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In the Nation

N.Y. politician: It was accident

NEW YORK - A New York city councilman accused of intentionally slashing his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass called it an "unfortunate accident" on Saturday.

"I have been charged with offenses that I did not commit and am not capable of committing," Hiram Monserrate, a Democratic councilman and state senator-elect, said in a statement a day after he was arrested on domestic-violence charges. Monserrate, 41, is a former police officer.

Monserrate got into an argument with girlfriend Karla Giraldo, 30, early Friday at his Queens house, according to a criminal complaint. Giraldo said Monserrate broke a glass in his hand and cut her face with it, causing her to require 20 stitches around her left eye.

- AP

Pilot in crash had run GOP sites

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio pilot who died in a small-plane crash was a Republican media consultant who helped operate campaign Web sites for President Bush and former presidential nominee John McCain.

Michael Connell, 45, of Akron, was killed Friday when his plane crashed in a rural area of Uniontown, about 10 miles southeast of Akron. He was attempting to land at the nearby Akron-Canton Airport. No one on the ground was injured, and Connell was alone in the plane.

Connell was the CEO and founder of Cleveland-based New Media Communications, which built campaign Web sites for Bush and McCain, according to the company's Web site. The site says the company also worked with the Ohio Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and other political groups.

- AP

Museum visitor gets ring back

NEW YORK - The American Museum of Natural History's latest discovery is a diamond in the rough: a visitor's $15,000 gem in a vacuum-cleaner bag.

The one-carat stone fell out of Catherine Hart's ring during a "Night at the Museum" sleepover event on Dec. 13 and 14. Custodial supervisor Herbert Andujar said workers in gloves and masks combed through the dust in four vacuum bags before finding the gem.

Hart, 59, says she is thrilled to have recovered the diamond, which her husband gave her in 2000. She said she intends to give it to her granddaughter someday. Hart said it shows a diamond really is forever, "because it came back to me."

- AP


A school bus driver

in Texas has been accused of brandishing a knife and threatening to cut three sixth graders who left Oreo cookie crumbs on a seat. Officials said police confiscated a pocket knife from William Allen, 66, on Friday in Mansfield and he was taken into custody on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Authorities said

475 illegal guns were turned in Saturday at Long Island churches during an initiative that paid owners $200 for each weapon. The purchases in Nassau County, N.Y., were underwritten with money seized in criminal investigations.