NEW YORK (AP) - The heated debate over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records fell squarely into the courts Friday, when a federal judge in Manhattan upheld the legality of the program and cited its need in the fight against terrorism just days after another federal judge concluded it was likely not constitutional.
NO BEER LED TO CERAMIC SQUIRREL STABBING: NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina authorities say a 44-year-old woman angry at a man for returning home without beer on Christmas beat and stabbed him with a ceramic squirrel.
NEW YORK (AP) - Electricians working atop a New York City skyscraper on Friday installed the last of the 2,688 crystal triangles that give the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball its shimmer, including a panel dreamt up by a 12-year-old former cancer patient.
DENVER (AP) - The first batch of Denver businesses approved to sell recreational marijuana got their licenses Friday, the owners mugging for pictures and saying they never thought they'd see the day when they'd get a permit to sell pot.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Call it throwing the book at the bookworms.
SC GOV. HALEY GETS A BERETTA PISTOL FOR CHRISTMAS: COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Santa was apparently right on target for Christmas for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
CHICAGO (AP) - Early blasts of snow, ice and below-zero temperatures haven't stopped a surprising number of Chicago cyclists from spinning through the slush this winter, thanks in part to a city so serious about accommodating them that it deploys mini-snow plows to clear bike lanes.
HOUSTON (AP) - A white Houston-area man was arrested Thursday on federal hate crimes charges for allegedly shooting video of himself sucker-punching a 79-year-old black man in a "knockout game"-style attack.
PHOENIX (AP) - Two men were arrested Christmas Day on opposite sides of the country after they breached perimeters at major airports, raising questions about security measures and whether more needs to be done to protect the nation's transit hubs.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Pastor Mike Butzberger insists he only had holiday spirit in mind when his Florida church's marquee read: "Christmas - Easier to spell than Hanukkah."
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Members of the Ramapough Native American tribe have filed a $50 million lawsuit against the makers of a recent Hollywood movie they say depicts their people in a negative light.
LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) - Utility crews from Maine to Michigan and into Canada worked Wednesday to restore power to more than half a million homes left in the dark by last weekend's ice storm, and people slowly trickled out of shelters to spend Christmas Day at their finally warm homes.
WEST READING, Pa. (AP) - A terminally ill girl who received support from thousands of Christmas carolers outside her home over the weekend died early on Christmas morning, her family said.
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Las Vegas cab driver Gerardo Gamboa thought someone left a bag of chocolates in the back seat of his vehicle, but the stash turned out to be $300,000 in cold hard cash.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.
NEW YORK (AP) - This year's flurry of corporate mergers may not pay off for shareholders in the long run, but one thing is for sure: The bosses who are selling their companies will do just fine.
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) - Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She never had the time or money to go to a beach.
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - A Florida woman who came forward Thursday became the fourth in recent weeks to say Bill Cosby gave her pills that made her feel groggy then forced himself on her sexually.
SEATTLE (AP) - A man who had been in prison for nearly two decades was released from custody Thursday, two years after his supposed victim recanted allegations that he molested her.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida State University alumnus and attorney who shot three people at the school's library early Thursday believed the government was targeting him for persecution, detailing his thoughts in a journal and in videos detectives obtained, authorities said.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Philadelphia-area man who once sought food stamps for his service dog was charged with perjury on Wednesday after prosecutors concluded his claims of severe disability were bogus.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Uber Technologies confirmed Wednesday that it is investigating whether one of its general managers violated the popular car-booking service's privacy policies by snooping on a reporter's ride.
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a broad test of his executive powers, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he will sidestep Congress and order his own federal action on immigration - in measures that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people illegally in the U.S. and set up one of the most pitched partisan confrontations of his presidency.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Tens of thousands of gun owners from around the country are taking advantage of Utah's concealed firearm permits each year - often taking a required class given by instructors licensed by Utah but who live in other states.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Ten years after banning the use of firing squads in state executions, Utah lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to allow the practice again to avoid problems with lethal-injection drugs.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Police tracking down a suspected killer came across a telling piece of evidence that led to an arrest: A cellphone, logged into a man's Facebook account, with a news photo of the crime scene as the background screen.
NEW YORK (AP) - NBC has scrapped a Bill Cosby comedy that was under development and TV Land will stop airing reruns of "The Cosby Show," moves that came a day after another woman came forward claiming that the once-beloved comic had sexually assaulted her.
MAN CRAWLED INTO SUNKEN CAR, SAVED BABY: PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A Maine logger helped save an infant from drowning when he crawled into a car that was upside-down in water and used a knife to cut the straps off her car seat and pull her out, police said.
SUNNYVALE (AP) - Yahoo will supplant Google's search engine on Firefox's Web browser in the U.S., signaling Yahoo's resolve to regain some of the ground that it has lost in the most lucrative part of the Internet's ad market.
BOSTON (AP) - A light-up bow whose arrows are advertised as flying up to 145 feet and the "Catapencil" - a pencil with a miniature slingshot-style launcher on its end - are on an annual list of unsafe toys released Wednesday by a Massachusetts-based consumer watchdog group.