USA

Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, who is in charge of passports for US citizens, accepted "complete responsibility" Saturday for the massive processing backlog that has ruined vacation and travel plans for many Americans. Applications flooded in after the government implemented new rules on Jan. 23, causing long waits to receive passports.

A lockdown of the California Senate, which failed to resolve a state budget stalemate, was adjourned Saturday morning after an unusual 19-hour, overnight floor session. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D) of Oakland called off the lockdown but said it was now up to Republicans to submit a budget alternative by Wednesday. Some GOP lawmakers are insisting on a balanced budget, but Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) oppose cuts to education and other high-priority services.

Storms dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Texas Saturday, stranding more than 170 passengers on an Amtrak train for hours and forcing rescue crews elsewhere to pull at least 50 people to safety.

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Temperatures near 100 degrees hampered efforts to fight a wildfire burning Saturday 85 miles south of Salt Lake City, but more favorable conditions helped crews in California and Montana make progress in containing wildfires there.

About 200 people riding the trams in St. Louis's 630-foot Gateway Arch were stranded for about two hours Saturday night by a power outage. Until power was restored, visitors had to use the stairs.

English soccer star David Beckham made his long awaited American debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition match Saturday against Chelsea FC. Chelsea won 1-0, but Beckham's every move was cheered even though an ankle injury greatly limited his playing time before a Major League Soccer sellout crowd of 27,000 in Carson, Calif.

While campaigning in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told unionized state workers Saturday that he'd continue to "stand" on union picket lines if elected to the White House.

Televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, who died Friday in Kansas City, Mo., rose to national prominence in the 1980s with former husband Jim Bakker, whose on-air ministry came crashing down during revelations of the couple's opulent lifestyle and his sex and corruption scandal. The couple divorced and she remarried. Jim Bakker is serving an 18-year prison sentence.

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