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Escaped hostage Oscar Tulio Lizcano looked a crazy man - bearded, grimy, slumped on another man's shoulder and screaming from across a jungle river. Soldiers on the other side thought he was a drunk and ignored him, Lizcano said Monday. Only when the weakened Lizcano lifted the Galil assault rifle of the rebel who had fled with him did the soldiers begin to understand that the haggard figure on the river bank Sunday morning was escaping from leftist rebels.

"They jumped into the river, and then I started to shout, 'I'm Lizcano!'" he said from a clinic in the western city of Cali, his voice faint from fatigue. Lizcano, 62, had been held for eight years in Colombia's jungles. His is the first known case of a FARC fighter deserting with a hostage in tow. "He took me by both hands, almost dragged me" to safety, Lizcano said.

Boy killed as adult helps him fire Uzi at fair

With an instructor watching, an 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun at a gun fair in Westfield, Mass. It was Christopher Bizilj's first time shooting a fully automatic machine gun and the recoil was too much for him. Police called the death on Sunday a "self-inflicted accidental shooting." Christopher, a third-grader, was attending the show with his father, Charles, who said, "This accident was truly a mystery to me."

Walden plants aren'ttranscending time

While much of the land around Walden Pond remains undeveloped, many of the plants naturalist Henry David Thoreau knew so well are gone, probably a result of climate change.

Some 27 percent of the species documented by Thoreau in the mid 1800s near Concord, Mass., have disappeared, researchers report in today's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

And as many as 36 percent exist there in such small numbers that their disappearance may be imminent, report researchers led by Charles Davis of Harvard University. Species that have decreased greatly: anemones, buttercups, asters, campanulas, bluets, bladderworts, dogwoods, lilies, mints, orchids, roses, saxifrages and violets.

Longtime leader faces his ex-captive at polls

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's longest-serving leader, faces a democracy activist he once held as a political prisoner in a runoff vote today in the Maldives' first democratic presidential election.

Gayoom, 71, has led the tiny Muslim state through three decades of economic expansion but is accused of suppressing human rights. He faces Maldivian Democratic Party leader Mohamed Nasheed in his quest to win a seventh term.