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Podcast ‘Serial’ turns town into fan destination

“Serial” has turned the town of Woodlawn into a destination for zealous fans, anxious to uncover answers to questions in a 1999 murder mystery.

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  • Japan scientist quits as cell research discredited

    TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese researcher whose claim of a major breakthrough in stem cell research was discredited has resigned after the government lab where she worked failed to replicate her results. Haruko Obokata said in a statement Friday that she was leaving the Riken Center for Developmental Biology after the lab concluded the stem…

  • Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

    HAVANA (AP) — When convicted spy Rolando Sarraff Trujillo failed to call home from prison, his parents went to the jail to see if their son had fallen ill. Officials told the elderly couple not to worry, saying only that he was better off. A former intelligence official in the United States on Thursday publicly…

  • Hellmann’s maker Unilever drops suit over ‘Just Mayo’

    Hellmann’s mayonnaise maker Unilever has withdrawn its lawsuit against the maker of “Just Mayo.” Unilever filed suit against Hampton Creek earlier this year claiming the name of the small California company’s product amounted to false advertising. The consumer-products giant, whose U.S. arm is based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, had said that “Just Mayo” has…

  • Milwaukee to speed police training in handling mentally ill

    MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Police Department is stepping up training so that all police officers on the force would be fully trained to deal with the mentally ill by 2018, the mayor announced Thursday, months after a Milwaukee police officer killed a schizophrenic man at a park. “I have heard the concerns of the…

  • Police: Man hid gun parts in luggage at NY airport

    NEW YORK (AP) — Police say a New York City man has been arrested at Kennedy International Airport after TSA agents found handgun parts hidden in his luggage. Port Authority Police Department spokesman Joe Pentangelo says that Oscar Ramirez was arrested Wednesday attempting to board a plane to Mexico City. Pentangelo says agents found pieces…

  • Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

    HAVANA (AP) — The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings. On the first full day after the surprise announcement, many Cubans expressed hope that it…

  • ‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jared Cook wants to be more than hands up, he wants to be hands on this holiday season. The St. Louis Rams tight end and four other players who recently did the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture are following through on plans to aid residents in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Cook and…

  • Protection sought for scenic California region

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A contingent of California environmental groups, business representatives and politicians will use a visit Friday from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to push for permanent protection of some 350,000 acres of picturesque federal land near the state’s famous wine country. Congress declined this session to pass legislation from Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson that…

  • 2 in meningitis outbreak case to be released

    BOSTON (AP) — Two men at the center of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people around the U.S. will be released from custody, pending their criminal trials, a federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Jennifer Boal issued an electronic order saying that the U.S. attorney’s office had “not met its…

  • Correction: Cuba-Travel story

    NEW YORK (AP) — NEW YORK (AP) — In a story Dec. 17 about travel to Cuba, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of Americans who were authorized to travel to Cuba last year. The number was 124,000, not 170,000. A corrected version of the story is below: US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba…

  • New York Fashion Week booted out of Lincoln Center

    NEW YORK (AP) — C’est la vie, fashionistas. The city of New York and Lincoln Center are evicting the invitation-only, twice-yearly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in a court spat over destroyed trees and displaced park benches. A judge Friday approved a pretrial settlement in a complaint brought by community groups. They objected to the onslaught of…

  • Delaware officials celebrate national park

    NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) — After being the odd man out for many years, Delaware is celebrating the creation of its first and only national park. Ending Delaware’s status as the only state without a national park has been a mission for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware’s senior senator, for more than a decade. “That’s…

  • Plea hearing set for ex-manager in halal food case

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former manager at an Iowa-based halal food supplier is expected to plead guilty as part of a federal criminal investigation into the company’s exporting and marketing practices, according to court documents filed Thursday. Conspiracy charges filed against Philip G. Payne are the latest involving the Midamar Corp., which is…

  • Oakland joins LA in banning circus elephant tool

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The circus will stop coming to Oakland in a few years after a tool used by elephant handlers was banned in the city. The Oakland City Council earlier this week unanimously approved an ordinance outlawing bullhooks. The instrument resembles a fireplace poker, with a sharp hook on one end that is…

  • ‘Tis the season for the holiday blues

    WASHINGTON — This is supposed to be a season for celebration — for parties, family get-togethers and lots of good cheer.  But for some, it’s the season for the holiday blues. With so much going on, people can get stressed out and all kinds of negative emotions creep in.  For some, the stress is due to…

  • 2 in meningitis outbreak case to be released

    BOSTON (AP) — Two men at the center of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people around the U.S. will be released from custody, pending their criminal trials, a federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Jennifer Boal issued an electronic order saying that the U.S. attorney’s office had “not met its…

  • 3-D prosthetics give dog freedom (Video)

    WASHINGTON — A dog with no front paws learned to run with the help of a 3-D printer. A promotional video for 3D Systems tells the story of how the company’s 3-D-printed prosthetics allowed Derby, a disabled dog, to run upright for the first time. Derby was born with a congenital deformity characterized by small…

  • Charlie Brown and a city’s ugly Christmas tree

    READING, Pa. (AP) — Reading’s official Christmas tree has brought the city plenty of grief. Good grief. When the 50-foot Norway spruce went up last month, it drew immediate comparisons to the scraggly sapling in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Its giant bare spots and asymmetrical branches were no one’s idea of Christmas tree perfection —…

  • Podcast ‘Serial’ turns town into fan destination

    WASHINGTON – Thursdays have never been more exciting. Each week since October, more than a million listeners have rearranged their schedules to make time for a new episode of “Serial,” a 12-part podcast that delves into the investigation of the 1999 murder of Baltimore County, Maryland, teenager Hae Min Lee. The podcast’s popularity has inspired…

  • New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Handing environmentalists a breakthrough victory, New York plans to prohibit fracking for natural gas because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits. New York, which overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation that has led to a drilling boom in Pennsylvania and other nearby…