USA

Iraq's power supply has reached prewar levels, but violence and corruption are slowing reconstruction, said the independent Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction on Monday. The US government watchdog group called Iraq's May elections a huge step forward, but criticized the country's "lethal environment" and rampant corruption, citing a poll that showed that one-third of Iraqis paid a bribe this year to get products or services.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed a tough package of immigration laws Monday that would cut off some 1 million people from receiving most state and federal benefits unless they can prove they are US residents. The state will grant temporary waivers to applicants at driver's license bureaus and will ease restrictions on an estimated 4,000 people in nursing homes.

Federal land management agencies are being asked to make more employees available to fight wildfires because crews and equipment have been stretched to the limit by nearly 60 major blazes around the West. More than 24,000 firefighters were battling fires across the West this week, including 58 large fires of 500 acres or more.

Hundreds of seniors evacuated Chicago's South Side when a power failure struck during Monday's 99-degree weather. City officials offered air-conditioned buses and dormitories to the seniors as utility workers scrambled to fix the outages.

Holy Land Foundation top fundraiser Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan walked out of a detention facility in San Pedro, Calif., on Monday, more than two years after the government claimed his charity funneled millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Hamdan, who has never been charged with terrorism, was imprisoned while appealing an immigration conviction for overstaying a student visa he got 27 years ago. Federal authorities lost their last-ditch effort to keep Hamdan locked up, but promised to continue pressing for his deportation.

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will not be as active as initially projected, due in part to a cooling of ocean temperatures this summer, private forecaster WSI Corp. said in its updated tropical weather outlook released Monday. Some 14 named storms will form this year, with four of them becoming major hurricanes with winds over 111 miles per hour, WSI predicted.

National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield told President Bush in Miami on Monday that data linking devastating storms, like last year's hurricane Katrina, to global warming were inconclusive.

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