USA

Stormy weather, which left a path of tornado destruction in Missouri and Oklahoma, dumped as much as four inches of rain by Monday in the mid-Atlantic region, where strong winds knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers and flood warnings were in effect.

Cablevision Systems Corp. announced Monday that it will purchase the Long Island-based newspaper Newsday for $650 million. The Tribune Co. in Chicago will retain just a 3 percent stake.

Authorities in Phoenix rescued 53 illegal immigrants Sunday who appeared to have been held captive in a fortified house by five Mexicans arrested on charges of human smuggling. The armed suspects reportedly demanded $2,500 for each person's release.

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The presidential campaign of Barack Obama said Sunday it is "very seriously" considering an invitation from Republican John McCain's campaign to participate in joint town meetings and debates across the US, starting this summer.

While actual figures aren't available yet, bicycle shops around the US are reporting strong sales growth this year, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. The high cost of gas is viewed as a key factor driving sales. A record number of people are expected to participate in Bike-to-Work Day on May 16. Less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans currently commute to work.

The Army Corps of Engineers has acknowledged it lacks an inventory and has no idea about the condition of thousands of privately owned and operated levees that protect cities as well as farmland. The corps operates about 2,000 levees.Concerns have grown during this unusually wet spring about possible levee breaches.

The American Veterans Institute has begun distributing a series of free schoolbooks that capture the real-life war experiences of US troops designed to create a greater appreciation of military service. Books have been distributed in Ohio, and soon will be delivered in Indiana, with similar collections being assembled for K-thru-7 students around the country.

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