USA

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will rule on federal wartime powers by considering a challenge to the administration's military tribunals for terror suspects. The case centers on whether Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, can be tried by military officers at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Speaking at a news conference during a stopover in Panama, President Bush emphasized that the US does not torture suspects but "aggressively" pursues them "under the law."

Voters across the nation go to the polls Tuesday to decide a variety of political races and ballot questions. Californians will determine the fate of four highly politicized initiatives proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who considers them central to his vision of responsible government. Many union and state officials, however, oppose the measures, which they perceive as a power grab. In other voting:

• Mayoral incumbents Michael Bloomberg (R) of New York, Thomas Menino (D) of Boston, Bill White (D) of Houston, and Shirley Franklin (D) of Atlanta are expected to win reelection. In Detroit, however, Kwame Kilpatrick (D) is at risk of becoming the first mayor since 1961 turned out of office. One of the closest races could be in San Diego, where maverick councilwoman Donna Frye (D) is opposed by Jerry Sanders (R), who is popular with the business community.

• Bitterly contested gubernatorial races pit US Sen. Jon Cor-zine (D) against businessman Doug Forrester (R) in New Jersey, and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) against Jerry Kilgore (R), a former attorney general, in Virginia.

• In Seattle, voters will decide whether to shorten a 14-mile monorail system or junk the project altogether.

During the past two weeks, gas prices returned to their pre-hurricane Katrina levels, according to the Lundberg Survey. The average price of self-serve regular fell 23 cents to $2.43 a gallon.

National Guard troops were called in to assist with search-and-rescue efforts for a pre-dawn tornado that took 22 lives Sunday in and around Evansville, Ind.

Charles Victor Thompson, a convicted double-murderer, was recaptured Sunday outside a Shreveport, La., liquor store three days after his escape from a Houston jail. Police said he was apprehended while speaking on a pay phone but was too inebriated for questioning.

A tentative four-year contract to end a week-long Philadelphia transit strike was reached early Monday by negotiators.

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