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When toddlers point a lot, more words will follow

WASHINGTON - Don't just talk to your toddler - gesture, too. Pointing, waving bye-bye and other natural gestures seem to boost a budding vocabulary.

Scientists found those tots who could convey more meaning with gestures at age 14 months went on to have a richer vocabulary as they prepared to start kindergarten. And intriguingly, whether a family is poor or middle class plays a role, the researchers report Friday.

February 12, 2009 | By LAURAN NEERGAARD Associated Press Writer | World


Peanut Co. owner refuses to testify to Congress

WASHINGTON - The owner of a peanut company refused to testify to Congress on Wednesday amid the disclosure that he urged his workers to ship bacteria-tainted products, pleading with employees to at least "turn the raw peanuts on the floor into money."

Stewart Parnell, owner of Peanut Corp. of America, repeatedly invoked his right not to incriminate himself after sitting before the House subcommittee holding a hearing on a national salmonella outbreak blamed on his company.

February 11, 2009 | By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE Associated Press Writers | World


Stimulus pared to $789 billion in race for deal

WASHINGTON - House and Senate negotiators agreed to pare economic stimulus legislation below $800 billion and reached for a final deal with the White House on Wednesday on a bill designed to create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession.

"Time's getting short," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of a handful of Senate moderates whose votes are crucial to the bill's passage.

February 11, 2009 | By DAVID ESPO AP Special Correspondent | World


Valentine's fails to jump-start loveless economy

Even in this loveless economy, chocolate and a candlelit dinner have a date for Valentine's Day. Diamonds and special-delivery flowers, though, are on the outs.

February 10, 2009 | By BETSY VERECKEY and MARC LEVY AP Business Writers | World


GM cuts 10,000 salaried jobs, trims employees' pay

NEW YORK - General Motors Corp. is planning to slash another 10,000 salaried jobs this year, saying the cuts are unavoidable with a government restructuring deadline looming and industrywide sales in one of the worst downturns in history.

The Detroit-based automaker said Tuesday it will reduce its total number of white-collar workers by 14 percent to 63,000. About 3,400, or 12 percent, of GM's 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs will be eliminated.

February 10, 2009 | By BREE FOWLER Associated Press Writer | World


Obama warns of risk of economic 'catastrophe'

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, in the first nationally televised evening news conference of his young presidency, demanded that lawmakers pass an $800-billion-plus economic recovery plan, or risk turning "a crisis into a catastrophe."

February 10, 2009 | Associated Press | World


Australian fire zone a crime scene; 166 killed

WHITTLESEA, Australia - Police declared incinerated towns crime scenes Monday, and the prime minister spoke of "mass murder" after investigators said arsonists may have set some of Australia's worst wildfires in history. The death toll rose to 166.

There were no quick answers, but officials said panic and the freight-train speed of the fire front - driven by 60 mph winds and temperatures as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 C) - probably accounted for the unusually high toll.

February 09, 2009 | By TANALEE SMITH Associated Press Writer | World


Obama calls anew for swift action on economy

ELKHART, Ind. - Making his case in the most dire terms, President Barack Obama said that if Congress does not quickly pass an economic stimulus package, the nation will slip into a crisis so deep that ''we may be unable to reverse'' it.

February 09, 2009 | By MARK S. SMITH Associated Press Writer | World


Obama faces 2 fronts on economy

WASHINGTON - For President Barack Obama the economy has become a two-front engagement, with one effort aimed at creating or saving jobs and the other at unfreezing the credit markets.

Obama plunges into a difficult test of his leadership this week, struggling to get a divided Congress to agree on his economic recovery package while pitching a new plan to ease loans to U.S. consumers and businesses.

February 09, 2009 | By JIM KUHNHENN Associated Press Writer | World


Plant, Krauss win 4 Grammys; Brown investigated

LOS ANGELES - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' unorthodox partnership yielded rich rewards on Grammy night, as the pair nabbed five awards for their haunting "Raising Sand," including record and album of the year honors.

February 09, 2009 | By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY AP Music Writer | World


Octuplet fertility doctor under investigation

LOS ANGELES - The spotlight on the mother of octuplets is turning to the fertility doctor who helped her give birth not once but 14 times by implanting Nadya Suleman with fertilized embryos.

The Medical Board of California investigating the doctor - whom it did not name - to see if there was a "violation of the standard of care," board spokeswoman Candis Cohen said Friday.

February 08, 2009 | By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER Associated Press Writer | World


Officials: 1 dead, 134 rescued from Lake Erie ice

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Cell phones rang and word was passed to fishermen out on a distant stretch of Lake Erie's iced-over waters: A crack had widened in the ice, trapping everyone on a miles-wide floe that was drifting away from the Ohio shoreline.

Some immediately hopped on their four-wheelers and snowmobiles, headed east in search of an ice bridge back to shore.

February 08, 2009 | By JOHN SEEWER Associated Press Writer | World


Obama and Senate Republicans bicker over stimulus

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans bickered Saturday over his historically huge economic recovery plan after states and schools lost tens of billions of dollars in a late-night bargain to save it.

The $827 billion measure is on track to pass the Senate on Tuesday despite stiff opposition from the GOP and disappointment among Democrats, including the new president who labeled it imperfect. Next up: Difficult negotiations between the House and Senate, which are divided over spending for tax cuts, education and aid for local governments.

February 07, 2009 | By ANDREW TAYLOR and PHILIP ELLIOTT Associated Press Writers | World


Obama recovery plan on track in Senate

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan is on track to pass the Senate after a handful of moderate Republicans and Democrats forced more than $100 billion in cuts in programs that wouldn't create many jobs right away.

But the group backed away from a confrontation that threatened to kill the legislation altogether after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weighed in to urge Democrats make a final round of concessions.

February 07, 2009 | By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press Writer | World


Hacked highway sign in Texas warns of British

LUBBOCK, Texas - A hacked electronic highway sign in northwestern Texas carried an international message not seen much in centuries on this side of the pond.

February 07, 2009 | The Associated Press | World


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