National Briefs: U.S. population inching upward

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CASSELTON, N.D. -- Authorities urged residents to evacuate a small North Dakota town Monday night after a mile-long train carrying crude oil derailed outside of town, shaking residents with a series of explosions that sent flame and black smoke skyward.

The Cass County sheriff's office said it was "strongly recommending" that people in the town of Casselton and anyone living 5 miles to the south and east evacuate. A shelter has been set up in Fargo, which is about 25 miles away. Casselton has about 2,400 residents.

The sheriff's office said the National Weather Service was forecasting a shift in the weather that would push the plume of smoke down, which could increase the risk of potential health hazards.

The BNSF Railway Co. train left the tracks about 2:30 p.m. Monday, and as many as 10 cars caught fire. No one was hurt.

The cars were still burning as darkness fell, and authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.

Church official's bail set

PHILADELPHIA -- A Roman Catholic official whose novel conviction in the clergy sex abuse scandal was overturned by a Pennsylvania appeals court could be freed this week after a judge set his bail Monday at $250,000.

Monsignor William Lynn, who's spent about 18 months in prison, would have to submit to electronic monitoring and surrender his passport.

Monsignor Lynn, 62, has been serving a three- to six-year sentence after being the first U.S. church official ever convicted over his handling of abuse claims against other priests.

Evolution politicized

WASHINGTON -- By about 2 to 1, Americans accept the idea that "humans and other living things have evolved over time," but as with so many issues these days, answers to that question have taken on a growing partisan cast.

According to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center, 6 in 10 Americans say they accept the principle that species have evolved, while about one-third say that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

Rose Parade wedding

LOS ANGELES -- Danny Leclair snapped a photo of two toy grooms holding hands. He sent the photo via email to his longtime partner, Aubrey Loots, with a question:

"Do you want to get married on a Rose Parade float?"

Mr. Loots agreed, and on New Year's Day the Los Angeles couple will become real-life wedding-cake toppers when they say "I do" on a cake-shaped float in the 125th Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation's float, "Living the Dream: Love Is the Best Protection," was created to celebrate 2013 victories for gay marriage advocates.

Bank-heist shooting

PHOENIX -- A 911 caller told a dispatcher that a masked man had run into a Phoenix bank and then calmly described how police fatally shot the suspect as he exited the building minutes later with a bag of cash, emergency recordings released Monday showed.

The 911 call and surveillance footage taken during the weekend robbery were released as investigators tried to piece together how the man connected to two bank robberies in the Southeast last week ended up 1,500 miles away in Phoenix.

Mario Edward Garnett, 40, died in a police shootout Saturday morning while trying to flee the Compass Bank branch in west Phoenix.

-- Compiled from news services


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