National briefs: Great Lakes may break ice record

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DETROIT -- This memorable winter is about to set another record.

The Great Lakes are now more than 90.5 percent ice-covered -- not just a Great Lake; all of them. That's the most ice cover in 34 years. In 1979, there was 94.7 percent ice cover, the largest ever recorded by scientists.

"This year we will pass that, because in the next few days it will be another 5 percent, easy," said Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

A key reason is Lake Ontario, at the far east end of the Great Lakes chain.

With its warmer water temperatures from a slightly more temperate climate, the lake generally doesn't freeze. But this brutal winter has it nearing 50 percent ice cover, which also is extremely unusual, according to Ms. Wang.

Drug abusers use doctors

CHICAGO -- Abusers of prescription painkillers increasingly turn to multiple doctors to gain their pills, according to research that indicates physicians need to be more vigilant when recommending the medications.

Of the 12 million people who abuse the medicines each year, two-thirds obtained the pills after about six months of use through prescriptions from one or more physicians or by buying them from friends, family or drug dealers, according to a study Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

A second report in the journal showed a number of Tennessee users of painkillers got their drugs from at least four doctors and pharmacies each year.

Monday's findings show that doctors need to be more active in watching for abuses, said Christopher Jones of the FDA.

Cities bid for GOP convention

WASHINGTON -- Hotels, transportation and finances -- not political considerations -- will matter most to Republican officials choosing a 2016 national convention site, party leaders said Monday after hearing bids from cities across the country.

Eight cities are vying to host the convention, which likely will be held between late June and mid-July. Kansas City, Mo., Phoenix, Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland and Denver were on the agenda of a special party committee Monday.

Las Vegas, Dallas and Cincinnati are expected to make their case later this month. A final decision is expected in late summer.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said after the city made its presentation that officials were focused on the nuts and bolts of fundraising, hotels, transportation and security -- not the political leanings of a host city or whether it was located in a swing state.

Bin Laden confidant on trial

NEW YORK -- Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who married Osama bin Laden's daughter Fatima, was captured last year and brought to the U.S. on terrorism charges.

When his trial started Monday, he was the most senior bin Laden adviser to be tried in a civilian court since 9/11, experts say.

Unlike Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Abu Ghaith has not been accused of having advance knowledge of the attacks or being involved in terrorist operations. But prosecutors portray him as a trusted adviser and confidant of bin Laden's.

The trial, coming more than four years after the disputed and since abandoned plan to try Mohammed in Manhattan, may further the debate over whether international terrorism cases should be tried in civilian court.

-- Compiled from news services

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