Weather helps firefighters contain Malibu blaze

MALIBU, Calif. - Favorable weather and an aerial assault early helped firefighters nearly contain a blaze Monday that destroyed dozens of homes along winding canyon roads, the second major fire here in as many months.

A cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific Ocean kept temperatures low and moisture levels high Sunday, while 30 aircraft repeatedly dropped fire retardant and water that snuffed out most of the flames. Early Monday, two more planes were back in the air.

The fire was 90 percent contained Monday after burning more than 4,900 acres. Fire officials said they hope to have the blaze under control by

6 p.m. Monday.

Lott says he'll resign Senate seat by year's end

PASCAGOULA, Miss. - Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott announced Monday he will leave a 35-year career in Congress in which he epitomized the Republicans' political takeover of the South after the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

Lott said he wanted to leave on a 'positive note." He was first elected to Congress on the coattails of Richard Nixon's re-election landslide in 1972 - with 78 percent of the vote in Mississippi.

His decision to retire by year's end occurred five years after he was bounced as the leader of his party in the Senate over remarks praising a Senate colleague that were interpreted as endorsing segregation.

Redskins' safety Sean Taylor shot, in critical condition

PALMETTO BAY, Fla. - Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor was in critical condition Monday after surgery for a gunshot wound to his leg during what police are investigating as a possible armed robbery at his home.

The 24-year-old player was in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital after several hours of surgery, said family friend Richard Sharpstein, his former lawyer. Taylor lost a 'significant' amount of blood because the bullet damaged his femoral artery, Sharpstein said.

Doctors are worried the blood loss might affect blood flow to the brain, said Sharpstein, who was at the hospital with Taylor's family and friends. Taylor has had several on- and off-the-field problems - two years ago he was accused of brandishing a gun.

Three die in bus crash while headed to Dallas

FORREST CITY, Ark. - A passenger bus driving in late-night rain veered across an interstate highway and collided with a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck, killing three people. At least 19 others were hospitalized.

The Tornado Bus Co. bus was westbound on Interstate 40, headed from Chicago to Dallas, when it veered across the median about 10 p.m. Sunday. The bus slammed into the oncoming eastbound pickup, and then the 18-wheeler slammed into the bus, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

Police make tentative ID of 2-year-old

GALVESTON, Texas - Investigators said Monday they are 'fairly confident' that a toddler whose body washed ashore in a plastic storage bin was a girl whose grandmother called authorities after seeing a sketch of the child dubbed 'Baby Grace.'

The mother and stepfather of 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers were in custody. Investigators were awaiting DNA test results but believe their efforts, including releasing the sketch, helped identity the child found by a fisherman Oct. 29 in Galveston Bay.

Ex-professor pleads guilty to killing wife

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A former Ivy League professor pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter for killing his wife as she wrapped Christmas presents last year, telling a judge he 'just lost it' during an argument.

Rafael Robb, once a tenured economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faces a likely prison sentence of 41/2 to seven years for bludgeoning his wife, Ellen, on Dec. 22.

Robb, 57, said Monday that he got into an argument with his wife about a trip she was taking with their daughter and whether they would be returning in time for the daughter to return to school.

Police: Man dragged to death had threatened others

NEWPORT, Wash. - A university student tied to a pickup and dragged to his death on a rural road had been threatening people with an ax during a night of heavy drinking at a hunting campsite, witnesses told police.

Wendell C. Sinn Jr. was jailed for investigation of second-degree murder in the death of Jerid S. Sturman-Camyn near Usk, about 45 miles north of Spokane, Pend Oreille County sheriff's deputies said.

- From wire reports