Briefly . . . NATION/WORLD
After inconclusive talks between President Obama and House Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took charge in trying to end the crises, although a conversation yesterday failed to break the stalemate.
The two cagey negotiators are at loggerheads over Democratic demands to undo or change the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts to domestic and defense programs that the GOP see as crucial to reducing the nation's deficit.
McConnell insisted that a solution was readily available in the proposal from a bipartisan group of 12 senators, led by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., that would re-open the government and fund it at current levels for six months while raising the debt limit through Jan. 31.
7 relief-aid workers kidnapped in Syria
BEIRUT - Gunmen abducted six Red Cross workers and a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer after stopping their convoy early yesterday in northwestern Syria, a spokesman said, in the latest high-profile kidnapping in the country's civil war.
Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, said the assailants snatched the seven aid workers from their convoy near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province about 11:30 a.m. local time as the team was returning to Damascus. He declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees, and said it was not clear who was behind the attack
Syria's state news agency, quoting an anonymous official, said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team's four vehicles before seizing the Red Cross workers. The news agency blamed "terrorists," a term the government uses to refer to those opposed to President Bashar Assad.
Evacuations lessen cyclone death toll
BEHRAMPUR, India - Mass evacuations spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful cyclone that roared ashore over the weekend, officials said yesterday, as the country sorted through the wreckage of flooded towns, tangled power lines and tens of thousands of destroyed thatch homes.
Cyclone Phailin, the strongest storm to hit India in more than a decade, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops, but more than 20 hours after it made landfall in Orissa state on the country's east coast, authorities said that they knew of only 17 fatalities.
The final death toll is expected to climb further as officials reach areas of the cyclone-battered coast that remain isolated by downed communication links and blocked roads, but the evacuation of nearly 1 million people appeared to have saved many lives.
Ex-Rep. Giffords tours 1st gun show since attack
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A smiling Gabrielle Giffords toured rows of tables loaded with rifles and handguns yesterday in her first visit to a gun show since surviving a 2011 shooting, and pleaded afterward for people to come together to stop gun violence.
The former Arizona congresswoman visited the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair with her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to highlight a voluntary agreement that closely monitors gun-show sales in New York.
The trio mixed with a gun show crowd that was mostly welcoming - with a few hostile undertones - before calling for people to build on the cooperative effort. "We must never stop fighting," Giffords said at a post-tour news conference, her fist in the air. "Fight! Fight! Fight! Be bold! Be courageous!"
S.D. ranchers reeling from cattle lossesSIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Western South Dakota ranchers are reeling from the loss of tens of thousands of cattle in last weekend's blizzard, and many will dispose of carcasses in pits set to open today.
Rancher Heath Ferguson said the storm killed 96 percent of his herd of 100 black Angus and Limousin cattle, a hit worth about $250,000. He said total losses topped more than 1,000 head, as six other herds were roaming the family's 16,000 acres east of Sturgis.
Up to 4 feet of snow fell in the Black Hills area last weekend. Reports of 20 or more inches of snow were common, and 21 1/2 inches in Rapid City was a record for both a 24-hour period in October and the entire month. At least two deaths were attributed to the storm, and it took a particularly heavy toll on livestock.
- Daily News wire services