USA

The Supreme Court begins its term Monday under new chief justice John Roberts Jr. once he officially takes his ceremonial oath to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died Sept. 3. On the docket: such hot-button issues as a state law on parental notification of would-be abortions, doctor- assisted suicide, and five death-penalty cases. Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, often a swing vote on the court, will continue to serve as President Bush prepares to name her successor, which could come any day. Bush has not tipped his hand, although women and minority candidates are said to be high on his list. He completed consultations with Senate leaders on the situation Friday. Democrats already have threatened to filibuster the nomination no matter whom he names.

Thousands of residents streamed back into New Orleans over the weekend following the reopening of several dry neighborhoods by Mayor Ray Nagin (D). Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers continued to pump out other flooded areas and said the job should largely be completed by midweek. As of Saturday, about 70 percent of the city was still without electricity.

For the eighth consecutive year, the New York Yankees won the championship of baseball's American League East division, defeating the Boston Red Sox Saturday. But Boston, the defending World Series titlist, still held the inside track for the wild card slot in the playoffs over the Cleveland Indians as teams played their final regular-season games Sunday. For the Indians to make the playoffs, they would need to win while Boston lost. They'd then meet in a one-game showdown Monday in Boston.

A special commission of the Democratic National Committee agreed over the weekend to recommend adding two or more presidential primary elections for 2008 to the traditional kickoffs in New Hampshire and Iowa. The goal is to bring more racial and geographic diversity into the mix. No states were identified, but reports said the likely candidates would be from the South and either the West or Southwest. Although the exact order of the early contests wasn't specified, there is sentiment to keep New Hampshire and Iowa in their leadoff positions.

Authorities said they expect to have a wildfire under control by Monday that has charred 24,000 acres on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Fanned by strong, hot winds, the blaze raced across the hilly terrain of northwest Los Angeles County late last week before cooler weather slowed it. Three homes were reported destroyed as of Sunday. Neighborhoods that had been evacuated were reopened to residents and shelters were closed.

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