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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The bitter cold weather settling over much of the Midwest and Northeast is unpleasant for most, but life-threatening for some who are willing to do almost anything — even dangerous things — to stay warm.

The U.S. Fire Administration says more than 50,000 residential fires annually are caused by heating, resulting in about 150 deaths. January is the peak month.

People who can't afford to heat their homes, or homeless people huddled in warehouses and abandoned buildings, often take desperate measures to survive. They heat homes with space heaters or huddle around open stoves, or even use candles or kerosene heaters.

Already this winter, several Missouri fires have occurred in buildings where alternative heat sources were used.

Sunday, 05 January 2014 12:23
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FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — With a single star studded on each shoulder of his immaculate dress blues, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair waited his turn to go through the metal detectors at the federal courthouse at Fort Bragg, just like everyone else.

The 51-year-old general is believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. Army officer ever charged with sexual assault.

Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges including forcible sodomy, indecent acts and violating orders. His court-martial is scheduled to begin March 3.

While Sinclair denies he physically forced a female captain to perform oral sex, the married father concedes he carried on a three-year extramarital affair with the junior officer. The case comes as the Pentagon is already grappling with a string of embarrassing revelations involving sexual misconduct within the ranks.

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HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama is urging Congress to reinstate jobless benefits for more than a million Americans.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says the unemployment insurance is a "vital economic lifeline" for many people. And he says failure to reinstate the benefits will cause the economy to slow for all Americans.

A bipartisan proposal in the Senate would restore the benefits for three months. Obama says if lawmakers pass the measure, he will sign it.

Obama is due to return from vacation in Hawaii on Sunday.

Mississippi Congressman Gregg Harper delivered the Republican weekly address. He calls on the Senate to pass the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. It seeks to boost funding for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health.

The measure passed the House in December.

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SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing machinists have approved a contract that would concede some pension and health care benefits in order to secure assembly of the company's new 777X airplane in the Puget Sound region.

The offer fractured the union and drew unusual pleas from local politicians who said the deal is necessary to support the region's economic future. Boeing had been exploring the prospect of building the 777X elsewhere, a move that could've triggered a steady exodus of aerospace jobs from a region where Boeing was founded.

Local union officials urged their 30,000 members to oppose the deal, arguing that the proposal surrenders too much at a time when the company is profitable.

After machinists rejected an initial proposal in November, Boeing received submissions for 54 locations in 22 states that wanted the 777X work.

Saturday, 04 January 2014 08:45
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