CDC: Flu outbreak starting to subside

ATLANTA - This season's outbreak of flu continues to be high - especially among the elderly and the young - but appears to be waning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Flulike illnesses appeared to be falling in the East but rising in the Western states. Forty-five children have died, the CDC reported.

This year's flu season began earlier and appeared harsher than in past years. For the week ending Jan. 26, the CDC said, 42 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity while seven reported regional activity. During that period, 24 states and New York City reported high levels of flu activity. Arizona was among those states.


4 arrested for defying city's ban on nudity

SAN FRANCISCO - Four protesters were arrested entirely in the buff as they took to the steps of San Francisco City Hall in a brazen challenge of the city's ban on public nudity on Friday, the first day it went into effect.

One woman and three men - one wearing just a mesh thong - were taken into custody as about a dozen other protesters in various states of undress paraded around with painted slogans on their bodies, holding up signs with messages such as "The Human Body is Beautiful."

Police gave them a 15-minute warning to disperse or put pants on before officers arrested those who failed to cover themselves. The protesters said their arrest would advance the cause of "body freedom."

In December, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance, which prohibits exposed genitals in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transit.


Would-be robber makes up sob story

HELENA - A Montana man whose tearful reluctance to rob a pizza restaurant earned him free food apparently made up the sob story that gained him the clerk's sympathy.

David Randall Lacey, 35, entered a Papa John's pizza restaurant on Jan. 22 with a bandanna over his face and gave the clerk a note demanding money, Helena police said. He broke down crying and told the clerk he needed the money to support his wife and children, who were hungry. The clerk made him a large pepperoni pizza and some chicken wings as he waited, and the man left.

The Independent Record reported an investigation found Lacey has no children in Helena and changed his story when he saw how little money was in the cash register - just $24.56, according to a police report.


Former first dog Barney dies at 12

DALLAS - Former first dog Barney Bush - a black Scottish terrier known for chasing golf balls and taking America on video tours of the White House - has passed away after suffering from lymphoma. He was 12.

Former President George W. Bush announced on Friday the passing of the "little fellow," saying in a news release that "after 12 1/2 years of life, his body could not fight off the illness."

Barney had his own section on the Bush administration's official White House website, along with a fairly substantial Wikipedia page. And he became a fixture of presidential proceedings at the White House, Camp David and the Bushes' Texas ranch.

Wire reports