USA

Hearings for four US soliders accused in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal opened and will continue Tuesday at a heavily secured US military base in Mannheim, Germany. Immediately called into question in the case of Spc. Charles Graner was whether to suppress evidence, including any related to the seizure of his laptop computer, which contained photos of the maltreatment of prisoners. Meanwhile, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., the court-martial of Marine Reserve Sgt. Gary Pittman, one of three men charged in the June 2003 death of an Iraqi POW, began. Lawyers of the accused marines say the victim died of natural causes and not strangulation.

Thousands of students began returning to school in Florida's Osceola County and a half dozen other districts affected by hurricane Charley. Schools in other even harder-hit counties weren't expected to open for another week. Almost 1 million utility customers lost electricity when Charley tore through central Florida Aug. 13. About 90,000 are still without power, with their utility predicting it will finish reconnecting them by Aug. 29.

Reactions were mixed to a sweeping proposal by key Republicans in Congress to reorganize the intelligence community. The plan, unexpectedly announced Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" by Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, calls for placing direct control for intelligence in the hands of a new national director while practically dismantling the CIA and diminishing the power and influence of the Defense Department, which exercises considerable control over the federal classified intelligence budget. The plan goes even further than the revamping proposed last month by the Sept. 11 commission. Intelligence officials expressed skepticism at the proposal; the White House was noncommittal.

A California Indian tribe trying to gain state approval for a Bay Area casino that would be the nation's third largest has scaled back its proposal in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), according to the San Jose Mercury News. In her letter, tribal chairwoman Margie Mejia said the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians was content to place 2,500 slot machines instead of the originally planned 5,000 in a rebuiilt casino north of Berkeley.

Former presidential nominee and US Sen. Bob Dole (R) kept the pot boiling over John Kerry's Vietnam War-era experiences, suggesting Sunday that the Democratic presidential candidate apologize for his 1971 congressional testimory about alleged war atrocities by American troops there. Dole's remarks, made on CNN's "Late Edition," came as polls indicate Kerry is losing support among veterans.

Army reservist Robert Hall, who earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service in Iraq, has married Vivian Mansour, a Kurd who'd never before left Baghdad until they wed in Port Orchard, Wash., last Friday. The couple met after Hall, a civil affairs specialist, became acquainted with Mansour's mother and sister, who were hired as cleaners for his unit. At first, neither spoke the other's language, but both are Christians and say their shared faith binds them.

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