Nation, World Briefs: Minnesota Senate count in limbo until next year

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota voters won’t know who won the state’s U.S. Senate race this year, and it’s looking more likely that the new Congress will be sworn in before the race ends between Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. The state Canvassing Board on Tuesday scheduled a Jan. 5 meeting and its chairman said the panel’s work could spill into Jan. 6 — the day the next Congress convenes. Franken leads Coleman with an increasingly small number of ballots yet to consider.

D.C.: Obama to use Lincoln Bible

President-elect Barack Obama will use the same Bible at his inauguration that Abraham Lincoln used for his swearing in. Obama will be the first president since Lincoln to use that Bible, part of the collection of the Library of Congress. “President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said Tuesday.

Texas: Ex-trooper held in slaying

Authorities said a man suspected in a series of rush hour shootings near Dallas is a former Utah state trooper. Dallas police said Tuesday that 37-year-old Brian Smith killed at least one of the victims of Monday’s shootings. Police declined to comment on a second death in neighboring Garland because it was out of their jurisdiction. Smith shot and injured himself after a standoff with police and is hospitalized in critical condition. A Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman said Smith had been a trooper since 1996 but retired in May because of “personal issues.”

California: Fry’s executive fired

Fry’s Electronics Inc., known as a nerd nirvana for its quirky stores and vast gadget selection, has fired a top executive accused of taking more than $65 million in kickbacks from vendors to finance his high-rolling lifestyle and pay gambling debts. In a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in San Jose this week, the Internal Revenue Service said Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, 42, set up a shell company to conceal the payments from five Fry’s vendors from January 2005 to November 2008.

Lawsuit filed in death at zoo

The parents of a 17-year-old killed in a tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo last Christmas sued the city and the zoo Tuesday. Marilza and Carlos Sousa filed a wrongful death suit Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court almost a year after Carlos Sousa Jr. was killed when a Siberian tiger escaped its enclosure. The suit claims the enclosure’s wall was lower than the recommended national standard and alleges zoo officials ignored employees’ warnings that the wall was not tall enough.

Russia: Nuclear missile test fails

Russia’s new sea-based ballistic missile has failed in a test launch for the fifth time, signaling serious trouble with the key future component of the nation’s nuclear forces. The Bulava “self-destructed and exploded in the air” after a launch from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine beneath surface of the White Sea, a navy spokesman said. The Kremlin has hailed the missile as capable of penetrating any prospective missile defenses. News agencies said that Tuesday’s test was the fifth failure out of 10 launches since 2004.

Canada: Woman found in snow

A woman who went missing during a blizzard has been found alive, buried in 23 inches of snow four days after her sport utility vehicle got stuck in a field. A police search dog and its handler were trudging through snow on Monday when the dog took off across a field, signaling he had found Donna Molnar, who disappeared Friday. Overnight temperatures dipped as low as 2 degrees during the four days the 55-year-old Ancaster, Ontario, woman was missing. Lau found her just a few hundred yards from her SUV, conscious and wearing little more than a winter jacket.

Japan: Emperor feeling better

Japan’s emperor waved to a crowd of well-wishers on his 75th birthday Tuesday, assuring the nation that his health was improving after a series of illnesses. Akihito, who has been undergoing surgery and treatment for cancer, has recently cut back his official duties. “People have been worried about my recent health problems, but I think I am gradually recovering,” Emperor Akihito said from a balcony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Guinea: Military seizes power

A military group seized control of the airwaves in mineral-rich Guinea and declared a coup Tuesday after the death of the West African country’s dictator, one of the continent’s last strongmen. The turmoil raises the prospect of violence flaring in a region where neighbors Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia all have been devastated by years of war. A group calling itself the National Council for Democracy began announcing its takeover on state-run media just hours after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte was made public. Dozens of armed soldiers were seen heading toward the prime minister’s office inside the country’s presidential compound.

From Herald news services

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