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WASHINGTON (AP) — Eighteen U.S. diplomatic outposts closed because of a terrorist threat will reopen Sunday, but the U.S. Embassy in Yemen will remain closed.

The State Department cites ongoing concerns about potential terrorist attacks by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula for keeping the embassy in Sanaa shut. An intercepted message between al-Qaida officials triggered the 19 closures.

Most American employees at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen were ordered to leave the country on Tuesday because of the threat.

A separate threat has also led to the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan. It, too, remains closed.

The closures have called into question Obama's assertion last spring that al-Qaida's headquarters was "a shadow of its former self." But at a news conference yesterday, the president noted that he's also said that al-Qaida and other extremists have "metastasized into regional groups that can pose significant dangers."

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MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (AP) — The death of a 7-year-old boy in Virginia by a stray bullet is drawing attention to the dangers of celebratory shooting.

The practice involves firing a weapon into the sky, often on New Year's Eve and July Fourth.

This summer, a bullet pierced Brendon Mackey's head as he went to a fireworks show in central Virginia. Brendon died the next day.

Police determined that the bullet was probably fired within a 5,200-foot radius. Investigators have knocked on hundreds of doors hoping to find the person who fired the fatal shot. No one has come forward.

A state senator is proposing "Brendon's Law" to curb celebratory shooting and to provide stiffer penalties for those who maim or injure others with stray bullets.

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   SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A New York man charged with trying to extort money from embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen is scheduled to appear before a federal judge to change his plea.

   Thomas George Paculis was to appear Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Savannah, where he pleaded not guilty during his last hearing in July.

   Court records filed last week say 62-year-old Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., has signed a plea agreement with prosecutors. But details have not been released.

   Prosecutors and Paculis' defense attorney have declined to comment.

   Authorities say Paculis contacted Deen's attorney threatening to reveal damaging statements by the former Food Network star unless she paid him $200,000. That happened after documents became public that showed Deen acknowledged using racial slurs in the past.

 
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