Judge declares mistrial in Spector murder case

LOS ANGELES - A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the murder case against music producer Phil Spector when the jury reported for a second time that it could not reach a verdict on whether he killed actress Lana Clarkson more than four years ago.

The mistrial came after months of a trial in which jurors had to decide who pulled the trigger of a revolver - leaving no fingerprints - that went off in Clarkson's mouth early Feb. 3, 2003.

Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left the courthouse shortly after the mistrial.

The prosecution did not immediately say whether it will seek a retrial. A hearing was set for Oct. 3.

Gates unhappy with Pentagon oversight of Iraq contractors

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Congress on Wednesday he is unhappy with the Pentagon's oversight of its private contractors in Iraq, saying he's dispatched a fact-finding team to investigate problems there.

'My concern is whether there has been sufficient accountability and oversight,' he told the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing called to discuss the administration's request for additional war funding.

Gates said the Pentagon has sufficient legal authority to control its contractors. The issue, he said, is whether commanders have sufficient 'means and resources' to exercise adequate oversight.

Craig says he'll stay for now while judge rules on withdrawal

MINNEAPOLIS - A judge took Sen. Larry Craig's request to withdraw his guilty plea under advisement on Wednesday, and the Idaho Republican announced he will stay in office for the time being, omitting mention of an earlier commitment to resign Sept. 30.

Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter said he probably won't rule until next month on Craig's request, which stems from his earlier guilty plea in a men's room sex sting at the Minneapolis airport.

Craig didn't say just how long he planned to remain on the job.

Ex-husband charged with rape after guilty verdict in polygamy case

SALT LAKE CITY - Prosecutors filed a rape charge Wednesday against the ex-husband whose marriage was at the center of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs' trial.

The charge against Allen Glade Steed came a day after Jeffs was convicted of rape by accomplice.

Steed was 19 and his bride - also his first cousin - was 14 when they were married in 2001. He is accused of having sex with the girl against her will after the arranged marriage.

Steed, now 26, testified at Jeffs' trial that he did not force himself on the girl and said she initiated their first sexual encounter. He said he believed marrying the 14-year-old was right under 'God's law.'

Gunman causes campus scare

MADISON, Wis. - University students returned to class Wednesday as police searched for a 19-year-old man they initially said was trying to provoke a shootout with authorities.

Tuesday night, the University of Wisconsin-Madison canceled classes and police urged students to stay inside after the Dane County Crisis Center received a call about a suicidal person atop the university hospital's parking ramp.

As officers went to the hospital, authorities learned that the suicidal person claimed to have a gun and intended to be killed by police. Two later calls, claiming shots had been fired and a bomb threat had been made, were hoaxes by the apparently suicidal man, identified as Jesse Miller, said Assistant UW-Madison Police Chief Dale Burke.

University of Wisconsin Police Sgt. Jason Whitney said Wednesday that officials no longer believed the young man was armed or even on campus.

Conviction may have implications for veteran senator

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A former state legislator's conviction for taking bribes from an oil services firm has wider implications: the FBI is investigating whether Ted Stevens, the U.S. Senate's longest-serving Republican, also received illegal gifts from the same company.

Former Rep. Pete Kott, a Republican who was House speaker for part of his 14-year tenure, was convicted Tuesday of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery, but was acquitted of wire fraud.

House votes to regulate exposure to popcorn chemical

WASHINGTON - That buttery taste and smell of microwave popcorn may have caused a deadly lung disease in workers who package it. While there's no evidence of any danger to the millions of people who eat it, Congress is taking action.

Rather than wait on studies affirming or dispelling the dangers posed by the chemical behind the artificial taste and smell, the House voted Tuesday to have the government regulate food workers' exposure to it.

Consumers probably won't notice. Many popcorn makers have already found a flavoring substitute for the chemical in question, diacetyl.

- From wire reports