In a report the State Department dismissed as "rumor and gossip," the Washington Post said Secretary of State Powell and his top deputy, Richard Armitage, have told the White House they will not serve a second term if President Bush is reelected in 2004. The Post said Powell has told associates that a promise to his wife, rather than policy disputes with other officials, is a key factor in his intention to serve one term only.

Despite harsh rhetoric by senior administration officials toward North Korea, the US remains committed to using diplomacy to get Pyongyang to pull back from its troubling nuclear arms policy, Powell said in an interview made public Sunday by the State Department. North Korea said Monday it expected US-proposed six-country talks on its nuclear program to take place soon in Beijing and that these would show whether Washington was prepared to change its attitude toward Pyongyang. A South Korean official said the talks would be held early next month.

Embattled California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was expected to ask the state's Supreme Court to delay an Oct. 7 recall election until March and to allow him as a candidate to, in effect, replace himself. Voters will make two decisions on the recall ballot: whether to remove Davis, and, if that passes, who should succeed him. Under California election law, Davis can't legally be on the list of replacement candidates, but his lawyers say that's unfair toward voters who want him to stay.

Orders to US factories rose 1.7 percent in June, the biggest gain in three months, the Commerce Department reported. Analysts said the news was the clearest sign yet that the nation's battered manufacturing sector is turning a corner.

A small executive jet preparing to land at an airport near Groton, Conn., crashed into three homes, setting two on fire before coming to rest in a river, officials said. The accident, involving a Learjet 35 plane, killed the pilot and the sole passenger and caused minor injuries to one person on the ground. The airport's manager said the plane was on its second approach when it went down.

From their exile in New Mexico, Democratic state senators who fled Texas over GOP redistricting plans lashed out at their governor and blamed his leadership for their walkout. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said Sunday that Gov. Rick Perry (R) is dividing Texans, unlike his predecessor, President Bush. Democrats outnumber Republicans 17-15 in the state's US congressional delegation, but Republicans are pushing for changes that likely would give them a majority.

Cooler temperatures and light rain aided firefighters trying to rein in a blaze in northwestern Montana. After days of showing little movement, the more than 24,000-acre wildfire broke loose Saturday night, starting a 50- to 60-acre blaze well ahead of the main fire. Residents evacuated the area several days ago.

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