USA

The Supreme Court sidestepped a decision Monday on a campaign finance case brought by a Wisconsin antiabortion group. The justices told a lower court to look again at the organization's challenge to federal restrictions on political advertising. The group was banned during the 2004 election from mentioning one of the state's US senators, Russ Feingold (D), in broadcast ads. In another case, the justices narrowly rejected arguments that states could not be sued because of their sovereign immunity.

The defense for former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell (D), who is on trial in the city he led from 1994 to 2002, was scheduled to begin Monday against charges of racketeering, fraud, and bribery. Campbell allegedly accepted roughly $300,000 in payoffs and illegal campaign contributions.

Albertson's Inc., the second- largest US grocery chain, accepted a $9.7 billion cash-and-stock offer Monday from a group of buyers, including CVS drugstores and Supervalu supermarkets. The total value of the transaction is $17.4 billion, when assumed debt is included. Albertson's, which is struggling to maintain market share, turned down a similar offer late last year.

"The West Wing," the winner of four Emmy Awards as TV's best drama, will end its seven-year run May 14, NBC announced. The series has seen its ratings drop off sharply.

Both the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers advanced easily to a Feb. 5 Super Bowl showdown in Detroit with decisive victories in conference championship games. Seattle downed the Carolina Panthers, 34-14, in Sunday's NFC title game, while Pittsburgh beat the Denver Broncos, 34-17, for the AFC crown.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 81 points Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest total in National Basketball Association history. Wilt Chamberlain holds the league's single-game scoring record with a 100-point outing for Philadelphia in 1962. Bryant's effort helped the Lakers erase an 18-point, third-quarter deficit and win, 122-104.

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