USA

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to review a lower-court ruling that parents of public school children have no "fundamental right" to be the exclusive provider of information on sex to their children. The suit grew out of a survey given to Palmdale, Calif., elementary school students. The survey, an effort to gauge barriers to learning, asked students among other things, how often they thought about sex.

Boosted by service-minded teenagers, voluntarism in the US has reached a 30-year high, according to a study released Monday by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Since 1989, the volunteer participation rate among all age groups rose from 20.4 percent to 27 percent, with teenagers making the biggest jump, from 13.4 percent to 28.4 percent.

In a $16.5 billion all-stock deal, the Bank of New York Co. has agreed to take over Mellon Financial Corp., based in Pittsburgh, in a merger that will create the world's largest securities servicing company.

US Sen. Sam Brownback (R) of Kansas said there is a "need for genuine conservatism and real compassion in the national discussion" in announcing Monday that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee for 2008, a first step in entering the race.

The Wall Street Journal said Monday it will add more color and graphics and will shrink the size of its pages slightly, beginning Jan. 2, 2007, in changes that echo industry trends.

Five NASA astronauts reported Sunday to Florida's Kennedy Space Center to begin final preparations for Thursday night's launch of the shuttle Discovery, the first made in darkness since the 2003 Columbia disaster. The shuttle will transport a structural support to the half-built International Space Station.

Mayor Ray Nagin (D) of New Orleans said Monday that Ed Blakely, a regional planner, will marshal the city's efforts to recover from hurricane Katrina, which struck 15 months ago. Blakely helped to coordinate operations after 9/11 in New York and after two natural disasters in California years earlier.

In college football's national championship game, undefeated and top-ranked Ohio State will meet Florida Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., officials of the Bowl Championship Series announced Sunday night.

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