National briefs: Trial ordered in massacre

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DENVER -- A judge ruled late Thursday that enough evidence exists for James Holmes to face trial on charges that he killed 12 people and injured 70 others in a Colorado movie theater last summer.

Judge William Sylvester said prosecutors have established probable cause to proceed with all 166 felony counts they filed against him, including first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree murder with extreme indifference and attempted murder. He ordered that Mr. Holmes continue to be held without bail.

Mr. Holmes is due to be arraigned today, but his defense attorneys filed papers Thursday afternoon saying he is not ready to enter a plea.

High school shooting

TAFT, Calif. -- A 16-year-old male student armed with a shotgun walked into a science class in a rural California high school Thursday and shot one student, fired at another and missed, and then was talked into surrendering by a teacher and another staff member, officials said.

The teen victim, also 16, was in critical but stable condition, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told a news conference. The sheriff said the teacher at Taft Union High School, 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, suffered a minor pellet wound to the head and declined treatment.

American Express job cuts

NEW YORK -- American Express Co. said Thursday that it will slash about 5,400 jobs, mainly in its travel business, as it seeks to cut costs and transform its operations as more of its customers shift to online portals for booking travel plans and other needs.

The job cuts will be partly offset by jobs that the company expects to add this year. All told, the company anticipates that staffing levels will end up between 4 and 6 percent lower this year than in 2012. The company currently has 63,500 employees.

Lower pump costs seen

WASHINGTON -- Drivers' annual gasoline bills are expected to drop for the first time in four years.

Forecasters say ample oil supplies and weak U.S. demand will keep a lid on prices. The average price of a gallon of gasoline will fall 5 percent to $3.44 from last year's record average of $3.63 a gallon, according to the Energy Department.

Ferry crash inquiry

NEW YORK -- The captain of a commuter ferry that crashed into a New York City dock Wednesday, injuring more than 70 people, said the vessel suffered a mechanical failure, federal investigators said Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the 36-year-old captain of the Seastreak Wall Street told investigators that the ferry wouldn't go into reverse when he tried to dock it. He also told them the engines seemed to have failed.

Also in the nation ...

A military judge has postponed the court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been charged with aiding terrorists by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government cables and reports to WikiLeaks, from March until June so the judge can determine how classified information may be used during the proceedings, Army officials said. ... The Rev. Louie Giglio, head pastor of the Passion City Church in Atlanta who was asked to give the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony, pulled out of the event Thursday after a controversy about comments he made against homosexuality in the 1990s.



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