Severe storms strike Southeast

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A line of severe storms swept across the Southeast on Thursday, damaging homes and businesses in at least three states. No injuries were reported.

An apparent tornado wrecked a shopping area in Mississippi and strong winds flipped a mobile home in Alabama. In south-central Tennessee, at least four homes and a few barns were damaged. Portions of Alabama remained under tornado watches until early Thursday evening.

Authorities: Fla. court shooter had ammo, gas mask

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - About 12 seconds was all it took for two bailiffs to gun down a man who shot at them in a courthouse lobby, and authorities said the swift response helped prevent anyone else from being seriously hurt.

Glen Lee Powell carried a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, 79 rounds of ammunition, an extra gun magazine, a lengthy fighting knife and a gas mask into the downtown St. Petersburg courthouse just after the lunch hour Wednesday.

The former Air Force senior airman fired at least two shots before Deputies B.J. Lyons and Marvin Glover fatally wounded him, Pinellas County sheriff's Sgt. Jim Bordner said Thursday.

'Best Santa ever' arrested in N.J. on child sex charges

NEWARK, N.J. - A rare international alert seeking a man shown in dozens of raw child porn images quickly led to the arrest of a small-time actor, who painted faces at children's parties and performed as 'the best Santa Claus anyone has ever seen.'

Wayne Nelson Corliss told authorities he had sex with three boys in Thailand six years ago, an experience he described as 'euphoria,' a prosecutor said Thursday at Corliss' first court appearance.

The arrest of the bespectacled, gray-haired 58-year-old at his Union City apartment late Wednesday capped a two-day global manhunt, just the second time Interpol has sought the public's help in tracking down a suspected pedophile. He is believed to have sexually abusing at least three boys thought to have been 6 to 10 years old, according to the international police agency.

Bush in Texas for daughter's wedding

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush stuck out his right elbow Thursday, jokingly demonstrating how he'll escort his daughter down the aisle at her wedding this weekend.

He made the gesture at Andrews Air Force Base before boarding Air Force One for the flight to Texas, where Jenna Bush will be married Saturday before about 200 guests at the family's 1,600 acre, secluded ranch. Asked if he was excited, the president smiled and gave a thumbs-up.

'He's looking forward to it,' White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters aboard the plane as it flew from rainy Washington to sunny Texas. 'He's excited like any proud father is to see one of his daughters get married.'

Federal judge in Mont. rejects bid to delay wolf lawsuit

BILLINGS, Mont. - A federal judge in Montana has rejected a request by the government to delay a lawsuit seeking to place the gray wolf back on the endangered species list, saying he's 'unwilling to risk more deaths.'

At least 39 of the Northern Rockies' 1,500 gray wolves have been killed since they lost federal protection in March. That action placed wolves under the authority of state wildlife agencies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Sharpton plans another protest

NEW YORK - A day after his carefully orchestrated protests briefly blocked rush-hour traffic, the Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday promised to stage another mass protest over three police detectives' acquittals in the 50-bullet killing of an unarmed man.

The next protest is planned somewhere in New York City within seven to 10 days, said Charlie King, acting national director of Sharpton's National Action Network. He said no other details would be released until next week.

Sharpton, two survivors of the shooting, the slain man's fiancee and more than 200 other demonstrators were arrested Wednesday after they blocked traffic at the Brooklyn Bridge, the Holland Tunnel and other major transportation arteries.

Minn. gov signs bill to pay bridge collapse victims

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A close-knit coalition of Minneapolis bridge collapse victims - some in wheelchairs and others still wearing casts - looked on Thursday as Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a $38 million package to compensate them for their injuries and losses.

The ceremony capped their nine-month fight for state help recovering from the Aug. 1 failure of the Interstate 35W bridge, which hurt 145 people and killed 13.