Science Says: Who and what is to blame for cancer?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cancer patients often wonder "why me?" Does their tumor run in the family? Did they try hard enough to avoid risks like smoking, too much sun or a bad diet? Lifestyle and heredity get the most blame but new research suggests random chance plays a bigger role than people realize: Healthy cells naturally make mistakes when they multiply, unavoidable typos in DNA that can leave new cells carrying cancer-prone genetic mutations.

State Department tells embassies to ramp up visa screening

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department has ordered American embassies and consulates around the world to draw up criteria for "population sets" needing extra scrutiny before receiving visas to travel to the United States, according to a recent diplomatic cable. The message also instructed U.S. posts overseas to review the social media accounts of visa applicants who are suspected of terrorist ties or of having been in Islamic State group-controlled areas.

A look at clothing companies that are closing stores

NEW YORK (AP) -- A number of retailers, particularly clothing stores, are shuttering locations as shoppers move online and find fashion inspiration from social media. Some analysts believe the trend will only accelerate later this year. A look at some of the brands that are closing stores or disappearing: ABERCROMBIE & FITCH: HEADQUARTERS: New Albany, New York The teen clothing chain is closing 60 stores this year, leaving it with a little over 800 stores.

Virgin America will be the latest airline brand to disappear

DALLAS (AP) -- After months of teasing, Alaska Airlines has bad news for loyal customers of Virgin America -- their airline's name is being dumped. Alaska announced late Wednesday that it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019, adding that name to a list including Continental and US Airways that disappeared in the past decade.

Woe for stores as shoppers look elsewhere for inspiration

NEW YORK (AP) -- Erica Dao used to shop at malls once a month, looking in stores and seeing what the mannequins displayed. Now, she mainly looks for inspiration on social media. "I discover brands through Instagram," said Dao, 33, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Elizabeth Troy says she was the "queen of sales," going through discounted items at J. Crew and Banana Republic stores at malls near where she lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Car tries to ram Antwerp shopping area; security tightened

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Belgian authorities tightened security Thursday in the port city of Antwerp after a Frenchman drove his car at high speed through a busy shopping area, forcing pedestrians to jump out of the way. French President Francois Hollande compared the incident to the attack in London that that left three people dead Wednesday, saying the Frenchman was "trying to kill people or create a dramatic event.

Feast for the soul: Jim Harrison on wine and food

"A Really Big Lunch" (Grove), by Jim Harrison In 2004, Jim Harrison wrote an article for The New Yorker about a 37-course lunch he ate in France "that likely cost as much as a new Volvo station wagon." Fully expecting to be criticized, he offered a defense at the outset. "My response ... is that none of us 12 disciples of gourmandise wanted a new Volvo.

US new home sales rise despite higher mortgage rates

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans responded to higher mortgage rates by snapping up new homes in February at the fastest pace since July. New-home sales rose 6.1 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That sales pace is nearly 13 percent higher than February of last year, a positive sign for the housing market that demand is robust at the start of the spring home-buying season.

Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 4.23 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Long-term U.S. mortgage rates slid this week from their highest levels of 2017. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate home loans fell to 4.23 percent from 4.30 percent last week. The benchmark rate stood at 3.71 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, lowest in records dating to 1971. The rate on 15-year mortgages tumbled to 3.44 percent from 3.50 percent.

A winner in GOP plans to repeal Obamacare: tanning salons

As Republicans try to shore up support for their health care overhaul, one group can't wait for the replacement: owners of tanning salons. President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act imposed a 10 percent tax on tanning as a way to help fund provisions of the law that expanded coverage for some 20 million Americans. The so-called tan tax took a heavy toll on the industry. Nearly 10,000 salons closed in the U.S.

Judge blocks Louisiana law that kept refugee from marrying

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A judge presided, and the beaming couple embraced teary-eyed well-wishers when it was over. It wasn't a wedding, but it brought Viet Anh Vo and Heather Pham a bit closer to marriage. Vo is 32. He's been a Louisiana resident since he was a baby and a U.S. citizen since he was 8. But he was born in an Indonesian refugee camp after his parents fled Vietnam.

Parents empowered by Supreme Court ruling in special ed case

Parents of learning disabled students say a unanimous Supreme Court ruling will make it easier for them to insist on appropriate services for their children, and harder for the schools to say no. The court on Wednesday said that it is not enough for school districts to get by with minimal instruction for special needs children.

Indiana lawmakers scrap plan to set aside school prayer time

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana senators scrapped a proposal Wednesday that would've mandated time for public prayer during assemblies, sports competitions and other school events, amid questions about how such a policy would affect non-Christian students. The Senate Education and Career Development Committee voted unanimously to strip the provision from a bill that had already passed the House by an 83-12 vote.

Man in same-sex child custody case gets 3 years in prison

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- A Virginia businessman convicted of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy for his role in a same-sex couple's child custody fight was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison. Philip Zodhiates, Waynesboro, drove Lisa Miller and 7-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins from Virginia to the Canadian border in 2009 so they could fly from Toronto to Nicaragua. He also helped with their living arrangements in the Central American nation, according to Assistant U.S.

Rare frog discovery has researchers hopping for joy

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- A discovery involving a rare California frog has researchers hopping for joy. The National Park Service says egg masses from the California red-legged frog were found last week in a stream in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles. It's evidence that the threatened species is reproducing. The frogs haven't been seen in the mountains since the 1970s.

New idea shakes up dinosaur family tree for T. Rex and pals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tyrannosaurus Rex and his buddies could be on the move as a new study proposes a massive shake-up of the dinosaur family tree. Scientists who took a deeper look at dinosaur fossils suggest a different evolutionary history for dinosaurs, moving theropods such as T. Rex to a new branch of the family tree and hinting at an earlier and more northern origin for dinosaurs.

Worried about getting old? Poll sees optimism grow with age

NEW YORK (AP) -- Feel down about getting older? Wish your life was better? Worried about all the problems that come with age? A new survey suggests you need only wait: Many pessimistic feelings held by people earlier in life take an optimistic turn as they move toward old age. Even hallmark concerns of old age -- about declining health, lack of independence and memory loss -- lessen as Americans age.

The Latest: New Zealand leader condemns attack in London

LONDON (AP) -- The latest on the attack outside Britain's Parliament (all times local): 1:35 a.m. New Zealand's prime minister is condemning the attack outside Britain's Parliament that resulted in five deaths, including the assailant. Prime Minister Bill English told reporters in Rotorua that he has written to British Prime Minister Theresa May to express support for her government and to offer his country's condolences to the victim's families.