USA

Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) of Washington signed a domestic partnership bill Saturday that provides same-sex couples enhanced rights, including hospital visitation privileges and inheritance rights when there is no will. Registered couples must share a home.

While campaigning in Iowa Saturday, Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) said she'd put her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to work as a roaming international ambassador if she is elected to the White House next year. "I can't think of a better cheerleader for America," said the US senator from New York.

NASA officials said Saturday they will look at ways to improve security for employees following a murder-suicide at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. A disgruntled engineer on Friday shot and killed a co-worker whom he blamed for a mediocre job review, then killed himself.

A wildfire in southeast Georgia that has burned more than 45,000 acres over the past weekwas still only 35 percent contained Saturday, a forestry official said. The blaze began when a tree fell on a power line. Above, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) thanks a volunteer firefighter during a visit to the scene in Waycross.

A total of 3.2 million US factory jobs, or 1 of every 6, have been lost since the start of 2000, according to data compiled by the Associated Press. Despite these losses, the US is enjoying its lowest average unemployment rates of the past four decades, due largely to the addition of 8.78 million service-sector jobs during the same period.

The US Virgin Islands have rung up nearly $3 billion in accumulated debt from decades of mismanagement, Gov. John deJongh Jr., who became the territory's top official in January, said Saturday. Back pay to government workers on the Caribbean islands accounts for much of the red ink.

The National Basketball Association playoffs began Saturday, with the defending champion Miami Heat losing to Chicago in the opening game of their best-of-seven series. Above, Houston's Yao Ming battles for the ball against Utah's Matt Harpring in Houston's Game 1 win.

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