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POSTED December 11, 2012 1:05 a.m.

• FAA: 3 KILLED IN MEDICAL HELICOPTER CRASH IN ILL: ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say a medical helicopter has crashed in northern Illinois, killing all three people on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports the helicopter crashed Monday night while traveling from Rockford, near the Wisconsin border, to a hospital about 60 miles south in Mendota.

The helicopter was registered to Rockford Memorial Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Laura Maher says no patients were on board when the helicopter crashed around 8:30 p.m. into a field in Rochelle, about midway between the two cities.

Maher didn’t immediately have information about the flight crew, but says crews generally consist of two nurses and a pilot.

The FAA says the helicopter was destroyed and all three people on board were killed.

Rockford is about 80 miles northwest of Chicago.



• ALAN ALDA ASKS SCIENTISTS TO EXPLAIN: WHAT’S TIME?: MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Professor Alan Alda has a homework assignment for scientists. Yes, that Alan Alda.

The actor known for his Emmy-Award-winning work on the TV show “MASH,” is a founder of the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University on eastern Long Island.

Alda tells The Associated Press the center is sponsoring a contest asking scientists to explain, in terms a sixth-grader could understand: “What is time?”

Well-known for his affinity for science, Alda is the longtime host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers.”

He says society must have a better understanding of science.

This is the contest’s second year. Last year, scientists were asked to explain what a flame is. Alda says he was 11 years old when he asked a teacher that question and got an answer he didn’t understand.



• PEPPERMINT PIGS A SMASHING TRADITION IN NY: SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — A holiday tradition in the upstate New York resort town of Saratoga Springs has a peppermint twist: pig-shaped hard candies are sold with little metal hammers to be smashed at Christmas.

The peppermint pigs, which can weigh up to a pound, are considered good luck charms by some.

Mike Fitzgerald owns Saratoga Sweets, which will make about 130,000 of the pigs this season. The peppermint porkers have been a local favorite since he restarted the tradition in 1988 and have spread around the country with online and catalog sales.

In the old days, the pig was placed on the Christmas dinner table. Father would wrap it in a napkin and crack it with the steel rod used to sharpen knives. The tradition had faded away by the mid-20th century.

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