National briefs: 349 suicides in military

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WASHINGTON -- Suicides in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year, far exceeding American combat deaths in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has struggled to deal with the suicides, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others have called an epidemic. The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, complicated by anxiety over the prospect of being forced out of a shrinking force.

Pentagon figures obtained Monday by The Associated Press show that the 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year were up from 301 the year before and exceeded the Pentagon's own internal projection of 325. Statistics alone do not explain why troops take their own lives, and the Pentagon's military and civilian leaders have acknowledged that more needs to be done to understand the causes.

Boy's murder conviction

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A boy who was only 10 when he fatally shot his white supremacist father was convicted Monday of second-degree murder by a judge who said the child knew what he did was wrong.

Riverside Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard weighed the severity of the crime versus whether the amount of abuse and neglect suffered by the boy, now 12, played a significant role in the slaying of Jeff Hall, 32, a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement.

Bush out of hospital

HOUSTON -- Former President George H.W. Bush was released from a Houston hospital and went home Monday after spending nearly two months being treated for a bronchitis-related cough and other health issues, a family spokesman said.

Mr. Bush, 88, the nation's oldest living former president, was admitted to Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23. His stay included a week in intensive care last month.

He had been in the hospital for about a month before his office disclosed in late December that he was in intensive care because physicians were having difficulty controlling a fever that developed after the cough improved.

Thomas speaks -- sort of

WASHINGTON -- Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at a U.S. Supreme Court argument for the first time in almost seven years, evoking laughter as he made a wisecrack during a discussion about Ivy League law schools.

Neither the court's official transcript nor the audio recording is clear as to exactly what Justice Thomas said. He jumped into the conversation while Justice Antonin Scalia was asking a Louisiana prosecutor about the adequacy of a criminal defendant's lawyers.

nation


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