Still no power for frigid Northeast

CONCORD, N.H. - Falling temperatures were expected to send more people to shelters in the ice-coated Northeast yesterday as an army of utility crews made only limited progress restoring power to more than one million homes and businesses.

Utilities in hardest-hit New Hampshire said it likely will be Thursday or Friday - a week after the storm - before all power is restored in the region, partly because of the sheer number of outages and partly because of the devastation.

Crews across the region saw electric poles, wires and equipment destroyed. The extent of damage was unclear because some roads still were impassable.

- AP

Glitch denied war widows' benefits

WASHINGTON - Surviving spouses of war veterans have been wrongfully denied up to millions of dollars in government benefits over the last 12 years due to computer glitches that often resulted in money being seized from the elderly survivors' bank accounts.

The Veterans Affairs Department said yesterday it wasn't fully aware of the problem. It pledged to work quickly to give back the pension and disability checks - ranging from $100 to more than $2,500 - that hundreds of thousands of widows should have received during the month of their spouse's death.

"This problem must be fixed," VA Secretary James Peake said. The department indicated in an "action plan" that up to millions of dollars in back payments could be given to widows sometime after next February, once it can identify them. To expedite matters, the VA said widows who believe they were wrongfully denied payments can call its help line at 1-800-827-1000.

- AP

Life sentence for courthouse killer

ATLANTA - After more than three years and a tangled trail of frustrating legal delays, the man who killed four people in a brazen courthouse escape was sentenced yesterday to prison for life without parole and hundreds of years more.

Prosecutors urged jurors to sentence one of Atlanta's most notorious criminals to death. It showed how difficult it is to get a capital sentence in Atlanta's Fulton County, where death penalties are rare even in a state where support for capital punishment is widespread. Georgia tied for third in carrying out executions last year.

Brian Nichols, 37, was found guilty last month of murdering a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a federal agent in the March 2005 rampage.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A bomb explosion

at a bank killed both a police officer and a state bomb-disposal technician in Woodburn, Ore., and no suspects are yet in custody, officials said yesterday.

Gov. Sarah Palin's

home church, the Wasilla Bible Church, was badly damaged by arson, leading the Alaska governor to apologize if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee. Damage was estimated at $1 million, officials said yesterday.

Wild-horse advocates

are up in arms over plans announced by federal land managers to conduct roundups of nearly 2,000 more mustangs from the range in Nevada at a time when government holding pens are already overflowing.