AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on December 14, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 15 at 12:00 AM

Bells toll in Newtown, Conn., to mark year since 26 died in shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Bells tolled 26 times to honor the children and educators killed one year ago in a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School as local churches held memorial services and the country marked the anniversary with events including a White House moment of silence.

With snow falling and homes decorated with Christmas lights, Newtown looked every bit the classic New England town, with a coffee shop and general store doing steady business. But reminders of the private grief were everywhere. "God bless the families," read a sign posted at one house in the green and white colors of the Sandy Hook school, and a church posted that it was "open for prayer."

Ryan Knaggs, a chef who lives in Newtown, said that as the bells tolled he thought of two young victims who played soccer with his 7-year-old daughter.

"The echo of the bells, knowing some of the children personally, you feel the exactitude with each bell ... the exactitude of the loss and the grief," Knaggs said.

The bells rang 26 times at St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown beginning at 9:30 a.m. — the moment the gunman shot his way into the school on Dec. 14, 2012 — and names of the victims were read over a loudspeaker. Connecticut's governor had asked for bells to ring across Connecticut and directed that flags be lowered to half-staff.

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AP PHOTOS: A year later, reminders of grief, hope in Newtown

As bells tolled 26 times Saturday to honor the dead on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre, Ryan Knaggs thought of two young victims who played soccer with his 7-year-old daughter.

"The echo of the bells, knowing some of the children personally, you feel the exactitude with each bell ... the exactitude of the loss and the grief," said Knaggs, a chef who lives in Newtown, Conn.

With snow falling and homes decorated with Christmas lights, Newtown looked every bit the classic New England town. But reminders of the grief were everywhere, as seen in this collection of images.

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Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

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Snowstorm treks into Northeast, causing dangerous travel conditions and cancelled flights

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A winter storm blanketed a wide swath of the Northeast with a picturesque white layer on Saturday and gave ski resorts a boost, but caused dangerous travel conditions and complicated shopping plans less than two weeks before Christmas.

Multiple accidents were reported on roadways throughout the Midwest and Northeast, while airports reported hundreds of cancellations.

Airlines canceled nearly 1,200 flights because of the storm, including almost 375 flights into and out of Newark, N.J., and 189 at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

"It's a pretty bad day for Newark," said Mark Duell, a spokesman for FlightAware, a website that tracks commercial airlines. More than 40 percent of Newark's 900 flights were cut, he said.

The weather contributed to four deadly crashes on Missouri roads on Friday and Saturday and drivers in states throughout the path of the storm were warned of slick road conditions from snow and ice.

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In new role, Vietnam veteran Kerry returns to Mekong Delta with eye on agriculture, trade

CA MAU, Vietnam (AP) — John Kerry returned Sunday to the winding waterways of Vietnam's Mekong Delta region where he once patrolled on a naval gunboat in the search for communist insurgents.

But nearly 50 years later, Kerry was promoting sustainable aquaculture and trade in a rapidly expanding economy rather than hunting Viet Cong guerrillas at the height of the Vietnam War. This was Kerry's first visit back to the Delta since the war.

On this tour, the secretary of state was clad in long, drab olive cargo pants, a blue-and-white plaid long-sleeved shirt and sunglasses instead of the uniform he wore as a Navy officer in 1968 and 1969. In a new role, Kerry was revisiting the Delta's rivers that made a vivid impression on him as a young lieutenant.

"''I can still close my eyes and I can remember the country that I saw then during the war: the site of water buffalos, incredible narrow rivers, the mangrove, the fishermen and their wooden boats," Kerry said in a video posted to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi promoting his first trip to Vietnam as America's top diplomat.

"The Mekong Region faces enormous challenges, we must protect and preserve this fragile ecosystem," he said, underscoring the differences in mission now and then.

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Mandela's casket arrives in Qunu; mourners gather along motorcade route

QUNU, South Africa (AP) — Nelson Mandela came home Saturday.

A hearse carrying Mandela's body drove into his hometown in rural South Africa ahead of burial Sunday, returning the country's peacemaker to the place where he had always wanted to die.

It was here in Qunu that Mandela roamed the hills and tended livestock as a youth, absorbing lessons about discipline and consensus from traditional chiefs. From here he embarked on a journey — the "long walk to freedom" as he put it — that thrust him to the forefront of black South Africans' struggle for equal rights that resonated around the world.

As motorcyclists in uniform and armored personnel carriers escorted the vehicle carrying Mandela's casket to the family compound, people lining the route sang, applauded and, in some cases, wept.

"When I saw the hearse passing, I couldn't hold my excitement. I felt like I was holding him by the hand," said Norma Khobo. "It was very exciting, I saw him!"

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Kan. suicide bomb plot latest in series of FBI undercover stings aimed at thwarting terrorism

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The arrest of a Kansas man accused of trying to bring what he thought was a car bomb into a Wichita airport marked the culmination of a months-long undercover sting in what has become a successful and widely used domestic counterterrorism tactic.

Court documents detail Terry Lee Loewen's alleged conversations with undercover FBI agents over six months. The discussions began with vague sentiments about his desire to commit "violent jihad" against the U.S. before turning into a detailed, concrete plot in which the agents recruited him to use his airport access to plant a bomb in a martyrdom operation.

Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician who worked at the airport for Hawker Beechcraft, was arrested Friday on charges including providing support to al-Qaida and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He remains jailed, and prosecutors expect to take their case to a grand jury Wednesday.

The case resembles a string of investigations conducted by the FBI since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that have prompted controversy over whether law enforcement's tactics involve entrapment and violate civil liberties.

One such case involved an undercover agent pretending to be a terrorist who provided a teenager with a phony car bomb, then watched him plant it in downtown Chicago. In Boston, a man was sentenced to 17 years in prison for plotting with undercover agents to fly remote-controlled planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

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A look at 2 suicide bombers who sought death in Syria, driven by jihadist ideology

RUSSAIFA, Jordan (AP) — On his last day as an ordinary teenager, Abdullah Siddeh kept to his daily routine: He filled in for his father at the small family grocery in the afternoon, asked his mother at home about dinner and then played soccer with friends at the nearby high school.

After the game, the 17-year-old slipped out of his hometown in central Jordan.

Six months later, his father Mohammed got a phone call from Syria. His son had blown himself up in a rebel attack on a police station in Syrian capital of Damascus, the unknown man on the line told him.

Mohammed said he asked the man how he could bring his son's remains home for burial.

The reply: "There is no body."

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China carries out world's first soft landing of probe on the moon in nearly 4 decades

BEIJING (AP) — China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang'e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth's nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called "Yutu," or "Jade Rabbit," the goddess' pet. After landing Saturday evening on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang'e eight hours later and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

China's space program is an enormous source of pride for the country, the third to carry out a lunar soft landing — which does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries — after the United States and the former Soviet Union. The last one was by the Soviet Union in 1976.

"It's still a significant technological challenge to land on another world," said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry. "Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn't have an atmosphere so you can't use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don't end up in a crater on top of a large rock."

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Bustling campgrounds a sign of Christmas as Amazon brings in campers for holiday rush

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Twinkling lights, ornament-strewn trees and bustling campgrounds. Those are signs of the Christmas season in this Kentucky town, where the Amazon.com distribution center recruits an armada of RV owners as seasonal workers to help fill holiday orders.

They're dubbed the "CamperForce" by the world's largest online retailer. Hundreds of campers are assigned packing, sorting and collection duties at Amazon warehouses in Kentucky, Kansas and Nevada — roles meant to keep orders flowing during the yuletide rush.

Swarms of workers take up temporary residence in campgrounds. For many, it's another short-term stint on a nonstop journey. It's a lifestyle and mindset for retirees, empty nesters and younger parents who shuck traditions of home and work to roam from campsite to campsite, job to job.

"It's a job, it's not a career, so you don't have to take it so seriously," said Ron Dale, a college graduate with a business degree. "Go and have a good time. ... You don't have the stress of thinking, 'I've got to perform at an unbelievable level. I've got to work extra hours so the boss knows I'm dedicated.'"

It gives him more time to spend with his wife, 7-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter, he said.

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Jameis even more famous: Florida State QB Winston wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK (AP) — Jameis Winston left voters no choice but to give him the Heisman Trophy. And like every other Florida State victory this season, it was a blowout.

The quarterback they call Famous Jameis became the youngest Heisman winner and the second straight freshman to win the trophy Saturday night, earning college football's most prestigious individual trophy award with a performance so dominant even a criminal investigation couldn't derail his candidacy.

"I cannot explain the feeling that I have inside right now," Winston said. "I'm so overwhelmed. It's awesome."

When his name was announced, he popped from his seat and quickly made his way to his mom and dad for hugs and kisses. He smiled and laughed through most of his acceptance speech.

He talked about trusting in the "process" on the field and in life and "after all the things I've been through this past month." He got choked up a bit when talking about his parents.

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