The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:
Israel continued pounding targets in the Gaza Strip with airstrikes on Monday, and Hamas-backed militants fired a new volley of rockets at the Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Sderot as the current round of hostilities entered a third day. (Washington Post)
OIL PRICES RISE
Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel today, and Wall Street liked it, despite caution over the escalating conflict in Gaza. Prices for light, sweet crude oil rose $2.52 to $40.23 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline and heating oil also making sizable gains. (Richmond Times Dispatch)
ECONOMY/CHILD ABUSE CASES
As the economic downturn takes its toll on struggling families, child welfare workers across the region are seeing a marked rise in child abuse and neglect cases, with increases of more than 20 percent in some suburban counties. (Washington Post)
Amid a sour economy, one business appears to be thriving as the year comes to a close: counterfeiting. Arrests for making fake money have hit a five-year high. Reports of counterfeit bills almost always go up around the holiday season. Yet as the economy sags, regular folks are trying to pass off fake bills to pay everyday expenses, joining what is typically the province of drug dealers, federal authorities say. (USAToday)
BILL CLINTON BANK ROBBER?
A gunman wearing a Bill Clinton mask robbed a bank near Westfield Annapolis mall Friday afternoon, police said. At just after 3:30 p.m., the man, whose face was covered with the rubber mug of the former president, walked into the PNC Bank at 116 Defense Highway with a revolver and announced he was robbing the place, said Justin Mulcahy, a county police spokesman. (Capital)
SOBER-RIDE FREE CAB RIDES
Too drunk to drive home safely on New Year's? How about a free cab ride?A local nonprofit will offer free taxi rides in the Washington area to "would-be drunk drivers" in the hopes of preventing alcohol-related traffic accidents. SoberRide is sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, which includes area law enforcement officials and business professionals, among other groups. (Insidenova.com)
FREDERICK HIGH SCHOOL VANDALIZED
Vandals broke in and busted a water line on the second level of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, causing thousands of dollars of damage, according to the Frederick Police Department. Maintenance staff arriving at the school about 5:30 a.m. today realized the school had been burglarized and called police. Not long after, they found that a water line had been intentionally broken. (Frederick News Post)
SHORTER SPRING BREAKS?
Some school systems in Maryland are considering shortening spring break, in part to give students more time to prepare for standardized tests. (AP/WTOP.com)