Noose placed on door of professor

NEW YORK - Investigators on Wednesday were looking into whether a noose hanging from the door of a black professor at Columbia University was the work of disgruntled students or even a fellow professor.

A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because details of the investigation have not been made public, stressed that investigators were looking into a variety of possibilities. One is that the noose was placed on Madonna Constantine's door by another professor with whom she was having a dispute at the university's Teachers College, the police official said.

The discovery of the noose, found Tuesday, has roiled the Ivy League campus, prompting plans for a protest rally and a meeting for upset students and faculty.

Parents accused of kidnapping pregnant daughter reach plea deal

PORTLAND, Maine - A husband and wife accused of kidnapping their daughter to force her to have an abortion last year have reached a plea agreement in which they will serve no time behind bars, the couple's lawyer said Wednesday.

Nicholas and Lola Kampf have agreed to plead guilty Friday to misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges to resolve the case, said Thomas Hallett, Nicholas Kampf's attorney.

The Kampfs were accused of tying up their daughter Katelyn, forcing her into their car and heading toward New York for an abortion. They were arrested last September at a shopping center in Salem, N.H., after Katelyn fled and called police on a cell phone.

Panel OKs Armenian genocide resolution

WASHINGTON - A U.S. congressional panel defied President Bush on Wednesday and approved a measure that he said would damage U.S. goals in the Middle East.

The measure that would recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians as a genocide had been strongly opposed by Turkey, a key NATO ally that has supported U.S. efforts in Iraq.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee's 27-21 vote now sends the measure to the House floor.

Devlin pleads guilty to making explicit photos, videos of kidnapped boy

ST. LOUIS - Already sentenced to multiple life terms on other charges, a former pizza shop manager who kidnapped and held captive two young boys pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to making explicit photos and videotapes with one of them and taking him across state lines.

Michael Devlin entered pleas to six counts in the last of a series of court proceedings this week in which he pleaded guilty to dozens of child kidnapping and sodomy charges for the abduction and abuse of Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck.

Prosecutors charge 2 with killing boaters

MIAMI - Federal prosecutors charged two men Wednesday with murdering the captain and three crew members of a charter fishing boat they are accused of trying to hijack after hiring it for a quick trip to the Bahamas.

Suspects Kirby Logan Archer, 35, and Guillermo Zarabozo, who turned 20 on Monday, were rescued from the ocean and are in custody. They could get the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

U.S. seizes assets of suspected Saudi terrorist fundraisers

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration took action Wednesday against three Saudis suspected of raising money to bankroll terrorist acts and providing support to an al-Qaida affiliated group believed responsible for bombings and kidnappings in Southeast Asia.

The action covers Abdul Rahim Al Talhi, Muhammad Abdallah Salih Sughayr and Fahd Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khashiban, the Treasury Department said.

Any assets belonging to the men found in the United States must be frozen. Americans also are forbidden from doing business with them.

U.S. may phase out Blackwater, other private contractors

WASHINGTON - The State Department may phase out or limit the use of private security guards in Iraq, which could mean canceling Blackwater USA's contract or awarding it to another company in line with an Iraqi government demand, The Associated Press has learned.

Such steps would be difficult given U.S. reliance on Blackwater and other contractors, but they are among options being studied during a comprehensive review of security in Iraq, two senior officials said.

Hungry 6-year-old trying to drive to Applebee's crashes into transformer

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - A hungry 6-year-old grabbed his grandmother's car keys, positioned his child seat behind the steering wheel and tried to drive himself to an Applebee's restaurant.

He didn't get far.

Unable to take the car out of reverse, the boy backed up 75 feet from her house into a transformer Tuesday, knocking out electricity and phone service to dozens of townhomes in this suburb north of Denver.

No one was injured and the boy, whose name was not released, got out of his car and told his grandmother what happened.