By Steve Bittenbender LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of U.S. students stayed home this week due to snow and freezing temperatures, but some kids were not able to spend the day sledding or watching TV. School districts from Oklahoma to Kentucky to Massachusetts kept students busy in virtual classrooms by assigning work online that was monitored by their teachers. Younger students or those without computers were not left out. Many of those students received paper materials on the day before bad weather was forecast. The school districts are trying virtual classes because of the concern that too many bad-weather days mean losing instruction time, lengthening school days or extending the school year deep into the summer, school officials said. "Having these online learning days helps to avoid those gaps," said Dee Dee Nauert, who teaches fifth and sixth graders at Notre Dame Academy in Louisville.
By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Saturday began a broad sales pitch to the U.S. public about the merits of free trade deals, an area in which he faces stiff resistance from many in his own Democratic party. Obama has said he wants to work with Congressional Republicans to finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, an agreement that would stretch from Japan to Chile, covering 40 percent of the world economy. "I’m the first to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype," Obama said in his weekly address. "But that doesn’t mean we should close ourselves off from new opportunities." The first step in working with other nations to finalize the TPP deal is to pass "fast track" legislation to streamline the passage of trade deals through Congress.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The French interior minister said he asked Google, Facebook and Twitter to work directly with French officials during investigations and to immediately remove terrorist propaganda when authorities alert them to it.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — It initially sounded like horrific fatal road rage: A Las Vegas mother of four who just finished giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson followed by a driver they encountered on their way home, shot to death in front of their house.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker backed a surprise move Friday by Republican legislators to quickly vote on making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, an action the likely 2016 presidential candidate initially said should be delayed to avoid re-igniting massive pro-union protests.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a new setback for the health care law and the people it's supposed to help, the government said Friday it made a tax-reporting error that's fouling up the filings of nearly a million Americans.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The French interior minister said Friday he asked Google, Facebook and Twitter to work directly with French officials during investigations and to immediately remove terrorist propaganda when authorities alert them to it.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Negotiators reached a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers on Friday evening, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually.
By Alex Dobuzinskis TORRANCE, Calif. (Reuters) - Gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil Corp refinery near Los Angeles has been halted since an explosion there on Wednesday, a plant manager said on Friday, raising the possibility of higher fuel prices in parts of Southern California. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast in Torrance, California, south of downtown Los Angeles, which sent four contract workers to the hospital with minor injuries. Refinery manager Brian Ablett said Exxon has an unspecified volume of gasoline in storage at the plant but did not say at what rate it might release those stocks, nor did he have an estimate for when production might resume. California lacks pipelines to carry locally refined gasoline across the state and its supplies are further restricted by environmental rules requiring a less-polluting blend of gasoline and diesel fuel, which few out-of-state refineries make.
By Alex Dobuzinskis and Deena Beasley LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An 18-year-old man who was one of seven patients infected with a drug-resistant bacterial "superbug" during a medical procedure in Los Angeles was under 24-hour monitoring at a hospital as he fought a severe infection, his attorney said on Friday. Infection by the carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria, or CRE, during endoscopies at a large teaching hospital in the University of California at Los Angeles system has contributed to two deaths among the seven patients. Officials warned that as many as 179 people who had endoscopies at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to the so-called superbug. The infections all occurred during procedures in which a specialized scope, known as a duodenoscope, was inserted down the throat to diagnose and treat pancreatic and bile duct diseases.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The man accused of setting off a small explosion last month that rattled nerves because of its proximity to a Colorado NAACP office says he was in a rage over his financial problems and was actually targeting his accountant, according to court documents filed Friday.