Too Close for Comfort

* "Dad, Dad! there's a bear under the house!"

Indeed, a 600-pound black bear has made its den under a porch in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania, near a school bus stop.

Two kids, ages 8 and 9, spotted the male bear under their house while playing outside Sunday and ran to tell their dad.

"I'm just praying that he'll take off. It's like a bomb under the house," said the kids' grandmother. State wildlife officers planned to move the animal to a more appropriate winter hibernation spot.

Happy Birthday, Champ

* Silver Spring's Kristine Musademba didn't need to blow out the candles on her birthday cake to get her wish. Saturday night, her 13th birthday, Kristine skated to first place in the intermediate level at the Junior U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Colorado.

The Shape We're In

* Think Mom is the only one who cares what you eat?

Nearly 500 new food items for kids were introduced last year, according to a medical report issued yesterday. (That's up from 52 a decade ago.) However, most of the products were high in calories and low in nutrients, the report said. Its authors want Shrek, SpongeBob and other product pitchmen (pitch-sponges?) to endorse healthy food to help American kids get, and stay, in shape.

World Series Fever

* Two "very, very rare" volumes of a newspaper that helped uncover the 1919 Chicago Black Sox baseball scandal are missing from a University of Illinois library, an employee said.

The theft occurred about the time Chicago was winning this year's World Series -- its first since the 1919 incident in which eight White Sox players were accused of participating in a scheme to throw the series.

In Boston, meanwhile, the Red Sox and their former first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz are in a court tussle over who owns the ball Mientkiewicz caught to end the 2004 World Series. It was Boston's first title in 86 years.

Kristine Musademba finished first in the junior national championships.Having a ball: Doug Mientkiewicz and the Boston Red Sox disagree about who owns a World Series baseball.