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People take a photograph in front of a festive window display on Oxford Street in London, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Christmas cards, gifts cross religious lines, AP-GfK poll shows

- Associated Press

Christmastime is here and a new poll reveals the cards and gifts that are part of celebrating the holiday are ubiquitous, even among those who don’t share the Christian beliefs behind the story of the Magi who gave the first Christmas gifts.

Gloria Harrigill, 3, places a blanket on baby Jesus on a Nativity scene at the Governor's Mansion in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 12 2014. The Nativity Committee of Tulsa and Knights of Columbus provided the Nativity Scene that will be displayed over the Christmas holiday. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman,  Steve Gooch)

Big majorities of Americans believe ‘historic accuracy’ of the Christmas story, poll says

- The Washington Times

It is not much reported in the mainstream media, but huge majorities of Americans back the “historical accuracy” of the Christmas story, as revealed in the Bible’s New Testament. The manger, the guiding star, the virgin birth - most support the idea according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Eight-of-10, in fact say they believe “Baby Jesus was laid in a manger,” the research states.

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FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, file photo, Moroccan transvestite, actress and dancer Noor poses for photographers as she arrives at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Morocco. In this conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in jail, a transgender woman like Noor is not only accepted but is a celebrity. Her ability to seemingly transcend the restrictions of her culture speaks both to her star power and to a certain kind of tolerance toward sexual minorities in this North African nation, and even in the wider Middle East. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)

Morocco's transgender dancer courts acceptance

- Associated Press

It was a slow night on the red carpet at the opening of the Marrakech film festival for the photographers and everyone was complaining over the lack of celebrities.

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2013 file photo, North Koreans ride on an amusement park ride while watching a 3D movie at the Rungna People's Pleasure Park in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea hates the Hollywood film that revolves around the assassination of its beloved leader, but the country has had a long love affair with cinema - of its own particular styling. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

N. Korean cinema: Kidnappings and evil Americans

- Associated Press

North Korea hates the currently scrapped Hollywood film that revolves around the assassination of its beloved leader, but the country has had a long love affair with cinema - of its own particular styling.

China punishes hospital for operating room photos

Associated Press

Chinese health authorities put a hospital president on probation and fired three other supervisors following public outrage over photos posted online of smiling medical staff posing with patients in the middle of surgery.

In this Sept. 11, 2014 photo, Jema Sundi sits outside her home in barren hills where asbestos waste was dumped is visible in the background in Roro, India. An asbestos mine, abandoned nearly three decades ago still affects the people around it and 18 along with Jema were diagnosed with asbestosis in 2012. Tens of thousands more, some former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India

- Associated Press

Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind.

Purdue gets $1.6M to create virtual patients

Associated Press

Purdue University has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help medical, nursing and pharmacy students learn how to counsel people to quit smoking using "virtual patients" and educational assessments.

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, DEC. 21 - In this photo taken on Dec. 3, 2014, four year-old Arielle Hayes hugs her mother Katy Hayes at there home in Kingwood, Texas. Hayes, and her family have returned home to Kingwood, after spending over two years in Boston, waiting for a double arm transplant. The surgery was to be performed at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital in what was to be the first such procedure performed in the United States. Due to financial struggles the Hayes family was forced move back to Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Billy Smith II)

Mom learning to live without arms, legs

- Associated Press

Katy Hayes wriggled into her new myoelectric arms and let the decoration - a wooden star her kids made - dangle from her plastic fingertips.

Local facility help treat Alzheimer's victims

- Associated Press

When Polly Wilson of Alamance County was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease more than 10 years ago, her husband Richard had a lot of questions about what the future held for them as they battled the disease together.

In this Sept. 11, 2014 photo, Jema Sundi sits outside her home in barren hills where asbestos waste was dumped is visible in the background in Roro, India. An asbestos mine, abandoned nearly three decades ago still affects the people around it and 18 along with Jema were diagnosed with asbestosis in 2012. Tens of thousands more, some former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Forgotten asbestos mine sickens Indian villagers

- Associated Press

Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages that are home to thousands in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind.

La lawyer's debut novel: 'The Cottoncrest Curse'

- Associated Press

Lawyer, adjunct law professor, nationally known legal ethicist, humorist, musician, and now novelist are just a few of the ways to describe Michael Rubin.

AP PHOTOS: Sheetos, the street-mime of Cairo

- Associated Press

Bright colors, strange clothes and a striking white mask steal the attention of everyday people going about their business in downtown Cairo. This is the stage for Mohammed Saeed (aka Sheetos) who is waging a lonely campaign to introduce the art of mime to modern Egypt.

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2014, file photo, Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker (12) shoots between Phoenix Suns' Alex Len (21) and Markieff Morris (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Phoenix. The Bucks have made it out of the first round of the playoffs one time in the last 25 years, play in a dinosaur of an arena and in need of fresh ideas to breathe some energy into them. General manager John Hammond, new coach Jason Kidd and a promising young roster featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo and Parker have pushed the team to a 14-14 record, just one win away from the victory total for all of last season. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

New-Look NBA: In Milwaukee, a new hope rises

- Associated Press

The Associated Press will periodically look at the changing landscape of the NBA during the season from varied perspectives: A player's viewpoint, from the bench, and from the business side. In this installment, the new Milwaukee Bucks ownership group provides an inside look from the front office:

Celeb birthdays for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3

- Associated Press

Dec. 28: Comic book creator Stan Lee ("Spider-Man," ''The Incredible Hulk") is 92. Actor Martin Milner ("Adam 12," ''Route 66") is 83. Actress Nichelle Nichols ("Star Trek") is 82. Actress Maggie Smith is 80. Saxophonist Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers is 76. Singer-keyboardist Edgar Winter is 68. Actor Denzel Washington is 60. Country singer Joe Diffie is 56. Drummer Mike McGuire of Shenandoah is 56. Country singer-guitarist Marty Roe of Diamond Rio is 54. Actor Malcolm Gets ("Caroline in the City") is 50. Comedian Seth Meyers ("Saturday Night Live") is 41. Actor Brendan Hines ("Lie to Me") is 38. Actor Joe Manganiello ("True Blood") is 38. Singer John Legend is 36. Actress Sienna Miller is 33. Actress Mackenzie Rosman ("7th Heaven") is 25. "American Idol" runner-up David Archuleta is 24. Actor Miles Brown ("black-ish") is 10.

FOR RELEASE MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2014, AT 12:01 A.M. CST. - In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, items belonging to Karen Rooze's grandmother are laid out in Rooze's home in Vadnais Heights, Minn.  Rooze is working on a memoir based on videotapes of her late grandmother, Mary, talking about growing up on a Little Canada, Minn. truck farm. Rooze will incorporate her grandma's eye glasses, letter, and old picnic tablecloth into the memoir. She hopes to pass the book onto her family for a Christmas present.  (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jean Pieri )  MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE OUT

Minnesota writers giving one-of-a-kind gifts

- Associated Press

When Karen Rooze was growing up, her family gathered weekly for dinners hosted by her grandparents at their Little Canada truck farm. Her grandmother filled the table with home-grown bounty, and attendance was mandatory.

Big changes coming to Cuba tourism with US opening

- Associated Press

U.S. tourists are roaming the streets of Old Havana, listening to lectures on Art Deco architecture and meeting with jazz musicians. What they aren't doing yet - at least most of the time - is lounging in the sun and sipping mojitos at white-sand-beach resorts.

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, Matt Figi hugs and tickles his once severely-ill seven year old daughter Charlotte, as they walk together inside a greenhouse for a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, which was named after the girl early in her treatment for crippling severe epilepsy, in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. Colorado is poised to award more than $8 million for medical marijuana research, a step toward addressing complaints that little is known about pot's medical potential. Among the research projects poised for approval on Wednesday,  Dec. 17, 2014, are one for pediatric epilepsy patients, and another for children with brain tumors. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Correction: Marijuana Research story

- Associated Press

In a story Dec. 17 about marijuana research, The Associated Press reported erroneously reported Marcel Bonn-Miller's profession. He is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. Also, while he works with the Veterans Administration, his lab is not part of the VA.

Michigan proposes community parks to receive federal grants

Associated Press

Nine community parks across Michigan and a state facility in Oceana County are expected to share $930,700 in federal grants under a program designed to provide better public outdoor recreation opportunities.