attack anniversary ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - Families of some of the 270 people who died in an airliner bombing 25 years ago gathered for memorial services Saturday in the United States and Britain, honoring victims of a terror attack that killed dozens of American college students and created instant havoc in the Scottish town where wreckage of the plane rained down. Bagpipes played and wreaths were laid in the Scottish town of Lockerbie and mourners gathered for a moment of silence at London's Westminster Abbey, while U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told victims' relatives at Arlington National Cemetery that they should take comfort in their unity even if time cannot erase their loss.
Gay marriage catches conservative Utah off guard SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A day after a judge's surprise ruling overturned Utah's same-sex marriage ban, at least one county clerk intended to open early Saturday to issue licenses. About 40 minutes north of Salt Lake City, about 300 hundred people showed up at the Weber County Clerk's Office on Saturday afternoon but were later turned away without marriage licenses.
NASA astronauts tackle urgent spacewalking repairs CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Astronauts removed an old space station pump Saturday, sailing through the first of a series of urgent repair spacewalks to revive a crippled cooling line. The two Americans on the crew, Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins, successfully pulled out the ammonia pump with a bad valve -- well ahead of schedule. That task had been planned for the next spacewalk on Monday.
Why cross US on foot? Each trek uniquely personal For a week following Jadin's death, Joe Bell lay in bed, beating himself up, wondering what he could - should - have done differently to help his son. In the face of relentless bullying at high school, the openly gay 15-year-old had confessed to his parents six months earlier that he'd been having suicidal thoughts. Bell and his wife got their son into counseling, and Jadin appeared to be doing well.
Congress does little of consequence, except argue WASHINGTON (AP) - Call it a steady diet of gridlock, with "Green Eggs and Ham" on the side. Congress did not pass White House-backed immigration or gun control legislation in 2013. Or raise the minimum wage. Or approve many other items on President Barack Obama's agenda.
Online shopping popular, but won't save season ATLANTA (AP) - More Americans are deciding to shop online this holiday season instead of heading to crowded stores. But that alone won't save what is turning out to be a ho-hum Christmas for department stores and clothing chains.
Cutting sports a growing trend at major colleges The meeting was brief. A few minutes tops. Temple athletic director Kevin Clark didn't mince words. Standing inside the football team's indoor practice facility earlier this month, Clark scanned the crowd of dozens of student-athletes - none of them football players - and told them the financially strapped athletic department was cutting their sport at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.