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NATION IN BRIEF

Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A04

Southern California, Arizona Take Brunt of Major Storm

SEDONA, Ariz. -- A powerful storm battered the West for a third straight day Wednesday, forcing hundreds of people out of a scenic region of Arizona and blacking out thousands of homes in Southern California.

The storm spawned a tornado in Southern California and left 140,000 utility customers without power in the area while making for treacherous driving conditions. The California Highway Patrol logged 220 crashes between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning -- more than three times the normal amount.

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Some homes had minor flooding and people were stranded in waterlogged vehicles in Sedona, a town of about 10,000.

Sections of several highways in Southern California were closed because of the flooding and mudslides, police and utilities said. By early Wednesday, downtown Los Angeles had logged 6.37 inches of rain since late Sunday.

2 on Space Station Subsisted On Sweets Till Rations Came

MIAMI -- The two U.S. and Russian astronauts on the international space station had to rely on a candy-laden diet for five weeks because their predecessors raided the pantry.

"Both of us ended up losing a few pounds," astronaut Leroy Chiao said from the station on Wednesday.

Chiao and cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, who arrived at the station in October, had to cut calories because the previous crew got into their food rations.

The crew had permission to do that but did not record how much had been eaten.

He and Sharipov inventoried the remaining food and worked out a diet to stretch their supplies until food arrived Saturday.

• OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Republican Dino Rossi urged Democrat Christine Gregoire to join him in asking for a bill allowing a statewide revote in the governor's race. The Gregoire camp immediately dismissed the notion that a revote might be feasible. She is to be certified as governor-elect Thursday, by 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

• HAYWARD, Wis. -- Chai Soua Vang, who is accused of fatally shooting six fellow deer hunters and wounding two others after he was caught trespassing in the woods on Nov. 21, pleaded not guilty. A judge set a trial date of Sept. 12.

• AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An anonymous letter told top Air Force officials about rape allegations at the Air Force Academy six months before the scandal became public, Pentagon records show. The text of the unsigned letter, dated June 28, 2002, is contained in a newly released report from the Defense Department inspector general's office.

• CLEVELAND -- Authorities are investigating a mysterious laser beam that was directed into the cockpit of a commercial jet traveling at more than 8,500 feet Monday as the plane was about 15 miles from Cleveland's airport, the FBI said.

-- From News Services


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