USA

Despite increasing attacks on US soldiers and the growing number of American casualties, no extra troops are needed in Iraq now, retiring US Gen. Tommy Franks said on ABC's "Good Morning America." Franks, the commander of the war in Iraq, said the current force of about 145,000 troops is sufficient to cope with the threat. He repeated a taunt made by President Bush last week for Iraqi militants attacking US forces to "bring 'em on." Franks retired Monday after 36 years in uniform.

A recording purportedly of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broadcast Friday on the Arab Al Jazeera television network is probably authentic, CIA officials said. But the poor quality of the recording prevents absolute certainty. In the recording, the speaker said he is still in Iraq and directing attacks on American forces there. He called on Iraqis to resist the occupation of their country. (Related stories, pages 1, 7.)

Lawmakers returned from their Independence Day recess to face an agenda that includes the crisis in medical malpractice insurance and reaching a historic deal on giving older Americans a prescription-drug benefit. Also on the to-do list before Congress adjourns for its August break is the advancement of 13 spending bills needed to run the federal government in the budget year starting Oct. 1.

During a rare Sunday night legislative session, California Republicans formally laid out their plan to close the state's multibillion-dollar budget shortfall without raising taxes, but Democrats remained skeptical. While the Republicans had detailed some proposed spending cuts, the measure introduced Sunday offered a more complete blueprint for how the GOP would achieve savings to wipe out a $38 billion shortfall.

Cooler, more humid weather assisted firefighters battling a devastating wildfire that had burned to within a half-mile of an exclusive enclave on the outskirts of Tucson, Ariz.. Residents of about 200 homes and guests at a resort hotel had been urged to evacuate the Ventana Canyon area Sunday. Monday's improved weather meant crews could use aircraft to drop retardant on the flames.

Kobe Bryant, one of basketball's brightest starts, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault after a woman accused him of misconduct at a hotel near Vail, Colo.. The Los Angeles Lakers' guard was released after turning himself in Friday and posting a $25,000 bond. Bryant has not been charged and his Denver-based attorney says he's innocent.

Buddy Ebsen, who died Sunday in Torrance, Calif., achieved stardom in TV shows "The Beverley Hillbillies" (above, in an undated publicity photo) and "Barnaby Jones." Earlier, with his sister, Vilma, Ebsen danced through Broadway shows and MGM movie musicals of the 1930s. When she retired, Ebsen appeared with others such as Shirley Temple and took on dramatic roles.

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