Last funerals held for Newtown victims
NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Funeral services were held Saturday for three little girls, the last victims of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre to be laid to rest.
About 2,000 people gathered Friday night on a Newtown soccer field for a candlelight vigil, USA Today reported. They honored the 20 students and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School gunned down by Adam Lanza, 20, who also killed his mother and himself.
The First Cathedral, a non-denominational church in Bloomfield, Conn., was packed for a service for Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, The News-Times of Danbury reported. Josephine Gay, who celebrated her 7th birthday three days before she was killed, was remembered at a funeral mass at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown.
The service of Emilie Parker was held at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stake center in Ogden, Utah. Her family moved from Utah to Ogden this year.
Many Connecticut lawmakers reacted angrily Friday to a statement by National Rifle Association Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, demanding federally funded armed guards in all schools, the Hartford Courant reported.
John McKinney, the Republican minority leader of the state Senate, whose district includes Sandy Hook, called LaPierre's statement "ill-timed," given that Newtown was still holding funerals.
"I also don't think his idea of undoing or repealing gun-free school zones is a good idea at all," McKinney said. "I, for one, don't believe in the notion that only way to protect yourself from a bad person with a gun is to have more good people with guns. I've always understood, and believe, that our Second Amendment is an integral part of our Constitution, and people should have the right to bear arms ... but I think we should have a fair conversation in this country about what the limits to those rights are."
U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat who was elected to the Senate in November, responded with a tweet: "Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone-deaf statement I've ever seen."
Major snow to hit U.S. East
ERIE, Pa., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A winter storm system moving east will drop as much as 12 inches of snow in parts of northern West Virginia and north-central Maryland, forecasters said.
The storm system hit the Midwest Wednesday and Thursday and moved to the east Friday, CNN reported.
Areas including Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, and Erie, Pa., are expected to get 5 to 7 inches of snow, with 10 inches possible in spots, plus strong winds of as much as 45 mph near Lake Erie.
"Strong winds will cause blowing and drifting of snow with blizzard conditions expected at times with visibilities of one quarter mile or less [and] wind chill temperatures in the single digits ... also possible," the National Weather Service said. "Downed trees and power lines could result from the strongest gusts on Saturday."
Accuweather.com predicted a second storm will arise Wednesday in the Ohio Valley states and the southern Appalachians with strong winds and areas of rain and thunderstorms.
A storm system in northern California is expected to dump 2-4 feet of snow Saturday and Sunday around Mount Shasta City, Dunsmuir, McCloud and Tennant, Accuweather.com said.
The storm is expected to be accompanied by winds of 40-60 mph, with higher gusts, and make portions of Interstate 5 near Mount Shasta City and Highway 89 near Snowman's Summit impassable at times. It may also affect traffic east of the Cascades on Highways 140 and 97.
The Coastal Range and Northeast Foothills, and the northern Sacramento Valley, including the city of Redding, may get several inches of snow.
First family in Hawaii for Christmas
HONOLULU, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama and the first family landed early Saturday in Honolulu, where they will spend Christmas.
Air Force One touched down at Honolulu Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at 12:06 a.m., the White House reported. The president quickly deplaned and headed to his vacation home in Kailua, a small town on the east end of Oahu island.
The president left Washington for Honolulu Friday evening, a few hours after delivering remarks at the White House in which he encouraged Congress "to work toward [a debt and deficit] package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans."
"Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers," he said. "And I will immediately sign that legislation into law, before Jan. 1 of next year. It's that simple."
The White House said the president and first lady Michelle Obama will attend a memorial service Sunday for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Otherwise, the president has no public events scheduled.
Looting spreads in Argentina, 2 killed
BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Two people have been killed in widespread looting in Argentina, which a union official blamed on "the difficult situation the people of Argentina are facing."
The looting started Thursday afternoon at a supermarket in the Patagonian resort town of Bariloche, The Wall Street Journal reported. Incidents of looting were also reported in Rosario, Campana, Zarate, and on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. In Rosario, two people were killed during the incidents and 137 people arrested.
Government officials have called the looting as acts of vandalism and not social protests.
"These are isolated incidents that are clearly organized and structured. In none of them did people seek food. They took televisions and drinks," said President Cristina Kirchner's cabinet chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina.
The government has also blamed unions for the attacks, the BBC reported.
Unions, however, have dismissed the government's accusations.
"This is probably triggered by the difficult situation the people of Argentina are facing. I cannot imagine that this has been organized by someone," said Hugo Moyano, head of CGT, Argentina's largest trade union.
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