JERUSALEM -- Israelis from all walks of life flocked to parliament Sunday to catch a glimpse of Ariel Sharon's coffin and pay their final respects to the iconic former prime minister and general.
A stream of visitors ranging from former army comrades to political allies to citizens who only knew him from afar remembered Sharon as a decisive leader, for better or for worse, and one of the final heroes of Israel's founding generation.
"Words escape me. He was just a man who was larger than life," said a choked-up Shlomo Mann, 68, who served under Sharon's command in the 1973 Mideast war. "Those who didn't know him from up close can't truly understand what a legend he was. There will never be anyone else like him."
The 85-year-old Sharon died Saturday eight years after a devastating stroke left him in a coma.
In a career that stretched across much of Israel's 65-year existence, his life was closely intertwined with the country's history. He was a leader known for his exploits on the battlefield, masterminding Israel's invasion of Lebanon, building Jewish settlements on war-won land and then, late in life, destroying some that he deemed no longer useful when he withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
Astronauts finally get Christmas presents: The six space station astronauts finally got their Christmas presents Sunday with the arrival of a privately launched supply ship that took an extra month to soar. The spacemen opened the capsule a day early and started removing items, as soon as the Orbital Sciences Corp. vessel was moored safely at the International Space Station. Packed inside were 3,000 pounds of groceries, equipment and experiments, as well as eagerly awaited Christmas gifts from their families back home and some fresh fruit courtesy of NASA. NASA is relying on private industry to keep the orbiting lab well stocked in this post-shuttle era and, in three or four more years, possibly supply rides for U.S. astronauts as well. This was Orbital Sciences' second shipment.
Gates defends new memoir: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he doesn't regret anything he wrote in his controversial new book and calls the memoir "an honest account." In Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War, the former Pentagon chief under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama raises questions about Obama's war leadership and harshly criticizes Vice President Joe Biden. Gates told CBS' "Sunday Morning" that people credited him with being blunt and candid while he was in the Cabinet and that "I could hardly be any less in writing a book."
Partisans divided over scandal fallout: Prominent Republicans leapt to GOP Gov. Chris Christie's defense on Sunday, insisting that an ongoing traffic scandal wouldn't ruin any presidential ambitions, while Democrats said it's difficult to believe such a hands-on manager knew nothing about a plan by a top aide to close lanes at a bridge into New York City. Politicians from both sides of the aisle took to the Sunday talk shows to debate the fallout from the traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in September and any role Christie may have played. Documents show Christie's aides appeared to engineer lane closures at the heavily traveled bridge for political retribution.
Gas prices go up: Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says the average U.S. price of gasoline is up 8 cents a gallon over the past three weeks. According to the Lundberg Survey released Sunday, the average for a gallon of regular gas is now $3.35. Midgrade averages $3.54, and premium is $3.68. Of cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, the lowest price, $2.97 a gallon, was in Albuquerque, N.M. Long Island, N.Y., had the highest, at $3.67. Just a penny less was San Diego, with an average of $3.66. The lowest price in California was in Sacramento, at $3.47.
Car bombings and clashes kill 21: A series of car bomb attacks and clashes between security forces and militants around and north of Baghdad killed at least 21 civilians, officials said Sunday, amid an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital. The deadliest blast occurred at a bustling bus station in central Baghdad when an explosives-laden car exploded outside, killing at least nine people and wounding 16, a police officer said. Thousands of people use the bus station every day or pass through the area.