Sunday, December 22, 2013

Published:

Snow, rain, record warmth: US gets a mix of wild weather on first full day of winter

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The first full day of winter brought a wild mix of weather across the U.S. on Sunday: ice and high wind in the Great Lakes and New England areas, flooding in the South, snow in the Midwest and record-shattering temperatures in the 60s and 70s along the mid-Atlantic.

Snow and ice knocked out power to 440,000 homes and businesses in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England, and also left more than 475,000 people without electricity in eastern Canada. It could be days before the lights are back on everywhere.

At least nine deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph struck in Arkansas. Five people were killed in Canada in highway accidents related to the storm.

The icy weather was expected to make roads hazardous through at least Monday from the upper Midwest to northern New England during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

By Sunday evening, more than 700 airline flights had been canceled and more than 11,000 delayed, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware.com.

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AP PHOTOS: Americans, Canadians deal with a mix of wild weather on first full day of winter

On the first official day of winter, Mother Nature dished out a dizzying number of surprises.

Snow and ice hit Michigan, Canada, New England and upstate New York. Some other eastern regions had temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Flooding in the South was blamed for at least four deaths while apparent tornadoes caused destruction in Arkansas.

Here's a collection of images showing how people in the U.S. and Canada dealt with the unsettled weather.

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Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. CRAZY QUILT OF WEATHER ACROSS THE NATION

On the first full day of winter, the U.S. sees a wild mix of ice and snow, flooding and record warmth.

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In ominous sign, many health plan buyers are just picking the cheapest

CHICAGO (AP) -- As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They're picking the cheapest one.

Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they're on the hook for most of the initial cost.

The prospect of sticker shock after Jan. 1, when those who sign up for policies now can begin getting coverage, is seen as a looming problem for a new national system that has been plagued by trouble since the new marketplaces went online in the states in October.

For those without insurance -- about 15 percent of the population-- "the lesson is it's important to understand the total cost of ownership of a plan," said Matt Eyles, a vice president of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. "You just don't want to look only at the premium."

Counselors who have been helping people choose policies say many are focused only on the upfront cost, not what the insurance companies agree to pay.

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Renegade troops take key oil-producing capital in South Sudan, military says

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- South Sudan's central government lost control of the capital of a key oil-producing state Sunday, the military said, as renegade forces loyal to a former deputy president seized more territory in fighting that has raised fears of full-blown civil war in the world's newest country.

Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity state, is now controlled by a military commander loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, said Col. Philip Aguer, the South Sudanese military spokesman.

"Bentiu is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar," he said. "Bentiu is not in our hands."

The armed rebels were said to be in control days earlier of some of South Sudan's oil fields, which have historically been a target for rebel movements, endangering the country's economic lifeblood.

South Sudan gets nearly 99 percent of its government budget from oil revenues, and the country reportedly earned $1.3 billion in oil sales in just five months this year, according to the London-based watchdog group Global Witness.

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AP poll: Glitch-plagued rollout of Obama's health care overhaul voted top story of 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- The glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was the top news story of 2013, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic papal changeover at the Vatican, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The saga of "Obamacare" -- as the Affordable Care Act is widely known -- received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21.

Other strong contenders were the bitter partisan conflict in Congress and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Last year, the top story was the massacre of 26 children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. That result came after a rare decision by the AP to re-conduct the voting; the initial round of balloting had ended Dec. 13, a day before the Newtown shooting, with the 2012 election at the top.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain's King Edward VIII.

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Apple reaches deal to bring iPhone to China Mobile, world's biggest phone carrier

BEIJING (AP) -- Apple says it has reached a deal to bring the iPhone to China Mobile, the world's biggest phone carrier.

The deal ends a lengthy courtship and could boost sales of the iPhone in China. The iPhone, once hugely popular in China, has been eclipsed by the rise of lower-priced rival smartphones from Samsung and Chinese companies.

The iPhone 5S and 5C will go on sale in Apple stores and China Mobile stores beginning Friday, Jan. 17. China Mobile customers can register for phones starting Wednesday.

The companies didn't announce pricing or the terms of the agreement.

The iPhone, while popular around the world, has faced tough competition in recent years from cheaper smartphones running Google's Android software. Collectively, Android phones far outsell Apple's iPhone.

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NYPD: Man throws 3-year-old son, himself off 52-story Manhattan building roof

NEW YORK (AP) -- A man involved in a custody dispute who was supposed to turn his 3-year-old son over to the boy's mother Sunday instead threw the child off the roof of a 52-story Manhattan apartment building before jumping to his death, police said.

Officers responding to an emergency call reporting two jumpers from the building on the Upper West Side around noon Sunday found Dmitriy Kanarikov, 35, of Brooklyn, and the boy on the lower rooftops of two separate nearby buildings.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene and his son, Kirill Kanarikov, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, police said.

The boy's mother had custody of the child and the father, who had visiting rights, was supposed to hand the boy over to the mother at a police precinct Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

Luis Ortiz told the New York Post that he was at the hospital when paramedics rushed the boy there and that they were pumping his chest and working on him.

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Folks in Louisiana town stand by Duck Dynasty clan; Willie Robertson baptizes 3 at church

WEST MONROE, La. (AP) -- "Faith. Family. Ducks." It's the unofficial motto for the family featured in the TV reality show Duck Dynasty and that homespun philosophy permeates nearly everything in this small north Louisiana town.

It's perhaps most on display at the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, where the Robertson family prays and preaches most Sunday mornings.

The family -- including patriarch Phil Robertson, who ignited a controversy last week when he told a magazine reporter that gays are sinners and African-Americans were happy under Jim Crow laws -- were in a front pew this past Sunday. And standing by beliefs they say are deeply rooted in their reading of the Bible.

The rest of the flock, decked out in Duck Dynasty hats and bandannas, stood by the family and the sentiments Phil Robertson expressed.

Alan, Robertson's eldest son, helped deliver a Christmas-themed sermon. He started off by referring to last week's controversy.

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Giants eliminate Lions from playoff picture with 23-20 win in OT on Josh Brown's 45-yard FG

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Lions have been eliminated from the playoff picture with another late-season collapse that might also cost coach Jim Schwartz his job.

Sure, Josh Brown's 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime lifted the New York Giants to a 23-20 win over Detroit on Sunday.

But the Lions (7-8) dropped themselves out of the NFC North race by losing five of their last six games, blowing fourth-quarter leads in each setback.

"We put ourselves in a bad, bad situation," linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. "Unfortunately, we can't dig ourselves out of it now."

Schwartz's fate might have been sealed with the latest loss, his ninth straight in December or January.