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UA News
Wednesday October 3, 2001

News Briefs

Harris to run for Congress

Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. -- Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who hit the national spotlight during last fall's presidential election recount, announced yesterday she is running for Congress.

"In light of the recent tragedy, I am more committed than ever to serving the president and our nation," the Republican said in a statement. "As a nation we have united to overcome this challenge, and the bonds of our courage and strength to do what is right inspires us to succeed."

Harris, 44, wants to replace Republican Dan Miller, who represents the 13th congressional district that encompasses her hometown of Sarasota. Miller said he plans to retire when his fifth term ends next year.

Harris' only announced opponent is Republican Chester Flake, a 27-year-old computer consultant making his first try for political office.

Flake had said earlier that he intended to ask Harris to step down as secretary of state if she ran for Congress.

"It's a tremendous conflict of interest," Flake said, noting that the secretary of state's office oversees Florida elections.

Harris became well known during the five-week recount that sent George W. Bush to the White House. She became a favorite target of Democrats and took a drubbing in the media, but won praise from Republicans for her handling of the recount. She also helped push through a $32 million election reform package to quiet critics.

Colombia rebels reject peace concessions; lawmaker slain

Associated Press
BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's main leftist rebel army said "warmongers" were conspiring against the peace process, and issued an angry refusal yesterday to accept any conditions on how it uses a huge guerrilla sanctuary in the country's south.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, took the stand as its envoys met inside the safe haven with delegates of President Andres Pastrana's government for talks to save embattled peace talks.

Meanwhile, the level of bloodshed increased yesterday with the slaying of Congressman Octavio Sarmiento, of the opposition Liberal Party. He was shot dead near his ranch in eastern Arauca State, home to leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, as FARC enforced a blockade in which rebels have threatened to set fire to any vehicle on Arauca's highways. Sarmiento is the third member of congress slain in the past year.

Pastrana is under pressure to stop talks or win rebel concessions after the killing over the weekend of an admired former Cabinet minister who was being held hostage by the FARC. Also bearing down on the government are rebel threats against a "peace caravan" led by the front-running candidate in next year's presidential elections, Horacio Serpa.

Tucsonan battles intruder, shoots him with suspect's own gun

Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. - A man who surprised an armed intruder in his garage struggled with the man and ultimately shot him with the intruder's own gun, police said.

William Lowell McCracken told authorities he had stepped outside after dark Sunday to have a smoke when he saw the dark shape of a man in his garage.

McCracken, 58, said he yelled at the man to leave but then saw the man had a gun.

When the man insisted that McCracken take him inside and "get the money," McCracken said he felt certain he must not allow the man near his fiancee and her mother.

As the man counted down a deadline, McCracken grabbed the barrel of the handgun and pushed it toward the ceiling. As they struggled, McCracken said, the man shocked him several times in the face with a stun device but that he managed to grab it between his teeth.

"I was biting on it like a snapping turtle, and he's hitting me," he said. Then the gun went off and the intruder fell back a bit.

"He released the gun, and then I could see him coming back at me," said McCracken, a retired Air Force pilot who moved to Tucson from Texas four months ago. "I discharged the pistol, he staggered and then fell to the concrete."

The women inside heard the struggle and tried to call for help but the telephone line had been cut.

McCracken was treated at a hospital for a facial cut and was released. Back home during the night, he said, "I rested but I didn't sleep because it all just kept playing in my head. It will be with me forever."



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