BRUSHY PRAIRIE, Ind. (AP) - A northeastern Indiana soldier surprised his mother Friday with an early return home, masquerading as Santa Claus while she sat on his lap at a school staff Christmas breakfast while she gave a wish list of gifts.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal judge struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban Friday in a decision that marks a drastic shift toward gay marriage in a conservative state where the Mormon church has long been against it.
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Authorities on Friday were trying to determine whether a Northern California man's anger over complications he suffered from a 2010 surgery prompted him to go on a shooting rampage at a Nevada urologist's office, killing one doctor and critically wounding another before committing suicide.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - SeaWorld on Friday posted ads in a handful of newspapers around the nation in response to a critical documentary that inspired eight musical acts to cancel performances at the company's Orlando marine park.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A new historical narrative posted by the Mormon church on its website officially acknowledges that some plural marriages were performed following an 1890 ban and that polygamy was widely practiced in the late 19th century.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Usher says though Justin Bieber had a wild year, people shouldn't count the pop singer out just yet.
TRYING TO SPREAD CHEER, SANTA IN NH SCARES INSTEAD: HOLLIS, N.H. (AP) - Police in southern New Hampshire say a man dressed as Santa Claus was only trying to spread some cheer but ended up panicking officials when he knocked on school windows and entered the building.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Thursday that will make it harder to force public schools to drop tribal nicknames, pushing aside opponents' charges that the measure is racist.
NEW YORK (AP) - Can an experimental drug developed to treat epilepsy block the AIDS virus? A preliminary lab study suggests it's possible, and researchers are eager to try it in people.
MIAMI (AP) - A month after pleading guilty to cocaine-possession charges, Republican Rep. Trey Radel of Florida refused to resign Thursday, saying he wants to "rebuild the trust" of voters.
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a sharp and unexpected shift, the national debate over U.S. government surveillance seems to be turning in favor of reining in the National Security Agency's expansive spying powers at home and abroad.
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City lawmakers paved the way Thursday for an eventual ban on plastic foam containers, added electronic cigarettes to the city's already stringent smoking bans and approved the creation of a website that will help the public track federal dollars budgeted for Superstorm Sandy-related damages.
RENO, Nev. (AP) - A suspect in a deadly hospital shooting in Reno left a suicide note at his home and claimed he had botched surgery three years ago before killing a doctor and himself this week, police said Thursday.
CINCINNATI (AP) - An Ohio judge rebuffed an argument Thursday that traffic cameras make law enforcement more efficient, stating sharply that violating motorists' rights isn't the American way.
McALLEN, Texas (AP) - A federal judge in South Texas said in a recent order that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is assisting in criminal conspiracies to smuggle children into the country when it helps reunite them with parents who are known to be in the U.S. illegally.
• MASSACHUSETTS TO USE MORE HUMOR ON HIGHWAY SIGNS: BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Department of Transportation on Thursday announced the winners of a contest to come up with humorous yet important driver safety messages for electronic highway message boards.
ATLANTA (AP) - Coca-Cola is buying a 16.7 percent stake in Monster Beverage for $2.15 billion, with the world's biggest soda maker hoping to benefit from the surging popularity of energy drinks.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its annual profit outlook on Thursday amid sluggish sales, higher-than-expected health care costs and the need to invest more in its e-commerce operations.
NEW YORK (AP) - General Electric confirmed that it is considering the sale of its historic appliance division, part of its effort to focus on selling more complex and profitable industrial equipment.
PLANO, Texas (AP) - J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) reported a narrower loss for its second quarter that beat Wall Street expectations.
NEW YORK (AP) - The back-to-school shopping season is off to a promising start, but retailers may be sacrificing profit for sales.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Robin Williams' spirit will live on in the virtual world of Azeroth.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Jan Harding and her husband had just arrived at a Utah restaurant for a relaxing lunch with friends when she filled her cup with sweet tea from a self-serve beverage station.
SEATTLE (AP) - Police in Washington state are asking the public to stop tweeting during shootings and manhunts to avoid accidentally telling the bad guys what officers are doing.
GARWOOD, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man took down a black flag with Arabic letters he's been flying outside his home for 10 years after complaints arose on Twitter about its association with Islamic militants.
CORSICANA, Texas (AP) - A teenager lived undetected for two days at a 24-hour Wal-Mart in Texas after running away from his aunt's home, police said Wednesday.
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent Wednesday night, with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A 57-year-old woman drove herself to a hospital after she was mauled by a brown bear in Alaska, state troopers said Wednesday.
MAN ACCUSED OF DISMEMBERING 5 DOGS AT NEVADA MOTEL: RENO, Nev. (AP) - A 24-year-old man is accused of killing and dismembering several dogs and keeping their heads in small refrigerator in a Nevada motel room.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles City Council has finalized a $26 million payment to settle a lawsuit over a ban on lunchtime naps by garbage truck drivers.