WASHINGTON (AP) - The 2012 presidential election broke the $2 billion milestone in its final weeks, becoming the most expensive in American political history, according to final federal finance reports released Thursday. The reports detailed a last-minute cascade of money from mega-donors and an onslaught of spending by the Obama and Romney campaigns and "super" political action committees.
SEATTLE (AP) - A man pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting an attack on a Seattle military complex with machine guns and grenades.
SEATTLE (AP) - People openly lit joints under the Space Needle and on Seattle's sidewalks - then blew the smoke at TV news cameras. To those looking to "get baked," the city's police department suggested pizza and a "Lord of the Rings" movie marathon.
NEW BATAAN, Philippines (AP) - The Philippine government's geological hazard maps show why this farming community was largely washed away by a strong typhoon: "highly susceptible to flooding and landslides." That didn't stop some villagers from rebuilding even with bodies still lying under the mud.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) - President Barack Obama, trying to put a personal touch on "fiscal cliff" negotiations, visited a northern Virginia family's basement apartment Thursday to press his hard line on tax rate increases for the wealthy.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Jim DeMint, patron saint of the tea party and a would-be Republican kingmaker, announced suddenly Thursday he would resign his South Carolina seat to head Washington's conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, a shift that reverberated through a soul-searching GOP.
MAINE MALL SACKS SANTA AFTER RUDENESS COMPLAINTS: SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A mall in Maine has sacked Santa Claus after children and parents complained he was rude, grumpy and wouldn't even let one child sit on his lap.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.
AUTOPSY: BORDER PATROL AGENT FIRED GUN 10 TIMES: SAN DIEGO (AP) - A Border Patrol agent in Southern California who shot and killed a mother of five after she hit him with her vehicle fired his gun 10 times from the hood of her car as he tried to get the woman to stop, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.
HONOLULU (AP) - Ray Emory could not accept that more than one quarter of the 2,400 Americans who died at Pearl Harbor were buried, unidentified, in a volcanic crater.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - New York's Times Square is getting a little bit Jersey for New Year's Eve.
SEATTLE (AP) - Hundreds of same-sex couples across Washington state started picking up marriage licenses Thursday as a voter-approved law legalizing gay marriage took effect.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Mormon leaders made their most significant outreach yet to gays and lesbians, unveiling a new website Thursday that encourages church members to be more compassionate in discussions about homosexuality.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - At about 450 pounds, Ohio death row inmate Ronald Post is so fat that his executioners won't be able to find veins in his arms or legs for the lethal injection, and he might even break the death chamber gurney, his lawyers say.
ATLANTA (AP) - An elderly man opened fire on a woman after her car came into contact with his motorized wheelchair at a central Georgia service station, authorities said Wednesday. She died shortly afterward at a hospital despite the efforts of a crowd of people to aid her.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about one-third of the United States and lowers it for one-tenth.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A three-year federal investigation into groups of suburban white teens crossing into Mississippi's capital city to attack blacks has grown to 10 indictments and six convictions.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Two attorneys general from the Northwest have sued the companies responsible for the popular 5-Hour Energy drink, alleging they engaged in deceptive advertising.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - No signs of trauma or foul play were found on eight decaying bodies discovered at an abandoned funeral home in Fort Worth, Texas, officials said.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A warden and two of his assistants were fired because the investigation of an inmate who died in a scalding shower was taking too long, prison officials said Thursday.
BOSTON (AP) - Investigators looking into an unlicensed Massachusetts funeral director accused of stealing from customers said Thursday they have found human remains in a rented storage unit, a day after finding cremated remains at another storage facility linked to him.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The heavy thud of tank shells, often just seconds apart, echoed across the Gaza Strip early Friday as thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion, escalating a 10-day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try to destroy Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel.
HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down a Malaysian jetliner with 298 people aboard, sharply escalating the crisis and threatening to draw both East and West deeper into the conflict. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Prospects for action on the nation's border crisis faded Thursday as lawmakers traded accusations rather than solutions, raising chances that Congress will head out for its summer recess without doing anything about the tens of thousands of migrant children streaming into South Texas.
SUNNYVALE (AP) - Google's earnings rose modestly in the second quarter as the Internet company's expensive ambitions devoured most of a surprisingly strong gain in revenue.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Federal authorities on Thursday charged FedEx with assisting illegal pharmacies by knowingly delivering painkillers and dangerous drugs to customers without prescriptions.
SUNNYVALE (AP) - Facebook is testing a "Buy" button in its latest effort to help businesses boost their sales through the world's biggest online social network.
RENO, Nev. (AP) - The managers of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas have announced plans to open one at Lake Tahoe this winter after a $60 million renovation of the former Horizon Casino Resort at Stateline.
CUPERTINO (AP) - One of the most trusted advisers to late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is retiring from the iPhone maker's board of directors.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its 39-year history Thursday, outlining plans to cut 18,000 jobs in a move that marked the CEO's sharpest pivot yet away from his predecessor's drive for the company to make its own devices.