Flag-waving gunman closes highway for hours

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A man in a ski mask waved an American flag and a handgun on a freeway overpass for about three hours Monday morning, forcing a massive traffic shutdown before he surrendered.

Police say crisis negotiators coaxed Edward Van Tassel, 28, to give up west of downtown Santa Barbara on Highway 101, a major route along the California coast. Traffic was jammed at least three miles in each direction.

After dropping his weapon, Van Tassel asked for a Barack Obama campaign sign, which authorities delivered to him using a bomb squad robot, police said. The man attached the sign and the flag to the overpass and later walked backward to officers, who took him into custody.

No shots were fired and police said the man's gun turned out to be unloaded.

Van Tassel, an Iraq veteran from Santa Barbara, was taken into custody without incident, said police Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte. The sergeant said Van Tassel had been in the Army but he did not have any details of his Iraq service.

Two more children abandoned under safe-haven law

OMAHA, Neb. - Two more teenagers have been abandoned at Nebraska hospitals under the state's much-criticized safe haven law, bringing the number of mostly older children dropped off to 26 since July, authorities said.

The teens, both 16, were left at separate hospitals, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. One was a girl dropped Sunday afternoon at Midlands Hospital in Papillion and the other a boy abandoned at Children's Hospital in Omaha late Sunday.

Papillion police Lt. Chris Whitted said the girl and her mother had previously lived in Papillion, south of Omaha, before moving to Arizona. He said the mother didn't give a reason for dropping the girl off, but he added: 'Obviously, there's concerns about being able to care for her daughter.'

Woman hit by stray bullet at NASCAR race

FORT WORTH, Texas - A NASCAR fan in her recreational vehicle at Texas Motor Speedway was wounded by a stray bullet after someone apparently fired a gun into the air, police said.

A bullet suddenly pierced through the motor home's roof Sunday morning before the Dickies 500 race, hitting a woman in the right arm, relatives said.

New York man accused of wife's slaying denies wrongdoing

CORTLANDT, N.Y. - A businessman accused of killing his wife was jeered in court Monday by the woman's friends and relatives.

When Werner Lippe, 66, was brought into town court, several people, some of them in tears, stood and berated him.

One held a sign that said, 'Keep the Faith,' an apparent reference to Lippe's wife, 49-year-old Faith Lippe. She disappeared early last month as the couple, who have two children, were in divorce proceedings.

In response to the group, Lippe said, 'I did nothing!'

He did not speak during the court session, however. Although he had a lawyer, no plea was entered to the charge of second-degree murder.

Mourners gather for private funeral for Hudson family

CHICAGO - Hundreds of mourners streamed into a private funeral service for Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's slain mother, brother and nephew Monday at a South Side church.

The three were found shot to death late last month, the adults in Donerson's home and Julian in a vehicle found several miles away. Julian is the son of Jennifer Hudson's older sister, Julia Hudson.

No one has been charged in the shootings, although authorities have called Julia Hudson's estranged husband, 27-year-old William Balfour, a 'person of interest.' He remains in custody on a parole violation.

US jury convicts Venezuelan in cash suitcase smuggling

MIAMI - A federal jury convicted a wealthy Venezuelan Monday of acting as an illegal foreign agent who came to the U.S. to cover up a Latin American political scandal involving a cash-stuffed suitcase smuggled into Argentina.

Jurors deliberated seven days - at one point indicating they were hopelessly deadlocked - before finding Franklin Duran, 41, guilty of foreign agent and conspiracy charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison.