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  1. DISTURBING Fire Suspect Left Note AP; WHAM13-TV via AP video; Monroe County Sheriff's Dept.

    1. Fire Suspect Left Note

    One more body was found in the upstate New York house fire that turned out to be a trap. It is believed to be the 67-year-old sister of the man responsible. Neighbors say they lived together but hated each other. Two firefighters were killed when William Spengler started a house fire and then shot at the first responders, killing two and injuring two more. Spengler died of a self-inflicted gunshot. “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best—killing people,” he wrote in a three-page typewritten note. In addition to the casualties, seven homes were destroyed.

    December 25, 2012 6:36 PM

  2. OFFICIAL RESULTS Egypt Constitution Passes MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

    2. Egypt Constitution Passes

    The new Egyptian constitution officially passed Tuesday, the head of the country’s election commission declared. Reportedly, 63.8 percent voted “yes” to approve it in a referendum, which 32.9 percent of voters are said to have participated in. It is the first constitution for the country since an uprising forced Hosni Mubarak from his position, though its approval is fraught. The opposition campaigned against its approval over fears that the Islamist-drafted charter would usher in Islamic rule and restrict freedoms, and is vowing to challenge the results. The Egyptian economy showed signs of distress as the country waited for official results, with fears that the Egyptian pound will quickly devalue if political instability continues.

    December 25, 2012 1:47 PM

  3. TISN'T THE SEASON Dismal Holiday Sales for 2012 Shen Hong / Xinhua / Landov

    3. Dismal Holiday Sales for 2012

    Hard times, fewer presents under the tree. Analysts are calling the 2012 holiday-shopping rush the slowest spending growth since the 2008 recession. Between the end of October and Christmas Eve retail sales for the season rose a mere 0.7 percent from last year, according to MasterCard’s research unit, SpendingPulse. SpendingPulse’s vice president of research called it “a lost season.” Hurricane Sandy was one factor suppressing growth, but even online sales registered lackluster gains.

    December 25, 2012 6:46 PM


    4. Kazakh Plane Crash Kills 27

    A Kazakh military plane carrying 27 people, including senior military officials, crashed Tuesday in south of the country. All passengers were killed, and the plane was completely destroyed, according to reports. “There was no need for rescuers’ help. Only fragments remain,” said the head of Kazakhstan’s regional emergencies department. The plane was carrying border service officers, including acting head Turganbek Stambekov and one of his deputies.

    December 25, 2012 1:22 PM

  5. XMAS FAIL Netflix Blames Amazon for Outage PRNewsFoto / Netflix

    5. Netflix Blames Amazon for Outage

    What do we do?! Just as everyone was gearing up to watch their favorite Christmas Eve classic, the normally reliable Netflix crashed for users across the country. But don't blame them. "Netflix is down for some customers this Christmas Eve, thanks to an outage of some of Amazon's cloud infrastructure," the company announced on Twitter. Amazon acknowledged there were issues with the service and said they were working to resolve the problem. Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, and other companies that use the Amazon Web service were affected by outages earlier this year. Service was restored Tuesday morning.

    December 25, 2012 1:15 PM

  6. CHRISTMAS MESSAGE Pope Pleads for Peace in Syria Vincenzo Pinto/AFP, via Getty

    6. Pope Pleads for Peace in Syria

    In his annual Christmas message, Pope Benedict XVI made a plea for an end to the violence in Syria. “I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for relief of refugees and the displaced,” he said, condemning the crisis as “a conflict that does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.” He prayed for peace in Nigeria, denouncing the “savage acts of terrorism” targeting Christians there. During his Christmas Eve mass, the pope encouraged all to “find time and room for God in their fast-paced lives.”

    December 25, 2012 8:33 AM

  7. WHITE CHRISTMAS Winter Storms Blanket U.S. Andy Manis/Getty

    7. Winter Storms Blanket U.S.

    At least one man is dead as severe winter storms struck across the country on Christmas day, bringing heavy snow, dangerous conditions, and even tornadoes to several regions. A tornado touched down in Alabama, damaging homes and knocking down power lines and trees. In Texas, a 25-year-old man was killed after high winds knocked a tree onto his truck. Others were injured and a dozen buildings were damaged when a tornado struck Louisiana, and homes were damaged in a Mississippi storm. Quarter-sized hail pelted western Louisiana, and in Oklahoma, icy roads led to a 21-car pileup. There were, however, no injuries. Travelers in the Gulf Coast are being warned to stay home due to the severe weather conditions. Parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Arkansas are expecting between 4 to ten inches of sleet and snow and Christmas winds could hit between 70 and 80 mph.

    December 25, 2012 8:30 PM

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  9. ARGOING TO PASS Affleck: I’m Not Running for Senate Jose Luis Magana/AP

    8. Affleck: I’m Not Running for Senate

    The Oscar race is the only one Ben Affleck plans to participate in in the near future. The actor-writer-director announced on Facebook that he will not, despite widespread rumors this past week, be running to fill Sen. John Kerry’s seat in Massachusetts. “I love Massachusetts and our political process, but I am not running for office,” Affleck wrote. “We are about to get a great secretary of state and there are some phenomenal candidates in Massachusetts for his Senate seat. I look forward to an amazing campaign.” He continued that he’s looking forward to still working on a number of political issues, including supporting veterans and the Eastern Congo Initiative.

    December 25, 2012 8:49 AM

  10. ON THE MEND Mandela ‘Doing Much Better’ Elmond Jiyane/GCIS, via AP

    9. Mandela ‘Doing Much Better’

    Nelson Mandela is getting a good health report for Christmas. The former South African leader, 94, is “doing much better” after being admitted to the hospital 18 days ago for a recurring lung infection and gallstones, President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday. Doctors are “happy with the progress he is making,” Zuma reported in an email statement, adding that Mandela was in “good spirits.” This is the second time this year that Mandela has required an extended hospital stay, after undergoing abdominal surgery in February.

    December 25, 2012 8:59 AM

  11. FIRST LOVE Rihanna, Brown Watch Lakers Game Scott Gries / Getty Images

    10. Rihanna, Brown Watch Lakers Game

    ‘Tis the season for officially rekindled romance? For the first time since their very public breakup, Rihanna and Chris Brown went out publically together, attending the Lakers-Knicks game at the Staples Center. Courtside, of course. The controversial couple haven’t announced if they’re officially back together, but they’ve been seen out in public with increasing frequency lately and have recorded a track together for the songstress’s new album. Brown is still on probation for assaulting Rihanna back in 2009.

    December 25, 2012 7:04 PM

  12. R.I.P. Actor Charles Durning Dies Kevin Winter/Getty

    11. Actor Charles Durning Dies

    He was a two-time Oscar nominee, won a Tony award, and played Santa Claus four times. Actor Charles Durning died Monday in New York City at age 89. The celebrated character actor is best known for his Academy Award–nominated turn in 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Durning’s second Oscar nod came for 1983’s To Be or Not to Be. The actor won a Tony award in 1990 for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and his other memorable roles include parts in Dog Day Afternoon, The Sting, Tootsie, and Dick Tracy. In 2008, he told the AP he hoped to never stop acting. “They’re going to carry me out, if I go,” he said.

    December 25, 2012 9:19 AM

  13. BIG BROTHER Ron Paul Slams NRA Proposal Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

    12. Ron Paul Slams NRA Proposal

    Everybody’s favorite libertarian has some choice words for the NRA’s proposal to have armed officers guard every school. “School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America,” the Republican congressman said in a statement Monday. Paul is the first GOP member in Congress to publically oppose the NRA’s plan. “Do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners, and warrantless physical searches?” Paul asked. The congressman also shunned the proposal for more gun control, saying it only provides the illusion of government protection. So, what should we do, Ron?

    December 24, 2012 4:29 PM

  14. OBIT Actor Jack Klugman Dies Michael N. Todaro

    13. Actor Jack Klugman Dies

    Jack Klugman, the actor widely known for playing opposite Tony Randall in The Odd Couple, died today at age 90. Klugman also starred in the NBC TV series Quincy, M.E., and in the classic film 12 Angry Men. In 2005, a year after Randall’s death, Klugman published Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship, about his close relationship with the late actor. His attorney announced that Klugman passed away peacefully at his home in Northridge, Calif., with his wife by his side.

    December 24, 2012 6:30 PM

  15. LETHAL BLAZE Four Firefighters Shot, Two Killed Courtesy ABC 13 / WHAM

    14. Four Firefighters Shot, Two Killed

    Four firefighters were shot Monday—two fatally—after responding to an early morning fire in Upstate, N.Y., which appears to have been set as an ambush. Officials say the suspected gunman, 62-year-old William Spengler, started shooting when the firefighters arrived, killing two, and injuring two others. Spengler was found dead on the scene, of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A motive for the crime is still unclear. Spengler had previously served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.

    December 24, 2012 3:00 PM

  16. HOLIER THAN THOU Pope Hosts Xmas Eve Mass Franco Origlia

    15. Pope Hosts Xmas Eve Mass

    The newly Twitterfied Pope Benedict XVI asked worshipers to consider whether they can find room for God and others in their technology-focused lives. “Do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him?” he asked. At St. Peter’s Basilica, the pontiff also lead prayers for peace in Israel, Syria, and other war-torn countries, saying he hoped "Christians in those lands where our faith was born maybe be able to continue living there” and that Christians and Muslims “build up their countries side by side in God’s peace.” Yesterday, in his annual Christmas message, the pope strongly denounced gay marriage, calling it a “manipulator of nature.”

    December 24, 2012 7:32 PM

  17. CLAUSQUEST NORAD Tracks Santa’s Route Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

    16. NORAD Tracks Santa’s Route

    No really, he's coming to town. Volunteers at NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) are tracking Santa Claus’s progress as he delivers gifts around the world. The online map currently shows he’s just passed Pakistan and has already delivered 2 billion presents. Volunteers have fielded more than 24,000 phone calls with questions from kids asking when their presents will arrive, how reindeer fly, and if they were on the naughty or nice list. The program started in 1955 when a typo in a newspaper ad sent Santa-seekers to the local air-defense command.

    December 24, 2012 1:50 PM

  18. SOFT Retailers Report Slow Windows 8 Sales Timothy A. Clary, AFP / Getty Images

    17. Retailers Report Slow Windows 8 Sales

    Americans just aren’t doing Windows like they used to, and that’s bad new for Microsoft. The high-profile launch of Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system, isn’t giving the traditional boost to personal computer sales. From late October through early December, sales of Windows PCs were off 13 percent from the year before, according to research firm NPD. And all the momentum seems to be in tablets and smart phones. Emmanuel Fromont, president of the world’s No. 4 PC maker, said the lower sales could be due to the new, unfamiliar design, which may be making consumers “cautious.”

    December 24, 2012 12:32 PM

  19. OLD FRIENDS Russia, India Sign Billion-Dollar Arms Deal Mustafa Quraishi, AFP / Getty Images

    18. Russia, India Sign Billion-Dollar Arms Deal

    All they want for Christmas is billions of dollars worth of weapons. Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, that is. Putin celebrated Russia’s newly invigorated alliance with its old–Cold War buddy Monday as officials from both countries signed billion-dollar weapons deals that include contracts for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters and an agreement to build 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets in India with Russian components. “We agreed to further strengthen the traditions of close cooperation in the military and technical areas,” said Putin.

    December 24, 2012 10:41 AM

  20. OVERREACTION? N. Korea Wary of South's Christmas Tower Lee Jin-man / AP

    19. N. Korea Wary of South's Christmas Tower

    Must you take everything so personally, North Korea? South Korea was just trying to do something nice for its Christian citizens by finally letting them light a Christmas tree-shaped tower for the first time in two years this Saturday, and Pyongyang had to go and accuse Seoul of trying to engage in psychological warfare. Not everything is about you! North Korea is convinced that its southern sibling is jealous of its recent successful satellite launch—the same launch that the U.N. and others believe to be a covert attempt to test prohibited ballistic missile technology. The tree-like tower, North Korean state media claims, is the South’s way of getting Pyongyang back by flaunting Christianity—considered a sign of foreign interference—in its face. North Korea warns of “unspecified consequences” for the Christmas decoration.

    December 24, 2012 10:36 AM

  21. HOLIDAY TRAGEDY Webster Shooter Lived Quiet Life Guy Solimano/Getty

    20. Webster Shooter Lived Quiet Life

    As a small New York town reels from unspeakable tragedy, details about the life of the man who is said to have set fire to car and house before shooting and killing two firefighters who responded to blaze are beginning to surface. William Spengler reportedly had been living a quiet life in the Rochester suburb with his mother and sister ever since being released on parole after serving 17 years in prison after the beating death of his grandmother, for which he was charged with manslaughter. Spengler was reportedly incredibly close with his mother, but “couldn’t stand” his sister. His mother died two months ago, and her obituary alluded to contributions to the Webster Fire Department.

    December 25, 2012 8:43 AM

  22. ‘LOST TRIBE’ Indian Jews Arrive in Israel Uriel Sinai/Getty

    21. Indian Jews Arrive in Israel

    The “Lost Tribe” is home. Dozens of Jews claiming to descend from a lost biblical Jewish tribe arrived in Israel Monday from a village in northeastern India, ending a five-year struggle to return to what they call “our land.” The Bnei Menashe say they were banished from ancient Israel in the eighth century B.C., and were recognized as a lost tribe in 2005, when 1,700 of them moved back to Israel—before the government stopped issuing them visas two years later. Israel recently reversed that policy, allowing the remaining 7,200 to immigrate. Some dispute the tribe’s qualification as Jews, arguing that they are simply fleeing poverty in India or being used to strengthen Israel’s claim to the West Bank.

    December 25, 2012 9:06 AM

  23. PILGRIMAGE Christians Flock to Bethlehem Pool photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun

    22. Christians Flock to Bethlehem

    While most of us spend the holiday traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, many Christians from all over the world flocked to Bethlehem’s Manger Square Tuesday to celebrate the holy day in the ancient West Bank town where Jesus was born. Cold, damp weather didn’t deter the thousands who waited in line near the Church of the Nativity complex to see the grotto that is Jesus’ traditional birthplace. The Palestinian tourism ministry predicts 10,000 foreigners will visit Bethlehem on Christmas Day, while 15,000 visited Christmas Eve—up 20 percent from last year.

    December 25, 2012 8:18 AM

  24. RUB-A-DUB-DUB Amsterdam Museum Shaped Like Bathtub Sander Nieuwenhuys, Hollandse Hoogte / Redux, Sander Nieuwenhuys/Hollandse Hoogte/Redux

    23. Amsterdam Museum Shaped Like Bathtub

    After several years and several millions of dollars, Amsterdam has finally been graced with the new Stedelijk Museum, and it’s shaped, drum roll please, like a bathtub. Yes, a $170 million, 130,000-square-foot bathtub now sits along the backside of the the old Stedelijk—a 19th-century red-brick building that looks positively stuffy in comparison. While the old Stedelijk was a pioneer in modern art collections as well as post-war European design, writes New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman, the new bathtub design looks like Amsterdam’s desperate attempt to compete with Bilbao’s Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim. Here’s hoping Amsterdam will have more than three men in their tub.

    December 24, 2012 12:05 PM