Flooding latest Midwest threat

DETROIT - Utilities in Michigan scrambled Monday to restore power knocked out by a gusty weekend storm as rain and melting snow caused flooding there and in other parts of the Midwest.

About 177,000 customers were without electricity in Michigan, down from more than 400,000 on Sunday, according to the state's utilities. Some could remain without power until Wednesday because of Sunday's storm, which carried winds gusting more than 60 mph.

Flood warnings were posted throughout the Midwest as temperatures rose after a week of heavy snowfall. Forecasters said flooding was possible in areas of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and northwest Ohio.

Vigilante killer Nesler dies at 56

FRESNO, Calif. - Ellie Nesler, who sparked a national debate about vigilantism after killing her son's accused molester in a courtroom in 1993, has died of cancer. She was 56.

Nesler died Friday morning at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, according to hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown. She had battled breast cancer since 1994.

Nesler made headlines when she shot Daniel Driver five times in the head in a Tuolumne County courtroom during a break in his preliminary hearing for allegedly molesting four boys, including her then-6-year-old son William, at a Christian camp. Some hailed her for exacting her own justice, while others condemned her for taking the law into her own hands.

Nesler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but her 10-year sentence was later overturned because of jury misconduct. She cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter and get out after serving three years because she had breast cancer.

Family thinks woman jumped

MIAMI - The family of a missing cruise ship passenger said Monday that they suspect the woman 'chose an unfortunate ending to her life' and jumped from a cruise ship balcony into the waters off Mexico's coast on Christmas night.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Monday for Jennifer Ellis Seitz, a Florida journalist, after combing more than 4,200 square miles off the coast of the popular resort area of Cancun, where the ship had just visited. Mexican authorities said they would continue their search for another 48 hours.

Seitz had 'previous emotional issues,' yet there were no outward signs of distress while on the seven-night cruise from Miami, her family said in a statement given to one of her former employers, the Winter Haven News Chief.

Blagojevich tapes could be released

CHICAGO - U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants lawmakers to hear what Gov. Rod Blagojevich said on wiretapped phone calls.

Fitzgerald filed paperwork Monday to release conversations caught on wiretaps to the Illinois House panel considering impeachment proceedings.

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge for permission to disclose a limited number of the intercepted conversations in a redacted form.

Fitzgerald said disclosing four calls wouldn't interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges. The governor is accused of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

Santa shooter was bound for Iowa

COVINA, Calif. - Authorities have corrected a detail in the aborted escape plan of the killer in last week's Santa shootings in Southern California. They now say Bruce Pardo intended to leave for Iowa, not Canada.

Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan said Monday that Pardo had planned to take a flight to Moline, Ill., after the Christmas Eve killings so he could visit a friend in nearby Iowa. Buchanan said an earlier report from coroner's officials that Pardo was bound for Canada was incorrect.

Downturn means less garbage

ST. GEORGE, Utah - The economic downturn has even reached the trash on the curb, and that's hurting sanitation workers.

Washington County is producing less trash, in part because consumption is down, and in part because homes and apartments are empty, officials at Allied Waste Services said.

The company's trash truck drivers are paid per home and by the weight of the trash they collect. Residential trash tonnage is down by 10 to 15 percent.