FBI investigating string of bomb threats at stores

NEWPORT, R.I. - Large grocery and discount stores across the country have been targeted by a caller who threatens to blow up shoppers and workers with a bomb if employees fail to wire money to an account overseas, authorities said.

Frightened workers have wired thousands of dollars - and in one case took off their clothes - to placate a caller who said he was watching them but may have been thousands of miles away. The FBI and police said Wednesday they are investigating similar bomb threats at more than 15 stores in at least 11 states - all in the past week.

'At this point, there's enough similarities that we think it's potentially one person or one group,' FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said from Washington.

Colleagues call for Craig to resign

WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's political support eroded significantly Wednesday when three fellow Republicans in Congress called for his resignation and party leaders pushed him from senior committee posts in the Senate.

The White House expressed disappointment - and no support - for the 62-year-old lawmaker, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge stemming from an undercover police operation in an airport men's room.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan all said Craig should give up his seat in Congress.

'Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator,' Coleman said in a written statement.

NASA says it can't find evidence of astronauts drinking

WASHINGTON - After finding no evidence of astronauts drinking before launching into space, NASA said Wednesday it is considering limited alcohol testing of its employees, including astronauts.

An internal investigation recommended alcohol testing while at the same time clearing astronauts of much-publicized drinking allegations. In response, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he would come up with a policy for testing after a mishap or when there are suspicions of substance abuse. It would, he said, be further validation of a sober space agency.

The review released Wednesday could not verify two drinking allegations described by an independent panel last month, and Griffin said they just didn't happen. The report did acknowledge the availability of alcohol in crew quarters, noting that non-flying astronauts made booze-buying runs for their quarantined colleagues.

House member cites frustration, delay in airport altercation

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Filner said Wednesday he regrets a recent incident at Dulles Airport in which he allegedly pushed a United Airlines baggage employee, resulting in assault and battery charges.

Filner, D-Calif., offered few details of the Aug. 19 incident in a three-sentence statement issued after he returned from a week in Iraq.

'I was tired after a delayed flight and frustrated by the subsequent further delay of the entire flight's baggage. But I did not want things to turn out as they did, with offense obviously taken and much misunderstanding,' the statement said.

Teen charged with stabbing his twin half brothers; 1 dead

PENN HILLS, Pa. - Police on Wednesday arrested an 18-year-old accused of stabbing his 11-year-old twin half brothers, killing one of them and critically injuring the other.

The boys' grandfather, Lovett Williams, said he heard Tyrel Hill call out, 'Pappy, I'm dead. I'm dying,' when he went to the family's suburban Pittsburgh home to check on them Tuesday. Williams went to the attic, where he found Tyrel, wrapped in a blood-soaked blanket, and the body of his twin, Tyron.

'There was blood everywhere,' Williams said. 'Everywhere. Blood all over the house. Downstairs, up the steps.'

The surviving twin identified his older half-brother, Troy Lavalle Hill, as the attacker, police and Williams said.

'I said, 'Who did this?' He said, 'Troy,' Williams said.

Army to examine $3B in Iraq contracts

WASHINGTON - The Army will examine as many as 18,000 contracts awarded over the past four years to support U.S. forces in Iraq to determine how many are tainted by waste, fraud and abuse, service officials said Wednesday.

Overall, the contracts are worth close to $3 billion and represent every transaction made between 2003 and 2007 by a contracting office in Kuwait, which the Army has identified as a significant trouble spot.

Among the contracts to be reviewed are awards to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which has received billions of dollars since 2001 to be a major provider of food and shelter services to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stamp honoring President Ford to be released Friday

WASHINGTON - Ceremonies marking the first release of the new President Ford postage stamp are scheduled for Friday.

The first-day-of-issue ceremonies will be held at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, Calif., and at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"The stamp wonderfully portrays his strength, warmth, and compassion. My family and I are filled with pride and gratitude for this remarkable tribute to our beloved husband, father, and grandfather,' former first lady Betty Ford said in a statement.

- From wire reports