NTSB hurrying to get plane clues

DENVER - Investigators returned yesterday to the wreckage of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 that veered off a runway at Denver International Airport, rushing to collect evidence ahead of snow expected to move in later in the day.

One group was working inside the charred fuselage to document its condition, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

Authorities are trying to determine why an odd bumping and rattling noise was heard on the flight's recorders before Saturday's crash, which injured 38 of the 115 people aboard. The noise was detected 41 seconds after the jet started speeding down the runway. Four seconds later, a crew member called for aborting the takeoff, said Robert Sumwalt, another NTSB spokesman.

- AP

Stevens witness regrets testifying

WASHINGTON - A witness in convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial has told the judge he never would have testified had he known he did not have immunity from prosecution.

"I would have pleaded the Fifth," welder David Anderson said in a Dec. 15 letter to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, referring to his constitutional protection against self-incrimination. Stevens' lawyers have asked Sullivan to hold a hearing on Anderson's allegations.

Stevens, 85, was convicted in October of lying on Senate financial-disclosure forms to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from Veco Corp. founder Bill Allen, Anderson's uncle. Stevens has said he will appeal.

- AP

China wants its Gitmo detainees

China said yesterday that it wants Chinese detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be returned to China if President-elect Barack Obama closes the detention center in Cuba.

Obama has said he intends to shut Guantanamo, a move that could see some detainees released and others charged in U.S. courts.

China says the 17 prisoners, Turkic-speaking Muslims known as Uighurs from China's far West, are terrorists who belong to an outlawed group. It "has always urged that these prisoners be repatriated back to China. We oppose any countries taking these prisoners," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

The United States cleared the 17 for release, but has been trying to find another home for them, fearing they could be mistreated or tortured if turned over to China. Many countries fear diplomatic repercussions from China if they receive the Uighurs.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Two "Secret Santas"

gave away $11,000 to unsuspecting Detroit-area residents. The Detroit Free Press said a married couple anonymously handed out $100 bills Monday at bus stops, thrift stores and laundries in the working-class suburb of Lincoln Park.

About 7,000 snowman

snow globes, sold at Hallmark Gold Crown stores this fall, were recalled yesterday for posing a fire hazard. The Chinese-made globes can magnify the intensity of sunlight passing through the glass, causing nearby objects to catch fire.