Some 2,000 mourners packed a Catholic church to honor Christina Taylor Green, the bubbly 9-year-old who was the youngest victim of the Arizona shootings, while hundreds more lined streets outside in a show of unity and support. Christina's was the first of half-a-dozen funerals in the coming days, and was to be followed Friday with a service for U.S. District Judge John Roll at the same church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Security was expected to be tight at the ceremony, with many federal judges among the mourners.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer prices rose last month as the cost of gas increased by the largest amount since June 2009. But outside of energy costs, there was little sign of widespread inflation. The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in December, the largest increase in 18 months. About 80 percent of the increase was due to an 8.5 percent rise in the gasoline index, also the sharpest increase in 18 months. Food prices ticked up 0.1 percent in December.
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — A new and ominous rain began falling again Friday in mountain towns where mudslides and flooding killed at least 479 people, hindering rescuers efforts to reach survivors even as relatives hauled the dead down the hills to freshly dug graves. The known death toll rose by one overnight in three cities north of Rio in one of Brazil's deadliest natural disasters on record. Officials feared, however, that number could sharply rise, though they would not venture a guess of how many remain missing. Local reports put it in the hundreds.
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisian medical officials say 13 people have died in new unrest in the North African nation. The deaths came late Thursday when President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali went on television to announce concessions designed to ease weeks of protests.
ROME (AP) — Premier Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation in a prostitution case involving a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, a case his lawyers on Friday called "absurd and groundless." Italy's leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, reported that the 74-year-old premier is suspected of having sex with the minor and then abusing his power in trying to cover up the encounters with the girl, nicknamed Ruby by the press.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The pope on Friday signed off on the miracle needed for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved popes of all times as a model of saintliness for the church. Pope Benedict XVI said in a decree that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paul to be made a saint.
NEW YORK (AP) — Convicted mob boss John "Sonny" Franzese is so old, he knew Frank Sinatra in his heyday. He's so old, his recent extortion trial became nap time — even when his turncoat son took the witness stand against him. Franzese also is so old that, if federal prosecutors have their way, he's almost certain to die behind bars.
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese farmer has been sentenced to life in prison for avoiding highway tolls adding up to more than 3.5 million yuan ($530,000) by pretending his trucks were military vehicles. State media reported that Shi Jianfeng was convicted of fraud for using fake military license plates and uniforms to deceive toll collectors into thinking his vehicles were military-owned, and therefore exempt from charges. In this way, he avoided paying tolls more than 2,300 times. A court in the central province of Henan sentenced Shi to jail and also fined him 2 million yuan ($302,000) on Dec. 21, the media report said this week.
NEW YORK (AP) — Martha Stewart isn't likely to whisper sweet nothings into her dozing dog's ear anytime again soon. The 69-year-old lifestyle guru wrote on her blog Thursday that she needed stitches after startling her dog Francesca while leaning down to "whisper goodbye." The dog jumped up and rammed into Stewart.
NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) — Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor admitted in court to paying a 16-year-old runaway for sex as he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years' probation and must register as a sex offender.