National briefs (1/20/13)

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Rallies back gun rights

AUSTIN, Texas -- Thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully Saturday at state capitals around the U.S. to rally against stricter limits on firearms, with demonstrators carrying rifles and pistols in some places while those elsewhere settled for waving hand-scrawled signs or screaming themselves hoarse.

The size of crowds at each location varied -- from dozens of people in South Dakota to 2,000 in New York. Large crowds also turned out in Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas. Some demonstrators in Phoenix and Salem, Ore., came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs. At the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, attendees gave a special round of applause for "the ladies that are packin'."

Activists promoted the "Guns Across America" rallies primarily through social media. They were being held just after President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals.

Armstrong finally cracks

CHICAGO -- Disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong became emotional in Friday night's second installment of his interview with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN cable-TV network.

Mr. Armstrong was near tears, referring to the oldest of his five children, when he recalled confessing to 13-year-old Luke that he used performance-enhancing drugs when he won seven straight Tour de France titles. He blinked, looked away from Ms. Winfrey and, with his lip trembling, struggled to compose himself.

"I saw my son defending me and saying, 'That's not true. What you're saying about my dad is not true,' " Mr. Armstrong recalled.

"That's when I knew I had to tell him."

No snow? Mixed blessing

CHICAGO -- A record 329 days without an inch of snow has Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, counting mixed blessings -- savings from idled salt trucks and a higher murder rate from warmer weather.

The last time the third-largest U.S. city had an inch of snow on the ground for 24 hours straight was Feb. 24, "making this the longest stretch of its kind on record in Chicago," according to the National Weather Service.

The city doesn't yet know just how much it will save in its $20.3 million snow budget from last year.

The city's murder rate spiked 66 percent in the first quarter of 2012, when temperatures were 30 percent above normal and snowfall was 30 percent below average.

Marijuana-legality huddle

SEATTLE -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss marijuana enforcement and implementation of Initiative 502, the state's voter-approved legal-pot law.

The state law conflicts with federal law, which maintains that all forms of marijuana are illegal.

Obama's new license plate

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's ride has a new license plate.

The White House said last week that the president had agreed to replace the plates on his limousine so that they display the "Taxation Without Representation" design the District of Columbia uses. The new plate on the lead vehicle of the president's motorcade sports the number "800 002."

The district plate design, created in 2000, calls attention to the fact the city has no voting member in Congress.

-- Compiled from news services



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