AP News


'Waltons' patriarch Ralph Waite dies at 85 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:11

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ralph Waite, who played the kind-and-steady patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series "The Waltons," died Thursday, his manager said. He was 85.

Waite, who lived in the Palm Springs area, died at midday, manager Alan Mills said. Mills, who did not know the cause of death, said he was taken aback because Waite had been in good health and still working.

Waite appeared last year in episodes of the series "NCIS," in which he played the dad of star Mark Harmon's character. He also appeared in "Bones" and "Days of Our Lives."

"The Waltons," which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, starred Waite as John Walton, and Richard Thomas played his oldest son, John-Boy, an aspiring novelist. The gentle family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

His co-stars on Thursday praised both the actor and the man.

"I am devastated to announce the loss of my precious 'papa' Walton, Ralph Waite," said Mary McDonough, who played daughter Erin Walton. "I loved him so much; I know he was so special to all of us. He was like a real father to me. Goodnight Daddy. I love you."

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Son-in-law arrested in Tennessee package bomb deaths PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by TRAVIS LOLLER, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:06

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man facing murder charges in the package explosion deaths of his in-laws in Tennessee had a prior arson conviction, authorities said.

State Fire Marshal's Office spokeswoman Katelyn Abernathy said Richard Parker was arrested Thursday and is charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon.

Abernathy said she did not have any information about a possible motive for the bombing that killed 74-year-old Jon Setzer and his 72-year-old wife Marion, shocking friends and neighbors, who described the couple as kind, giving and devout.

Reached by phone the day before his arrest, Parker declined to talk about the deaths with The Associated Press. Parker ran Legacy Restorations, a business that specializes in historic restorations, according to its website. His house was just behind the Setzers' in a semi-rural area of Lebanon, about 40 minutes east of Nashville.

Parker was convicted of arson in 1993 in Giles County and sentenced to four months of probation, according to records.

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Military nears holy grail: Pizza that lasts years PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:03

NATICK, Mass. (AP) — They call it the holy grail of ready-to-eat meals for soldiers — a pizza that can stay on the shelf for up to three years and still remain good to eat.

Soldiers have been asking for pizza since lightweight individual field rations — known as meals ready to eat, or MREs — replaced canned food in 1981 for soldiers in combat zones or areas where field kitchens cannot be set up.

Researchers at a U.S. military lab in Massachusetts are closing in on a recipe that doesn't require any refrigeration or freezing.

"You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it'd still be edible," said Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Scientists at the Natick labs also are responsible for developing equipment and clothing that improves soldiers' combat effectiveness and their survival, but the quest for good pizza has become known as the holy grail there.

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More talking to babies helps their brains PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:02

WASHINGTON (AP) — Using videos that claim to teach toddlers, or flash cards for tots, may not be the best idea. Simply talking to babies is key to building crucial language and vocabulary skills — but sooner is better, and long sentences are good.

So says research that aims to explain, and help solve, the troubling "word gap": Children from more affluent, professional families hear millions more words before they start school than poor kids, leaving the lower-income students at an academic disadvantage that's difficult to overcome.

That gap starts to appear at a younger age than scientists once thought, around 18 months, said Stanford University psychology professor Anne Fernald.

And research being presented this week at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests that it's not just hearing lists of words that matters as much as rich, varied language with good grammar that trains babies' brains to learn through context.

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Canceled! Airlines scrap record number of flights PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, AP Airlines Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:01

NEW YORK (AP) — The relentless snow and ice storms this winter have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including roughly 14,000 this week. That's 5.5 percent of the 1.35 million flights scheduled during that period, according to AP calculations based on information provided by flight tracking site FlightAware.

It's the highest total number and highest percent of cancellations since at least the winter of 1987-1988, when the Department of Transportation first started collecting cancellation data.

Mother Nature isn't entirely to blame. A mix of cost-cutting measures and new government regulations has made airlines more likely to cancel flights and leave fliers scrambling to get to their destination.

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