USA

The California Highway Patrol announced creation of a new fast-response investigative unit to track down leads in the state's freeway shooting problem. A spokesman said patrols also will be increased on Southern California's highways, the scene of eight shootings in two months, including one Monday in which a bullet pierced the windshield of a sport utility vehicle. The driver, traveling alone, wasn't hurt. Four people have been killed in the shootings this year, but police said that despite heavy news coverage, the pace of shootings is lower than in 2004.

The sentencing phase of Pfc. Lynndie England's military trial was to begin Tuesday at Fort Hood, Texas, the day after the Army reservist pleaded guilty to seven counts of mistreating inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. England said she caved in to peer pressure in posing for photos that degraded the captives. Pvt. Charles Graner Jr., who is serving a 10-year sentence for being a ringleader in the abuse and is said to be the father of England's infant son, is expected to testify in her behalf. The charges against her are punishable by up to 11 years in prison, but a lesser sentence is anticipated.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton intervened in a water-resources dispute involving Western states that haven't been able to agree on a plan for sharing water from the Colorado River in times of drought. California, Arizona and Nevada scored an apparent victory when Norton rejected a plea Monday by Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico to reduce releases into the river from drought-depleted Lake Powell, one of its two main reservoirs.

Alleged serial killer Dennis Rader chose to stand mute Monday during a brief arraignment in Wichita, Kan., in which the judge entered a plea of not guilty for him. The former city employee is charged with 10 counts of murder dating back 31 years. Rader was arrested Feb. 25, ending the search for the man who called himself "BTK" (for "Bind, Torture, Kill") in letters that taunted police.

San Diego's City Council set July 26 for an election to replace Mayor Dick Murphy (R), who announced his resignation last week as the city struggles to cope with a pension fund running a deficit of at least $1.4 billion. Councilwoman Donna Frye (D), a write-in candidate who came close to ousting the incumbent Murphy last year in a disputed election, immediately announced her candidacy.

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