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News Archive - December 18, 2012

Analysis: Sen. Mikulski May Slide Into Intel Position In Senate Shuffle

The senior member of the Senate, Daniel Inouye, died Monday at the age of 88. Alex Bolton of The Hill newspaper says that while his colleagues mourn his passing, a broad shuffling of committee leadership is expected as a consequence.

Bill Offering Hiring Protections To D.C. Ex-Cons Shot Down

A bill championed by D.C. Council member Marion Barry that would have offered legal protection to ex-convicts applying for jobs was voted down in a contentious final meeting of the 2012 legislative session.

State Department Faulted For Inadequate Security In Benghazi Attack

An independent panel said systematic management failures at the State Department led to inadequate security that left the diplomatic mission vulnerable. Despite those failures, the board found no cause for any disciplinary action.

Plans For National Prayer Service In January Laid Out

Plans are in place for next year's National Prayer Service the day after the Presidential Inauguration at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

Virginia Democrats Oppose Plan To Use Sales Tax For Roads

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is calling for the state legislature to use $48 million in sales tax revenue for roads, but Democrats oppose dipping into the general fund.

Two Alexandria Police Cars Stolen On Consecutive Nights

Thieves stole two marked Alexandria police cars on two consecutive nights, leaving authorities wondering how they managed the feat and whether the crimes are related.

Parents of Slain Children Share Memories At Newtown Funerals

Two more funerals were held in Newtown Tuesday, for first-graders James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos. The two were killed in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday.

Virginia's Renewable Energy Policy Under Review

Both Virginia's largest utility and environmental groups agree that current policy on renewable energy in the commonwealth is inadequate. Where they diverge is on the proposed fixes.

Our Pancakes Are Saved! Charges Filed In Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

Millions of dollars worth of stolen maple syrup was recovered and three men suspected of the theft were expected in court on Tuesday.

Michigan's Snyder Vetoes Bill Allowing Concealed Guns In Schools

Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed pistols to be carried in schools and other places where they had been banned. The Michigan legislature had approved the legislation when its lame-duck session ended Thursday — one day before the Newtown school shootings.

Holiday Exodus Expected From D.C. Region

The D.C. region may be much quieter over the holidays, as a report from AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that as many as 40 percent of area residents will be traveling 50 miles or more.

Obama Finding Gun Control Voice, Which Had Gone Quiet In White House

If, as the White House indicated on Tuesday, President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.

Research Chimps Get Permanent Retirement Home

More than 100 federally owned primates have been the subject of controversy. In 2010, the National Institutes of Health made arrangements to move some retired chimpanzees back into the research, spurring protests. But the NIH eventually decided to accept an independent assessment that found there is almost no scientific need for chimps in biomedical research.

NRA Issues Statement Amid Calls For New Gun Control Laws

The National Rifle Association of America has broken its silence to comment on Friday's gun violence that ravaged a tight-knit Connecticut community, releasing a statement in which the gun-owners' rights group said it "is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

Investors, Retailers Shy Away From Guns; Will It Last?

There's nothing like a broad-scale consumer boycott, but companies are responding proactively to rapidly shifting attitudes about guns. Whether consumers sustain anger about gun violence for very long will determine whether there's any real shift in markets.

D.C.'s Child Services Agency Shows Marked Improvement

The District's Child and Family Services Agency appears to be making real progress in making improvements to home visits, placements and other services 20 years after a child advocacy group sued the agency.

Easing Of Marijuana Laws Complicates Parents' Advice To Kids

There are some warnings parents drill into their kids: no drinking, no smoking, don't do drugs. But now that two states have decriminalized recreational marijuana use, those conversations have become tougher.

Building A Rover Of The Edible Kind

If you've ever wanted to eat a replica of the Mars rover Curiosity that made history this summer, here's your chance. A Caltech chef made one out of gingerbread, and it's on display in the lobby of the Athenaeum, a faculty and staff club on the Caltech campus.

Virginia Schools To Examine School Safety After Sandy Hook

The Governor of Virginia is ordering all of the state's school districts to review security policies and practices in the wake of last week's shootings in Newtown, Conn. 

Some Reforms Won't Make Cut For Final D.C. Council Meeting

The D.C. Council will vote on dozens of bills today at its last meeting of the current council session — but some pieces of legislation dealing with ethics reforms will be left off the list and pushed back until next year.

Officials In Newtown Follow A Well-Worn Media Script

Controlling the flow of verifiable information, and trying to keep the news media in one place by holding regular news conferences, is a strategy that law enforcement has used in past major stories.

Coal May Pass Oil As World's No. 1 Energy Source By 2017, Study Says

Coal is poised to replace oil as the world's top energy source — possibly in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency. The rise will be driven largely by growth in China and India, the IEA says, while the only large decline is seen coming in the United States.

Counselors Talk With Students After Newtown Shooting

Counselors in the D.C. region are on standby at schools and one District-based counselor is offering advice on how parents and teachers can help students cope with anxiety and grief after the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Latest Syrian Fighting Touches Off A New Exodus

Most every new round of fighting creates a new wave of displaced people in Syria. A weekend attack near the capital has sent many Palestinian refugees fleeing.

Obama Supports New Bid To Ban Assault Weapons, Close Gun Show 'Loophole'

The president has long said he's in favor of reinstating the ban. In the wake of Friday's mass shooting at a school in Connecticut, he has now publicly given his support to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's effort to ban such weapons.

McDonnell Reduces Revenue Projections In Budget Plan

Gov. Bob McDonnell is reducing revenue projections and planning to move some money around in the Virginia state budget in light of the ongoing stalemate in federal fiscal cliff negotiations.

Dangers of 'Whoonga': Abuse Of AIDS Drugs Stokes Resistance

In South Africa, drug users are crushing HIV medications and mixing them with marijuana, heroin and other illicit drugs. Public health workers worry that people who smoke so-called whoonga are helping to fuel the rise of drug-resistant HIV.

Water Main Break Closes Columbia Pike In Arlington

A water main break in South Arlington is tying up traffic on and around Columbia Pike this morning. Authorities expect Columbia Pike to be closed in both directions near South Thomas Street throughout the morning rush.

No Federal 'Cyberstalking' Charges Against Woman In Petraeus Affair

Paula Broadwell, whose affair with retired Gen. David Petraeus led to his resignation from the post of CIA director, will not face federal charges related to the alleged cyberstalking of another woman, according to a letter sent by the Justice Department to Broadwell's attorney.

Airports Board Spent $1.5M On Martire's Lawsuit

The Metropolitan Airports Authority Board spent a total of $1.5 million in legal fees defending embattled member Dennis Martire; Martire later resigned from the board, ending his fight with the state of Virginia. 

States Dreading Fiscal Cliff Outcome — But Indecision May Be Worse

State and local officials are rooting for President Obama and Congress to quickly reach a budget deal. They anticipate the fiscal pain that would result from automatic cuts, and know things could even be worse from the negotiated belt-tightening behind any pact. But at this point, they just want some certainty.

Investment Firm Selling Stakes In Gun Makers

Private equity firm, Cerberus, is getting rid of Freedom Group, a company it invested in six years ago. Freedom Group is comprised of several weapons manufacturers, including Bushmaster; a Bushmaster rifle was used in last week's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Nancy Lanza, Gunman's Mother: From 'Charmed Upbringing' To First Victim

The woman who grew up as "Beanie" in her New Hampshire hometown became known to friends in Newtown, Conn., as a warm, generous person. She was also, they say, very private about her home life. On Friday, police say, her 20-year-old son killed her. Then he stormed an elementary school.

Seniors Looking To Quit Smoking Get More Help From Medicare

In a switch, Medicare began covering smoking cessation counseling for smokers without symptoms of disease back in 2010. Beneficiaries are eligible for up to two four-session smoking cessation counseling attempts a year.

For Two Cubans In Guantanamo, Daily Commute Between Two Worlds Ends

For more than 50 years, the men traveled from their homes in the communist nation to jobs on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. "Sometimes you feel like you are living in two worlds," says one. The men just retired.

Is A 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal Near?

Some signs are pointing to an agreement being reached soon to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Of course, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have tried to strike a "grand bargain" before, only to have it fall apart.

NBC News' Richard Engel, Two Colleagues Freed From Syrian Captors

They were captured last Thursday. On Monday, as they were being driven to a new location, their captors ran into rebels. The journalists were freed after a firefight. Engel believes the captors were gunman loyal to President Bashar Assad's regime.

In A 'Numb' Newtown, Students Head Back To School

Sandy Hook Elementary's students will attend classes in other buildings. Meanwhile, the investigation into why Adam Lanza attacked the school — killing 20 children and six adults — continues.