LONDON - Eight major U.S. web companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, made a joint call on Monday for tighter controls on how governments collect personal data, intensifying the furor over online surveillance. In an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress, the companies said recent revelations showed the balance had tipped too far in favor of the state in many countries and away from the individual. In June, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden exposed top secret government surveillance programs that tap into communications on cables linking technology companies' various data centers overseas.
LOS ANGELES - Thousands of fans, some driving souped-up cars, converged in Southern California on Sunday at the site of actor Paul Walker's death, paying tribute to the "Fast and Furious" star and a friend who were killed in a fiery crash two weeks ago. The unusual public memorial took the form of a car rally, with drivers filing slowly past the spot in Santa Clarita, where Walker, 40, and Roger Rodas, 38, died on November 30. Rodas, the owner of a local auto dealership and racing services company, was behind the wheel of a Porsche Carrera GT with Walker in the passenger seat when it crashed into a utility pole and burst into flames.
WASHINGTON - In the year since the massacre of 26 schoolchildren and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, efforts to pass gun legislation have stalled in the U.S. Congress but shifted to the states, helped by the deep pockets of outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In scores of statehouse battles, both gun-control and gun-rights advocates have notched wins since a mentally unstable gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- On a night that was all about defense, the Minnesota Wild had just enough offense to hold off the San Jose Sharks. Left winger Zach Parise had a pair of goals and center Mikko Koivu had another to supply the necessary offense, and goaltender Josh Harding had 37 saves as the Wild beat the Sharks 3-1 on Sunday. San Jose (19-6-5), which has now lost three in a row, outshot Minnesota by a wide margin throughout, but could not find the back of the net until less than two minutes remained. Harding improved to 13-1-0 at home this season for the Wild (18-9-5).
BALTIMORE -- Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco may now consider the "Mile High Miracle" tame compared to the Ravens' furious finish Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings in snowy, slippery conditions. In one of the most frantic, final two minutes in franchise history, Flacco found rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown on a 9-yard pass with four seconds left to give Baltimore a 29-26 victory. Minnesota had taken the lead 19-15 on a 41-yard run by Toby Gerhart with 1:27 left in the game. However, the Ravens' Jacoby Jones ran back the ensuing kickoff for 77 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
MINNEAPOLIS -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't need to shoot 3-pointers against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Wade threw an alley-oop pass off the backboard to James as part of a 17-6 run to close the third quarter as the Miami Heat pulled away for a 103-82 win at Target Center on Saturday. Miami snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Wolves a second straight loss.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Goaltender Curtis McElhinney won't make Blue Jackets' fans forget about starter Sergei Bobrovsky. But, for one night anyway, he calmed a lot of nerves in Columbus. McElhinney made 20 saves for his first shutout in nearly three years, leading the Jackets to a 4-0 rout of the Minnesota Wild before 11,319 at Nationwide Arena. Right winger Cam Atkinson, left winger Nick Foligno, center Boone Jenner and left winger R.J. Umberger each scored goals, while center Ryan Johansen had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have won back-to-back games -- by shutouts, no less -- for the first time since Oct. 25.
Holiday cheer in Texas has become even sweeter thanks to a giant gingerbread house that has broken a world record for confectionary construction. Coming in at 35.8 million calories and covering an area of 2520 square feet, or nearly the size of a tennis court, the 21-foot high gingerbread house in Bryan, Texas, 90 miles northwest of Houston, has been declared the biggest ever by Guinness World Records. The house, with an edible exterior mounted over a wooden frame, was built by the Traditions Club near Texas A&M University to help raise money for a trauma center at the regional St. Joseph's Hospital.
U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in November and the jobless rate hit a five-year low of 7.0 percent, raising chances the Federal Reserve could start ratcheting back its bond-buying stimulus as soon as this month. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 203,000 new jobs last month, following a similarly robust rise in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. The report, which showed broad gains in employment and a rise in hourly earnings, suggested strength in the economy heading into year-end.
By Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) - Minnesota businessman Thomas Petters has failed to persuade a federal judge to reduce his 50-year prison term for running a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. Petters,...