Dorothy Abernathy, The Associated Press bureau chief for West Virginia and Virginia, shares 10 things to take away from the past week. Look for in-depth stories in West Virginia newspapers:
1. DEADLINE FOR SIGNING UP FOR HEALTH INSURANCE PASSES
Many Americans who wanted to be insured at the start of the new year had until midnight Tuesday to enroll. While no major glitches with the government’s troubled website were reported, the Obama administration said it will give more time to people who can show they missed the deadline because of problems with the online system.
2. ‘TWAS A COLD AND DARK CHRISTMAS FOR MANY IN NORTH AMERICA
An ice storm that brought down power lines last weekend left hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity from Michigan to Maine and into Canada. The storm was blamed for more than two dozen deaths, some of them from carbon monoxide poisoning from emergency generators.
3. GAY MARRIAGE MOVEMENT SCORES MORE VICTORIES
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that gay weddings can continue in conservative, Mormon-dominated Utah while the state fights a judge’s ruling that struck down a ban on sex-same marriage. Utah is the 18th state to allow gay marriage. The case may well be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. In Ohio, a federal judge ordered that gay marriages be recognized on death certificates.
4. INVENTOR OF THE AK-47 DIES AT 94
Soviet arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov developed the light and rugged assault rifle wielded by revolutionaries, terrorists and soldiers the world over. He died Monday. As for his contribution to bloodshed around the globe, he once said: “I sleep well. It’s the politicians who are to blame.”
5. TURKEY’S PRIME MINISTER STRUGGLES TO CONTAIN WIDENING CORRUPTION PROBE
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted Thursday as saying those trying to ensnare him will be left “empty-handed.” The scandal, involving allegations of bribery and illicit money transfers, has brought down three government ministers — one of whom has implicated Erdogan — and strained relations with the U.S.
6. SANTA’S SLEIGH WAS LATE
UPS and FedEx failed to deliver some packages by Christmas because of bad weather and an unexpectedly large surge of online shopping.
7. MEMBERS OF THE RUSSIAN PUNK BAND PUSSY RIOT ARE RELEASED FROM PRISON
The two women walked free on Monday in what was widely seen as an attempt by the Kremlin to ease criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They spent nearly two years behind bars for their irreverent protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.
8. THE COST OF MAILING A LETTER IN THE U.S. IS ABOUT TO GO UP TO 49 CENTS
The 3-cent increase approved Tuesday in the price of a first-class stamp is aimed at helping the Postal Service recover from the effects of the 2008 economic downturn. It will take effect Jan. 26 and will last no more than two years.
9. ASTRONAUTS REPAIR SPACE STATION’S COOLING SYSTEM
Two Americans finished the job in a rare Christmas Eve spacewalk — their second outing in four days. All nonessential equipment had to be turned off because of the malfunction.
10. ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HEART ATTACKS
Studies show heart troubles spike this time of year, and the possible reasons include cold weather (and the shoveling of snow that often accompanies it), stress and too much holiday imbibing.