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Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
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First time jobless claims climb by 17,000

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Labor Department Wednesday said first-time jobless benefits claims rose by 17,000 in the week.

There were 361,000 first-time claims in the week, a drop from the previous week's revised figure of 344,000.

The four-week rolling average for the week was 367,750, a decrease of 13,750 from the previous week.

The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 400,422 for the week, a decrease of 28,766 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Benghazi testimony begins in Senate

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The State Department's No. 2 diplomat William J. Burns testified Thursday there were security deficiencies in Libya before the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi.

Burns and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas R. Nides were to brief Senate and House panels investigating the Sept. 11 attack that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who suffered a concussion after falling, said in a letter Monday to the heads of both panels she would answer their questions in January.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened its hearing, chaired by John Kerry, D-Mass., who is expected to be nominated to succeed Clinton as secretary of state. The House Foreign Affairs Committee was to open its hearing in the afternoon.

The testimony by Burns and Nides comes a day after four State Department officials were removed from their posts after an independent review board criticized "grossly inadequate" security at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Marine father standing outside school

NASHVILLE, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. Marine said he is standing watch in full uniform outside his children's Nashville elementary school because of last week's carnage in Connecticut.

Staff Sgt. Jordan Pritchard said he felt "like this is something I had to do" because Gower Elementary School does not have metal detectors or armed guards.

After 26 people, including 20 children, were shot and killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Pritchard said he took matters into his own hands to keep his children safe. He does not, though, carry a weapon at the school, WSMV-TV, Nashville, reported Tuesday.

"What this uniform represents, the hope it brings, is larger than any weapon that I would ever need," Pritchard said.

"I said, 'Boy, you don't know how much better I feel having you standing here,'" Pritchard said fellow parent Billy Hester told him.

Boy, 12, starts video game dumping effort

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A 12-year-old Newtown, Conn., boy is asking other game-players to dump their violent video games in the wake of the elementary school shooting in his town.

Max Goldstein, who says he enjoys the virtual combat of "Call of Duty," has started a movement called "Played Out," that seeks to gets rid of the video games, The Hartford Courant reported Wednesday.

Goldstein said he didn't think of the idea last Friday, when Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults after killing his mother in their home. He said he came up with the program Tuesday after attending a funeral of a friend's brother, Daniel Barden, one of the victims.

As he listened to the service, Max said he was struck by "how real this was" and how he didn't want to kill, even in the cyber realm of a video game, the Courant said.

His mother, Roberta Mittleman, said she at first barred Goldstein from playing violent video games, but relented.

"I don't believe it's a root cause, but it's a contributing factor," Roberta Mittleman said of the games.

Snowboarder gets $10K rescue bill

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A ski operator in Canada said it will present a $10,121 bill to a snowboarder who became lost for three days after going out of bounds of the ski area.

Sebastien Boucher was found alive after a three-day search ended with his rescue Tuesday near Vancouver, British Columbia, CBC reported.

Joffrey Koeman of Cypress Mountain ski area on Vancouver's North Shore said he was happy Boucher was found safe, but plans to present the bill to cover rescue costs. He said the money will go to North Shore Search and Rescue, which conducted the rescue.

Koeman said Boucher should pay for his rescue because he ignored a series of warning signs and climbed over a boundary rope.

Boucher said, though, he got lost because of a simple mistake. He had just gotten a phone call saying a good friend had died and he was distracted.

"I know people criticize, say, 'Oh this guy's stupid, he shouldn't be doing that, he deserves it.' But people don't know. If you lose your best friend, you tell me how you feel, you tell me how you think. I shouldn't have even been snowboarding. I should've just went home," Boucher said.

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