N.C. governor takes tour of shelters, sees damage

Sunday, December 8, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Utility repair crews made more progress Saturday at restoring electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers blacked out by a major ice storm, as National Guard troops searched for people needing help.

Gov. Mike Easley went on a three-city tour Saturday to survey damage from one of the worst winter storms in state history, before he was even able to get a good look at his own home.

Temperatures climbed into the 40s for a second day, helping to melt any ice remaining from the storm that arrived Wednesday on a path that took it from the southern Plains into the Northeast. At least 27 deaths were blamed on the storm, including five in North Carolina.

Some 300 National Guard volunteers fanned out Saturday into some of the hardest hit areas to knock on doors and ask residents if they had heat or power.

Shuttle returns to Earth, ending six-month voyage

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- After a record-setting streak of bad landing weather, shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth on Saturday, bringing an astronaut and pair of cosmonauts home from a six-month space station voyage.

The spaceship swooped through a hazy afternoon sky and touched down on the runway, three days late.

With on-board supplies and fuel getting low, NASA began the day determined to land Endeavour, if not in Florida then in California. As if to seal the deal, Mission Control awakened the crew of seven with Perry Como's recording of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

But the weather finally cooperated in Cape Canaveral, and Mission Control instructed the shuttle pilots to aim for their home port. Thick clouds prevented Endeavour from landing each of the three previous days.

Rebels plotted to kidnap Giuliani, report says

NEW YORK -- A terrorism task force is investigating a report that a Colombian rebel group is plotting to kidnap former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in Mexico City, the Daily News reported Saturday.

Giuliani said he would continue his trip as an anti-crime consultant as planned.

"It hasn't in any way interfered in what we've done so far and it will not interfere with anything we will do," he said.

The threat was described as a discussion about "what they would get" in terms of ransom for the former mayor, whose consulting firm has been hired to advise Mexico City police, the News quoted an unidentified source as saying.

A retired New York City police detective heard of the plans by Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, while visiting Mexico on assignment for Giuliani, the newspaper said, quoting a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Police Sgt. Kevin Hayes said the department would not comment on the report.

Group wants probe into post office anthrax work

WASHINGTON -- A legal watchdog group is seeking a criminal investigation into the U.S. Postal Service's handling of last year's anthrax contamination that killed two workers at a Washington post office.

Judicial Watch submitted documents to a federal prosecutor that it says prove postal and government officials knew anthrax spores had leaked from a letter sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., into the Brentwood mail processing center but neither warned workers nor shut down the site.

"The government does not have the right to injure people, to harm them, and that's what (officials) did through their action and inaction," Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch's chairman, said Saturday.

--From wire reports

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