Lebanon leader leaves without successor




BEIRUT, Lebanon &

Lebanon's political tumult intensified as President Emile Lahoud said the country is in a "state of emergency" and handed security powers to the army before he left office Friday without a successor. The rival, pro-Western Cabinet rejected the declaration.




Lahoud's final announcement created new confusion in an already unsettled situation, which many Lebanese fear could explode into violence between supporters of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's Western-backed government and the pro-Syria opposition led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.




The departure of Lahoud, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime during nine years in office, was a long-sought goal of the government installed by parliament's anti-Syria majority, which has been trying to put one of its own in the presidency.




Hezbollah and other opposition groups have blocked legislators from electing a new president by boycotting ballot sessions, leaving parliament without the required quorum.




The fight has put Lebanon into dangerous, unknown territory: Both sides are locked in bitter recriminations, accusing the other of breaking the constitution, and they are nowhere near a compromise on a candidate to become head of state.




In the streets, where knots of soldiers were deployed at intersections, disgust mixed with resignation that the crisis was far from over.




"These politicians are making fun of us," said Fatima Osman, 35, a hardware-store clerk. "They're all liars." She ticked off on her fingers what was making her angry: higher prices, a troubled economy, no sense of safety and day after day of uncertainty. Overhead, a sign in Arabic prohibited talking politics inside the shop.




154 people evacuated from cruise ship




BUENOS AIRES, Argentina &

A Canadian cruise ship struck submerged ice off Antarctica and began taking on water, but all 154 passengers and crew, Americans and Britons among them, took to lifeboats Friday and were plucked to safety by a passing cruise ship.




No injuries were reported although passengers reportedly endured subfreezing temperatures for several hours as they waited in bobbing lifeboats for a Norwegian liner that took them to a Chilean military base in the region.




"The ship ran into some ice. It was submerged ice and the result was a hole about the size of a fist in the side of the hull so it began taking on water ... but quite slowly," said Susan Hayes of G.A.P. Adventures of Toronto, which owns the stricken MS Explorer. "The passengers are absolutely fine. They're all accounted for, no injuries whatsoever."




Hours after the pre-dawn accident near Antarctica's South Shetland Islands, Chilean aerial photographs showed the ship listing heavily, its white superstructure and red hull starkly visible against the gray, choppy waters and overcast skies. Argentina's coast guard said it was in danger of sinking.




Police find 5 dead in Maryland park




LAYTONSVILLE, Md. &

A gunman shot and killed his ex-wife, their three children and himself in a small-town park as the woman prepared to hand over custody, police said Friday.




Their bodies were found Thursday evening in the tiny community of Unity when Maryland-National Capital Park Police officers stopped in the deserted park after noticing two cars with their engines running, said Wayne Jerman, Montgomery County assistant police chief.




The bodies of Gail Louise Pumphrey, 43, of Woodbine, and the three children &

ages 6 to 12 &

were found in the cars, Jerman said. David Peter Brockdorff, 40, of Frederick, was found nearby with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said they recovered a .22-caliber rifle near his body.




The children included two boys, ages 6 and 12, and a 10-year-old girl, police said. Authorities did not release their names, saying they first wanted to contact the children's schools.




Pumphrey had met with Brockdorff to hand over custody of the children, according to investigators. Police did not know how long the children were to stay with their father.




"" The Associated Press




With gray wolf population surging in Rockies, officials seek end to endangered species listing




PRAY, Mont. &

For rancher Randy Petrich, the removal of gray wolves from the endangered species list &

a move that would open up the animals to hunting in the Northern Rockies for the first time in decades &

couldn't come soon enough.




On the same land where it was once rare to see the animal, Petrich has seen fresh wolf tracks almost every morning this fall &

close enough to threaten his cattle.




"I believe that any wolf on any given night, if there happens to be a calf there, they will kill it," Petrich said. "In reality, to help us now, we need to be trapping them, shooting them &

as many as possible."




Just 12 years since the wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park after years of near-extinction, federal officials say the sharp rise in the wolf population in the region justifies removing them from the endangered species list.




Critics, however, say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving too fast, and could be setting the stage for a slaughter that would push wolves back to the brink in the Rockies.




Aruba judge orders extended detention for 2 brothers in disappearance of US teen




ORANJESTAD, Aruba &

A judge Friday ordered an extended detention of two brothers held in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway after reviewing new evidence in the case of the missing teenager.




Surinamese brothers Satish and Deepak Kalpoe will be detained in separate jails for at least another eight days while prosecutors continue to pursue the investigation. The brothers have been held since Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in Holloway's death.




A third suspect, Joran van der Sloot, was expected to arrive in Aruba on Friday, a day after a judge in the Netherlands approved his arrest and transfer, the prosecutor's office said.




Investigators are focusing in part on cell phone calls and text messages between the suspects, prosecutor Dop Kruimel told The Associated Press.




"It's part of the investigation," she said, declining to give further details. "We do everything we can to see what happened."