Blog Posts by Associated Press

  • Berenstain Bears Co-creator Jan Berenstain Dies

    FILE - Jan. 25, 2011 file photo, Janice Berenstain displays a copy of the first book.PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.

    Berenstain suffered a severe stroke on Thursday and died Friday without regaining consciousness, her son Mike Berenstain said.

    The gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain children, and later their grandchildren. The stories address children's common concerns and aim to offer guidance on subjects like dentist visits, peer pressure, a new sibling or summer camp.

    The first Berenstain Bears book, "The Big Honey Hunt," was published in 1962. Over the years, more than 300 titles have been released in 23 languages - most recently in Arabic and Icelandic - and have become a rite of passage for generations of young readers.

    "They say jokes don't travel well, but family humor does," said Jan Berenstain told The Associated Press

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  • Tiny Baby Set to Head Home

    Haydee Ibarra looks at her 14-week-old daughter, Melinda Star Guido, at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. At birth, Melinda Star Guido tipped the scales at only 9 1/2 ounces, a tad less than the weight of two iPhone 4S. Most babies her size don’t survive, but doctors are preparing to send her home as soon as the end of the month. Melinda is believed to be the second smallest baby to survive in the United States and the third smallest in the world. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) LOS ANGELES (AP) - One of the world's smallest surviving babies is headed home.

    Melinda Star Guido weighed only 9 ½ ounces at birth- less than a can of soda. After spending her early months in the neonatal intensive care unit, a team of doctors and nurses will gather Friday to see her off.

    Melinda has been growing steadily and gaining weight since she was born premature at 24 weeks in August at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She is the world's third smallest baby and the second smallest in the U.S.

    Now weighing 4½ pounds, doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to be discharged. It's too early to know how she will fare developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.

    Most babies this small don't survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the United States weighing less than 1 pound, and about 10 percent

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  • Divorced NYC Man Suing Over Wedding Pics Speaks

    It may come across as an extreme case of nuptial nostalgia: A now-divorced man saying a photography studio should pay to recreate his wedding to make up for what he considers flawed pictures and video.

    But after being branded a "groomzilla," Todd Remis said Tuesday his now-notorious lawsuit is about holding a business to a pledge, not holding onto a broken marriage.

    "It was their failure to deliver after a promise and a handshake" agreement to retouch the photos, Remis said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. "How could a business treat a customer this way?"

    It was his first public response to a flurry of acidic commentary on the case in recent months.

    While suits over wedding photographs aren't unusual, what set Remis' case apart is his mention of wanting to reconstitute the ceremony and celebration of a bygone union. He said during sworn questioning this summer that the two began divorce proceedings in 2008. The split was final in 2010, and he said he

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  • Why Are Toys Selling Out? Might Be Mommy Blog Buzz

    By Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer
    LeapFrog's LeapPad Explorer (AP Photo/LeapFrog Enterprises Inc.)Emily Vanek is not buying up a bunch of LeapPad Explorers herself, but she may be at least partly to blame for some stores selling out of the $99 children's tablet this holiday season. "The LeapPad is incredible," the Denver mother of three boys wrote to the 6,000 readers of her ColoradoMoms.com blog. "Not only do kids get to have a toy resembling their parents' tablet, it's durable and my favorite part?! It's not just mindless games they are playing."

    These days, mommy bloggers don't just gab about spilled milk and poopy diapers. In fact, they've become so influential in the $22 billion toy market that toy makers go to great lengths to get their seal of approval. Their thumbs-up is particularly important during the holiday shopping season when toy makers hope to create the next hit toy.

    It's a major shift for toy companies, which have always given out samples of new dolls, games and other playthings to drive sales. Five years ago, they handed

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  • Conn. Money Managers Claim $254M Powerball Jackpot

                                           From left, Tim Davidson, Brandon Lacoff and Greg Skidmore, three asset managers from Greenwich, Conn., claim a $254 million Powerball prize on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, at Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill, Conn.From left, Tim Davidson, Brandon Lacoff and Greg Skidmore, three asset managers from Greenwich, Conn., claim a $254 million Powerball prize on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, at Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill, Conn.                                                                                

    A trio of wealth managers from Greenwich, one of the most affluent towns in America, claimed a Powerball jackpot worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars Monday off a $1 ticket.

    Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson came forward as the winners of the $254.2 million jackpot and the trustees of The Putnam Avenue Family Trust, which they formed to help manage the money after Davidson bought the winning ticket at a Stamford gas station.

    A lawyer who spoke for the group at a news conference said they contacted him immediately after the Nov. 2 drawing and came forward after making plans for the money. He said the trust will take the after-tax lump sum of $103,586,824.51 cash and a significant amount will go to charity.

    "Obviously, everybody is extremely excited," said Jason Kurland, the group's attorney. "These numbers are huge. This is going to

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  • White House staff lose weight, credit first lady

    In this May 20, 2011 file photo, White House chefs, from left, Susie Morrison, executive chef Chriseta Comerford and Adam Collick, taste the salads they prepared in the kitchen of the White House in Washington. While the first lady's campaign to lower childhood obesity rates will need time to produce results, if ever, the White House is one place where her message about eating balanced meals and getting more exercise is not only resonating, but showing results, too. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) In this May 20, 2011 file photo, White House chefs, from left, Susie Morrison, executive chef Chriseta Comerford and Adam Collick, taste the salads they prepared in the kitchen of the White House in Washington. While the first lady's campaign to lower childhood obesity rates will need time to produce results, if ever, the White House is one place where her message about eating balanced meals and getting more exercise is not only resonating, but showing results, too. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) WASHINGTON (AP) - Surrounded all day and most nights by delicious cakes, cookies, pies and more, Susie Morrison gave in to temptation too often during long hours at work in the White House pastry kitchen.

    But no more.

    Never a runner, the assistant pastry chef has finished her first 5K run. When the weather cooperates, she pedals her bicycle 26 miles roundtrip to work. She's eating more vegetables, limiting coffee and drinking up to a gallon of water every day - dietary changes that Morrison says helped her drop 30 pounds from her 5-foot-5 frame in about 18 months.

    One person gets most of the credit for Morrison's lifestyle makeover: Michelle Obama.

    While the first lady's campaign to lower childhood obesity rates will need time to produce results, if ever, the White House is one place where her message about eating balanced meals and getting more exercise is not only resonating, but showing results, too.

    "She is a great inspiration for me to focus every day to try

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  • Target's blunder with designer continues

    Elizabeth Olsen attends the Missoni For Target event, celebrating the Missoni for Target pop up store, in New York earlier this month.Elizabeth Olsen attends the Missoni For Target event, celebrating the Missoni for Target pop up store, in New York earlier this month.NEW YORK (AP) - Target is a victim of its own success.

    The discounter drummed up so much hype around its exclusive, limited-time line by upscale Italian designer Missoni that its website crashed and was down most of the day on Sept. 13 when the collection was launched, angering customers. More than a week later, some shoppers who bought the Missoni for Target line are posting on social media websites Facebook and Twitter that they won't shop at Target again because their online orders are being delayed - or worse, canceled - by the retailer.

    Brielle deMartino, 23, from Del Ray Beach, Fla., was so excited that she woke up at 6 a.m. on the launch day and spent $700 on Missoni clothes, a bike and plates. The next day, she got an email from Target that her online order was cancelled. Then, she spent hours on the phone with Target customer service representatives she describes as unapologetic.

    Related: Designer's line creates Black Friday-like buzz, crashes Target's website

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  • Designer's line creates Black Friday-like buzz, crashes Target website

    Camila Alves attends the Missoni For Target event, celebrating the Missoni for Target pop up store, in New York, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)Camila Alves attends the Missoni For Target event, celebrating the Missoni for Target pop up store, in New York, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)NEW YORK (AP) -- There's Black Friday, then there's Target Tuesday.

    In a scene that was reminiscent of the shopping frenzy that typically comes on the day after Thanksgiving, Target's website crashed several times throughout the day and more than hundred shoppers lined up at many of its stores early in the morning on Tuesday for a sale of limited offerings of its Missoni for Target collection of bikes, luggage, clothes and housewares.

    Related: Fashion's (biggest) Night Out

    The 400-piece line made by the Italian luxury knitwear designer Missoni exclusively for the cheap chic retailer features its trademark zig-zag patterns for between $2.99 for stationary and $599.99 for patio furniture -- a fraction of the price of the designer's real duds that can cost $595 to $1,500.

    Related: How to save money at Target

    "This was Missoni mayhem," said Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesman. "This is unprecedented."

    So-called limited partnerships, in which high-end designers

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  • The new trend in diet foods? Appeal to Americans’ desire for more, more, more!

    This July 25, 2011 photo shows Tofu Shirataki noodles in Concord, N.H. Tofu Shirataki noodles offer two 20-calorie servings per 8-ounce package. (Matthew Mead/Associated Press)This July 25, 2011 photo shows Tofu Shirataki noodles in Concord, N.H. Tofu Shirataki noodles offer two 20-calorie servings per 8-ounce package. (Matthew Mead/Associated Press)When's the last time you were guiltily scraping your way to the bottom of an ice cream carton and noticed this message: "150 calories per pint"?

    Yes, per pint.

    Foods aimed at helping you slim down have been around for decades, but a recent wave of ultra-low calorie products - such as the 150-calorie per pint dessert Artic Zero - is making a direct appeal to our national sense of gluttony.

    "What we're seeing here is a strategy that says Americans like to stuff their faces," says food industry analyst Phil Lempert. "And these mean we don't have to sacrifice."

    With two-thirds of American adults overweight or obese, health officials have long warned that ballooning portion sizes are a major factor. Now food manufacturers are testing whether the desire for big servings can make peace with our need to shed pounds - or at least make big profits.

    "It's fine to eat one serving of ice cream, but I can't remember the last time I sat down with a pint and ate half a cup," says Amit Pandhi, CEO

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  • Wisconsin professor wins 2011 bad writing contest

    And the winner of the bad writing is...And the winner of the bad writing is...SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A sentence in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered took top honors Monday in an annual bad writing contest.

    Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, Wis., won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows, said San Jose State University Prof. Scott Rice. The contestant asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

    Fondrie wrote: "Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."

    The University of Wisconsin professor's 26-word sentence is the shortest grand prize winner in the contest's 29-year history, Rice said.

    Contest judges liked that Fondrie's entry reminded them of the 1960s hit song "The Windmills of Your Mind," which Rice described as an image that "made no more sense then than it does now."

    Related: Vampire author

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