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California firefighters received some relief Sunday as winds subsided during their fourth day battling wildfires that have destroyed more than 10,000 acres in half a dozen communities in cities around Los Angeles. States of emergency were declared in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties as thousands of residents fled to shelters.

Ann Dunwoody made US military history as the first woman promoted to the rank of four-star Army general, in a Pentagon ceremony held late last week. Despite hailing from a family of military men, Dunwoody said she joined the Army 33 years ago as a short "detour" from a fitness career. She will oversee the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The House is working on a plan to provide the ailing auto industry with "immediate, targeted assistance," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday. The plan calls for tapping the federal $700 billion bailout for an undetermined amount, but only if the industry restructures and meets new fuel-efficiency standards.

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Gay rights supporters in an estimated 300 cities held protests from coast to coast Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriages.

The space shuttle Endeavour was closing in on the International Space Station at about 600 miles per orbit Sunday in anticipation of an afternoon docking after Monitor deadlines. The shuttle is carrying about 14,000 pounds of equipment for converting the station into a two-kitchen, two-bath, five-bedroom home.

Construction of the first "green" billboard in New York's Times Square is set to begin this month, with a lighting ceremony for the 126-by-47-foot, solar- and wind-powered board scheduled Dec. 4. The advertiser, Ricoh, says the board will be lighted by floodlights, not by light-emitting diodes, and is expected to save $12,000 to $15,000 per month in electricity costs.

Los Angeles-area passengers on American Airlines flights will be able to substitute electronic boarding passes for printed ones beginning Monday by using Internet-enabled mobile phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). A barcode acquired via e-mail can be scanned at security checkpoints and at the airline's gates. The innovation debuted in Chicago last week.

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