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Lawyers for two friends of accused Boston bombers due in court

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BOSTON - Lawyers for two friends of the accused Boston Marathon bombers are due in court on Friday for separate hearings as the city braces for the January start of a trial focused on the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Five dead, dozens ill from bacteria linked to caramel apples

- Five people have died and 21 others have been hospitalized in recent weeks in a listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples, federal health officials said on Friday.

12:58pm EST

Boy found dead in New York after false kidnap report, police say

NEW YORK - The body of a 5-year-old boy was found near his home in upstate New York on Thursday night hours after a relative told police two men in ski masks had kidnapped him, a report the local sheriff said on Friday appeared to have been a lie.

11:50am EST

Washington state middle school closed for third day over threats

SEATTLE - A Washington state middle school remained closed for a third day on Friday due to threats contained in an anonymous letter targeting four staff members and referencing violence during lunch and at an assembly, officials said.

12:52pm EST

White House releases snapshot of plan to rate U.S. colleges

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday released a draft of its plan to rate U.S. colleges and tie federal aid to performance as a way to coax institutions to pull up their socks.

Politics, 12:06am EST

Consumers can sue Target Corp over data breach: judge

- A U.S. judge has cleared the way for consumers to sue Target Corp over the retailer's late 2013 data breach that they say compromised their personal financial information.

10:14am EST

Convicted leader of New Jersey's Conrail Boyz faces new rail theft charges

NEW YORK - The man convicted of leading a gang of modern-day train robbers that preyed on New Jersey rail lines for more than 10 years was arrested again this week on charges that mirror those that landed him in prison a decade ago, prosecutors said on Friday.

12:51pm EST

In North Dakota, countdown looms for $5.3 billion oil tax break

BISMARCK, N.D. - Tumbling U.S. oil markets hit an important if obscure milestone on Thursday, closing for the first time at a price that could trigger a $5.3 billion, two-year tax break for North Dakota oil drillers as soon as next summer.

U.S. green groups sue EPA over stormwater regulations

WASHINGTON - Two environmental groups have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for what the groups said was failing to comply with a court order requiring the agency to strengthen regulations preventing pollution from stormwater runoff.

Politics, Environment 10:01am EST

Families of victims of fatal Texas festival crash sue organizers

- Families of the victims and survivors of a fatal March crash outside the popular South by Southwest festival in Austin sued the organizers on Thursday, according to court documents and local media.

8:44am EST

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