National briefs: ds learning computer code

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WASHINGTON -- Millions of students from kindergarten through 12th grade are learning computer code this week as part of "Hour of Code," a nationwide campaign embraced by President Barack Obama and featuring free tutorials by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft titan Bill Gates that are designed to get U.S. students interested in computer science.

Through its website, "Hour of Code" offers lessons in computer coding that are aimed at every age group and accessible on a range of devices from tablets to desktops. Entire schools have been holding "Hour of Code" sessions for their students; in other cases, students also have been logging on at home.

Both Apple and Microsoft are hosting "Hour of Code" sessions at each of their retail stores around the country.

Widening income gap

WASHINGTON -- The widening gap between rich and poor is eroding faith in the American dream.

By almost 2 to 1 -- 64 percent to 33 percent -- Americans say the U.S. no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. And some say the government isn't doing much to help.

The Dec. 6-9 poll follows public statements by leaders, from President Barack Obama to Pope Francis, expressing alarm about growing income inequality.

Airliner crash inquiry

WASHINGTON -- An Asiana Airlines pilot who was nervous about making a manual landing in San Francisco inadvertently disabled a speed-control system before the plane crashed into a seawall on July 6, documents show.

Captain Lee Kang Kuk, a veteran pilot with Seoul-based Asiana who was being trained on the Boeing 777-200ER wide-body jet, had momentarily adjusted the power without realizing that the plane's computers then assumed he wanted the engines to remain at idle, according to information released Wednesday at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing.

The documents, while showing the pilots made errors, raise questions about how auto throttles on Boeing planes are designed and whether there's enough training on using them. The safety board hasn't concluded what caused the crash, which killed three teenage girls from China in the first U.S. airline accident with deaths since 2009.

Zimmerman case closed

MIAMI -- George Zimmerman, who was acquitted last summer of murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, will not face domestic violence charges because his girlfriend did not wish to pursue the case and there was scant evidence of a crime, a state prosecutor said Wednesday.

Samantha Scheibe's decision not to cooperate over the Nov. 18 confrontation at the central Florida house they shared and the lack of other corroborating evidence would have made the case difficult to prove, State Attorney Phil Archer in Seminole County said in a statement.

Senator's aide arrested

WASHINGTON -- Federal law enforcement officers on Wednesday searched the Washington home of a chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for child pornography.

In a written statement, Mr. Alexander said that Ryan Loskarn, 35, the chief of staff for his Washington office, had been placed on administrative leave without pay. The Justice Department said Mr. Loskarn had been arrested on charges stemming from the possession and distribution of child pornography.

Also in the nation ...

An upcoming study by California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don't wear seat belts. ... New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that he and his family would be leaving their longtime home in Brooklyn and moving into Gracie Mansion in Manhattan.



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