Cold trail in California manhunt — The search for the former Los Angeles police officer wanted in three killings continued throughout the day Friday, even as a blizzard covered the California mountains with a foot of snow. But as no new traces of the suspect were found, the authorities wondered if he had somehow slipped through their fingers. Law enforcement agencies from across Southern California had been on a regionwide manhunt since early Thursday for 33-year-old Christopher Dorner. But they have been unable to turn up any new clues.
Super Bowl blackout — Entergy New Orleans, the company that supplied electricity to the Super Bowl, took the blame Friday for the power outage that brought the big game to a halt at the Superdome, explaining that a device designed specifically to prevent a blackout failed and plunged the game into darkness for more than half an hour.
Bushes hacked — The Secret Service said Friday it is investigating the theft of numerous personal emails from members of the Bush family, after an apparent hacker leaked the emails and Bush family photos to the Smoking Gun news website. The report, posted late Thursday, included excerpts from emails in which the children of former president George H.W. Bush discussed his severe illness in December and made plans for a possible funeral. (He has since recovered.) The site also posted paintings made by George W. Bush. The family confirmed the hacks but made no other statement.
Amish verdict — The leader of a dissident Amish sect was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison for a series of bizarre beard- and hair-cutting attacks on other Ohio Amish that drew national attention. Samuel Mullet Sr., 67, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cleveland for coordinating assaults that prosecutors argued were motivated by religious intolerance. Fifteen followers were given lesser sentences, from one year and one day to seven years. The breakaway Amish were convicted last year of multiple counts of conspiracy and hate crimes.
Flu season fizzles — The worst appears to be over. The number of states reporting intense or widespread flu dropped again last week, U.S. health officials said Friday. The season started earlier than normal, spiking first in the Southeast and then spreading. But now, by some measures, flu activity has been ebbing for at least four weeks in much of the country, and flu and pneumonia deaths have been dropping for two weeks. Still, it’s been nine years since a conventional flu season started fast like this one.
Boy Scouts and gays — A leak from inside the Boy Scouts of America last month about discussions on possibly ending its national ban on gay members changed the debate itself by creating an impression that change was imminent, according to Scouting officials and taped comments from a meeting of Scouting’s executive board obtained by The New York Times. Those apparently false expectations were dashed days later when the board, under intense scrutiny it had never intended, deferred action until the annual meeting in May.
Tunisia turmoil — In a show of anger at Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, tens of thousands of people filled a cemetery in the capital Friday to bury Chokri Belaid, an opposition politician whose assassination this week stirred fears throughout the Arab world that political violence could subvert the uprisings born in Tunisia two years ago. Mourners marched for miles through a city quieted by the largest labor strike in decades, which was called in Belaid’s honor. Clashes outside the cemetery interrupted the proceedings for a time, sending tear gas and smoke from a torched car wafting among the mourners, but the funeral remained overwhelmingly peaceful.
EU budget accord — European Union leaders Friday agreed to a budget worth nearly 1 trillion euros to support farming, transportation and other infrastructure, as well as big research projects for the 27-nation bloc. After two days of marathon negotiations, the Union’s 27 leaders agreed to a slightly smaller communal budget for the next seven years — the first decrease in its history.
Iraq bombings — A series of explosions across Iraq killed at least 26 people Friday, continuing a spate of violence that has marked recent political turmoil and witnessed bombings on seven consecutive Fridays. The bombings come amid worsening sectarian tensions, with Sunnis and others saying that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his political bloc are seeking to monopolize power before provincial elections in April. The blasts fit the pattern of deadly attacks on markets on Fridays, when they are typically crowded with people.
Witchcraft response — Spurred by the killing this week of a young woman accused of witchcraft in Papua New Guinea, the United Nations on Friday called on the country to address increasing vigilante violence against people accused of sorcery and to revoke a controversial sorcery law. The U.N. human rights office in Geneva said it was disturbed by the killing of the woman, Kepari Leniata, 20, who was stripped, tortured, doused in gasoline and set on fire Wednesday as hundreds of spectators watched.
Horse meat stirs furor — Discoveries of horse meat in hamburgers, starting in Ireland last month, has now touched producers and potentially millions of consumers in at least five countries — Ireland, Britain, Poland, France and Sweden. It has raised questions of food safety and oversight, as well as the possibility of outright fraud in an industry with a history of grave, if episodic, lapses despite similarly episodic efforts at stricter regulation and reform. Already, tens of millions of hamburgers from several suppliers have been recalled. The growing scale of the problem became clear this week. Meat from horses is no more harmful than that from cattle, though there were fears that phenylbutazone, a veterinary drug, could find its way into the food chain.
— From wire reports