USA

President Bush marked the Labor Day holiday by addressing a carpenters' union picnic in Neville Island, Pa. Aides said Bush's speech would focus on the economy and improving economic security for American workers, wooing a constituency that traditionally has favored Democrats over Republicans.

Mindful of midterm elections approaching in November, Congress returns this week from its August recess. Possible military action against Iraq, creation of a department of homeland security, and a Medicare prescription-drug benefit are among issues lawmakers are expected to debate. On CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe predicted his party would gain control of the House and maintain its narrow Senate majority.

Secretary of State Powell intends to leave the Bush administration when its present term ends in 2005, Time magazine reported. There has been speculation of Powell's departure amid perceived policy differences with Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, notably on Iraq. In a BBC interview Sunday, Powell said the the return of UN weapons inspectors was a needed "first step" for Iraq. Last week, Cheney said such inspections "would provide no assurance whatsoever" of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's assumed effort to accumulate weapons of mass destruction.

A fast-moving wildfire forced 8,000 campers and residents to flee the Angeles National Forest near Azusa, Calif. Some evacuees told TV news crews that they became separated from relatives during the hasty retreat. The blaze broke out Sunday about 30 miles east of Los Angeles and quickly grew to 10,000 acres. Investigators, meanwhile, found a mobile drug laboratory and human remains in an area consumed by a 550-acre fire in Wrightwood, northeast of Los Angeles.

Weather forecasters were monitoring Tropical Storm Edouard, stalled in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles east of Florida Monday afternoon. The storm, with winds of 40 m.p.h., is expected to bring heavy rains to the Georgia coast as it moves slowly northwest. Edouard is the fourth named storm of the hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.

The New York Times ran its first announcement of a same-sex civil union Sunday under a new policy. In announcing the change last month, the paper said the criteria for its retitled "Weddings/Celebrations" section remained the newsworthiness and accomplishments of couples and their families. Sunday's item noted the union of a GE Capital executive and the founder of Attention America, a public-affairs consultancy.

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