Emanuel leaving House this week

CHICAGO - Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D., Ill.), the incoming chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama, said yesterday that he would resign his congressional seat Friday.

Embattled Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich will play a role in replacing Emanuel; state law provides that the governor schedule a special election to take place within 115 days to fill the vacancy.

Emanuel was elected to Congress in 2002 to replace Blagojevich in a district covering parts of Chicago and its suburbs

Emanuel has been swept up in the controversy surrounding Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest on federal corruption charges, which include accusations that the governor tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat. Neither Obama nor any staffer has been accused of wrongdoing.

- AP

Family suspects suicide on cruise

MIAMI - The family of a missing cruise-ship passenger said yesterday it was suspected she "chose an unfortunate ending to her life" and jumped from a ship balcony into the waters off Mexico's coast on Christmas night.

The Coast Guard suspended its search yesterday for Jennifer Ellis Seitz, 36, a Florida journalist, after combing more than 4,200 square miles off Cancun, where the Norwegian Pearl had just visited.

Seitz had "previous emotional issues," her family said in a statement. Seitz's mother joined her daughter and son-in-law on the seven-night cruise from Miami.

Seitz and her husband, Raymond, were celebrating their one-year anniversary. A surveillance camera showed someone falling overboard at 8 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. About eight hours later, Raymond Seitz reported his wife missing. An FBI spokesman said agents were "still trying to determine if a crime occurred."

- AP

Flooding is latest threat in Midwest

DETROIT - Utilities in Michigan scrambled yesterday to restore power knocked out by a gusty weekend storm as rain and melting snow caused flooding there and in other parts of the Midwest.

About 132,000 customers were without electricity in Michigan, down from more than 400,000 Sunday, according to the state's utilities. Some could remain without power until tomorrow.

Nearly 60,000 customers from central New York to Buffalo also lost power Sunday as gusts as high as 75 m.p.h. brought down trees and utility poles. About 4,400 New York utility customers remained without power yesterday.

Flood warnings were posted throughout the Midwest as temperatures rose after a week of heavy snowfall. Forecasters said flooding was possible in areas of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and northwest Ohio.

- AP

Elsewhere:

The United States will

enter 2009 with 305,529,237 residents, the Census Bureau estimated yesterday. That's an increase of 2,743,429 this year.

The Illinois Abraham Lincoln

Bicentennial Commission is asking people to send cards to Lincoln for his 200th birthday, on Feb. 12. The 16th president even has an official postal address: Abraham Lincoln, Old State Capitol, 1 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701. Commission chair Marilyn Kushak recommended that people make the cards by hand.

Some water samples

near a huge spill of coal ash in eastern Tennessee are showing high levels of arsenic, and state and federal officials yesterday said residents using private wells or springs should stop drinking the water.