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NATION IN BRIEF: Gas forces crews to abandon W.Va. mine rescue

The Associated Press. Gov. Joe Manchin, left, gives a state certificate to the family of deceased coal miner Josh Napper on Wednesday at a candlelight vigil in Cabin Creek, W.Va.

The Associated Press. Gov. Joe Manchin, left, gives a state certificate to the family of deceased coal miner Josh Napper on Wednesday at a candlelight vigil in Cabin Creek, W.Va.

MONTCOAL, W.Va. -- Dangerous gases forced rescue crews to abandon the search Thursday for four coal miners missing since an explosion killed 25 colleagues in the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades.

Rescuers had been working their way through the Upper Big Branch mine by rail car and on foot early Thursday, but officials said they had to turn back because of an explosive mix of gases in the area they needed to search.

''We think they are in danger and that's the whole intent of evacuating them from the mine,'' said Kevin Stricklin of the Mine Health and Safety Administration. ''We couldn't let the rescue teams underground any longer based on the readings.''

The rescuers made it to within about 500 feet of an airtight chamber with four days worth of food, water and oxygen where they hoped the miners might have sought refuge. They did not make it far enough to see the bodies of the dead or determine if anyone had made it to the chamber.

Report pans parole oversight of sex offender

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Parole officers should have done a better job watching a paroled California sex offender, but closer scrutiny may not have stopped the murder of one teenage girl and the assault of another woman, a draft report released Thursday said.

Even if suspect John Albert Gardner III had been sent back to prison for one of his repeated parole violations, he would not have qualified as a sexually violent predator, according to the report to the California Sex Offender Management Board.

Dog survives 2 train encounters

CLINTON, Utah -- A stray dog is recovering after getting run over by a freight train -- twice.

Fred Krause of Utah Railway Company said he spotted the cream-colored Shih Tzu on the tracks Sunday near a high school in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Krause, who was operating a train, said there was no way to stop before it ran over the dog, which was small enough to avoid actually being hit.

Krause said he spotted the same dog on the return trip and this time the pup wasn't so lucky. The dog was running on the tracks and got whacked by the train's snowplow.

Krause drove back to the site later and found the dog, which was still dazed and lying on the tracks.

Feds: Texas bomb suspect mad at US

TYLER, Texas -- A man accused of dropping more than 30 explosive devices into mailboxes and other locations across east Texas did so out of anger toward the government and was acting alone, federal authorities said Thursday.

Larry Eugene North was indicted Wednesday on charges of possessing an illegal firearm or destructive device. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities believe North is responsible for planting 36 devices between Feb. 5 and Wednesday, said Robert R. Champion, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities previously said they had found at least 16 explosive devices, including five pipe bombs.

Man with cleaver shot by cops in Sikh temple

CLEVELAND -- A man entered his Sikh temple in suburban Cleveland early Thursday, raised a meat cleaver near two members preparing for morning prayers, and was shot and killed by police, authorities said.

Police don't believe Ravinder Nijjar, 41, of Bedford, had a religious motive for his behavior at the temple, where he worshipped, Police Chief Greg Duber said.

Nijjar entered the worship area of the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Temple in Bedford with a meat cleaver 10 to 12 inches long, the chief said.

Stepdad defends 3 accused of raping NJ girl, 7

TRENTON, N.J. -- The stepfather of a 7-year-old girl police say was gang-raped at a party by at least five men is defending three of them, saying they tried to get her out of the apartment where she was attacked but were stymied by others who held them at gunpoint.

''These three had nothing to do with nothing; I don't know why they locked them up,'' the stepfather said of Gregory Leary, 20; Timear Lewis, 19; and a 17-year-old authorities have not identified because of his age. ''My daughter said these guys were trying to help her.''

In all, five men and boys have been arrested on suspicion of raping the girl. The other suspects are ages 13 and 14.