USA

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards joined the 2008 presidential contest with an official announcement Thursday in New Orleans. Edwards, whose first run in 2004 landed him on the Democratic ticket as John Kerry's running mate, said his campaign priorities include improving healthcare, ending "the shame of poverty," and tackling global warming.

Memorials for former President Gerald Ford begin Friday with a private service in California and will conclude next Wednesday with his burial at the presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. His body will lie in state at the US Capitol Rotunda Sunday and Monday.

Federal investigators can use data from confidential Major League Baseball steroid tests, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. More than 5 percent of the 2003 tests were positive. The government hopes that these records will help identify the source of steroids. Findings could also bolster the perjury case against slugger Barry Bonds, who has denied taking steroids.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled Wednesday it cannot force lawmakers to vote on an amendment banning same-sex unions. The court said legislators are defying their constitutional duties, however, it can't do more than resort to "aspirational language." Lawmakers have a final chance to vote on the amendment on Jan. 2.

Shares of Apple Computer fell in early trading Thursday after a report in the Financial Times said chief executive Steve Jobs got $7.5 million stock options in 2001 without proper authorization from the company's board. Citing unnamed sources, the Times said federal investigators are checking to see if records were falsified to indicate board approval.

Convicted former Gov. George Ryan, Ill., filled suit Wednesday to keep a third of his $197,000 state pension, saying he earned the money before the scandals that have him facing 6-1/2 years in prison for mail fraud, extortion, and bribery.

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