USA

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte disputed reports leaked from an intelligence estimate that suggested the US is at greater risk of terrorist attack because of backlash to the war in Iraq. The threat to the homeland may have been reduced since 9/11 because of greater vigilance and preparedness, he said Monday.

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether public employee unions must get special permission to use workers' dues for political causes if those workers object.

After $185 million in repairs, the Superdome in New Orleans reopened Monday night before 68,000 spectators and millions of football fans watching on TV. The Saints rose to the occasion with a 23-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in a facility that was a central focus of the city's misery after hurricane Katrina.

Bernard Ebbers, the former CEO of WorldCom Corp., began a 25-year federal prison sentence Tuesday at an undisclosed location for his role in an $11 billion accounting scandal. In a similar case, Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron Corp., faced sentencing Tuesday in Houston. He's expected to receive 10 years, as established earlier in a plea agreement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the New York Post that the Bush administration was not lax in pursuing Al Qaeda terrorists before 9/11, as former President Clinton suggested in a Fox interview last weekend.

After a big dip in August, the consumer confidence index rose four points last month as gasoline prices fell, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

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