USA

The Supreme Court said it would consider a case that could help to clarify where plaintiffs suing companies that operate in more than one state can have their claims heard. At issue is whether a Virginia couple can sue their landlord in state or federal court over exposure to toxic insulation that was installed by a local subsidiary of a company based in Texas.

Thirteen states became coalition partners in education reform by signing on to the American Diploma Project at a governors conference in Washington. They agreed to better prepare high school students for college or for demanding jobs by upgrading academic standards and monitoring progress. States participating are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas.

After personal incomes rose 3.7 percent in December, they plunged 2.3 percent in January, the sharpest decline in more than a decade, the Commerce Department reported. Both figures were heavily influenced by a $3 per share dividend that software giant Microsoft paid Dec. 2.

"Million Dollar Baby," a wrenching boxing drama, was the knockout winner at Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremonies, grabbing four major awards, including best director for Clint Eastwood and best picture. Cast members Hilary Swank won best actress and Morgan Freeman best supporting actor. "The Aviator" won five awards, but mostly in less- glamorous cagegories. (See story for summary of winners.)

Suspected serial killer Dennis Rader was reported to have confessed to six of the murders that he is accused of in Wichita, Kansas. But although police still had revealed little Monday about what led to their arrest of the long-elusive Rader, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) told the Associated Press that DNA evidence was a key in cracking the case. Rader, a city code enforcement supervisor, is being held on a $10 million bond in the deaths of 10 people between 1974 and 1991.

A winter storm dropped eight inches of snow on parts of Virginia and North Carolina and was heading on up the East Coast, with similar accumulations forecast for Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Adventurer Steve Fossett was slated to take off Monday from Salina, Kan., in his single-engine GlobalFlyer, with hopes of making the first solo flight around the world without stopping to refuel. If completed, the flight would take 66 hours.

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