USA

President Bush plans to name William Donaldson to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, Republican sources said. Donaldson, an investment banker, would replace Harvey Pitt, who resigned last month. Another expected appointment - of Stephen Friedman as White House economic adviser - reportedly was on hold after conservative Republicans objected that he wasn't aggressive enough on tax cuts.

The federal death penalty is constitutional, a federal appeals court in New York ruled, overturning a lower court decision. In July, Judge Jed Rakoff found the statute amounted to "state-sponsored murder" because it denied persons who were wrongly convicted the opportunity to be exonerated. The three-judge appeals panel said similar arguments have been made, and rejected, repeatedly by the US Supreme Court.

Vice President Cheney is not required to turn over records of meetings between the energy task force he headed and industry executives and lobbyists, a federal court in Washington ruled Monday. US District Judge John Bates dismissed a suit filed by the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, after Democrats criticized the task force as overly influenced by business. Bates ruled that the GAO had no legal right to demand the information because it hadn't been hurt. Two private groups have filed similar suits.

Throwing a seven-state deal into doubt, water officials in California's Imperial Valley rejected a $2 billion sale of Colorado River rights to San Diego County and other southern areas of the state. Local farmers oppose the transfer, which is designed to free up water for Arizona, Nevada, and other neighboring states. Interior Secretary Gale Norton has threatened to cut California's river allotment if the deal isn't OK'd by Dec. 31.

In a settlement with the state of New Hampshire, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester agreed to acknowledge some responsibility for failing to protect children from abusive priests and to accept limited oversight of future abuse investigations. The settlement came as Boston Cardinal Bernard Law was in Rome meeting with Vatican officials, amid speculation he may resign due to the ongoing scandal.

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, ex-President Carter said global threats such as civil wars and terrorism must be met "with an emphasis on peace ... with strong alliances and international consensus" best achieved through the UN. He called "the growing chasm" between rich and poor the world's greatest challenge.

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