Hoping to ensure the nation that he not only is determined to stay the course in Iraq but also has a blueprint for doing so, President Bush was to give the first in a series of six speeches on the subject Monday night in a telecast from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. The creation of a new Iraqi interim government and ways to improve security in the area were expected focuses. Bush is coming off a weekend in which he celebated his twin daughters' college graduations and took a spill while mountain biking on his Texas ranch.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to award a multibillion-dollar contract as soon as this week for a sophisticated new system aimed at using databases and biometric information to screen visitors to US before they arrive, The New York Times reported. The network would shift the focus from land, sea, and air entry points to a "virtual border" system that would make checkpoint guards the last line of defense.

The California Supreme Court is due to begin hearing arguments Tuesday on whether elected officials in San Francisco were within their rights in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) ordered approved in February despite a state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The court will address the legal dynamics of the matter, opting to let its civil rights implications play out in cases before lower courts, reports said.

Blacks are migrating back to the South, leaving some of the very cities and states where they once sought greater opportunity, according to a new Brookings Institution study. What the study calls the "New Great Migration" has seen the South reverse a 35-year trend. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco experienced the largest outmigration of blacks, while Atlanta led Southern cities in attracting them. The South's renewed appeal, the report said, reflects the region's improved race relations, economic conditions, and the longstanding cultural and family ties blacks enjoy there.

The nonpartisan Citizens' Debate Commission, which hopes to reenergize interest in presidential and vice presidential confrontations with innovative formats, announced sites and dates for a series of proposed debates beginning Sept. 22. The sites: Columbus, Ohio; Swarthmore, Pa.; Buffalo; Northfield, Minn.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Salem, Ore. The commission has not sponsored previous debates.

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