LOS ANGELES -- Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the Andrews Sisters trio, who lifted American spirits in World War II with songs such as "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," died Wednesday of natural causes at her home in suburban Northridge, Calif. She was 94.
The Andrews Sisters were the most popular female vocal group of the first half of the 20th century, selling more than 90 million records, recording 700 songs and placing 46 hits in the top 10 on the Billboard pop charts. Their version of the calypso song "Rum and Coca-Cola" was the best-selling record of 1945.
The Andrews Sisters -- Patty, Maxene and LaVerne -- developed intricate and rhythmic three-part harmonies that were the vocal counterpart of the era's instrumental swing bands. The only blonde in the group, Patty stood in the middle of the trio and took the solos.
With their unbridled patriotism and Midwestern good-girl image, the Andrews Sisters helped define wartime America. They performed in uniform at military bases and hospitals, appeared regularly on Armed Forces Radio and toured Italy with the USO. They also sold war bonds and sang in flag-waving films such as "Buck Privates" and "Stage Door Canteen."
2 guilty in Phila. child abuse
PHILADELPHIA -- A jury on Wednesday convicted a priest and teacher in a pivotal child-abuse case that rocked the Philadelphia archdiocese and sent a church official to prison for child endangerment.
The verdict upholds the stunning account by a 24-year-old policeman's son that he was sexually abused as a boy by two priests and his sixth-grade teacher. One priest, Monsignor William Lynn, pleaded guilty before trial while the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former teacher Bernard Shero were convicted at trial.
Homicide rate soaring
CHICAGO -- One of the latest victims in Chicago's soaring homicide rate (42 this month) is a 15-year-old girl who attended President Barack Obama's inauguration last week and lived less than a mile from his South Side home.
Tuesday's slaying of Hadiya Pendleton occurred as she had taken shelter in the rain with other students near King College Prep High School, where she was on the volleyball team and was a band majorette. She was shot in the back and a 16-year-old boy was wounded in the attack by a gunman who sped away in a car, police said.
1 dead in office shooting
PHOENIX -- A gunman opened fire at a Phoenix office complex Wednesday, killing one person, wounding two others and setting off a manhunt.
Authorities identified the suspect as Arthur D. Harmon, who they said opened fire at the end of a mediation session. They identified a man who died hours after the Wednesday morning shooting as Steve Singer, 48.
House immigration work
WASHINGTON -- A group of a half-dozen House members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, is nearing completion of wide-ranging immigration legislation similar to proposals by Senate negotiators and President Barack Obama, including a pathway to legal immigration status for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
The group intends to unveil the legislation soon, perhaps around the time of Mr. Obama's State of the Union address Feb. 12, according to lawmakers and aides involved. It is likely to face strong resistance from many of the conservative Republicans who dominate the House.
Also in the nation ...
Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday appointed William Cowan, a Boston lawyer who is a longtime friend and former aide, to serve as the interim U.S. senator for Massachusetts until a special election is held June 25 to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry's confirmation as the nation's next secretary of state. ... George Ryan, 78, a corruption convict, was released from a federal prison Wednesday, and Illinois became a state with only one former governor, his successor, Rod Blagojevich, behind bars. ... A massive storm system raked the Southeast on Wednesday, spawning tornadoes and dangerous winds that overturned cars on a major Georgia interstate and demolished homes and businesses, killing at least two people. ...New England's fishing regulators on Wednesday approved steep cuts in cod catch limits that fishermen say will trigger the collapse of the industry.