Dozens die in plane crash

KHARTOUM, Sudan - A Sudanese jetliner landed in a thunderstorm and veered off the runway late yesterday, bursting into flames and killing dozens of people, Sudanese officials said.

Official and state media said immediately after the crash that about half the 203 passengers aboard the Airbus A310 had been killed in the crash around 9 p.m. But several hours later officials began reporting a lower toll.

Deputy parliament speaker Mohammed al-Hassan al-Ameen said the death toll was "about 30 people." Police spokesman Mohammed Abdel Majid al-Tayeb said five bodies had been pulled from the wreckage, 100 people were safe and an unspecified number were hospitalized.

Oil companies get a break

WASHINGTON - Saved by Senate Republicans, big oil companies dodged an attempt yesterday to slap them with a windfall profits tax and take away billions of dollars in tax breaks in response to the record gasoline prices that have the nation fuming.

GOP senators shoved aside the Democratic proposal, arguing that punishing Big Oil won't do a thing to lower the $4-a-gallon-price of gasoline that is sending economic waves across the country.

High prices at the pump are threatening everything from summer vacations to Meals on Wheels deliveries to the elderly.

More dam breaches feared

LAKE DELTON, Wis. - Engineers and National Guard teams examined dams across this storm-deluged state yesterday looking for signs of damage from the high water that led to the major collapse that nearly emptied Lake Delton.

The huge breach in an embankment holding back Lake Delton released a torrent that washed away three houses and a stretch of highway. The weekend's storm also displaced thousands of Indiana residents and was blamed for 15 deaths in the Midwest and elsewhere.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have teams in the state today to help assess flood damage, and his office said he would seek a federal disaster declaration when that was done.

Trainers lacking in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - The top U.S. military officer says the Pentagon is scrambling to find trainers to send to Afghanistan. But it will be difficult to do that before commanders reduce U.S. troops in Iraq.

The quandary has left U.S. military leaders short in a region where they believe the next terrorist attack against the United States will form. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan - where Osama bin Laden is rumored to be hiding - is the site of planning for the next attack.

Stemming that threat will depend largely on U.S. efforts to train the Pakistani military to fight along the border, and to quell the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.

Wounded toddler improves

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Authorities say a 4-year-old girl who accidentally shot herself with her grandmother's gun in a South Carolina Sam's Club store is recovering.

Columbia Police Department spokesman Brick Lewis said yesterday that the child has improved to stable condition after an emergency operation on Monday.

The girl had been in critical condition after finding a handgun in her grandmother's purse in a shopping cart and shooting herself.

Donna Hutto Williamson, 47, has not been charged with a crime.

Officials say Williamson has a concealed weapon permit. She is a magistrate, and officials say it's common for magistrates to carry guns for protection.

Tasered twice, he dies

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - Police on Long Island say a man has died after being shocked twice with an officer's Taser stun gun while trying to swallow a bag of drugs.

Suffolk County police say an officer saw the 26-year-old Brooklyn man trying to swallow a bag of cocaine on Monday. They say the officer shocked the man twice to try to stop him.

Police say the man spat out a white powder and remnants of a plastic bag. They say he was taken to a Riverhead hospital, where he died that evening.

The announcement of the man's death comes a day before thousands of New York City police sergeants are due to begin carrying Tasers.

Bomb stuffed in chicken

SIMSBURY, Conn. - Authorities in Connecticut are wondering who stuffed a raw roasting chicken with a pipe bomb and left it on a roadside.

Simsbury police Capt. Matthew Catania says a motorist noticed the chicken Friday morning. Hartford Police Department's bomb squad came and blew up the chicken.

Nobody was injured. *

-Associated Press