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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is launching a moose research project in northeastern Minnesota to determine why the state's population of the animal is declining. DNR officials will hold a St. Paul news conference Friday to unveil what they're calling a first-of-its-kind project. They'll employ GPS and other technology to help track the animals.
PARIS (AP) — Sex symbol-turned-animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot is threatening to join actor Gerard Depardieu in Russian exile unless France halts the scheduled euthanasia of two sick circus elephants. The 1960s screen diva says authorities have ignored her "numerous proposals" to save Baby and Nepal, a pair of 42-year-old elephants dying of tuberculosis at a Lyon zoo. In a statement on her foundation's website Bardot says that if the elephants are killed she will request Russian citizenship "to flee this country that is now just a graveyard for animals."
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State health officials say the number of flu-related deaths in Minnesota has risen to four. A weekly influenza report from the Minnesota Department of Health says 578 people have been hospitalized since the flu season began in October. The St. Paul Pioneer Press says 226 people were hospitalized with confirmed flu cases the last week of December.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A small portion of downtown Minneapolis remains closed to traffic after a major water main break sent 14 million gallons of water gushing into city streets. An area near the Hennepin Ave. bridge was closed Friday. Public works director Steve Kotke says the city wants to make sure the rushing water didn't undermine the pavement or underground utilities. Kotke says about a half-dozen buildings in a three-block area are likely to be without water until Saturday evening.
BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — There's a new mystery on Dennis Lehane's mind, and the best-selling author is offering a special reward: Find his lost dog and get a spot in his next book. The plot kicked off Christmas Eve, when the crime novelist's rescue beagle Tessa escaped from his yard after an outdoor gate latch didn't lock all the way. Since then, Lehane's family has launched an all-out search. They've posted fliers, organized foot searches and used social media to try to bring Tessa back to their home in Brookline, Mass., near Boston.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A dog that vanished after a multivehicle crash in northern Iowa has been found and will be returned to its owners. Des Moines television station KCCI says the dog, Jackie, was traveling with Cody and Colby Bostick and their infant son, Easton, on Dec. 21 when the accident occurred on Interstate 35 near Webster City. The 27-year-old Colby Bostick died in the crash. Jackie ran from the scene.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With its $500 million purchase of left-leaning Current TV, the Pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera will soon be seen in tens of millions of U.S. homes. It's a steep price, but the acquisition helps the network in its aims to quickly spread its message to more Americans. The purchase will create a news channel called Al-Jazeera America, coming to American homes with a distinctly non-American view of the world. The network claims many people in the U.S. have already sought its programming online. The deal already had its first casualty.
MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin has cast Gerard Depardieu in one of the most surprising roles of his life — as a new Russian citizen. The announcement Thursday that President Vladimir Putin has approved Depardieu's application for citizenship is almost a real-life analogue to the French actor's 1990 comedy "Green Card," in which his character enters into a sham marriage in order to work in the United States. But in this version, taxes appear to be at the heart of the matter. Depardieu has waged a battle against a proposed super tax on millionaires in his native country.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — An American drone strike in Pakistan has killed a top Taliban commander who sent money and fighters to battle the U.S. in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military, officials said Thursday. The death of Maulvi Nazir is likely to be seen in Washington as affirmation of the necessity of the controversial U.S. drone program. It is likely to be viewed in a different light by military officials in Pakistan, however, because Nazir did not focus on Pakistani targets.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House and Senate ushered in a new Congress Thursday, re-electing embattled Republican John Boehner speaker and hailing one of its own senators who returned a year after being felled by a stroke. The 113th Congress convened at 12 noon EST, the constitutionally mandated time, with pomp, pageantry and politics, on both sides of the Capitol.