USA

US Rep. Robert Ney (R) of Ohio said he has "full confidence " that he will be cleared of allegations against him in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, but in the meantime he will temporarily step down as chairman of the House Administration Committee. The decision was made as Ney came under investigation for links to Abramoff, who recently pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

As the nation commemorated Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights efforts Monday, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed that whites, at 78 percent, were more likely than blacks, at 66 percent, to feel that the US has made significant progress toward racial equality.

The execution of murderer Clarence Ray Allen by lethal injection was scheduled early Tuesday morning at California's San Quentin State Prison. The courts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) rejected arguments that taking the ailing 76-year-old's life would violate the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. Allen was sentenced to death for arranging from prison a triple murder in 1980 to eliminate witnesses who could have testified against him in an earlier arranged slaying.

Despite a series of towering blasts of ash and steam over the weekend from Alaska's 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano, the US Geological Survey in Anchorage said it doesn't believe the activity is a prelude to a "large event." The volcano, which forms an uninhabited island 180 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted three times, for about four hours at a time, in 1992.

The Agriculture Department said food imports from Mexico increased 16 percent during the first 10 months of 2005, with grapes, avocados, lettuce, chilies, onions, and beer leading the influx.

A parade of social aid clubs in New Orleans intended to show support for the city's rebuilding efforts was marred when shots rang out as it concluded Sunday. Three people in crowd were wounded, with one in guarded and another in fair condition. No suspects were apprehended.

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