USA

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales vowed Monday in 26 pages of prepared testimony to fix the battered image of the Justice Department, which has been under scrutiny for its questionable firing of eight federal prosecutors. The testimony was released in advance of his Tuesday appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The first federal minimum wage increase in a decade goes into effect Tuesday. The initial increase is from $5.15 an hour to $5.85, with an additional 70-cent boost each summer for the next two years, ending in 2009 at $7.25 an hour.

The convergence of two large wildfires, covering about 880 square miles, threatened thousands of homes and an Air Force training range near the Idaho-Nevada border, fire officials said Sunday. The wind-fed fire also destroyed much grazing land, but no serious injuries were reported. Dozens of other fires also continue to burn across the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson and a Russian crewmate were assigned Monday to jettison a refrigerator-size ammonia tank and other outdated equipment from the International Space Station. The tank is expected to orbit for 10 or 11 months before burning up as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

United Rentals Inc. said Monday that it had signed an agreement allowing affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management to buy the world's largest equipment rental company for approximately $6.6 billion.

In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York leads her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, by a double-digit margin, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll. The survey shows Clinton with the support of 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, compared with 30 percent for Obama.

Four airport advisories were omitted in the preflight information used by the pilots of a Comair jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last summer in Lexington, Ky., killing 49 of 50 people on board, according to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Without the advisories, the pilots may have been confused about which runway to use.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the last in the seven-book series about the boy wizard, sold an estimated 8.3 million copies, an industry record, in its first 24 hours on sale.com. The book hit the stands Friday at midnight.

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