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News briefs for Nov. 7

Bush sets Oval Office meeting with Obama

WASHINGTON – President Bush and Barack Obama on Monday will hold their first substantive talks about the nation’s daunting priorities as the transition to a Democratic administration accelerates.

Bush, soon to return to Texas after two terms in office, ordered employees on Thursday to ensure a smooth transfer of power to President-elect Obama.

On Monday’s discussion list for the current and future presidents: the financial crisis and the war in Iraq.

Wintry conditions knock out power in northern Plains

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A wintry blast of punishing wind and more than 3 feet of snow in places pummeled the Northern Plains on Thursday, knocking out power to thousands and forcing highways to close.

As much as 40 inches of snow fell in higher elevations of western South Dakota’s Black Hills as the early season blizzard caused havoc. Drifts as deep as 6 feet covered roads in Spearfish.

“It’s a raging blizzard out there,” said Jeff Schild, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Rapid City.

Drip in Chinese cave may have recorded history

WASHINGTON – A stalagmite rising from the floor of a cave in China is providing clues to the end of several dynasties in Chinese history.

Slowly built from the minerals in dripping water over 1,810 years, chemicals in the stone tell a tale of strong and weak cycles of the monsoon, the life-giving rains that water crops to feed millions of people.

Dry periods coincided with the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties, researchers report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

West Georgia man sets fire to house while using blowtorch

SARGENT, Ga. – Would-be cleaners take note: A blowtorch is not a good substitute for a broom. Coweta County authorities said Galen Winchell set fire to his west Georgia home Wednesday as he cleaned cobwebs from exterior eaves with a blowtorch. Winchell noticed the blaze when he saw smoke pouring from the attic.

Coweta Fire Investigator James Gantt says the fire was contained to one part of the house, but the entire home had smoke and water damage.

No one was hurt. No phone number was listed for Winchell.