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NATION IN BRIEF: Jurors were close to convicting Blagojevich

The Associated Press. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich talks to the media at the Federal Court building Tuesday in Chicago. Next to Blagojevich is his wife, Patti.

The Associated Press. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich talks to the media at the Federal Court building Tuesday in Chicago. Next to Blagojevich is his wife, Patti.

Jurors were close to convicting Blagojevich

CHICAGO -- They were close. After three weeks of respectful but increasingly tense deliberations, 11 jurors were ready to convict Rod Blagojevich of what prosecutors called a ''political corruption crime spree'' that would have sent yet another former Illinois governor to prison.

Not close enough. On vote after vote, the jury kept coming up one juror short -- a lone holdout who wouldn't budge and would agree only that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. ''The person just did not see the evidence that everyone else did,'' said juror Stephen Wlodek.

The guilty verdict on the least serious of the 24 counts against him, and mistrial on all the rest, led Blagojevich to taunt prosecutors in the courthouse lobby. More than a year after federal prosecutors accused him of crimes that would make Abraham Lincoln ''roll over in his grave,'' the disgraced politician bragged about essentially fighting them to a draw.

Stocks close modestly higher on retail reports

NEW YORK -- Stocks ended a seesaw day with a modest gain Wednesday after investors found some pluses in retail earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average and other major indexes fluctuated throughout the day before closing with slender gains. There was little news to motivate investors a day after a stream of improving economic numbers restored some of their enthusiasm for stocks and sent the Dow up 103 points. But retailers continued reporting second-quarter earnings and investors found a few positives.

Target Corp. missed analysts' forecasts for its second quarter revenue and offered a muted outlook for sales for the rest of the year. But the company told analysts it hopes to offset weak sales with higher sales of groceries and its new discounts for credit card holders. Target initially fell sharply, then recovered to a healthy advance.

Sheriff backs Mass. jail after Craigslist suicide

BOSTON -- A sheriff has defended the safety record of the Boston jail where a man accused of killing a New York City masseuse he met through Craigslist committed suicide.

Inmate Philip Markoff was found dead in his cell Sunday as he awaited trial in the 2009 killing of Julissa Brisman. Authorities said the 24-year-old former medical student made a scalpel from a pen and a piece of metal and injured himself and covered his head with a plastic bag.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral said Wednesday the jail has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country. She said in the last eight years only five inmates have killed themselves.

Man in banana costume has little appeal

PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- A man in a banana costume is accused of exposing himself and brandishing a shotgun while riding around with a bunch of friends in Washington state.

The Clallam County sheriff's office said the 21-year-old was arrested Tuesday evening for investigation of indecent exposure and reckless endangerment.

The Peninsula Daily News reported police first received a report of the costumed man exposing himself at a restaurant.

Sheriff's Sgt. Randy Pieper said they also drove through a Port Angeles neighborhood where the man got out brandishing the gun.

Seattle police say boy, 10, was shot with own gun

SEATTLE -- Seattle police said a 10-year-old boy who was shot on a bus turned out to be the victim of his own gun and the aggressor in an attempted robbery.

Police said Wednesday that investigators determined the boy was trying to rob a 17-year-old who had been surrounded on the bus by a group of boys ages 10, 12, 14 and 15.

They said the 10-year-old boy told the teen to empty his pockets.

When the younger boy reached into his backpack, the teen grabbed him in a bear hug. The .22-caliber pistol went off inside the backpack, wounding the 10-year-old in the arm.

Lawyer: SC mom accused of killing sons remorseful

ORANGEBURG, S.C. -- The mother accused of suffocating her two young sons and trying to cover it up by staging an accident said she is remorseful and has been speaking with the family minister, her attorney said Wednesday.

Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams has said 29-year-old Shaquan Duley expressed little remorse when she confessed Monday to killing her two young sons, ages 2 years and 18 months.